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Some worthwhile reads to mark International Women's Day

Graham F. Scott

Since today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, we wanted to highlight some recent stuff that’s appeared in This and elsewhere on the subject of gender justice and equality.

Emma Woolley at Shameless has provided a comprehensive overview of why International Women’s Day still matters. The upshot is that while the last century has seen improvements for women—especially white, economically privileged, heterosexual, cisgendered ones—that oppression is still the norm around the world and around the corner.

Recently Wendy Glauser wrote on the This blog about the uses of “girl power” imagery in the marketing of Plan Canada’s “Because I Am A Girl” campaign. Keshet Bachan yesterday responded with an interesting post at GirlsReport, about the tensions and harmonies of radical and liberal feminisms. One of Canada’s most radical feminist actions was the 1970 Abortion Caravan, which travelled across the country demonstrating for reproductive justice and ended up shutting down parliament in a spectacular protest that played an important role in securing reproductive sovereignty for Canadian women. Nick Taylor-Vaisey interviewed Barbara Freeman last spring about the caravan and the agressive media strategy its activists used.

I’ll also direct your attention to Katie Addleman’s cover story from our July-August 2010 issue on why voting reform is a feminist issue. It’s worth remembering that Canada ranks shockingly poorly for women’s representation in elected office — below rich European countries like Norway and Sweden, but also below troubled, impoverished states like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Burundi.

Not all change comes at the ballot box, of course, through capital-P Politics. Arts and culture play a huge part in changing social mores. In November 2008 we published Alison Lee’s popular cover story on feminist pornography, and the ways in which women are reclaiming porn, both as consumers and producers (that essay appears in the 2009 edition of Best Canadian Essays, by the way). Last summer, Natalie Samson interviewed Canadian rapper Eternia about the gender dynamics of hip hop, a world in which macho swagger is the norm and female MCs struggle to break through with audiences. Finally, I’ll slip in a link to my own post about the crazy masculinity-panic that seems to periodically afflict the media, and serves to obscure hard truths about the actual gender dynamics of our society.

I highlight these examples of our reporting on issues of feminism and women’s rights because I think it’s important to say that while we’ll mark International Women’s Day, gender justice—for This as a media outlet and an organization—is not now, and will never be, a “special occasion,” relegated to one day of the year. The struggle for gender equality is one in which This has participated for 45 years, and we intend to continue—today, tomorrow, all year, every year.

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