October 19, 2014

You’ve probably heard by now that feminist games critic Anita Sarkeesian was forced to cancel her talk at Utah State University this week due to threats of gun violence. Sarkeeian has faced online threats of violence in the past, but this time USU’s campus police refused to search for firearms at the event due to the state’s open carry laws. For more context on why this has happened (and what consequences we face when we protect people’s right to carry a weapon over women’s safety) see: Deadspin’s Kyle Wagner’s breakdown of the “Gamergate” culture wars, Meghan Murphy’s Vancouver Observer article on gun violence and misogyny, Mother Jones’s piece on how authorities and tech companies are succeeding or failing to take action against #Gamergate, and Sarah Mirk’s post on how online harassment can in fact be a life or death issue.

Canadian politicians are talking about national child care! Some details of who’s saying what, via Rabble.

Remember when Revenue Canada decided to grant a men’s rights group charitable status? Well, it looks like they are cracking down on “political activity.” First group being warned, of course: birdwatchers. 

As candidates continue to face ongoing racist and sexist comments and attacks in Toronto’s municipal election, it’s worth reading and sharing WAM! Vancouver’s tip-sheet for municipal reporters on avoiding sexist media coverage (by Jarrah Hodge and Natalie Hill)

Hannah Giorgis’s must-read piece on the Western fear of a black patient:

Ebola now functions in popular discourse as a not-so-subtle, almost completely rhetorical stand-in for any combination of “African-ness”, “blackness”, “foreign-ness” and “infestation” – a nebulous but powerful threat, poised to ruin the perceived purity of western borders and bodies. Dead African bodies are the nameless placeholders for (unwarranted, racist) “panic”, a conversation topic too heavy for the dinner table yet light enough for supermarket aisles.

Also see Paul Farmer’s diary on Ebola in Liberia via the LRB.

Stacey May Fowles’ responded to Toronto poet Emma Healey’s Hairpin piece posted earlier this month (in which she names and condemns sexual assault in Canada’s literary community). In an incredibly important Globe article, Fowles calls on members of the CanLit community to not stand for this type of behaviour:

If you are a member of this community and didn’t know that gendered abuse was rampant before Emma Healey broke the dam, perhaps you should ask yourself why the women you know were afraid to tell you. There is an important message here applicable not just to this tiny corner of the arts, but to similar tight-knit communities turned toxic – quite simply, when a woman tells you a man you know is an abuser, trust her. It doesn’t matter if he’s “always been nice” to you – don’t give him the benefit of your doubt

Although the deaths of a Saskatchewan couple were originally reported as a private matter, the RCMP has now confirmed that Shirley Parkinson’s death was in fact a murder and her husband Donald Parkinson’s a suicide: “Dubbing a crime as ‘two sudden deaths’ ignores the seriousness of domestic violence, disrespects the autonomy of the woman as a victim and robs society of the ability to address patterns and take steps to prevent similar crimes.”

Laurie Abraham’s piece in Elle is long, but it’s also an honest and moving read. Abraham uses Katha Politt’s Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights to talk about her own personal experiences with abortion:

It’s Pollitt who offers perhaps the most forgiving perspective on my abortion history, and who says something that seemed to resonate with a number of my friends and colleagues. “Women have to control their fertility for 30 years,” she tells me, echoing a line from Pro. “Thirty years is a long time not to make mistakes.”

I had one unplanned pregnancy in each decade of my reproductive life, which isn’t something to be proud of, but I’m not sure it’s anything to be ashamed of, either.

Apple and Facebook’s offer to freeze employees eggs isn’t just plain creepy. It’s actually in line with the logic of the “lean in” movement. As The Nation’s Bryce Covert writes:  “Egg freezing is just the most recent example of how we’ve made this collective problem an individual one. The individualistic American ethos has relegated the struggle to balance kids and careers to a private matter.”

“If the female gaze ends up boiling down to a collection of stereotypes about what heterosexual cis white women like looking at, then it isn’t radical; it’s a hollow rhetorical device that promotes the desires of a narrow group of privileged women while purporting to include us all.” Madeleine Holden writes about how her blog, Critique My Dick Pic, convinced her that a singular female gaze isn’t the answer: “what we really need to cultivate is a plurality of gazes.”

And finally, Louise Bernice Halfe’s response to photos of Attawpistkat is an upsetting and powerful reminder of the poverty and alienation that continues to define too many of Canada’s Indigenous communities. See Halfe’s photo essay (with images Larry Towell) at The Walrus.



  1. Hi Guts and readers!

    I am in need of advice. Some back ground, my 13 year old son and I are avid video game players. I’ve mostly given up triple A games now after playing for about years. I got tired of the way women were portrayed, the story lines very quickly became tiresome. My son still plays many though and we talk about them. We watch Anita’s videos together. I’m a tutor and have taken on a new child this fall. He’s a very smart 11 year old whose mom really hates video games. He, of course, plays them every chance he gets. Sadly, he went on a huge rant last week about Anita Sarkeesian and her videos. It was so sad. He railed on about how she wears makeup but criticizes makeup in games, how she took millions from her supporters for 6 videos and how wrong that is, how she “never makes sense”. His assertions were pretty much verbatim from the crappy youtube videos putting her and her theories down and the comments section. I tried to explain what Anita Sarkeesian’s point is, how his arguments were just parroting of people who clearly hate her. I tried to explain feminism even…I got through to him a bit but how could I? I’m just tutor, I’m not his mom.

    My son has been raised in a feminist household and we still have deep and long discussions about this. It’s really difficult in this day and age of internet vitriol to counter these hateful arguments against feminism and Anita Sarkeesian. She is criticizing something people (mostly young males) adore and many feel there is nothing wrong with. What surprised me was the amount of obvious hate he had and it sort of scared me. I want to talk to his mom, her English is so poor we have a hard time communicating sometimes so I’m not sure how to explain it. I’m not sure she cares. I am going to try to explain it and explain why his attitudes concern me. He is young though, 12 soon and the advantage of being an adult, even if he’s not into learning about feminism and what it means, we can plunk him in a seat and try. 🙂 So, my question is, where to start? It’s a very complicated issue (for an 11 year old).

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