Archive for the ‘Political Prattling’ Category


so, I watched SiCKO about six weeks ago now. I didn’t blog about it then, because, well, everyone else was. In fact, this post isn’t really about it so much either, just about a couple of things that came to my mind as I watched it.  As for whether I liked it or not, oh yeah, did I ever. And, I think I need to move to France. Then I can skip the $20,000 a year law school tuition and go for free. What a novel idea! A country that actually gives a shit whether their population is educated and has every opportunity available to them! And whose doctors do house calls!

Anyway, on to what I wanted to discuss: while Moore was in France talking to a man who was a chief of a hospital or something (sorry I can’t remember exactly, maybe he was head of a department… you get the idea), I began to notice a pattern that had begun when he came here to Canada to talk to some of his relatives. Everyone who was talking about how they felt their health care system was better than that of the US prefaced by saying, “I don’t have anything against america, I don’t have anything against americans, america is a great country, americans are wonderful people…”

I thought this was curious. (me, I don’t pretend like that. I do have something against america, and, sometimes, americans – it’s that combination of arrogant and ignorant that so many americans display that drives me insane. Of course not all americans fit this bill, thank god. not all americans have drunk the kool-aid. and I’m not just saying that to be nice.)

Then, Moore got up and left his interview with the French doctor who was the head of something or other, because “his [the French doctor’s] anti-americanism was seething” (or something like that, forgive me for not writing it down verbatim) and Moore didn’t want to listen to it anymore.

I thought this, too, was curious.

I didn’t find anything the doctor said (on film) to be particularly “anti-american” – all he said was that he wouldn’t have to work in a system that prizes money over patients’ lives. And that’s kind of what the doc was about, right? Perhaps it was an attitude that Moore picked up on in person that didn’t translate to film, but I didn’t really see anything wrong with what he said. And, he did the usual “nothing against america/ns” spiel as well.

Now, I’ve been known to spew some anti-americanism myself. but I wanted to discuss this, because it seems to me that there isn’t a similar word, or attitude, out there about other countries in the world. We never hear  terms like “anti-Thai-ism” or “anti-Eritreanism” or “anti-Swedeism” or “anti-Italianism”.

I find this interesting. and telling.

What I also find interesting and telling is Moore’s sensitivity to anti-americanism. Here he is, making documentaries about how corrupt america is, how america doesn’t look out for its own, how america bombs other countries for no good reason, how america’s culture of gun violence is out of control, and he gets pissed off at someone else calling america on its shit? come on already. is this a case of “you can say shit about your family but nobody else can?”

honestly, I do (intellectually) understand why Moore makes these movies. It’s not the same reason  I enjoy them, but I get that he makes these movies because he loves his country and thinks it’s the greatest country in the world (despite all the evidence to the contrary that he himself finds and displays in his films), and he wants to see america heal, expel the disease of bad government from its bowels and heal. he thinks americans deserve better.

What I do not understand is why anyone still lives in america. you’ve got a nasty and completely unjustified war that you’re funding through taxes, you’ve got soldiers dying in Iraq so that rich white guys in america can profiteer from the devastation of hundreds of thousands of people, you’ve got a government that doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether you’re healthy or even if you die so long as you can pay for tens of thousands of dollars (and more!) of medical care, and you’ve got an electoral system that quite obviously is completely fucked up, considering that Bush bought his way into the white house not once but twice.

and that is the greatest country in the world?

anyway, just thought I’d throw that out there. I’m sure I’ll get all kinds of comments about how great america is, the founding fathers, the fucking joke that is the so-called “american dream,” etc.etc.etc. But whatever. from where I’m sitting, safe and snug in Canada, there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell I would want to live in america.

(one last thing: I have to say, the one thing that pissed me off about the movie was that american woman sneaking across the border to get “free” Canadian health care. Do YOU pay taxes here in Canada, lady? No? well then fuck off. It’s not like Canadian health care is free, and medical personnel work out of the goodness of their hearts. We pay for every single dollar of Canadian health care, through our taxes. I’m happy to pay more, personally, for other social services that help to redistribute wealth to the needy. Even those who don’t pay taxes because they don’t earn any money. But not americans who sneak across the border and steal our health care services. the resources spent on americans who do this could be and should be allocated to Canadian citizens. Every health care service taken up by an american in Canada is a health care service that is stolen from a Canadian. If you want free universal health care, then move here and pay your taxes like everyone else who can afford to do so.)

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well, today is Canada Day, a day to celebrate all things Canadian, fly our flag high and proud, and talk about all the things that are wonderful about our great country. I’ve done this kind of thing before, and I will admit that each year on Canada Day I’ve felt kind of happy and proud to be Canadian.

However, I can’t help but feel this year that, because I love my country, I should talk about what I consider to be the greatest and most serious blight on the face of our nation, and that is the ongoing brutal colonization of Canada’s indigenous peoples.  It’s something that I feel all non-indigenous Canadians should be extremely embarrassed by, and should be actively trying to correct. We have all benefitted from the brutalization, ghettoization, displacement, colonization, and genocide of First Nations people here in Canada, and we should be ashamed.

Indigneous peoples in Canada have had their land stolen, their communities displaced, and limitations put on their way of life as nomadic and communal people. They have had their children stole and put into residential schools where they were beaten for speaking to one another in their own languages, effectively losing indigenous languages for entire generations to come. Indigenous peoples are completely ghettoized and segregated onto reserves, where sometimes very basic municipal services such as clean water and sewage are denied, and every single infrastructural improvement done on a reserve has to be approved by some white male “Indian Affairs” bureaucrat in Ottawa – they can’t even change the fucking name of the department to reflect how indigenous peoples living in Canada self-identify and wish to be called. Poverty among First Nations peoples is epidemic, as is alcohol and drug abuse, incarceration, and lack of education. Native women are the most raped women in our country, and are abused and killed by their domestic partners at a much higher rate than any other racial group of women. Indigenous customs and traditions have been alternatively mocked and co-opted by mainstream Canadian culture. First Nations people who have stood up for their rights are commonly referred to as terrorists.

I’d say probably the majority of white Canadians think they should shut up and stop their whinging because they’ve been “given so much” by the Canadian government, and they should be “realistic” about property claims because it’s not like Canadians are going to cede their deeds at this point in the game ’cause by god we all work SO HARD for every little thing we get and why do those “indians” want to take that away from us when they’ve already been “given so much” – they’re just wasting all those golden opportunities to be under-educated by a system that teaches nothing but lies about indigenous peoples and to live tax-free in an uninsulated house with no running water and no central heating and no sewage on a scrap of land especially “reserved” for them.

To be fair, there are many bands that are well-off and many indigenous people who are well-educated. However, when are we going to acknowledge that these other situations exist? When are we going to do something to change the fact of rampant sexual and domestic violence against indigenous women? about levels of violence among indigenous men? about rampant poverty, alcoholism, and drug abuse? about devestating living conditions? When are we going to start respecting indigenous peoples instead of trying to figure out one more way to screw them over?

It breaks my heart to know that our indigenous populations are suffering in such terrible ways. And sadly, that makes me quite a bit less proud to call myself Canadian today.

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A reader, Alec, sent me an email yesterday with a link to this article, about the level of representation in the current US Congress as it relates to the population at large. It’s pretty clear that the Congress is not really representative of the US population demographics. Check it out:

 Males – As of the 2006 congress, 83.7% of the Congress is male, while the percentage of males of the voting age population (18 plus) is only 48.4. If this is further evaluated to include the over-representation of white males, the figure is even more staggering: 36.3% of the voting age population are white males, yet there are 79 White Male senators making up the Senate (79%).


The Wealthy/Educated – In the Senate, fifty-six senators hold degrees in the law, seven have MBA’s, and four have MD’s. The majority of COngress members come from upper-middle class to upper class income backgrounds, and the jobs themselves as Representatives and Senators pay $165,200 per year putting them in the top 5 percent of American household incomes, which does not reflect spouses income either (top 5% is deliniated by $157,000 per household).

On a similar note, the front-runner candidates for President in both parties (many of whom are currently serving in the Senate) had incomes that placed them in the top 1% of the population. Rudy Guiliani made 16.1 million dollars in 2006 with $45 million in assets, John Edwards $1.25 million in income and $29.5 million in assets, Barack Obama reported $938,000 in income and over 1 million dollars in assets, and possible third party candidate Michael Bloomberg has over 6.5 billion in his personal fortune.

Jews – While comprising 1.8% of the total United States population, Jews make up 7 percent of the Congress. This disproportional representation is extended higher in the Senate, where 13% of senators are Jewish.

Please take care to note the incomes and assets of the presidential candidates. Make extra-special attention to whose personal wealth is lowest. Yes, that’s right, it’s Barack Obama – the only black presidential contender. hmmm. interesting.

 So that’s over-representation. The even sadder news is the flip-side of that coin, the under-representation, of women and people of colour. Check this out:

Women – Women of voting age represent 51.6 percent of the voting age population yet are 16.3% of the Congress, putting America below the global average of 17% female representation at parliamentary level. As of 2007, the US ranks 68th in terms of women holding office in the legislature — this puts the US just above Turkmenistan, and just below El Salvador and Panama. [emphasis mine – TG]

and women have all the rights we need? what do those rights actually mean when societal forces are in place to prevent them from being exercised and upheld? This is a clear-cut example of the very important difference between formal and substantive equality.  Who will fight for these important differences to be eliminated than feminists? feminism is far from over.

Moving on:

Latinos – Hispanics represent over 14% of the U.S. population, while their Congress representation is 3% in the Senate and about 5% in the House.

African-Americans – The Senate is 1% African American and the House is roughly 9.2% African American compared to the 12.3 percent of American population that are of Black or African-American descent.

This is absolutely pathetic. And wholly related to the above point, about class. Note me, and note me well: class does not run deeper than race. Race and class are deeply interwoven, and that’s not because of class discrimination, it’s because of racism. People of colour are proportionately far far poorer than whites in these wealthiest of countries of ours, and it’s because they’re not white. Plain and simple. Get it through your heads, kids. Saying that blacks and hispanics are excluded from politics because they’re poor is a pretty pathetic excuse for an excuse. Stop and ask yourself : why are they poorer, statistically and significantly, than white folks? it doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together.

 Thanks to Alec for providing me with some fodder for a post!

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CCRF turns 25

I thought I should mention that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms turned 25 this week. While there is still controversy around the Charter, I think for the most part it’s pretty great to have a piece of legislation that ensures the rights of Canadian citizens – especially the right to equality.

There is still a lot of work to be done in terms of achieving equality, real, substantive equality, in this country. I think our social welfare programs and economic safety nets need to be strengthened instead of threatened, as always seems to be the case. And I think we should recognize that the Charter is not working to full capacity in terms of alleviating the burden of structural, systemic oppression that affects the lives of so many Canadians. But overall, it’s a pretty great document, and I’m glad we have it.

So, Happy Birthday CCRF!

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I know, I”ve been totally boring the past couple weeks. It’s the end of term, what can I say?

Anyway, I felt like I was neglecting y’all, so here’s a little something to munch on while I’m away. It’s a paper I wrote last term for a class on gender and international development. Sorry if it l ooks weird, things don’t translate so well from MS Word sometimes.

(Imagi)Nations: Discourses of (Domi)Nation


Mother country, homeland, motherland, mother tongue, land of our forefathers, brotherhood of men. These symbolisms are commonly spoken in moments of nation-building, painting a picture of “nation” as inextricably tied to personal connections of home and family. These symbolisms also inform identities in particular ways through intricately woven overlapping relational discourses of gender, race, sexuality, and nation. They are presented in the usual way of ideology – as divorced from any notion of embodiment.

However, these symbolisms are not just rhetorical devices, devoid of meaning and impact on those whose bodies match the symbols. They are part of nationalist discourses that have negative ramifications on bodies – specifically, the bodies of women. This paper problematizes the conflation of nationalist representations of idealized, symbolic female bodies with real women’s bodies, through a discussion of two important intersections of nationalism and female embodiment – reproduction and mass rape – and argues that nationalism threatens women’s physical safety, rights and freedoms, and citizenship.


In 1983, Benedict Anderson wrote that the nation is an “imagined political community” – imagined because members will never know all other members, “yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion,” and community because “regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship.”[i] There are ideological underpinnings binding each nation together into a cohesive political unit – an (imagi)nation.[ii] (Imagi)Nations are not tantamount to states; states are sovereign political units with official borders recognized by the international community.[iii] National boundaries do not always end with the geographical boundaries of the state, as evidenced by transnational unions like the European Union and the African Union. Nations sometimes have no “official” geographical location, as in Zionism, or Black Nationalism; nations, unlike states, are not tangible.

(Imagi)Nations hold identities, which are constructed in relation to other identities. National identities often exist in opposition to other national identities – Palestine and Israel, for example – and are also constructed in relation to the nation’s members in terms of racial, gendered, and sexual identities. Nations denote borders, borders that open and close, that include some and exclude others. These borders are largely imaginary – although they can be conflated with state boundaries – constructing an (imagi)nation along racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, and gendered borders.

Social Constructionism

Gender, race, and sexuality are all social and cultural constructions, just as are (imagi)nations. All of these categories of identity are normative, historical categories formulated in relation to each other and differing from culture to culture. Each of these constructs breaks down into sub-constructs, which are involved in binary, oppositional relationships with each other, and each of these relationships is a relation of power. Gender breaks into “man” and “woman,” with man holding privilege. Race is broken into basic categories of “white” and “non-white,” privileging those who are white. Sexuality divides into “heterosexual” and “homosexual,” with heterosexuality holding privilege. (Imagi)Nations define themselves in terms of “insiders” and “outsiders,” privileging insiders.

These constructions are contentious, because they are far too broad. Gender leaves out those who are transgendered, transsexual, androgynous, and intersexed. The racial category “non-white” is obviously and laughably broad, and even “white” neglects the importance of ethnicity; also at issue here is the exclusion of people of combined race/ethnicity. Binary ways of viewing sexuality define away the experiences of bisexual and queer people. Finally, nations are problematic, as questions arise about who is an “insider” and who is an “outsider,” leaving in limbo millions of immigrants, refugees, displaced persons, and asylum seekers. It becomes clear how troubling these constructions are, as these imagined categories of identity are applied in arbitrary but systematic ways to real, embodied people. Nevertheless, it is these incomplete and non-contextual constructions that are the building blocks of society. It is these constructions that bind societies together and allow for the formation of nationalism.

Indoctrinations: Representations of Women in Nationalist Discourses

Nationalism, then, writes Tamar Mayer, is “the exercise of internal hegemony, the exclusive empowerment of those who share a sense of belonging to the same ‘imagined community.’”[iv] Nationalism speaks to a shared loyalty to the ideologies that bind members of the (imagi)nation together. Nationalist ideologies draw on social constructions of gender, race, sexuality and nation, and offer representations of members based on these categories. These representations are then used as part of nationalist discourse. These narratives almost always present the nation itself as a feminized figure in need of protection, thus positioning women and men in particular ways.[v] Mayer writes, “The intersection of nation, gender and sexuality [and also race] is a discourse about moral code, which mobilizes men… to become its sole protectors and women its sole biological and symbolic reproducers.”[vi]

The nation is envisioned as a patriarchal family, a “fraternity”[vii] or brotherhood of men, in which the traditions of the “forefathers” are passed down through the generations to young men who become the heroic protectors of those traditions. Women, on the other hand, are defined out of participating in the fraternal national project as equals, and are conceived as mothers, the reproducers of the nation whose wombs bring forth the next generation of the patriarchal line. Julie Mostov writes, “women physically reproduce the nation, and men protect and avenge it.”[viii]

Women become “the mothers of us all”[ix] in nationalist discourse, the keepers of morality and traditions of the forefathers through sexual and reproductive purity,[x] which emphasizes the racialized nature of (imagi)nations. Here, racism creates hierarchy, coded through gendered formulations of family.[xi] These gendered, racialized familial formations are strongly heterosexist, defining out of membership lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. People who produce combined-race children are conceived as a threat to the cohesiveness of the nation, and childless people become disloyal members, as participation in national family values and traditions requires reproduction.[xii]

(Imagi)Nations reinforce and support male privilege: when the nation is imagined as a patriarchal family, and citizenship is imagined as a brotherhood, women are excluded from positions of power and there is no equal sisterhood in citizenship. Zillah Eisenstein writes, “Nations are made up of citizens and the fiction here requires that anyone can be of the nation… [Women] are absented from the fraternity… They are given no voice.”[xiii]

Women instead become markers for the nation – women’s status stands in for the progress of the nation as a whole.[xiv] Through this process of homogenization, individual women are silenced, their identities lost. Women’s bodies become sites for viewing the nation, sites for debates around tradition, and sites where the (imagi)nation is regenerated. Women’s bodies are fetishized in nationalist discourses, and the boundaries of women’s bodies are conflated with the borders of the nation. Hence, nationalist discourses seek to protect and maintain the integrity of national/female bodily borders from invasion/penetration of “outsider” (male) citizens/nationalists, once again demonstrating the racialized nature of (imagi)nations. The maintenance of the nation’s racial and ethnic integrity can be clearly seen in the practical control nations exert over the sexuality and reproduction of both their own and other nations’ women.

Dominations and Subordinations: Reproductive Control

(Imagi)Nations control women’s reproductive role in a number of ways. In Indonesia, population control is a major part of national identity, and women are encouraged to limit the number of children they have. Indonesia is presenting an image of a controlled and focussed nation to the world, a modern nation ready to participate in the global political economy. Key to this project is presenting a controlled image of the national family – national family planning, so to speak – and it is doing so through stringent control over female contraception.[xv] Reproduction is divorced from sexuality in this context,[xvi] and heavy emphasis is placed on modern medical contraceptive technologies – indigenous methods are tied to ignorance and tradition (which in this context is not-progressive, and therefore not valued).[xvii] Other western ideologies have come along with contraception, transforming Indonesian society from one in which divorce was frequent, family ties were flexible, and women were key participants in public spaces to one in which monogamy, marriage, and the image of virtuous Indonesian housewives and mothers are normative.[xviii] Contraception is turned into a spectacle by which “model couples” who have been using contraception for several years are rewarded before a national audience, children’s television programs include the national mantra “two children are enough” in songs and skits, signs are posted on the doors of houses where contraception is practiced, and village maps are posted in town halls indicating which families are contraceptive users, or “acceptors”.[xix] Women are positioned as the primary targets of contraception, making women’s bodies the sites on which nationalist discourses and political values are articulated.

In Ireland, control over reproduction takes quite the opposite form. Here, women are encouraged to have children in order to continue the Irish nation, its traditional and religious values, and its political movement for independence.[xx] The national imagery in Ireland is not one of a generic female figure that represents the nation – the figure that represents the Irish nation is the Virgin Mary, mother of Christ. Mary is used as a national symbol of Irish purity and morality, and acts as a fantasmic icon of femininity for Irish women to mimic. Angela Martin writes, “It is through mimetic performance that Irish women come to embody femininity and, by extension, the Irish nation.”[xxi] Following the theological teachings of the Catholic Church, abortion is illegal in Ireland,[xxii] which restricts women’s reproductive choices and conflates women’s bodies with the borders of the nation as debate swirls over whether or not to allow pregnant women to travel outside Ireland in order to avail themselves of more lenient abortion laws in neighbouring areas. In 1992, the famous “X Case” was brought before the Irish court. “Miss X” was a 14-year-old girl who was impregnated during a rape, and was denied permission to leave the country to obtain a legal abortion in England. The Irish High Court ruled to allow Miss X to travel to England only after her attorneys convinced the court she would commit suicide if she were not permitted to leave.[xxiii] The X Case demonstrated a conflation of national boundaries with the female body, and that a member of an (imagi)nation cannot shed her identity so easily as she may cross national borders. The morality of the entire Irish nation was placed on the womb of one young girl, a rape survivor, whose participation in the (imagi)nation was limited to coerced motherhood, her body appropriated by nationalism for political ends.

Exterminations, Impregnations and Alienations: Mass Rape

When conflict arises between nations, one of the chief points of attack on the nation is on the embodiment of all the nation’s ideals – the nation’s women. Mass rape attempts to eradicate the (imagi)nation by destroying the representation of the nation as a cohesive patriarchal family unit. Because the nation is imagined as a woman, and nationalism makes women responsible for reproducing the nation, women are placed in a precarious position. In many war-torn areas, such as the former Yugoslavia, Nazi Germany, Rwanda, the Sudan, Somalia, and the Congo, mass rape has been and is being used as a method for stamping out national identity. Male nationalist soldiers and rebels hope to gain power over an opposing nation by forcing women to reproduce a different (imagi)nation through forced impregnation. Women’s bodies became the literal boundaries of the (imagi)nation,[xxiv] emphasizing the representation of women as a “symbolic collective.”[xxv]

While the violation actually happens to the bodies of the women of the nation in a systematic way, the violation is conceived as one against the nation’s men.[xxvi] The conceptual outrage over mass rape is not primarily outrage over widespread gendered violence. The outrage is that mass rape is a form of systematic racism against the men of the nation. Mass rape is commonly viewed as more serious than widespread rape, for example in South Africa where rape statistics are the highest in the world,[xxvii] for the simple reason that mass rape is genocide – it is not directed merely at the women who are victimized, but at the entire race/ethnicity, including and most importantly, the men to whom the women belong. Rape presents a challenge to women’s citizenship because it is a political act committed against people based on their membership in a particular social category – that of “women.”[xxviii] Rape, whether during war-time or not, is a hate crime. However, it is not taken seriously as such until it is performed on a widespread scale on the basis of membership in a particular ethnic group – a group to which men also belong. Mass rape is viewed as a national security issue, as in the Bosnian-Serbian conflict in which international intervention in response to mass rape in the region ended the war.[xxix] In this process, women have been silenced and forgotten, abandoned by their families and often forced to bear their rapists’ children, thereby reproducing a new (imagi)nation.


Nations are at once “imagined communities,” and a category that inform the identities of its members. Nations present a picture of cohesive identity to the world and to its own members. Nations are conceived alternatively as patriarchal families, and as women in need of protection. Nationalism takes these pieces and puts them together into a narrative, which is experienced differently by different members. Women are represented in these narratives as the reproducers of the nation, the moral centre of the nation, the mothers of us all. Men are positioned as protectors and avengers of the nation’s moral purity.

Nationalist narratives not only position women into restrictive roles of subordination, they place women in dangerous and precarious positions. The representations of women in nationalist discourses have real effects on the bodies of real women. The narratives of nationalism mould the experiences of real women in national settings. Because nations and states are not identical, national narratives challenge women’s rights of state citizenship and threaten women’s physical safety and integrity by conflating women’s bodies with national borders and ensuring that women fulfill their roles as reproducers and keepers of morality. When representations of women are reiterated and embedded so deeply in the rhetoric, language, and imagery of a nation, one cannot expect an absence of tangible effects on the bodies of the real women who hold membership in that nation.

One cannot expect, either, for women to remain silent and submissive. The women of the nation are not fantasmic symbols, but embodied agents. The face of nationalism is changing, as third world and post-colonial feminist discourses challenge nationalism and find spaces for discursive and material resistance against oppressive nationalist representations of women. The good thing about socially constructed categories, like gender, sexuality, race, and nation, is that they are not grounded in any objective truth. There is possibility for changing these categories, and the discourses that come out of them.


 [i] Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Revised Edition ed. London and New York: Verso, 1991, 5-7.

 [ii] (Imagi)Nation is a term I’ve coined to draw particular attention to the imagined nature and aspects of nations and national identities. – JS

 [iii] Mayer, Tamar. “Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Setting the Stage” in Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation (Mayer, T., ed.). London: Routledge, 2000, 2.

 [iv] Mayer, ibid, 1.

 [v] Mayer, ibid, 10.

 [vi] Mayer, ibid, 6.

 [vii] Anderson, ibid, 7.

 [viii] Mostov, Julie. “Sexing the Nation/Desexing the Body: Politics of National Identity in the Former Yugoslavia” in Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation (Mayer, T., ed.). London: Routledge, 2000, 89.

 [ix] Eisenstein, Zillah. “Writing Bodies on the Nation for the Globe” in Women, States, and Nationalism (Ranchod-Nilsson, S., and Tetrault, M.A., eds.). London: Routledge, 2000, 35.

 [x] Mayer, ibid, 7

 [xi] Eisenstein, ibid, 41.

 [xii] Mostov, ibid, 91.

 [xiii] Eisenstein, ibid, 42.

 [xiv] Eisenstein, ibid, 43.

 [xv] Dwyer, Leslie K. “Spectacular Sexuality: Nationalism, Development and the Politics of Family Planning in Indonesia” in Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation (Mayer, T., ed.). London: Routledge, 2000, 29.

 [xvi] Dwyer, ibid, 32.

 [xvii] Dwyer, ibid, 34.

 [xviii] Dwyer, ibid, 39.

 [xix] Dwyer, ibid, 41-42.

 [xx] Martin, Angela K. “Death of a Nation: Transnationalism, Bodies and Abortion in Late Twentieth-century Ireland” in Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation (Mayer, T., ed.). London: Routledge, 2000, 67.

 [xxi] Martin, ibid, 69.

 [xxii] Actual law remains ambiguous under a litany of amendments and appeals. As it stands now, abortion is illegal unless it is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life. See the Irish Family Planning Association: “Abortion Law in Ireland – A Brief Summary” at <http://www.ifpa.ie/abortion/hist.html >, the Center for Reproductive Rights: “The World’s Abortion Laws” at < http://www.crlp.org/pub_fac_abortion_laws.html > and The Site: “Abortion in Ireland” at <http://www.thesite.org/sexandrelationships/safersex/unplannedpregnancy/abortioninireland >for more information. All accessed online November 22, 2006.

 [xxiii] Martin, ibid, 75.

 [xxiv] Mostov, ibid, 90.

 [xxv] Mostov, ibid, 91.

 [xxvi] Mostov, ibid, 96.

 [xxvii] Du Toit, L. “A Phenomenology of Rape: Forging a New Vocabulary for Action,” in (Un)thinking Citizenship (A. Gouws, ed., 2005). 253-274.

 [xxviii] Du Toit, ibid

 [xxix] Hansen, Lene. “Gender, Nation, Rape: Bosnia and the Construction of Security,” in the International Feminist Journal of Politics 3, 1 (2001). 55-75.

Works Cited:

1. Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Revised Edition ed. London and New York: Verso, 1991.

2. Dwyer, Leslie K. “Spectacular Sexuality: Nationalism, Development and the Politics of Family Planning in Indonesia” in Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation (Mayer, T., ed.). London: Routledge, 2000, 27-62.

3. Du Toit, Louise. “A Phenomenology of Rape: Forging a New Vocabulary for Action,” in (Un)thinking Citizenship (A. Gouws, ed., 2005). 253-274.

4. Eisenstein, Zillah. “Writing Bodies on the Nation for the Globe” in Women, States, and Nationalism (Ranchod-Nilsson, S., and Tetrault, M.A., eds.). London: Routledge, 2000, 35-53.

5. Hansen, Lene. “Gender, Nation, Rape: Bosnia and the Construction of Security,” in the International Feminist Journal of Politics 3, 1 (2001). 55-75.

6. Martin, Angela K. “Death of a Nation: Transnationalism, Bodies and Abortion in Late Twentieth-century Ireland” in Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation (Mayer, T., ed.). London: Routledge, 2000, 65-86.

7. Mayer, Tamar. “Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Setting the Stage” in Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation (Mayer, T., ed.). London: Routledge, 2000, 1-22.

8. Mostov, Julie. “Sexing the Nation/Desexing the Body: Politics of National Identity in the Former Yugoslavia” in Gender Ironies of Nationalism: Sexing the Nation(Mayer, T., ed.). London: Routledge, 2000, 89-110.

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in a couple weeks, I will be participating in a video conference with the head of the IMF. We’ve been asked to put together a list of questions for him to answer. I have a couple questions already, but I thought I would ask you:

What would YOU ask the head of the IMF if you had the chance?

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Angel sent me a link to Alvaro Orozco’s website, where it states that he has been given a reprieve of two months to stay in Canada while his legal team mounts an appeal to the decision to deport him back to Nicaragua. It also includes this notice:

Despite the 2 month deferral, supporters should keep contacting Minister Diane Finley’s office to keep the pressure and attention up. At this point, the CIC/IRB can reopen my case, grant me H&C (Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds stay), or accept my PRRA (preremoval risk assessment) (once we file the latter two). Now it’s up to her. PLEASE keep sending in your support. It’s only the beginning! I still have a removal date 2 months away and no status yet.

So, there’s a concrete step that can be taken to help this young man. Write to Diane Finley at Finley.D@parl.gc.ca.

Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Minister Finley,

I am writing to express my extreme displeasure with the treatment of the Alvaro Orozco case. As a Canadian citizen, I am very disappointed that Alvaro is being discriminated against by my government as he seeks asylum from a country where he has been persecuted based on his membership in a social group. Alvaro’s human rights have been violated in Nicaragua, and now are not being upheld here in Canada, either. This young man has led a very trying life as a refugee, facing abuse and persecution for being homosexual from his family and from his country, where sodomy is illegal.

Asking Alvaro to somehow prove that he is gay is absolutely ludicrous. He was detained in a detention centre upon arriving to the US, where his choice of sexual partners was limited to other detainees. When he got away, he sought help from a church. His explanation of why he did not tell them he is gay is perfectly logical, considering the heavy stance most christian churches take against homosexuality. He was in a coercive situation: he needed help, and in order to get that help, he was forced to conceal the fact that he was gay. Furthermore, how exactly was Alvaro to “prove” he is gay, anyway? By how many sexual partners he had of the same sex? By how often he visited gay clubs, or participated in gay pride marches? Considering the reaction of his family, who were supposed to love and protect him, I think it’s perfectly understandable that Alvaro would be reluctant to disclose his sexuality to just anyone.

Additionally, since Alvaro was a young teenager at the time, I think it is highly inappropriate to suggest that he should have been engaged in sexual relationships at all – certainly not in order to “prove” his sexuality. Isn’t it reasonable that he didn’t meet anyone with whom he would have wanted to engage in a sexual relationship, in prison and in the custody of a christian family? Isn’t it reasonable that he, like many other young people, wanted to wait until he was ready to engage in a sexual relationship? Who is the Canadian government to demand evidence of anyone’s sexuality, much less a gay teenager? This is unreasonable, and morally repugnant. Assuming that since Alvaro is gay that he would be engaging in sexual activity, to a level that you deem to be sufficient evidence of his homosexuality, rests on the false sterotype that all gay men are sexually active and promiscuous. Whether Alvaro was promiscuous or celibate, does not “prove” that he is gay, and to suggest so is simply false. Many straight people, gay people, and bisexual people are celibate. Demanding that this young man display to you evidence of his homosexuality is a deeply problematic intersection of racism and heterosexism.

There’s more to being gay or lesbian, or even straight for that matter, than simply having sex with certain kinds of people. Your overly narrow view of the nature of sexuality, construed as something concrete that can be proven, is harming this young man, who will certainly face persecution and undue hardship if returned to Nicaragua. I ask that you reconsider his case, and permit Alvaro Orozco to stay in Canada, legally, as a refugee.

(Thinking Girl)


Let’s do what we can to protest this unfair treatment.

[thanks again, Angel!]

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This weekend, Drew Gilpin Faust was elected the first female president of Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. I’d give you a link, but there doesn’t seem to be one available – I just heard this on the 11:00 news out of Boston, which I happen to get here in my hometown.

So, hooray, and congrats to Dr. Faust.

Perhaps this is a bit of foreshadowing, for another first female president in the coming period? 🙂

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Angel pointed me in the direction of this story, about a Nicaraguan refugee in Canada who is about to be deported back home because authorities don’t believe him when he says that he is gay.

Alvaro Orozco says his family beat him because he was gay. He says, “My father told me, ‘If one of my sons became gay one day, I will kill him with my hands,'” said Orozco. “I was so scared. And that is why I escaped.” He fled Nicaragua (where sodomy is illegal) at the age of 12 to escape what he felt was a real threat to his life. He made his way across Central America and Mexico, swam across the Rio Grande to get to the US, and was arrested and held for a year. When he was released, he fled again, took sanctuary in a church, and made his way to Canada, where he has lived in Toronto for the past 2 years.

The official who heard his case, Deborah Lamont, questions whether Orozco is actually gay or not because – get this – he wasn’t sexually active while he was in the US. Let’s see… while he was in prison, and while he was taking sanctuary in a church. Oh, and since he came to Canada when he was 19, also while he was a teenaged boy.

Because apparently gay males are wildly promiscuous sexual animals who can’t possibly make a choice not to have sex, even when they have run away from a situation where being gay is cause for violent beatings and they are taking sanctuary in a church where being gay is Frowned Upon, or otherwise their options are limited to prisoners at a detention centre, and even when they are still immature teenagers.

I am so beyond appalled at this story. Making this refugee somehow prove that he is gay – as if such a thing could actually be ultimately “proven” in the first place – is just a disgusting combination of homophobia and racism. We don’t ask straight people to “prove” that they’re straight, even when they’re not in any kind of sexual relationship – even when they’re virgins! It’s just presumed that straight people are telling the truth about their sexuality, because, after all, heterosexuality is the NORM by which all others are measured. But now, apparently, people who “deviate” from the NORM of heterosexuality have to prove that they have had same-sex sexual relationships in order to be considered gay? Or maybe it’s just refugees that need to prove this. The kid ran away at the age of 12 from a family that beat him and threatened to kill him for being gay, and some fucking bureaucrat gets to decide whether he is ACTUALLY gay or not?!?!

As if we can ever prove our sexuality. Like sexuality is something so deep, so true, about us that it makes us who we are. Like people can’t have sexual feelings that they never act on. Like all that matters is what we do in bed with other people. Like any government official gets to decide any of this about any of us. Fuck that.

I am so completely ashamed of my government for this decision. This poor kid is going to be sent home on Tuesday to a place where he will have nothing – no support from his government, no support from his family. He’s been away for almost 10 years – he won’t have much of a support system if he has one at all, and now his sexuality is making headlines both here and in Nicaragua, which will make him a perfect target for homophobic violence. Canada has let this young man down, and it’s shameful.

[gracias, Angel!]

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I received this in my email inbox yesterday. I thought I’d share it with you all.

*Note: I have no idea where this came from, there was no source cited at the end of the email. If anyone can enlighten me, I’d be happy to give credit where credit is due.*

Excerpts from an on going debate in Australia .

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.

A day after a group of mainstream Muslim leaders pledged loyalty to
Australia and her Queen at a special meeting with Prime Minister John
Howard, he and his Ministers made it clear that extremists would face a
crackdown. Treasurer Peter Costello, seen as heir apparent to Howard, hinted that some radical clerics could be asked to leave the country if they did not accept that Australia was a secular state, and its laws were made by parliament. “If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you”, he said on National Television.

“I’d be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia; the Australian law and the Islamic law, that is false. If you can’t agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country, which practices it, perhaps, then, that’s a better option”, Costello said.

Asked whether he meant radical clerics would be forced to leave, he said
those with dual citizenship could possibly be asked to move to the other
country. Education Minister Brendan Nelson later told reporters that
Muslims who did not want to accept local values should “clear off. Basically people who don’t want to be Australians, and who don’t want, to  live by Australian values and understand them, well then, they can basically clear off”, he said.

Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation’s mosques.

Quote: “IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.”

“However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the ‘politically correct’ crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Australia.” “However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand.” “This idea of Australia being a multi-cultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. And as Australians, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle.”

“This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom”

“We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society… Learn the language!”

“Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing,
political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian
principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is
certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God
offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.”

“We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that
you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.”

“If the Southern Cross offends you, or you don’t like “A Fair Go”, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don’t care how you did things where you came from. By all means, keep your culture, but do not force it on others.

“This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, ‘THE RIGHT TO LEAVE’.”

“If you aren’t happy here then LEAVE. We didn’t force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.”

Maybe if we circulate this amongst ourselves, Canadian citizens will find
the backbone to start speaking and voicing the same truths!


Well, obviously I don’t agree, but I think it’s jsut as important to circulate this to point out how frightening and hypocritical this is.

So, people who don’t speak the language, believe in the christian god, and don’t hold the same cultural values aren’t welcome in Australia. So says the government. My friend who lives in AU told me a while ago that Australia is not accepting refugees – if someone comes to Australia and claims they are a refugee, they are imprisoned. I can just imagine she is horrified with this stuff.

I don’t know, maybe someone should remind these asshats that Australia is a country founded on the principles of colonization and genocide. The great ‘Australian way of life’ has evolved over a couple centuries of oppressing aboriginal people – just like the great Canadian and american ways of life have done to its indiginous people, its black people, its immmigrants.

Don’t you just LOVE the part about “don’t force your culture on others”? I mean, that is just amazing, considering the concentration camps set up for aboriginal children in Australia to ‘educate’ them in the early part of the last century – and here in Canada the concentration camps called ‘residential schools’  that  decimated the indigenous culture and languages and abused so many native children here. Yeah, that’s nothing like what immigrants are doing right now all over the world – trying to carve out a piece of a life in a country they thought would give them more opportunities, while still trying to maintain some of what they are familiar with from their home country and the way they were brought up. It’s a wonder anyone wants to immigrate to countries with such brutal histories toward people of colour.

Obviously, the Australian government (and Canadian, and american) is not ready to face its roots, face that they were not the first people here, face that they have stolen their land and imposed their white values on people who have lived happily for generations in Australia (and Canada and america) before they ever got there. And now they have the nerve to refuse entry to others? To refuse to allow immigrants to practice their way of life, that is so ‘radically different’ from the Australian way of life – which is not the original way of life on that land? So hypocritical! And so very racist.

This is disgusting. How can we voice our objections to this bullshit? Shame on Australia.

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