Despite criticisms that feminism helps women alone, it also aids men in dismantling toxic masculinity
With feminism gaining popularity over the years, harsh criticism of the movement was inevitable. A rather prevalent objection that critics often brought up against this global campaign was how it only aimed to help women and had an agenda to strip away men from their masculinity. Those familiar with the tenets of feminism know this statement cannot be farther away from the truth.
However, many still believe that feminism's objective is to "whine" about patriarchy and how it hurts women. This misinterpretation causes individuals to fail to recognize how patriarchy oppresses everyone, regardless of their gender.
It is rather evident how the systemic injection of elements of patriarchy in modern society has hurt women — the overused narrative that men are the dominant gender and women are less worthy. This deeply rooted and internalized belief has obviously restricted many women throughout history and continues to do so.
However, many miss how patriarchy has directly hurt men in the past and continues to do so. Time and time again, the tenets of patriarchy have had a directly negative impact on men — a huge problem being toxic masculinity.
Toxic masculinity can be defined as men conforming to traditional male gender roles, resulting in men basing their emotions on the untold yet intensely followed rules that patriarchy has dictated.
An easy example would be how it is often unacceptable for men to show sadness as it will be directly associated with weakness. This incorrect linkage can often encourage men to express their frustration through the route of anger instead of sadness from a young age.
This is interesting as studies have proved that anger is a secondary emotion which means that there is often an underlying primary feeling such as fear, sadness or jealousy that is masked by anger. Although I can't comprehend why sadness is such an unacceptable emotion for men, some so-called "alpha males" clarify and argue that since men are leaders, they should be able to endure the pain instead of displaying it.
Jackson Karza, author of The Macho Paradox, sheds light on this mindset and elaborates on how numerous men channel their vulnerability through feelings of anger. This anger is a mask to cover their vulnerability, possibly implying they are not man enough to take the pressure.
In such instances, feminism comes into play and defends men's rights who want to proudly exhibit their diverse range of emotions without being judged. Again, unlike how many men view feminism, the movement is supportive of equal rights between men and women in all categories — including showing emotions.
Feminists strive to dismantle the principles of patriarchy by constantly challenging ridiculous social norms such as men not having the ability to show their vulnerability comfortably. Feminism stands for a just world where with the elimination of patriarchy, men and women can be equals in every sense.
C/O Sasha Freemind, Unsplash
How to navigate societal norms as a woman and embrace the person you are
There have been many points in my life where I questioned my capabilities simply for being a woman. I remember as a kid life’s possibilities felt endless and I was not the cookie-cutter version of society's eight-year-old girl. I loved getting aggressive on the field with the boys while playing Manhunt, I chose Pokemon cards over jump-rope at recess and I simply did not care about looks or my poise.
It wasn’t until I slowly started realizing I was not fitting society's mold and if I didn’t change myself to fit into it, I would be seen as less worthy. I began sitting on the sidelines watching the boys play Manhunt, I traded the Pokemon cards for the jump-rope and I started focusing on my looks and mannerisms. I started becoming more fragile and shy and avoided raising my voice.
In a period of time when I faced so much confusion, my second grade teacher was the only one who gave me clarity. He loved to read and write, specifically poems, and showed me that anyone could do what they wanted if they tried. He taught me that nothing can hold you back.
I was still intimidated by the notion of using my own voice and creating something with my mind, but I still pushed myself. Years later in high school, the pressure of being a woman — as depicted by society — grew in intensity. From navigating relationships, adjusting to cliques and figuring out what to do after high school, the only thing keeping me grounded was writing.
Writing helped me use my voice. I had the freedom to write about anything I wanted to. While writing, I did not feel what I felt as a result of society’s influence and messaging about women — small.
Through growing up in a society that believes women should be viewed as fragile, nurturing and sensitive, it becomes hard to believe in yourself and find your own independence. We feel as though we have to turn down our true selves or tie our identities to something else to simply fit in.
For example, Canadian women gained the right to vote in 1960. In fact, the pandemic has rolled back women’s employment rates in Ontario to the same levels as 1944. Today, for every 100 men promoted and hired to a manager position, only 72 women are promoted and hired for the same role and for women of colour, that number is even lower, with 68 latina women and 58 black women being promoted in comparison.
It is hard to feel powerful and independent when society tells you to be the complete opposite, yet praises men for their bravery and boldness.
My advice to any woman who feels belittled or smaller than they are is to believe in themselves. As cheesy as it may sound, every woman will be knocked down plenty of times in their life. People will question their skills and strength but as long as you have your own back, that's all that matters.
Moving with confidence and truly investing in yourself is what makes a strong independent woman. Be there for other women, work hard and the only person you truly have to prove anything to is you and no one else.
If not for my second grade teacher showing me everything I could gain from writing and teaching me the importance of valuing what I want to do, I would not be as confident in myself as I am today.
It is important to have inspirational women around you and to do what you love, take time for yourself, learn what gives you that feeling of freedom and run with it. Anyone is capable of doing whatever they please; it is all about confidence and believing in yourself.
By Roba Dekamo, Contributor
Most people experience some level of privilege based on a combination of characteristics society considers integral to who you are. Some factors that influence privilege include your race, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity. Based on these characteristics, your life will be harder or easier, and unfortunately you don’t get a say in the matter. Many folks are able to live easier lives due to privilege. For example, white folks are less likely to be pulled over while driving and men are less likely to be targets of sexual violence. However, one privilege I never considered, likely because doing so would contradict its very nature, is the ability to forget.
A friend of mine invited me to take part in McMaster University’s Mens’ Walk in Solidarity with the the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. As we made our way through campus, we stopped at four memorial sites: the Student Memorial Garden, Nina de Villiers Rose Garden, the Montreal Massacre Commemorative Stone and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Memorial. During one stop, a group member reminded us of how frequently we may pass by these sites, often daily, without giving them much thought. He defined this as “the privilege to forget”.
This isn’t to say men are dismissive of acts of gender-based violence and their impacts, but to say that, as cisgender straight men, many of us don’t have to carry the weight of our very safety being threatened on the basis of gender. Therefore, we can either consciously or unconsciously ignore the realities that women and non-binary folks face on a daily basis in terms of their physical security.
My daily decisions aren’t impacted by the threat of violence because I am a man. I don’t consider how late I can stay on campus if I am not walking home with friends. I don’t prioritize being aware of my environment or worry about who I’m surrounded by when I am out dancing. The women in my life can’t say the same.
While walking through campus with my mom, she helped me realize how easily I am able to forget. We crossed paths with a few friends and when one of them, a female engineering student, stated her program, she was met with all the affection I had come to expect from my mom but with one additional praise I didn’t anticipate: she called her brave. She cited the events of Dec. 6, 1989, the École Polytechnique massacre, where a man killed 14 women in a horrible act of misogyny because he said they were “feminists” for being in engineering. My mom reassured this young woman that her decision was hers to make, and that by defying gender norms she had been brave and made at least one mom proud. I’m sure her own mother was also very proud but unfortunately we are still waiting on a quote from her.
My mom found my friend brave for pursuing her passion, for choosing a field of study dominated by men and for doing what she wanted regardless of the standards. Brave for doing what men consider normal. This was another reminder of my privilege to be able to dismiss the concerns that women often have to take into account when making decisions. Will I feel safe and comfortable in this space? Welcomed or alienated? Is the discomfort worth pursuing something I want? I never had to face these questions when weighing my options in high school.
I remember a time in my first year when five women I was friends with mentioned that they always felt better when I joined them on late night escapades to find a kegger or backyard party. I was taken aback by the statement, not just because I’m built like a determined toothpick but because I never considered my physical safety to be in jeopardy by simply being out at night. To be fair, this anecdote isn’t as much about forgetting as it is about learning, but even beyond this experience years ago, these thoughts don’t occupy mind nearly as much as I’d argue they should.
I learned a lot from those friends and they helped me realize a few things: my understanding of the world was very limited and I had a lot to learn, but also we as a society need to share more. Sharing the burden of repairing broken systems and perceptions, but also sharing our experiences to help inform and educate each other about things some individuals may never experience themselves.
Violence against women and gender-nonconforming people exists 365 days of the year, at a rate drastically higher than men experience. This allows a lot of male identifying folks the luxury of tuning out the subject for 364 of those days, and acknowledging its significance as it arises, be it a news article, story from a friend or national observance.
Year round, men need to ask more often, listen more intently and genuinely care for what women and non-binary folks have to say about these issues. We can use each others’ experiences to learn a lot about the things we can never experience ourselves and hopefully this can help change the ways we think and act for the better.
By Sabrina Macklai
On Oct 2. 2018, Donna Strickland became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in physics in 55 years. Strickland graduated McMaster University in 1981 with a degree in engineering physics and has since been responsible for greatly advancing the field of laser physics while at the University of Waterloo.
She won the prize for introducing the technique of chirped pulse amplification, which has broad-spectrum applications in laser microsurgery and micromachinery. Prior to Strickland, Maria Goeppert-Mayer received the prize in 1963 for generating evidence in support of the nuclear shell model – which today is still the most widely used and accepted theoretical model of the atomic nucleus. The only other woman to ever win the Nobel Prize in physics is Marie Curie in 1903, for the discovery of radioactivity.
While surely women have come a long way since 1903, the fact remains that women in academia, especially in the male-dominated field of physics, are at a serious disadvantage. Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded 112 times to over 200 individual recipients. The fact that only three women have won this prize out of the 200 recipients is alarming.
Gender bias in science is not a new concept. Goeppert-Mayer spent most of her career largely unpaid, despite holding the title of a Nobel Prize laureate. According to the American Institute of Physics, while women earn around 20 per cent of all bachelor degrees in physics, women earn less than 10 per cent of doctorates in physics. Among physics faculty members, women are only represented by 15 per cent.
There are many reasons for the lack of women that have little to do with a lack of interest. Navigating academia is difficult. There is a large disparity between the number of doctoral graduates who aspire to become professors versus the number of available positions. The likelihood of becoming a professor varies depending on the field of study, but in general, less than 10 per cent of all doctoral graduates actually continue in academia. And of those few who remain, the chance of obtaining a tenure-track position is even slimmer.
Women who dare to enter academia often face discrimination in addition to the above limitations. They may hold their doctorate degree and contribute greatly to their field, but still be overlooked for tenure and other ways to advance their careers in comparison to their male counterparts. While this is true of almost all academic fields, women in physics seem to be at an even greater disadvantage. In comparison to other physical sciences like chemistry, which have near-equal representation of men and women at the undergraduate level, there is something about physics that leads it to having one of the worst gender gaps.
The lack of women in physics is only one problem. It’s no secret that being male and being white is characteristic of physics majors. Being a person of colour, particularly being Black, adds a whole new layer of systematic barriers against success in the field.
There is growth, however small. The American Institute of Physics reports that in the United States between 2003 and 2013, the number of bachelor degrees in physics earned by Black, Indigenous and Hispanic women increased by 40 per cent. This number is significantly lower than the 59 per cent total increase in bachelor degrees in physics. It is also much lower than the 65 per cent increase in total number of bachelor degrees achieved by Black, Indigenous and Hispanic women. For whatever reason, women and minorities continue to be underrepresented in physics.
How do we move forward from here? I don’t know. What I do know is that the issue of diversity in physics is a problem of the system and thus requires those with the power to change the system to act accordingly. Create support networks for minorities in physics. Acknowledge harmful departmental climates. Have selection committees that are truly representative of the population. Consciously work towards to creating equal employment and advancement opportunities.
Women and minorities have so much to contribute to their fields, including physics. Their advancements could very well lead to novel solutions for problems that seemed out of reach. By not addressing the systematic barriers against these groups, we all sit at a disadvantage.
By: Suzany Manimaran
On one side of the room, people gazed at the wall of vibrant artwork, taking in the intricate line art drawings and detailed paintings. On the other, performers were shaking off their nerves as they waited for the show to open, preparing to share their reflections on “the f word”.
She’s the First McMaster titled their second annual The F******* Word arts showcase, referencing the stigma associated with “feminism”.
All proceeds raised by the feminist arts showcase went towards the non-profit organization, She’s the First, which focuses on fighting global gender inequality through education.
STF President and fourth year student Barkhaa Talat leads the McMaster chapter of the New York-based organization.
“All donations [that we raise] goes to girls in low income countries, [allowing them to] gain an education, give them scholarships, clothing, shelter, a nutritious diet, and all of it is done through local organizations,” said Talat.
“Feminism is given a bad name, there’s a lot of misinterpret-ation.”
She’s The First McMaster
Currently, STF works to provide scholarships and facilities to girls in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Guatemala, Peru, India and Nepal.
“The showcase focused primarily on two things: the first was to raise donations… the second reason was to showcase local artists from Hamilton and the GTA to give them a free platform to showcase their talent. We contacted local artists throughout the Art Gallery of Hamilton and McMaster Students,” explained Talat.
“Artists showcased their art for free, there was also a silent auction. It was dedicated to the talent within the [McMaster] community, and learning about gender equality through art and performances.”
The artwork and the performances of the night were varied in their mediums and styles. From original and cover songs, to spoken word, to visual art pieces that were displayed all around the room.
Musicians performed songs like Sia’s “Titanium” and Colbie Caillat’s “Try” along with original songs that were also focused around the themes of female empowerment, body positivity and vulnerability.
“I really enjoyed planning it, contacting the artists and performers, there wasn’t really any selection process. We made sure it was appropriate [and] it was showcased if it was approved. [The] older artists that contributed their pieces hadn’t heard about anything like this and [they] encouraged us to [keep] doing these kinds of events,” explained Talat.
“It’s important to have these kinds of conversations because of our age group, there’s an interest towards it on social media, but it’s not really talked about. Feminism is given a bad name, there’s a lot of misinterpretation. People are often standoffish, they want to know what about the boys who need education too,” said Talat.
“[Our focus is on] making it important that [both] are disadvantaged but inequality for women, especially in low income countries, is much more prevalent.”
She’s The First McMaster facilitates this discussion on campus through art, music, and creative expression.
As the fight for gender equality continues to be stigmatized and misinterpreted, it’s important to allow for discussion and artistic expression that highlights that it is, at its core, a fight for equality.
By: Jordan Graber
I used to be scared of feminism. I think a lot of people are still wary when they hear the word and connect their understanding of it. Often, those associated with the word feminism are often seen as angry, aggressive and in opposition of men. This is the first problem with this many people’s relationship with this term; misunderstanding.
Feminism by definition is, “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes”. In recent years, it has taken the world by storm, forming a movement of uprising men and women fighting for the equal rights of all genders. Only recently has it truly been a topic that is important in my own life.
At first, I didn’t really know what the term meant in order to understand my own stance on the subject. As a young woman growing up, I never really recognized the stereotypes towards women, and have been lucky to have experienced no discrimination against my femininity.
I am also fortunate to say that I am confident in my abilities and my feminine qualities. I am a warrior woman and I know that I don’t need a man to tell me who I can be. Given my experiences, why should I inquire further about this social movement.
Unfortunately, this is a common thought that women today may have. It is almost an ignorant stance to take on a relevant social issue.
Feminism is a difficult subject to grasp and is often viewed as an unpleasant subject to discuss openly. But just because the topic may be difficult does not mean that we should be oblivious to the struggles and positions within the movement. Despite the media coverage worldwide, it seems as though topics such as feminism and human rights are constantly pushed to the wayside, ignored and forgotten.
In recent years, it has taken the world by storm, forming a movement of uprising men and women fighting for the equal rights of all genders. Only recently has it truly been a topic that is important in my own life.
I myself have lived my life without fear of prejudice towards my gender. Although I have experienced it, it’s not something I let take me down. Though the term implies that women should be concerned with the movement, experiences vary from woman to woman. As a result, not all women share the same views or interest in the topic. Nonetheless, this topic should be addressed and understood, not feared. In order to achieve this, we should practice open-mindedness and free discussion.
Although your stance may come as second nature, we can’t let our own experiences define those of others. Women have always, and I predict will always face some injustice when it comes to competition with men. As they are different in nature, misinterpretation and generalizing are bound to exist.
Every aspect of our culture is full of stereotypes about marginalized communities.
The best way to learn about the movement is to take part in it. And no, you don’t have to call yourself a “feminist” in order to do so. For those looking for a nearby cause for female awareness, invest some time in Take Back the Night. An annual march in Hamilton organized by the Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton Area). A feminist, community based organization that works to end sexual violence against women and break social and political boundaries.
Similarly, the “Slut Walk” is a transnational event that is held at different times of the year around the globe, including Hamilton and Toronto, that works to end rape culture and slut shaming of survivors of sexual assault.
Events that work in this greater social movement encourage us to question, our roles and responsibilities. This is not a simple question, and does not come with an easy answer. Personally, I’m terrified of confrontation, and I guess the millions of silent watchers are too. However, I think the issue is that people just don’t want to see what is going on. This can definitely be seen an ignorant position to hold against 21st century ideals.
This is a problem because many may be too afraid to take responsibility for our mistakes and misjudgements, are too scared to stand up and do so. I understand the struggle. Being a feminist is not easy. Being any sort of activist is going to be come with struggle, but my take is, if there is something that you believe must be addressed, fight for it.
We as humans inherently fear being singled out by others, but this is minor next to the larger issue. One does not need to organize a rally to show support for one another. Responsibility is as simple as taking the initiative to learn about a cause. An issue like gender equality isn’t something to be fixed overnight, but with some effort, it can be understood overnight.
I no longer fear feminism. I identify as a feminist. I will fight for my own rights and for the rights of those who cannot fight for themselves.
Perhaps you’ve never heard of Dolores Huerta’s name before today, likely due to the deep sexism that prevents her work from appearing in textbooks and classrooms, but chances are you’ve heard her iconic words, “Sí se puede”.
Spanish for “yes we can”, Huerta’s rallying cry inspired labour rights movements in the United States, and her words were famously echoed by the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign.
Huerta is an American labour and civil rights activist who fought for the rights of agriculture workers and consumers’ rights. She co-founded the United Farm Workers in 1962 and was the leader of the five-year Delano grape strike.
Huerta’s life as a rebel, activist, feminist and mother was documented in the film Dolores which released earlier this fall. The film is part of the official selection for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and winner of the Seattle International Film Festival.
The Workers Arts and Heritage Centre had spent months planning a public screening of Dolores and a presentation by Evelyn Encalada Grez, a local migrant worker activist and advocate, which took place on Oct. 26.
“She’s a very important feminist leader in France. Thanks to her, we have the right to abortion. She’s a very respectful and important woman for us, and she [passed away] a few months ago so I chose to honour her.”
At the event, a banner with the words “Sí se puede” surrounded by paintings and iron-on transfer photographs of feminists from around the world hung proudly.
Youth had gathered the night before the screening at a banner making workshop organized by WAHC program coordinator, Tara Bursey, and Daniela Giulietti from YWCA Hamilton, to learn about the legacy of Huerta.
“[Dolores Huerta] served as the foundation for the workshop, we are taking inspiration from her and thinking about how we can make a collective statement together, as youth, as artists and ask folks who are interested in feminism, labour and activism,” explained Bursey.
At the workshop, attendees had complete creative freedom to make the banner a statement of their own. Together, they decided to emphasize Huerta’s iconic words by writing “Sí se puede” in the different languages of feminists.
Mehar Hamid, who is a member of the WAHC Youth Council, described banner making as a unique skill that played an important role in labour history and activism.
“The purpose of today’s event is to gauge people’s interests and for the youth to see where their interests take them through this hands-on activity, and maybe the activity would be a catalyst for [the Youth Council] this year.”
“[Banner-making] is something that can be learned and used when you go to a protest… It’s a piece that links to activism. Instead of just learning or hearing about things, [banner making] is a form of action,” explained Hamid.
The members of the WAHC Youth Council were also joined by youth who had never heard of the centre before. Alexane Heredia, a French student who is learning English in Hamilton, came out to the event hoping to meet new people and learn something new.
“I’m super happy to discover a place like that. I’m thinking to come back as a volunteer… I come from France, so I chose to write ‘yes we can’ in French next to Simone Veil,” said Heredia.
“She’s a very important feminist leader in France. Thanks to her, we have the right to abortion. She’s a very respectful and important woman for us, and she [passed away] a few months ago so I chose to honour her.”
Other attendees printed and painted Huda Sha’arawi, a pioneering Egyptian feminist leader and author, Simone de Beauvoir, a French political activist and existentialist philosopher and Rosemary Brown, the first Black Canadian woman to run for federal party leadership.
The banner making workshop and film screening fulfilled WAHC’s purpose of engaging the community with the contemporary experiences of workers and labour history, while also paving the way for the Youth Council’s future initiatives.
“The purpose of today’s event is to gauge people’s interests and for the youth to see where their interests take them through this hands-on activity, and maybe the activity would be a catalyst for [the Youth Council] this year,” explained Bursey.
Dolores Huerta’s strengths, struggles and powerful words are serving as the inspiration and foundation for this year’s youth initiatives at WAHC. “Sí se puede” will continue to be the anthem for pushing the limits and making strides through activism, here in Hamilton, and beyond.
The Workers Arts and Heritage Centre is a multidisciplinary art centre and community museum located at 51 Stuart Street. McMaster students, especially those studying or have an interest in the arts, sociology, labour studies or activism are encouraged to be part of the Youth Council.
By: Shruti Ramesh - WGEN Contributor
As a woman in academic spaces, something that is too uncommon is the presence of women who look like me and whose names sound like mine.
It’s not that these women aren’t out there. At McMaster alone, we have women of colour who are competitive in their fields across numerous disciplines. The caveat is that spaces meant to promote positive representation for women in academia, in politics and in leadership run the risk of not adequately representing and supporting the communities they are supposed to.
An upcoming event in the McMaster community is the International Women in Science Day Conference to be hosted on Feb. 11. The purpose of the conference is to bring female-identifying science students and faculty together to “empower one another, and engage in discussion about what it means to be a woman in science”.
Upon speaking with a member of their executive and reviewing their materials, we had an overall positive impression of the team and the goals they set out to achieve with running this event. Of particular interest is the structure of the conference. It is divided into the past, the present and the future in order to chart the trajectory of the role women have played and continue to play in the field. The keynotes, panelists and workshops bring together women from different academic backgrounds to give prospective attendees a holistic perspective about what a career in science could look like and the narratives of lived experience that accompany such a career.
With this in mind, there is one facet of the conference that is important to examine further. Looking at the lineup of panelists and speakers leaves one with the impression that women in science are almost exclusively white. 11 of the 12 panelists and both keynote speakers are white women. We’d like to acknowledge that this was not entirely in the hands of the IWISCI executive team. When planning an event with speakers, you are limited by who agrees to participate and the recruitment process can be a difficult task.
Looking at the lineup of panelists and speakers leaves one with the impression that women in science are almost exclusively white.
The executives did reach out to women from diverse backgrounds in keeping with the focus on identity and interplay of intersectionality that is central to the event. However, when over 92 per cent of the space taken up by panelists and speakers is filled with white voices, it is clear more needs to be done.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the aims of this event. The narrative of women facing ongoing obstacles pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math fields is one that continues to repeat itself, and remains a valuable conversation. Further, it is evident the care the executive team has put into giving women avenues to share their experiences and learn from each other. It is still important to be mindful that when labeling a space as intersectional, it naturally calls attention to gaps in representation. The voices missing from many conversations about women’s experiences speak to the bigger picture. It reinforces that despite progress, there is a need to continue working to ensure feminist and academic spaces alike are inclusive in the face of systemic barriers.
I take myself back to my first Chem 1A03 lecture in September 2013. If I were to look around, I would see black and Indigenous women, racialized women and white women as well. Amidst the crowd I could be certain there would be women who looked like me and whose names sounded like mine. Moving forward, in creating spaces for equity-seeking communities, we need to be more intentional. We need to give women in all fields of the future the representation they deserve.
One of the largest demonstrations of resistance made history this past weekend.
On Jan. 21, millions of people around the world gathered in solidarity to send a bold message to the newly inaugurated president of the United States; that women’s rights and equality will be fought for, and that hatred of any kind will not be tolerated.
The Women’s March on Washington, a global grassroots solidarity movement, was planned in response to the harmful rhetoric that took place during the recent presidential election. The march acts as a chance for women and allies to defend their rights and to make an international demonstration of solidarity, diversity and inclusivity.
With over 673 sister marches held internationally, including one in Hamilton, and approximately 4,603,500 people registered to participate in the movement, the Women’s March on Washington may be the largest demonstration of unity following a presidential inauguration in history.
“It’s important to have these solidarity movements outside of Washington, firstly, because women’s rights are a global issue,” said Hamilton co-organizer, Anna Davey. “But I think it is also important for us to move internationally, to show each other that we have each others’ backs, and that we will not be quiet in the face of intolerance and discrimination.”
Hundreds of activists gathered in Hamilton to demonstrate solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington and to enable community building. Originally, the march was planned to begin at City Hall and move to Gore Park, organizers made the decision to shift their focus onto a high-energy and powerful rally due to accessibility concerns instead.
“The march [gave] Hamiltonians the chance to make connections,” said Davey. “It gives us the chance to meet each other, to unite, and to collectively shoulder the burdens that are unfairly placed on so many in our community– immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA Native people, Black and Brown people, peo-ple with disabilities and survivors of sexual assault.”
Hamilton’s rally also saw over a dozen speakers and performers from different organizations that are involved in human rights and equity services within the Hamilton area, including the Social Planning and Research Council, the YWCA Hamilton, Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton Area) and the McMaster Womanists, ultimately inspiring and enabling attendees to move forward in protecting women’s rights.
“I stood in a crowd of around a thousand women today, not knowing a single one beside me but I felt if something were to happen I would be protected by them,” said attendee Kandel Kindred. “It’s a reminder that we are all one, all equal. No power or enforcement is stronger than another, we are all the same and that needs to be practiced on a daily basis, not just at movements such as this.”
Hamilton’s march organizers will be publishing a call to action on their social media channels to provide supporters direct actions they can take to protect and advocate for women’s rights.
By: Vania Pagniello
Good, not-so-ol’fashioned DIY feminism, friends and fun at the Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair this Saturday.
On Nov. 11, Hamilton will be celebrating its third annual Feminist Zine Fair. With double the amount of artists who sold their work in the first year, the event is now being hosted on the fourth floor of the Hamilton Public Library from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in order to accommodate the increasing number participants.
The free-of-charge event is hosted by the Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton Area), an organization dedicated to supporting survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence. SACHA’s intention for the event is to create a safe space for marginalized voices to be heard and to deepen individuals’ understandings of feminisms through discussion and art.
A zine is a self-published miniature magazine. Topics of zines range from political narratives to fan fiction to illustrations. They typically sell for between $2 and $5.
In the case of the Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair, the connecting theme underlying all zine topics is feminism. Promisingly, there will be a variety of topics mirroring the diversity of human experiences and expression.
Zinesters are deeply embedded within the workings of this event. They will be seated behind the tables that showcase their zines and sometimes other purchasable items like stickers, pins, t-shirts, and treats too.
As necessary as the transaction of money is for the artists, they are not just vendors. Many welcome discussions keeping in mind the ultimate objective of the fair: the exchanging of ideas.
An enjoyable experience is easy here. Along with the selling of items and opportunity for discussion, there will also be a “four-hour zine challenge”; a themed zine made during the day that anyone at the fair can contribute to. The theme of the assembled zine this year focuses on supportive messages to survivors of sexual assault. At they end of the day, it will be distributed, displaying everyone’s unique contributions of content.
Although there will be plenty of zines to browse and buy for a small fee, SACHA’s main intention for the fair is to create a space for marginalized people to tell their own stories.
Amy Egerdeen, SACHA volunteer and HFZF coordinator, speaks to this intention.
“We put out a call for people who make zines and do their own kinds of publications who are definitely coming from feminist angle. I also had people that I contacted because we really wanted to prioritize trans* folks and people of colour. So we did some seeking out for people we thought would be a good fit… that’s kind of where we are coming from and what we want to make sure is a really big part of the zine fair.”
Also noteworthy is the way feminist politics and zine publications complement each other. DIY self-publication is a useful tool for activists to disseminate their ideas without having to censor them in order to get approval from a mainstream source.
“[Feminist zinesters] do a lot of work that is personal and that isn’t the traditional stuff that gets published. Its a great way for people to get their voices out there in a way that doesn’t have to be okayed by a big publisher or okayed by a mainstream magazine,” Egerdeen explained.
Ultimately, HFZF adds vibrancy to Hamilton through its DIY art activism.
“[The HFZF] is really growing in the community. We are just watching it become its own kind of thing! So that’s pretty exciting… there’s been a lot more zine activity happening in Hamilton since [it started]… I think it’s really cool what’s happening here,” said Egerdeen.
In its entirety, the HFZF is a marketplace for feminist literature and art. Naturally, its materialization is temporary, but the ideas shared here still transcend their brief presentation.