The Pay Gap Is Between More Than Just Man & Woman

The Good 4 Utah, Gender Equality Bake Sale article opened up with he following line, “Here’s a quiz. 2 cookies, 2 chocolate chip cookies, exactly the same. Yet one sells for a dollar, the other 77 cents. Why? Because in America, for every dollar a man makes, a woman only makes 77 cents. So we’re raising awareness for this…” said Kari Schott with the Young Democrats Club at Jordan High School.” (good4utah.com) It is great that this bake sale was organized to spread awareness about the gender wage gap, it’s problematic that the chocolate cookies are the same. Why? Well since the cookies are the same it implies that men and women are exactly the same and that other factors such as race and sexuality for example do not have an impact to a person’s pay wage, when in fact it does. The bake sale fails to acknowledge intersectionality or gender diversity and it’s role in society and thus perpetuates a white cis-gendered feminist agenda, as opposed to a feminist agenda that acknowledges the differences amongst the population of all feminists. Whilst I acknowledge it is a great idea for awareness, it definitely fails in many ways.

Intersectionality is hugely overlooked within today’s society and perhaps because it makes introducing and educating others about these issues so complex. The bottom line is you cannot look at a situation through a single lens. For example, let’s say Fred is a queer, Jewish, cis-gendered man. Fred can only be viewed within the contexts of being a queer, jewish, cis-gendered man. His queerness can not be separated from his Jewish and cis-gendered perspectives and vice versa. We must view Fred on a whole as a queer, Jewish, cis-gendered man and we must observe how the different planes of his identity intersect, overlap, and interact with each other. The bake sale fails to do this by only breaking up the categories into Men and Women. This is also problematic because there are a wide range of gender identities that are not simply cis-gendered men, and a cis-gendered women, when in fact there are transgendered, intersex and other genders to be considered. Gender and Race have been known to affect pay wages and employment rates, for example in Canada, “…all racialized groups—except those who identify as Japanese and Filipino—tend to find themselves on the unemployment line more often than non-racialized Canadians. Racialized men are 24% more likely to be unemployed than non-racialized men. Racialized women have it worse: They’re 48% more likely to be unemployed than non-racialized men. This may contribute to the fact that racialized women earn 55.6% of the income of non-racialized men.” (Canada’s Colour Coded Labour Market, 2011) That is only amongst racialized populations, non-conforming gendered and disabled people are affected as well, again the bake sale has simply oversimplified the gender wage gap issue.

I personally felt that the bake sale was neat idea to raise awareness, after all anything yummy does attract people’s attention especially within the highs school setting. Though there should’ve been an attempt to diversify the baked goods, because in life not everyone is a chocolate chip cookie. The world has been made for chocolate chip cookies! So what are the brownies, cakes, Nanaimo bars, hard candies, baklava, tongyuan, mochi balls, cakes and pies (etc.) supposed to do? Surely the Chocolate cookies can’t speak for everyone. With the lack of representation and acknowledgement of these other diverse groups and issues that pertain to those groups, fixing these problems will be even harder if these issues are not brought to the forefront. We cannot fight for the equality of all women, for by saying so is assuming that all women have the exact same issues which homogenizes the group. Within that homogenized group some women’s issues a hierarchy will appear and some issue’s will become more of a priority than others for example white feminists’ priorities will be taken more seriously over a radicalized feminist’s priorities.

For some constructive criticism for the bake sale, I do not expect a high school bake sale to have a massive, diverse plethora of desserts to represent each non-white, cis-gendered, able-bodied, straight person out there. However, what I do expect is some attempt at demonstrating diversity. Have different desserts for the racialized, the disabled and queer gendered, and include a disclaimer that all groups are not represented due to the diversity of lives in America/ North America or wherever. It’s OK to acknowledge the impossibility of representing everyone at a bake sale. The fact that there is some acknowledgment to diversity opens up the opportunity for bake sale buyers to learn about the different groups out there. I would want the bake sale organizers to let it be known that the gender pay gap in America is not as black and white as being an issue between only men and women. It is an issue that involved all the parts of a person’s identity and we must investigate and acknowledge that.

Sources:

http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/gender-equality-bake-sale-causes-stir-at-utah-high/10246/0gE6cCkPA0mvNkLZEjyO4Q

http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2011/03/Colour%20Coded%20Labour%20Market.pdf

(I apologize for the lateness 😦  Also I love the theme of food)

Cultural Appropriation: Not Just an Anomaly

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Cultural appropriation is something we do almost everyday of our lives as the world around us become more global and different cultures interact with each other. As stated in The Open Letter to Non-Native Wearing Headdress, by âpihtawikosisân, admiration for other cultures isn’t the true issue at hand, but rather the taking, copying, and appropriation of sacred cultural symbols from another culture for personal use and it can be very harmful especially when that culture has been oppressed. For someone to take a sacred symbol from another culture and using it outside of it’s cultural context and ascribe new meanings to the sacred object and perpetuate harmful stereotypes that not all people within that culture do not subscribe to. Cultural appropriation although having been used almost everyday, the mis-use of sacred cultural materials and symbols are detrimental to the oppressed culture, that the appropriator so wishes to emulate and it happens more often that one would believe.
A common example of cultural appropriation happens around Halloween when those who choose to dress up, decide to dress up and represent an entire culture. There are even many costumes available for sale such as, the Terrorist, a Geisha, Native American, Mexican and the list goes on, but all of these costumes have something in common. The take an aspect or a stereotypical fact about a culture and when that costume is worn the mis-representation, and lack of cultural context begins to take it’s toll, and this is especially true for Native American peoples. Their culture and it’s symbols are constantly being appropriated from insensitive Coachella goers, to halloween costumes, and even Caribanna costumes the miss use of the headdress is a symbol that is typically earned, and only for men. Yet, that symbol has been taken and mis-used constantly, and from the mis-use of this headdress, the feathers, the Native traditional dress in general we then generate stereotypes and generalized beliefs about that culture. Once again those symbols are part of traditional dress and especially today those pieces of clothing aren’t worn all the time, and it would be very easy for anyone to assume that those traditional pieces and those traditional pieces alone create the “Imaginary Indian” who is never truly authentic or indian enough, because the indigenous peoples today are in reality not any of these stereotypes.
These outdated views of indigenous peoples seem to lie within Canada’s roots in colonialism. As much of Europe sought to conquer the Americas for their own personal gain it is quite obvious that these views have carried over and aspects of colonialism still exist today. Even today Canada doesn’t treat their indigenous peoples with the respect that they deserve, as Canada and all it’s immigrants are the biggest squatters in history. Canada has taken away the control of their land, natural resources and even dictate the way in which indigenous communities live. Many Indigenous peoples do live in very poor conditions and often still feel a disconnect between themselves and their indigenous culture as the residential schools have taken so much away. Indigenous populations are dwindling and many are ending up in jail especially females and because of this they are being treated as a dying culture. Canada often denies the fact that we’ve had any racist or colonialist history by painting ourselves as a multicultural melting pot based in tolerance and less radical than our neighbours in the United States. Canada also paints itself as the saviours of a dying culture. When in fact Canada should be looking to not suppress and oppress our indigenous people but help them grow and give them the respect for their land upon which we’ve been using.
Through cultural appropriation reenforcing these stereotypes and micro/ macro aggressions against that culture/race one cannot deny the presence of systemic racism. It’s these harmful stereotypes that have put down the cultures outside of the white dominant group for many many years. An example of racism for the indigenous people of Canada are residential schools which sought eradicate indigenous cultures and languages until the last one closed in 1996. Much of the indigenous peoples who’ve attended these schools lost everything from their connection to their people and their culture to their own language. A census of the aboriginal population in 2006, found that only 22% percent of the Aboriginal populations have knowledge about their native language (Stats Canada) and knowledge according to stats Canada refers to, “ the ability to conduct a conversation in an Aboriginal language. The ‘on reserve’ population includes all people living in any of eight census subdivision (CSD) types legally affiliated with First Nations or Indian bands, as well as selected CSDs of various other types which have large concentrations of registered Indians. The ‘on reserve’ population is defined according to criteria established by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.” (Stats Canada, 2006) This is a painful reminder of the detriment that residential schools have put on the generations of indigenous peoples and whilst there has been much focus on reviving the languages of the first nations, there is still much to recover.
By culturally appropriating you are reenforcing the stereotypes that are harmful to a culture and it’s people, if ever there was an opportunity in which you are afraid your culturally appropriating in a harmful way ask yourself: Are the symbols/ object you are using sacred items? Are those sacred items being used for their cultural/ original purpose? Are you using those symbols to represent an entire culture? Were you invited to participate in the culture by member of that culture? If the answer to these questions were No or Maybe perhaps you should re-think your costume/ the use of the cultural symbol. Or You can use the bingo chart above that is also linked int he open letter.

Source: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-645-x/2010001/c-g/c-g008-eng.htm

http://apihtawikosisan.com/hall-of-shame/an-open-letter-to-non-natives-in-headdresses/

955 words

The Way He Looks: Reelout Review

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The Way He Looks was showing on the second day of Kingston’s Queer film festival Reelout. The film festival itself had a total of 19 films, showing 1 per day until February 7th 2015. All films had the underlying theme geared towards the LGBTQ community, promoting films made in Kingston and abroad. The film The Way He Looks was from Brazil directed by Daniel Ribeiro and came out in 2014. Over all, a very pleasant film depicting a young boy Leonardo  Who is blind and had been from birth. Leo desperately wishes to gain independence as his family (especially his mother) do pretty much everything for him and limit his time spent outside the house and even time home alone. The films starts off introducing Leo’s way of life, how his mother over-cares for him, his friend Giovanna walks him home from school, the bullying etc. Though, without giving too much of the film away, when the new kid in school Gabriel comes around and befriends Leo and Giovanna their situation starts to change. Leo is intrigued by Gabriel as they begin to hang out and perhaps independence isn’t the only thing Leo has been searching for.

The film was simply adorable, the lush cinematography and the lovely scenes of Brazil. I must admit, I was watching the film expecting some kind of struggle causing the audience the deeply mull over the social issues of queerness in Brazil, a third world country with different social expectations for queerness and race. Though I was surprised to see next to any social issues or emotional turmoil at all aside from Leo’s minor struggle for some independence. Instead the world where the film takes place is idealized. It isn’t hard to notice the neighbourhood Leo lives in is of high to middle class homes. The people depicted in the film were light skinned and any cultural variance was minimal and if cultural variance was present those characters were very pale in complexion. The bullying there was only one kid and his posse, who taunted and teased him on and off throughout the whole film, mostly verbally. Of course that kid could never say too much without Leo’s teacher or his friend Giovanna to put the bully in his place, and severe physical harm was never caused. The world Leo had lived in seemed just a little too perfect, aside from the nervous teenage feelings which stood in the way of Leo and his crush.

The film was more so a celebration of love, not only was it visually pleasing, but the narrative was quite sweet and endearing. The cinematography was simplistic, but enticed the viewer to think of their other senses especially in the sexually charged scenes. The cinematography helped the viewer understand how Leo ‘sees’ the world around him. The viewer can’t help but relate to the awkward, nervous feelings of teenage love, as the drama goes down (which again is very minimal). When Leo ultimately comes to terms with his feelings and they are acknowledged, it was just the kind of film to make your heart melt. Through this loving approach to viewing homosexuality, it is easy to relate to nervous teenage feelings and love. When the film resolves, you can’t help but feel joy for Leo, as he has now found happiness and in a way independence through love.

My final qualm I have with the film besides the fact that drama was kept to a minimum was the overemphasized sexuality within the film. There were a few scenes that were sexually charged and though perhaps at times it could be argued that it was appropriate as whether gay, straight or in-between sexual tension and attraction is definitely there. I couldn’t help but think that somehow this film fell into the stereotypes that gay/queer couples need to be all over each other, as if to prove that they have a loving relationship. This has been overdone in visual media and I personally feel that some scenes would’ve been better without. I feel it’s cliché and if the point of this film was to normalize homosexual relationships in cinema then perhaps feeding into the harmful stereotypes wasn’t the way to go about doing so.

-allaboutthetreble