Get your own QFR

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Thanks, everyone, who ventured out in the rain on Monday night to celebrate the release of QFR. It was a beautiful launch — the readings were fabulous, the food was delicious and the company was magical! In the next few days I’ll post a couple corrections that need to be made (unfortunately), as well as some great photos from the event (!!!), but in the meantime you can find QFRs trickling their way around campus and the city, or you can go straight to the source and pick it up for yourself at the Social Issues Commission office in the AMS offices of the lower ceilidh of the JDUC, during regular business hours.

Thank you for all of your hard work! Soon there will be a new chair and this will happen again next year. Start thinking of new submission ideas…

Categories: Local

Queen’s Feminist Review LAUNCH!

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Sorry for this very tardy post, but I have some very exciting news!

Queen’s Feminist Review vol. 18 will be making its debut on March 22, from 7 – 10pm, at the Union Gallery in Stauffer Library!

Please join us for some snacks and performances by our contributors and community members — and, of course, don’t forget to pick up your free copy of this year’s QFR.

Get excited. And be there.

Do you want to perform? Great! Email qfr@ams.queensu.ca and let’s talk! :) All are welcome!

Oh, and happy St. Paddy’s day — let’s hope that this cafeteria does not break into a food fight as I sit here with my laptop…

Categories: Local, WOW! Tags:

Progress update and submission selection

February 18, 2010 Leave a comment

First of all, sorry for being so M.I.A. for the last month and a half. I’ve been neglectful. I’m sorry.

The good news is, the reason I haven’t been posting is because QFR goings-on were getting intense!

On Monday night I finally sent our InDesign files to Allan Graphics, our printer, which means that QFR v.18 will be printed and beautiful by the second week of March. Right now we are busily in the midst of planning our launch event, to which you are all invited, and I hope you’re as excited as I am to see the final product. The art, prose, poetry and essays being published this year are phenomenal and awe-inspiring and I can’t thank our contributors enough for giving us such a vast array of creative, insightful and provocative work to choose from.

A long time ago I promised to de-mystify our submissions selection process, and I’m finally (finally!) going to follow through on that promise. So. The first thing I want you to do, if you haven’t already, is read “Our Mandate.” We only wrote this mandate a few months ago, and throughout the entire selection process we repeatedly went back to and re-read it, especially when we were uncertain about a particular piece. Unsurprisingly, though, the mandate is open to a lot of interpretation and it often came down to this question: What does feminism even mean? Or this question: What does a feminist work of art even look like?

I still don’t think this year’s QFR editorial board has come to an agreement on these. We would spend hours on a single poem or story, and if we didn’t have a deadline our meetings probably would have gone on for even longer.

And what about our meetings? Well, before our selection meetings begin, two documents need to be made: the submissions package and the master list. The submissions package contains every single submission received, each piece and page numbered, with the author’s name removed but any notes to the editors preserved. Copies of the submissions package are given to every editorial board member, usually before the holiday break, and everyone is responsible to read the submissions, make notations and form opinions as much as possible. The master list, on the other hand, lists each piece by number with the author’s name and contact info. The master list is kept as private as possible and only the person responsible for making it and the person responsible for emailing back contributors ever see it.

At our meetings, we sit in as close to a circle as we can get and go through every. Single. Piece. One by one, and by consensus: we do our best to avoid voting on pieces and instead spend time discussing, debating and persuading each other on whether to include the submission. Of course, if you are familiar with the author of the piece, then you abdicate from the discussion altogether. This, like I said, can take hours. Everyone’s voice counts and with twelve people on the committee this year, that’s a lot of voices! This part of the QFR creation process is by far my favourite, and I can still remember in my first year on QFR being told about intersectionality by one of the other editorial board members. It’s a learning experience, it can get kind of ferocious and it’s pretty much the most fun thing ever.

After a month or two of meetings, the submission selection process is finished. The editorial board gets to find out who the authors and artists are behind the pieces that will be published. We correct typos and fix grammatical problems, but other than that we don’t touch the submissions at all. We put the pieces in as coherent an order as possible, and we do the layout, and then we get to February 18th and I write a blog about the whole process. (See what I did there?)

Hope this was informative and interesting for you, and maybe it will even convince you to apply to be on the editorial board for next year, volume 19. It’s starting to get to that time of year again…!

Activism in Art: The Guerrilla Girls

February 15, 2010 1 comment

I am a firm believer in the ability of art, visual culture and its surrounding discourse to shift paradigms, provoke discussion and prompt social change.  One of my very favourite activist art collectives are the Guerrilla Girls.

The Guerrilla Girls are an anonymous group of females who strive to critique racism and sexism in art and politics. Adopting the names of dead female artists and donning gorilla masks in public, they have been making viral, politically charged statements about the art world and beyond since 1985. Their philosophy on political art, as stated on their website, pretty effectively sums up why they’re awesome:

We try to be different from the kind of political art that is angry and points to something and says “This is bad.” That’s preaching to the converted. We want to be subversive, to transform our audience, to confront them with some disarming statements, backed up by facts—and great visuals—and hopefully convert them. We carefully craft everything we do. We try to twist an issue around and present it in a way that hasn’t been seen before.

One of their recent projects, Troubler le Repos/Disturbing the Peace, was made to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, and focuses on hate speech and violence against women in a historical context. 2,500 Troubler le Repos/Disturbing the Peace posters were distributed throughout Montreal in conjunction with an exhibit of the same name, featuring twenty Guerilla Girls posters from 1985-2009,  shown at the Galerie de l’Université du Québec à Montréal, curated by Mélanie Boucher. You can see the Troubler le Repos/Disturbing the Peace poster here: http://www.guerrillagirls.com/posters/Montreal.shtml

While the exhibit is no longer being shown at Galerie de l’UQAM, I think it serves as a pretty potent example of their work’s ability to simply and powerfully convey a message in an innovative way and distribute it virally.

To read more about the Guerrilla Girls and see more of their projects visit: http://www.guerrillagirls.com/

To read more about Galerie de l’UQAM visit: http://www.galerie.uqam.ca/

Reexamination: Sex dolls, hate speech and third wave feminism

February 5, 2010 Leave a comment

We all have people in our lives with whom we can have conversations about crazy things without being called crazy. The other day, I had one of those conversations, and it eventually veered into some interesting territory. Just go with it for a while.

The initial topic of conversation was sex dolls. Not the inflatable kind, but those newer ones that are apparently getting more lifelike with each new iteration. As a good feminist, I am typically initially repulsed by the idea of these sex dolls. It’s difficult to think of a more literal method of objectifying women. Really, it’s a pretty macabre representation of a certain set of cultural values: when women are only valued for their physical bodies (and their physical sexuality in particular), creating rubber “women” like this seems like the logical extension. This time, however, I stopped to think about it and realized that maybe such an obvious conclusion isn’t necessarily the whole story.

The problems of objectifying and silencing women are embodied in these dolls, and that’s the primary problem I think we have with them. They represent the acknowledgement that women are viewed this way, and they allow consumers (presumably heterosexual men, though this again may not be all there is to it) with the ability to denigrate and objectify to their hearts content. Now, this is a problem because as feminists (and as logical, thinking human beings, some would argue) we believe that people of all gender designations have inherent worth and are deserving of rights and equality. However, that definition really only applies to humans. Doesn’t it follow, then, that it’s better for a person to abuse, objectify and malign a rubber doll than another human being. Is it possible that this is perhaps a better release of that negative energy than the abuse of a real person? Once I got to thinking about that possibility, all sorts of other things suggested themselves.

Maybe we can apply that thinking to other acts, like hate speech. The proliferation of the internet and the fragmentation of media in the recent decades have raised alarms about the amount of hate speech and extremely oppressive material out there online (such as on blogs or dedicated websites). This behvaiour is typically thought of as terrible because it breeds oppressive thinking and may potentially lead to oppressive actions. However, if the majority of the hate speech bloggers out there will never actually do the terrible things they write about (which may or may not be true), then isn’t it better for them to be doing it in an indirect forum like a personal blog? The incredibly vast majority of people out there likely don’t even know that the blog exists, and most non like-minded people will never see anything that is posted on it. Maybe it’s not oppressive if no one reads it?

From there it’s easy to get into all sort of things about objective thinking and universal definitions of things like oppression. However, I think it’s relevant to think about this in terms of third wave feminism. The reexamination and reclamation of typically oppressive things (such as the word “bitch”, make-up, etc.) is a cornerstone of third wave feminism. I am not about to say that sex dolls are feminist, or that some anonymous hate blog isn’t an oppressive act. I just think it’s critical to remember that we do not live in a binary world of good and bad. It may be uncomfortable to reexamine some of these things, and we may not always like what we find, but it never hurts to subject even the most obviously terrible things to legitimate critical analysis. If nothing else, it will just reinforce how important it is to be aware of oppression, in all its many forms.

Categories: Media, Pop culture, Questions, WTF?

Black History Month screening & discussion: Good Hair

February 3, 2010 Leave a comment

This is going to be a quickie since I have a dinner date at Ban Righ in fifteen minutes, but I wanted to invite all of you reading to join me at the Black History Month’s screening and discussion of Good Hair. You might remember one of my first blog posts here was about that movie!

Anyway, you can come check it out at 7:30 in Dunning rm. 12.

There is actually a whole slate of events scheduled for Black History Month, all organized by Anna Thomas and Queen’s Coalition Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination. If you want to get involved, check the Facebook group! I missed promoting (and attending, unfortunately) the launch event two days ago, but there are a ton of fantastic events scheduled for the rest of the month and I hope you will come on out!

We’re almost finished reading through the text submissions and you should hear responses from us regarding your inclusion in the publication very, very soon. We’ll start checking out the art pieces tomorrow night.

Hope to see you this evening at Dunning!

Ask Men Dot Com – A Critique of Modern “Humour”

January 30, 2010 1 comment

Procrastination some days gets the best of me. I make some tea and lounge on the couch, my cat purring at my feet.  I start talking with a friend who goes to school in Ottawa.  After completing our routine how-are-you conversation she sends me a link to a website, claiming it’s something I would be interested (and offended) at reading.  It was the (popular?) Askmen.com, a website I later found my male housemate was familiar with.  I opened the link to find a list called “Top 10: Reasons Women Can’t Drive” (please follow: http://www.askmen.com/top_10/cars/top-10-reasons-women-cant-drive.html).  The list of reasons are, first of all, incredibly sexist and stereotypical, but they also are paraded as some form of what do you call it, entertainment? As a site that apparently caters towards men, I have to seriously question whether or not this website is a joke – but then I continue to ask, if it was a joke, how is this funny? 

            We have grown into a culture that enjoys humour as a minority-bashing, difference-hating network that only appreciates targeting the ‘inferior’ of our society.  The website further claimed that women don’t have the “driving gene” – now (if it is appropriate to say), that statement is outright preposterous.  I would love for this website to back up their claim of how they came to that conclusion, or were they using a stereotype to be funny? There are many women that love driving, including myself.  I do not text while driving (as the article suggests we do), I do not apply make-up while driving (which they again suggest), and I certainly pay attention to the road when friends are in the vehicle.  Claiming that gender plays a role in driving ability not only denounces our integrity as a gender – but we must remember gender is a social construct – peel that all away and we are virtually the same people.

            It is 2010 – how is it that popular men’s sites continue to bash the female gender? Take a gander on the site, look at some of the other posts they have included – not only are they offensive, but they act to disempower all the good things people have done to minimize the gap between gender inequalities.  Our society should aim to appreciate how men, women and transgendered people can benefit our society, rather than poking fun at those who historically have been oppressed. We need to find a new source of humour, as humour these days seems to be entirely racist and sexist — come on society, do we want our grandchildren learning this in textbooks fifty years down the road?  Think about it, and maybe you too will reassess what you say or do.

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