Friday, April 29, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
This story shows us how, for the longest time, and still to this day, women who are victims of sexual abuse are somewhat still being put to blame for being in such a situation while the actual part about them being assaulted or even raped by another is completely overlooked. Rape victims either "asked for it", "were dressed to ask for it", or "were at a party, drinking, asking for it" (Yes, because I'm sure rape is what we all aim for in life).
A SLUT walk is coming to Calgary June 11. My only worry for this walk - although I think the cause has good intentions - is that it will be an excuse for people to glamorize "slutiness".
Are signs like "We're here! We're sluts! Get use to it?" really making the situation any better? Should this walk be about being a slut and being proud or about promoting sexual assault awareness?
Toronto police constable Michael Sanguinetti thought he was offering the key to rape prevention. “I’m not supposed to say this,” he told a group of students at an Osgoode Hall Law School safety forum on January 24, but to prevent being sexually assaulted, “Avoid dressing like sluts.”
Despite Sanguinetti’s subsequent written apology and promises of further professional training, the victim-blaming gaffe heard round the world sparked a movement that began in Canada but is now sweeping the United States and abroad: SlutWalks.
“We had just had enough,” said Heather Jarvis, who founded SlutWalk Toronto with friend Sonya Barnett. “It isn’t about just one idea or one police officer who practices victim blaming, it’s about changing the system and doing something constructive with anger and frustration.”
While Jarvis, 25, and Barnett, 38, initially expected only 200–300 people to show their support, upwards of 3,000 massed on the streets of Toronto on April 3 -- some wearing jeans and a T-shirt; others in outfits more appropriate for a Victoria's Secret fashion show: thigh-highs, lingerie, stilettos -- and marched to police headquarters. Their goal: to shift the paradigm of mainstream rape culture, which they believe focuses on analyzing the behavior of the victim rather than that of the perpetrator.
“The idea that there is some aesthetic that attracts sexual assault or even keeps you safe from sexual assault is inaccurate, ineffective and even dangerous,” said Jarvis. She recalled a sign at the march that read: "It was Christmas day. I was 14 and raped in a stairwell wearing snowshoes and layers. Did I deserve it too?"
Since the movement’s inception, the SlutWalk campaign has gone viral. Facebook groups have been emerging to promote satellite SlutWalks in Europe, Asia, Australia and most major US cities. Ashville, Dallas, Hartford, Boston and Rochester will host SlutWalks between now and May 7.
The ubiquity of a rape culture that attributes sexual assault to a woman’s dress or expression of sexuality (both in the court of law as well as in the court of public opinion) helps explain the movement’s widespread resonance and popularity.
In late February, a Manitoba judge condemned a rape survivor in court for wearing a tube top, no bra, high heels and makeup, which he implied had led to her sexual assault. Justice Robert Dewar called the assailant a “clumsy Don Juan” who had succumbed to “inviting circumstances.”
In 1999, Italy’s highest court ruled that a woman wearing jeans could not be raped because it is impossible to remove a pair of pants “without the collaboration of the person wearing them.”
When an 11-year-old was gang raped in Cleveland, Texas this March, a controversial New York Times article noted that the victim “dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s,” as if this were a relevant factor in the crime perpetrated against her (the Times later responded to criticism).
“If someone breaks into a house, do you blame the owner for having a house that looks appetizing?” asked Elizabeth Webb, the 24-year-old organizer of SlutWalk Dallas. “I don’t think so!”
Given Dallas’ close proximity to Cleveland, Texas and the fact that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Webb felt it appropriate to organize SlutWalk Dallas, which will take place on April 23. A survivor herself, she feels very close to the issue.
At 18, Elizabeth Webb became a statistic. Along with one in four college women, Webb joined the rank and file of rape survivors. Like 80 percent of victims, she was sexually assaulted by someone she knew -- a close friend who drugged her at a party. Like 15 out of 16 rapists, Webb’s attacker never spent a night in jail.
Although she reported the rape the next day (which her Texas hospital required before administering a free rape examination), Webb stopped pursuing the case after succumbing emotionally in the face of the onslaught of questions acquaintances asked with raised eyebrows, questions aimed at challenging the integrity of the victim: What were you wearing? Why did you go to his party? Why did you drink?
“Sexual assault is traumatic, and to add victim blaming on top of that is damaging to the psyche,” said Webb, now 24, who only recently relinquished her sense of self-blame. “I can’t remember what I was wearing, but why weren’t they asking why he slipped something in my drink?”
Nicole Sullivan, 21, one of three organizers of the May 7th Boston SlutWalk, is a survivor. “But you hear people whispering and asking if you’re the right kind of survivor,” said Sullivan, referring to the Whoopi Goldberg school of thought that there is rape, and then there’s “rape-rape.”
Sullivan felt scrutinized for having embraced her own sexuality. “I was told that if I hadn’t owned a vibrator I wouldn’t have gotten raped. It was crazy what people would come up with.”
SlutWalk Toronto’s website states, “Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.”
An aim of the SlutWalk movement is to reappropriate the word "slut." “I come from a frame of mind that language is powerful, and you can also change language,” said SlutWalk founder Jarvis, using the word “queer” as an example of a word that was once strictly pejorative but is now a common sexual identifier used by the LGBT community.
The embrace of sluttiness has attracted most of the controversy surrounding the event. Posts to SlutWalk Facebook groups question whether the fishnets and chants “We’re here. We’re sluts. Get used to it!” present at SlutWalk Toronto help SlutWalk’s goals, or set the movement back. Fox News commented that there is “nothing brave” about marching for sluttiness, and a conservative blogger accused participants of being “high off attention.”
According to SlutWalk Boston co-organizer Siobhan Conners, 20, although Boston SlutWalk is expecting approximately 1,000 participants, a counter event called “Pimp Walk” has been planned to take place on the same day at the same time. Conners also finds herself removing pornographic and hateful posts from the SlutWalk Facebook page.
“Not everyone has to chant ‘I’m a slut and I’m proud,’” said Conners. “No matter how you identify, even if you don’t consider yourself a sexual person, we’d like to have anyone who is supportive of creating a more positive environment for women and believes that rape shouldn’t be permitted.”
SlutWalk organizers, both domestically and internationally, hope that the movement creates a global dialogue in which women feel comfortable discussing sexual assault without fear of blame.
“By starting this walk and talking to my friends about whether they want to help me, I’ve learned stories from my friends where I didn’t know that they had been sexually assaulted before,” said Lena Ellis, the organizer of SlutWalk Detroit. “This serves as an outlet and lets them have a voice. Having my friends open up is a big deal, and if this happens in my little circle, it can happen for a lot of other people as well.”
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer
I tell my love to wreck it all
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Right in the moment this order's tall
I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind
In the morning I'll be with you
But it will be a different "kind"
I'll be holding all the tickets
And you'll be owning all the fines
Come on skinny love what happened here
Suckle on the hope in lite brassiere
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Sullen load is full; so slow on the split
I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind
Now all your love is wasted?
Then who the hell was I?
Now I'm breaking at the britches
And at the end of all your lines
Who will fight?
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The series is meant to encourage people to take a closer look at the things that surround them. “There are moments, even photographs, and details in everything. I think we often look past that,” he said. Fokkens said that the detail work presented in his photos were all hard to get. “For the Cecil Hotel one, I actually ended up paying for one night (at the Cecil) to get the night shots,” he said. The hotel, which is no longer in operation, was notorious for gang activity, drugs, and prostitutes.
On top of his shot of the Cecil Hotel’s vibrant neon sign, the exhibition includes a close-up of a parrot’s head, a dandelion captured in all its splendour in Rwanda, and a wide-angle view of part of the copious record collection in Inglewood’s Recordland, among many other equally intriguing photographs. “I like shooting things that have a lot of imperfections, something that can either tell a story, has some sort of texture or depth to it, makes you think or gives the audience a bit of a reaction.”
Dan Clapson, general manager at Higher Ground says the displays have always brought positive responses: “Our patrons enjoy the art and photography that we showcase here. Whenever a new exhibit goes up, people take notice, and the words are always kind.” Fokkens has experienced likewise feedback from customers. “I find that whenever I’m in there taking (my work) down or up, I get bombarded with people who come out left, right and centre asking things like, “oh my goodness, I like that photo,” or, “oh, where or how did you take that?” For University of Calgary student Calla Savary, 20, Higher Ground is a cozy place to meet up with friends, read or study.
Although she says the art is usually a background commodity, she says it still adds to her coffee experience. “Art in coffee shops is vital. It makes a huge difference. I love that you can even buy the art here,” she said. “On an aesthetic level, it is nice to not have bare walls,” Clapson wrote in an email. “On a more serious note, we work hard to be a hub in our community for local arts and music. It’s good to know our patrons appreciate support of local culture.”
As for Fokkens’ photography, Savary enjoyed it. “I like this,” she said pointing to Fokkens’ photo in Recordland, called “My Playlist.” “I wish I had that kind of record collection!” she said. Tim Westbury, programming director at The New Gallery says coffee shops offer great exposure for artists and photographers alike. “The chief benefit is that the work is being seen by a relatively broad spectrum of the public. Many people continue to find the standard ‘white cube’ of a contemporary art gallery to be quite intimidating; coffee shops provide a much more comfortable, informal setting,” he wrote in an email.
“The only con I see in art being displayed in a coffee shop context is that ultimately, it’s just part of the background and decor.” Fokkens happily lives off his photography and enjoys traveling to developing countries. The end of March will see Fokkens travel to Tibet, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh for a full year. “I just hope my photographs inspire people, whether it’s in photography or whether it inspires them to, this may sound like a complete cliche, but inspires them to do what they really want to do (in life).” “It’s nothing but hard work. But to really do what you want to do is the best thing there is,” he said with a laugh. Catch Fokkens at Higher Ground for a reception on Nov. 23, 7-10 p.m. with free wine and munchies to boot.
Monday, April 11, 2011
by Claire Miglionico
Braids has come a long way since its earlier days as The Neighbourhood Council – the original band the members formed in their last year of high school. In the beginning, they played Broken City frequently, eventually made the move to Montreal, and came back to their hometown of Calgary as bold and strong as ever, playing the show local fans have been waiting on for some time.
Braids is composed of four 20-something multi-talented musicians: Raphaelle Standell-Preston, Katie Lee, Austin Tufts and Taylor Smith. All are vocalists and use their harmonious voices to back up lead vocalist/guitarist Standell-Preston while playing their instruments of choice: the keyboards for Lee, the guitar, bass and drums for Smith and the drums for Tufts. Standell-Preston’s voice has been dubbed “angelic” by many music critics and her performance at The Grand theatre March 30 revealed it as such.
Kris Ellestad and Memory Screen opened up the show to a half-empty theatre, but a flock of people invaded the Grand just in time to catch Braids. The all-ages, sold-out show lived up to its status when the empty seats at the very top of the theatre filled in a matter of seconds. For their part, the members of Braids were sitting in the audience attentively listening to the openers.
The crowd was not a foreign one. It was filled with the band’s old friends from Western Canada High School – where all four members of Braids attended – and profoundly happy and proud family members cheering for their children, siblings, granddaughters or grandsons.
Braids took the stage around 10 p.m. and Standell-Preston announced in a hoarse, timid voice she had caught a seemingly severe case of bronchitis just the day before. The crowd was saddened by the news but was not let down by the vocal performance she pulled off despite the sickness. The positive attitude and good-hearted humour she kept throughout the night were inspiring.
Braids played a set that closely mimicked the order of their debut album Native Speaker. They started off with their free-flowing signature track “Lemonade,” which slowly faded into “Plath Heart.” Their style of music is out there and definitely of experimental nature with frequent synthesizers, fast-spaced guitar staccatos, and dream-state vocals. They bring various musical influences to the table and have been compared to Animal Collective, Bjork and the Cocteau Twins.
Their friendship comes to life onstage through their fantastic musical connection. Deep glances, and full-toothed grins were exchanged on numerous occasions between all four members.
Braids pulled off a great show but it would be a lie to say that it was fully entrancing. At times the band came short of captivating the audience by being lost in their own little musical worlds for too long. The band also seemed exhausted, quite frankly. Bronchitis could have definitely been at fault for this one. Perhaps this show was not one of the better ones for Braids. However, musical virtue is fully present within the band, which is only setting them up for many more successful performances to come.