Saturday, March 10, 2007

Lady Madonna

As some of you may or may not be aware, March 8th was International Women's Day. Now I know Danifesto readers probably hear more than they want to know about "man-love" but I haven't been adverse to showing a little "girl-love" in the past, and I'm more than happy to take this opportunity to do so once again.

I recently won a contest in the Eye Weekly newspaper. The prize was a poster and a DVD of The US vs John Lennon. This documentary was an interesting look at what was going on at that pivotal time in US history. I will post more about it later, but suffice to say, it did give me food for thought. One of those thoughts came while watching the "special features" section yesterday. Different people were giving their thoughts to this controversial song that Lennon penned after reading an interview Yoko Ono had given years previously for the New Yorker magazine where she coined the phrase. Coincidentally I had just posted about how "hate words" are used and whether they have a place in our society at all.

Anyway given that it was International Women's Day and March is Women's History Month, the words of this song got me thinking thinking about how badly women are treated in our world. Although the situation has improved in some places, globally it still tragically dire. Even in a modern country like Canada, 70 per cent of minimum-wage earners are women, more than half of whom are immigrants or visible minorities. The average woman makes just 71 cents for each dollar a man makes. If you're a woman of colour, that figure drops to 64 cents. If you're Aboriginal, it's 46 cents (source).

After reading my last blog post, one of my friends sent me this YouTube clip to watch. It's the first half of a film called "Submission." It's by Theo Van Gogh (in association with Ayaan Hirsi Ali). The film deals with the oppression of women in many Muslim countries. Van Gogh was killed by a Muslim fanatic in 2004 because of this film. I found it to be powerful as well as very sad. The element that inspired me the most was that these women kept their faith in God despite all their questions and doubts about the religion they were following. I'd recommend watching it if you have ten minutes free.

Over in Asia, women are being mistreated by Japanese Prime Minister Abe. In the words of Katherine Heigl (when referring to Grey's Anatomy castmate, Isaiah Washington's denial of dropping the "f-bomb") "He needs to just not speak in public. Period." PM Abe delusionally believes that 200,000 Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese and Filipino women volunteered to serve as "comfort women" for the Japanese military during World War II. Abe stupidly said there had been no “coercion, like the authorities breaking into houses and kidnapping” women. Flying in the face of logic, he believes his government played no role in forcing women (many too young to be married) to travel to foreign countries hundreds of miles away in order to "service" as many as twenty soldiers a day for years, resulting in numerous abortions and often sterility.

“Prime Minister Abe is in effect saying that the women are lying,” Representative Mike Honda, the California Democrat who is spearheading the legislation, said in a telephone interview. “I find it hard to believe that he is correct given the evidence uncovered by Japanese historians and the testimony of the comfort women.”

Look, it's bad enough that the Japanese government ruined these women's lives, making it almost impossible for them marry and have children. What's in the past can never be changed. But now these elderly women have to contend with a world leader implying they were "professionals" or nympomaniacs? I'm really appalled that someone could be so unfeeling (Here's your sign!). In my culture, people respect someone who honestly admits to wrongdoing and makes amends.

Unfortunately these are just two of the many places in the world where the contributions of half our population aren't equally valued. Why is it that women are most affected by genital cutting, incest, domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual slavery, stalking, and trafficking in human beings? With all this going on, I am ashamed that people will still use the word "feminist" as an insult! If I've learned anything from this life, it's that we are all in this world together. Imagine a world where we treated each other with dignity and respect. Whether I'm labeled a feminist, humanist, enviromentalist, or socialist, it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, to love one another as we have been loved is still the commandment that transcends all others.


sassiekiwi said...

It's interesting really ... we have these very obvious examples of women being oppressed yet, in the west we have found more subtle ways. Read an excellent article (see link below) which uses the recent Anna Nicole Smith debacle to make some very good points ... the article is quick and worth a read - attached one quote below.

"....Spiritual death; the painful compression of one's true self into another's prescribed mold. Actresses, models, women of all races kill themselves to fit a glittering image of "perfection" in America. Whether it be through binging and vomiting her body away, straightening the last kink out of her hair, slitting the slant in her eyes, stretching her skin back, or altering herself to uphold the young, white, blonde, thin and flawless ideal......"

I don't really think we have come as far as we think we have!

Teacher_Jen said...

Wow... I cried as I read your blog--how fortunate am I that I live in a country where at least I have the rights to choose my future. I would label you a humanitarian--but like you said, it doesn't matter.

stickfigureman said...

Something your readers may also be interested in:

Nuruddin Farah was on CBCs The Hour last week and when speaking about Somalia, he said some poignant things about the important role women play in the world and specifically in Somalia

Danifesto said...

Thanks Stickfigureman-
Video found here-

Jolie said...

How did I miss this post? As your biggest fan (well at least in my head) I try to read all your posts right when they come out.

This fits into the two graphic novels I just read (Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood). It's about a girl growing up in Iran during the 80s-90s. It's based on the authors life. She talks about how it was decreed that women would have to wear veils out in public. She lived through seeing her mother and other professional women lose their jobs and become almost sub-human under the confines of the veil. Her story is made more powerful by the illustrations that accompany it. This was my first graphic novel and I know it won't be my last.

As for Feminist being a dirty word. Again, I don't get individuals that try to turn positive actions into something evil. As Ani said in Grand Canyon:

"coolest f-word ever deserves a f*cking shout!
i mean
why can't all decent men and women
call themselves feminists?
out of respect
for those who fought for this"