Take this pink ribbon off my eyes

So, as many of you know, I take great pains to work against institutionalized misogyny every single day of my life (much to the chagrin of both my lifespan and mental health.)

Last night I went to a special screening of the movie Miss Representation, a film that, according to its website:

“Explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the under representation of women in positions of power and influence.”

Now, being the hardened, calloused feminist that I am, much of the information presented in the film was pretty old hat – it wasn’t shocking or disturbing – instead it just served as a means to reinforce truths of which I am already (much too) aware.

That the patriarchy exists. That both men and women actively engage in the perpetuation of this system.

That the media makes millions of telling women that they are not good enough, and that they will they ever be good enough.

(And that they are worth nothing more than the sum of their physical parts – a conceit continually advocated by media conglomerates, advertisers, and the like.)

HEY LAIDEEZ! We even have chick chocolate now! Eat this and be a SEXY CHEEKY HOT FLIRT BECAUSE THE MENZ LUV IT.

This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the film. (However I actually don’t think it’s really a type of film that you “like” or “don’t like.”)

I believe that it puts forth an incredibly important message – and one that should be talked about by all individuals, regardless of gender, which is that in order to change these destructive, social (and political, and cultural, etc., ) institutions we must, MUST work to empower both young women, and young men.

This is a two-pronged process.

If we hope to move ahead from the place where we find ourselves today, we must start promoting both agency and literacy amongst our youth, as these are crucial factors in terms of not only advancing the position of women in North America (and of course in other areas of the world) but of advancing our society as a whole.

Honestly, so much of it comes down to education.

And reading.

And the stories that are told.

Stories about humanity – not necessarily stories about “men” and “women.”

I mean, how else are youth going to engage with the idea of equality?

How else are they going to develop the critical thinking skills required to operate within the social systems that openly advocate and reinforce inequality?

My husband (who is one of the coolest feminists I know) is also an educator, and one of the hardest battles he wages with his students is trying to engage many of them in literature they study.

Seriously, he will tell you point blank: not many kids reads anymore.

And because of this, young people are less and less likely to dissect the different messages that bombard them twenty-four hours a day, through an ever growing number of media – be they traditional or new.

They are less likely to deconstruct the stories – the tropes, the stereotypes, the norms, the systems – they are exposed to each time they flip the channel or open that web browser (let alone question then!)

Because when we watch television, use the internet, listen to music – these are passive media. We are letting these things happen to us.

With reading you are problem solving, forming hypothesis, and working through content – (yes I am aware that this is highly dependent on the material you are engaged with – but on the whole, I’m apt to believe that reading is a much healthier intellectual pursuit that ye olde boob tube or the interwebs.)

And the great thing about reading is, you get to find out what you like, and then make informed choices from that experience – as opposed to being told what you like (which is basically the main reason that TV exists, and increasingly more and more the internet) and making decisions based on what you think is right for you, and not what you know is right for you.

(I honestly have no other explanation as to why anyone would ever sign up for reality TV.)

Now, I’m certainly not saying that as long as every kid grows up reading a book a week, engrained sexism is magically going to disappear.

Nor am I saying that TV AND INTERNET ARE BAD.

(I have made my feelings quite clear about that sometime last November.)

It’s just that when there is nothing to balance out, or neutralize so much of the awful messaging that plagues those two platforms, (platforms that are owned and controlled predominantly by old, white, men  – a group I would wager is predominantly adverse to change) it is incredibly difficult to evolve.

Instead, these norms are recreated and reinterpreted in perpetuity.

And that, as the movie successfully points out, is something that is hurting us all.

And this, unlike the movie, is something I don’t like.

Tomorrow, tomorrow

Seeing as though I got my rant on yesterday (and get it on did I ever), I am trying to look at the bright side of things on this rainy December day.

I feel really fortunate to have so many solid individuals in my life whom I can count on to comfort (or at least abide) me when I am at my utmost dejected. Without them, I would probably slink off the forest and live out my days in obscurity, becoming feral and losing my ability to speak and maintain healthy (if any) human relationships.  I would either end up in the National Enquirer, or have Jodi Foster play me in some Oscar-winning biopic, scored by Howard Shore.

Like my blood pressure, the sun will rise again...

So thank you my friends.  Thank you for your support and for helping me rebuild my humpty-dumpty confidence in humanity (or at least chose to stay in society for a little while longer.)

(Man, speaking of that nursery rhyme – what the heck were all the King’s horses going to accomplish? THEY ARE HORSES. If anything, they were probably responsible for further smashing up Mr. Egg Wall-sitter’s remains.)

Anywho, yesterday night I met up with my Little Sister (I’ve worked with Big Sisters for the past three years) and hanging out with that little firecracker of genius was exactly what I needed to regroup and refocus.

Working with my Little has been life changing in many different ways, and knowing that as much as she has transformed my life, I have had a positive impact on hers, is something I very much cherish.  When I am overwhelmed to the point of tears by what I see to be insurmountable, soul-crushing obstacles, I have to remember that little by little, constructive actions are capable of chipping away at the our society’s monolithic, and firmly-rooted ills.

So remember kids: Only you can prevent further reinforcement of institutionalized, overarching destructive norms!

That, and you know, forest fires.

As they say, baby steps.

Either way, today I am focusing on the positive!

Case in point, a couple of nights ago I was invited to a friend’s house to bake sugar cookies and watch The Muppet

Rolling pins are good for getting out stress.

Christmas Carol.  It was a gas and a half: munching on junk food, laughing at Gonzo (playing Charles Dickens, of course), loving Michael Caine as Scrooge, sharing the bizarre and equally funny parts of our day.

Sometimes you cannot get any better than that.

Of course, our first batch of cookies wasn’t hugely successful.  We tried to fit two sheets on one rack at the same time.  It wasn’t until I started to see smoke seeping out from the top of the door that we decided we might have to exercise some restraint and only do one batch at a time.

I would be lying if I said we didn't eat quite a few of these anyway...

(This worked to varying degrees, as the more we talked – and the more we laughed – the harder it seemed to be to actually make sure we timed the baking process properly.)

Now, I am not by nature a very visually artistic individual, but years of dedication to cookie decoration has left me with a particular prowess in this department that I am not afraid to talk up.

Oh what fun!

Back home in Halifax my mother goes absolutely bonkers in the kitchen every Christmas, whipping up batches of (sometimes) up to two hundred ginger bread men.  I will spend hours hunched over the kitchen table, painstakingly decorating cookie after cookie, to the point where it is almost a little heartbreaking to watch people cart them off, or even worse, scarf them down without properly admiring their long-endured edible beautification process!

Yeah.  That’s definitely a little sad on my part.

But I don’t care!  Love live the cookie decorator!  PEACE, LAND, BREAD!

Erm…

Nom nom - WAIT! Tell me how pretty they are!

I mean: ICING, SPRINKLES, SMARTIES!

I hope you all have a wonderful, rage-out-free weekend.

And if not, I’ll do my darndest to put you back together again.