SOCIAL ISSUES PT.2 - 2020-2021

Tuvalu: the Sinking Country

 

By Linda Berry, Grade 12 

 

Tuvalu is a Polynesian country, located in the Oceania. It is a series of nine small but beautiful coral islands, with a population of approximately only 11,700 citizens. From northwest to southeast, it expands approximately 676 kilometers, but the total land area is just below 26 square kilometers. You might imagine a little vacation resort, with turquoise waters, pom trees, and white sandy beaches. But something that you likely don’t know, is that this series of quaint islands is on the verge of sinking.

 

The local catchphrase to describe the effects of climate change on this series of islands is, “Tuvalu is sinking.” Already, two of Tuvalu’s islands are on the verge of sinking. The majority of the island is only three meters above sea level, and on Fongafale island at its narrowest point, there is only a 20-meter width. The locals have nightmares of their beloved home being swallowed whole- and not in the distant future. Scientists predict that in only 50-100 years, the island could become uninhabitable. A local elder from Tuvalu, Nausaleta Setani, said, “ I have been learning the things that are happening are the result of man, especially [from] other countries. It makes me sad. But I understand other countries do what is best for their people. I am from a small country. All I want is for the bigger countries to respect us, and think of our lives.” The United Nations Development programme classifieds Tuvalu as “extremely vulnerable” in regards to the effects of climate change. 

 

Besides the Islands being swallowed, Tuvalu is facing other consequences from the effects of climate change. 

 

The rising ocean levels are contaminating the underwater ground supplies, forcing the citizens to become completely reliant on rainwater. The islands are now frequent and extreme droughts, forcing the country to become almost completely dependent on imported staples of taro and cassava. The families in Tuvalu are actually having a tremendously difficult time affording groceries, especially as the bill keeps rising as fruits rotten due to flooding and droughts. 

 

On top of that, fish are being poisoned by milco-algaes being expelled by bleached coral. This is called ciguatera poisoning, and approximately 10 Tuvaluans present this poisoning weekly, and the number of cases is climbing.

 

Higher temperatures on the islands are also posing a huge threat to the well-being of the citizens. Heatstroke, heat rashes, and dehydration are some of the health risks and consequences associated with rising temperatures. 

 

Lastly, the impacts of climate are also harming the economics of the country. Due to the inability to grow food, Tuvalu relies heavily on foreign aid from other countries and the UN. In addition, education and employment opportunities are minimal, since there is limited education on the islands, and most families can’t afford to send their children to neighboring countries such as Fiji or Australia for better education. 

References:

 

https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/TUV/tuvalu/population 

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/may/16/one-day-disappear-tuvalu-sinking-islands-rising-seas-climate-change#:~:text=%E2%80%9CTuvalu%20is%20sinking%E2%80%9D%20is%20the,the%20frontline%20of%20global%20warming.&text=Most%20of%20the%20islands%20sit,Fongafale%20stretches%20just%2020m%20across.

https://www.britannica.com/place/Tuvalu 

“This is Just the Beginning” 2021 OCDSB Virtual Walk-Out

 

June 17, 2021

By: Anna C-J

On Tuesday, May 25th at 9:30 a.m., students from all over the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board virtually walked out of classes to demand action for Black Students.

 

Stay Woke Ligar, a Lisgar Collegiate Institute social justice club, organized this event for Black students and allies to take a stand against racial injustice within our school board.  Intentionally, the walk out  took place on the 1 year commemoration of George Floyd's atrocious murder, by police officer Derek Chauvin. On such a traumatic and sorrowing day, Black students pushed their energy into a powerful event.

 

Students who had signed up for the event (through social media), were sent a Google meet link to the virtual walk out, where a presentation by Black student organizers, coming from various schools, took place.  This Google meet lasted just over 30 minutes.

 

 A few days prior to the event, their Call to Actions for the OCDSB were shared publicly. The Calls to Action are:

 

  1. Committing to rebuilding more diverse and inclusive High School instructional material 

  2. Eliminating the presence of SROS in OCDSB schools

  3. Ensuring black students receive Guidance and mental health support from black counsellors 

  4. Communication with black students in the ocdsb 

 

Call #1 demands that our high school courses be critically examined and altered to be more culturally responsive and honest. We are always, if not often, taught  material that come from white stories, white professionals (scientists, philosophers, authors, musicians, etc.)  and overall white perspectives. This is extremely damaging to racialized students as they do not learn about themselves,  and in fact all students suffer from only learning a one-sided version of subjects.  This topic is relevant to all courses but history is one that sticks out the most as the majority of the mandatory material we learn  is history of white people in Canada and Europe. As Alador Bereketab said, “we no longer want to be taught a sanitized version of history”.

 

Call #2 commands that SROS - School Resource Officers - be removed from all OCDSB schools.  School Resource Officers are police liaisons that work within schools,  with the goal of creating safety and conflict resolution. However, SROS lead to the criminalization of youth - with much higher criminalization rates among racialized students, and create a sense of fear for students at school who know that they are more likely to be targeted by officers. As many student leaders on the walk out expressed, students should feel safe within educational institutions and SROs prevent this from happening. 

 

Call #3 Requests that Black students have access to Black mental health professionals provided by the school board. Black students can feel safer and more understood around Black counsellors and are more likely to be provided with culturally sensitive advice and resources from Black professionals than white ones.

 

Call #4 declares that better communication must be established between those in power within those OCDSB and Black OCDSB students. As Amatur Raheem Salam-Alada strongly stated, “Decisions regarding Black students should involve Black students - they should have a seat at the table regarding their own education”.  It is obvious that Black students must be involved in decision-making regarding more equitable course material, resources, and environments.


 

All of these demands were restated during the walkout, as well as encouragement for students to get involved, in various suggested ways, for the improvement of our schools.  As Celestina Onabajo affirmed,  “your voice does matter”. 

 

Near the end of the meeting, it was encouraged that students attend OCDSB Black Student Forum’s annual event, which this year was named “A YEAR OF RESISTANCE & RESILIENCE: MOVING FORWARD WITH CLEAR VISION”,  taking place on May 27th, 2021.

 

This virtual walk-out, the first-of-its-kind for many, generated a great turnout and one that will hopefully propel students to start or continue advocating for action for Black students within the OCDSB. Your voice DOES matter. 

Anti-Asian Racism in Canadian History

By Linda Berry, Grade 12 

 

Recently, many of us have heard the devastating stories of anti-Asian hate crimes occurring in Canada, due to conspiracy theories of the origins of the COVID-19 virus. Unfortunately, this is the first time that many white Canadians are brought awareness about anti-Asian racism occurring in Canada. For years now, anti-Asian racism has continued to persist through Canadian history in the form of policy and legislation, and historical events. However, very few Canadians are aware of this history. So, this paper is a brief overview of some anti-Asian racist events that have occurred throughout Canadian history. 

Chinese Head Tax:

  • For the Chinese Immigration Act of 1885, there was a Chinese head tax that was imposed on Chinese immigrants who were coming to Canada. 

  • It began as a $50.00 fee but was eventually raised to a $500.00 fee for Chinese immigrants. 

  • This financial requirement for immigrants created barriers that discouraged them from entering Canada. 

  • This tax continued until 1923. 

 

Banning Chinese Canadians from voting in British Columbia:

  • In 1872, BC banned Chinese immigrants from provincial voting, since many were coming to Canada at the time.

  • Japanese Canadiens were added to this group in 1895.

  • South Asians were added in 1908.

 

Chinese Canadians were banned from voting in federal elections:

  • All Chinese Canadians were banned from voting in the Canadian federal elections in 1885.

  • This law was then extended to other Asian races through the “Dominion Election Act” of 1920. This Act was a Canadian Bill passed by Robert Borden’s Conservative government, allowing women to run for parliament, but excluded Indigenous and Asian races from voting and running. 

  • In 1947, South Asian and Chinese Canadians received the right to vote, and in 1949, Japanese Canadians received the right to vote.

 

Hiring Exclusions:

  • The  Inspection of Metalliferous Mines Act prohibited Japanese and Chinese Canadians from working in mines located in British Columbia. 

  • The Coal Mines Regulation Act of 1877 stated, "No Chinaman or person unable to speak English shall be appointed to or shall occupy any position of trust or responsibility in or about a mine subject to this Act, whereby through his ignorance, carelessness, or negligence, he might endanger the life or limb of any person employed in or about a mine."

 

Asian Canadians targeted and blamed for the spread of viruses and illnesses:

  • Asian Canadians have been accused of spreading viruses for a long time throughout Canadian history; they were specifically targeted and checked for the plague in BC in 1907, they were accused of spreading the Sars virus in 2003, and now they are being accused of spreading the COVID-19 virus in Canada.  

  • There has been a long-standing history of Western and European countries using racism to blame other races for healthcare problems occurring in their countries. For instance, Jewish communities were wrongfully accused of poisoning wells in the 14th century, Chinese Americans were wrongfully accused of spreading the plague in San Francisco's Chinatown in 1900, and Haitians were blamed for spreading HIV/AIDS in the US in the 80s. 

  • There is the notion that in terms of global healthcare, “the west is the best,” according to Abraar Karan, a doctor at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. 

  • This led to the misconception that the spread of the coronavirus was China’s fault and that if the virus had happened in a Western or European country, it would have been contained and properly taken care of.  

 

Limiting the amount/banning Asian Immigrants from coming to Canada:

  • In 1914, nearly 400 South Asian refugees arrived in Canada on a ship called Komagata Maru, due to a riot that was occurring in India at the time. They were not allowed in and were docked for two months, after which they were forced to leave and many passengers were killed or imprisoned once they returned. 

  • The Hayashi-Lemieux Gentlemen’s Agreement was negotiated between Japan and Canada, which limited the amount of Japanese people permitted to travel to Canada. The agreement started out by limiting the number to 400 Japanese immigrants per year, but over a period of time was reduced to only 150 immigrants per year.

  • The Continuous Journey Regulation of 1908 was an amendment to the Immigration Act in 1908 that prohibited immigrants from entering Canada that did not come by a continuous journey from their Native land. This means that immigrants were required to purchase a plane ticket going directly to Canada from their country. Through this regulation, Indian and Japanese immigrants were unable to immigrate to Canada, since the only routes they could take did not offer direct transport to Canada. 


 

Limiting the rights and freedoms of Asian Canadians:

  • In Ontario in 1914, Ontario legislation prohibited Chinese Canadians from hiring white women. Soon after, Saskatchewan and British Columbia followed soon after, in prohibiting white women from working for Asian people in some way. The law in BC was only repealed in 1968. 

  • Asian Canadians were excluded from “White” hospitals in Montreal during the Spanish Flu in 1918.

  • In British Columbia, Chinese students were segregated and sent to Chinese-only schools in 1922.

  • Japanese Canadians living in BC were sent to internment camps during the Second World War. More than 22,000 Japanese Canadians were forced from their homes and sent to these camps, the Canadian Government seized and sold their property, and then after the war, many Japanese Canadians were deported.  

References:

https://www.toronto.com/news-story/10349793-timeline-this-is-canada-s-history-of-anti-asian-racism-that-covid-19-has-amplified/ 

https://www.google.com/search?q=dominion+electiosn+act+1920&oq=dominion+electiosn+act+1920&aqs=chrome..69i57j0i13l2.6918j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&safe=active&ssui=on

 http://najc.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/discriminatory_legislation_in_bc_1872_1948-reformatted.pdf 

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/segregation-of-asian-canadians 

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2021/03/26/980480882/why-pandemics-give-birth-to-hate-from-black-death-to-covid-19

 https://www.cbc.ca/radio/tapestry/recovering-from-a-crisis-1.5471233/i-was-humiliated-chinese-canadian-remembers-racist-reaction-to-sars-epidemic-1.5471741 

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-four-regions-of-asia.html#:~:text=East%20Asia%20is%20politically%20divided,%2C%20Iran%2C%20and%20the%20Maldives

https://pier21.ca/research/immigration-history/continuous-journey-regulation-1908

HARMLESS TRENDS OR CULTURAL APPROPRIATION?

Why beauty trends can be more hurtful than we know

 

By Anonymous 

*TW: Article contains culturally insensitive imaging (Fox Eyes and Blackfishing)*

  

Beauty is a huge part of our world today. It sparks trends, inspires, and has an impact on the lives of many people. The problem is, beauty ideals are always changing, and have started to take physical features, clothing, and traditions from other cultures. Trends are often started by models with eurocentric features, and turned into a new craze. Though these trends seem like appreciation on the outside, they are actually very hurtful to a lot of people.

 

There is a very thin line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. Cultural appreciation is seeking to learn about another culture, without using it for personal gain. On the other hand, cultural appropriation is the act of adopting one of more parts of another culture or identity for personal gain. Most often, this is done by members of a dominant culture who appropriate disadvantaged and minority cultures. Disturbingly, it has become a trend, leading more and more people to appropriate without knowing they’re doing something wrong.

 

The Fox Eye is an example of cultural appropriation. This trend became popular in 2020  after Bella Hadid had gotten plastic surgery to have "fox eyes”. Celebrities such as Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, and Hailey Baldwin, soon followed by creating makeup looks to attain the same effect of almond-shaped eyes. The look involved dark eye shadow, sharp eyeliner, and straight eyebrows. They also posed, stretching the area near their eye to create a “slanted look”. Not long after, it became a popular Tik Tok challenge and blew up on Instagram. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The problem with Fox Eyes was not just the makeup itself, but the pose that invariably accompanied the photos. Throughout their lives, many people of Asian descent have been mocked for their eye shape. Using gestures as a racial slur, non-Asians pulled at their temples, making it appear like they were squinting. Though this may have been funny for the oppressor, the gesture has become quite triggering for many. Suddenly, because people of white privilege had appropriated this look, it was considered “snatched” and “gorgeous”.  Fox Eyes are a powerful example of cultural appropriation in trends because even unknowingly, non-Asians have taken this natural feature from Asians and used it for clout.

 

The second example of cultural appropriation in trends is Blackfishing. Blackfishing is when non-black people adopt black features by changing their skin tone, hairstyles, and engaging in body modification such as lip fillers and plastic surgery. Sounds familiar? Blackfishing is modern-day Blackface. Blackface is a term for non-Black performers wearing makeup and representing a caricature of a Black person. It was often associated with minstrel shows in the U.S from the 1830s until the mid 20th century and is now regarded as incredibly racist and highly offensive. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black features are now seen as desirable in today’s society, but only on people who are not Black. Women in the Black community have always been called “unprofessional” for wearing their traditional hair styles, while others are now called “fashionable”. Suddenly, non-Black influencers are adopting these traditions and they are not discriminated against, but praised. Black fishing is cultural appropriation because the appropriators profit (followers, jobs, desirable, etc.) from their actions, without having to face the hate and racism for their “beauty”, like many Black people have in the past. 

 

It is important to call out these trends for what they are and spread awareness. “If you still don’t understand culture appropriation, imagine working on a project and getting an F and someone copies you and gets an A and the credit for your work”. This is the case when influencers take an element of another culture, wear it as if it was their own, and get all the credit, and none of the racism. They don’t have to face the teasing and discrimination that the cultures have for years. This is privilege shown in it’s finest, and so many people are blind to it. Ethnicity is not something that you can just wash away, it is something that you carry with you always, through pain and pride.

 In closing, I offer the words of the Black American poet Rudy Francisco...

 

Silly, 

How often you confuse

Customs for costumes

Culture for couture.

 

My body is not an 

accessory that everyone

Is allowed to borrow.

 

You don’t get to

 Put on my face and 

Rent my experience.

 

I can’t unzip this skin

After a long night.

 

None of this will come of 

when the party 

Is over

 

Does Our Criminal Justice System Really Work In Canada?

March 24, 2021

By: Linda Berry

The full article can be viewed at this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ob6zVtvEtrmLBX_jyhK3h6tcrUUL1Gnb7Y_v4_bHwnI/edit?usp=sharing 

 

TW: Some content may be disturbing in discussing mental health issues, solitary confinement, and use of force in prisons.  

 

Oftentimes, when we think of a horrendous criminal justice system, we think of the United States where 25% of the world’s prison population lives, where the incarceration system is an industry that brings in lots of cash for businesses and politicians at the expense of millions of lives. But oftentimes, we don’t hear about the Canadian criminal justice system- and we should. 

Here are some reasons why the Canadian criminal justice system must change, in order for our society to move forward peacefully. 

 

Racialized and marginalized Canadiens are highly over represented in the Canadian criminal justice system.

  • Research from 2016 found that while Black Canadians make up 3% of the population, they make up 10% of the federal prison population. 

  • Between 2005 and 2016, it was found that the federal incarceration rate of Black people increased by 70%. 

  • A commision done 10 years prior found racism throughout every level of the justice system in Ontario. Racism was found in policing, the courts, and correctional institutions. Although the problem was identified, not much was done to solve it, with soaring incarceration rates of Black Canadians. 

  • An issue that leads to the incarceration of Black Canadians is carding incidents, in which police stop and question individuals without cause. Black Canadians are disproportionately targeted for carding. For example, while 8% of Torontonians are Black, they make up 27% of carding incidents, according to 2013 reports. 

  • The Canadian Indigenous population is disproportionately represented as well. Indigenous Canadians account for 4.3% of the general population, but an extreme 24.4% of the prison population.

  • Although no data has been collected on this subject in Canada, it was found that LGBTQ+ people are incarcerated at higher rates than non-LGBTQ+ people. For example, LGBT and gender nonconforming youth in the US are represented in the incarceration population at three times the rate of the general population. 

Health issues:

  • Inmates in Canadian prisons are far more likely than the general population to suffer from HIV and AIDS, and are quite prone to psychiatric and mental health issues.

  • After being released, inmates are 58 times more likely than a regular person to have a psychiatric episode, which has often landed them in health facilities. 

  • A major problem that contributes to the HIV and AIDS problem is the lack of harm reduction. HIV is generally spread with use of syringes for the prison population, and very little is done to reduce harm.

  • Access to sterile injection equipment is actually extremely limited, according to Sandra Ka Hon Chu, a lawyer and the director of the research and advocacy at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.

  • Lack of harm reduction resources is detrimental to the health of prisoners, since research shows that 17% of male and 14% of female inmates use injectable drugs and overdose deaths have increased over the years. 

  • Furthermore, stigma is another enormous problem for prisoners in terms of being tested for HIV out of fear of facing discrimination from Facility workers and inmates alike, as well as the loss of confidentiality of their results. 

  • Research shows that time in prison is detrimental to the prisoner’s health, when examining their life expectancy. According to Catherine Latimer, an executive director at John Howard Society of Canada, inmates receive far less health care than the general population of Canadians, and they age 10 years faster in the prison community than the general community. 

  • COVID-19 has left both correctional officers and prisoners vulnerable, with many health risks in prison conditions. For example, lack of access to sanitary products, being in close condition with others, and so on. 

Education:

  • Statistics have shown that access to education and vocational training in prisons is both cheaper and more effective at keeping people from returning to prisons than longer sentences, or punishments. For example, a report from the US found that formerly incarcerated people who participated in education programs had 43% lower rates of being rearrested than those who did not participate. However, when you look at Correctional Service Canada, it is found that it costs an average of $111,202 annually to incarcerate one man, with only $2950 being spent on education per prisoner. 

  • $2950 is almost four times less than per student spending by the government of Ontario. 

  • There is a legal mandate that requires education to be provided to prisoners in Canada which is often overlooked- and 75% of prisoners are without a high school diploma, meaning there is urgent need for more educational programs in Canadian prisons.

  • The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) also does a very poor job of providing support for prisoners with learning disabilities, and adequately staffing libraries, and library resources. 

  • Furthermore, in 2015/2016, it was found that the MCSCS cut their educational spending by 10%.

  • In Canada, there are no Pell Grants, which are grants in the US that are provided as assistance to prisoners if they wish to pursue an education once they have finished their sentence. 

 

We Deserve Better

 

March 24, 2021

By: Sophie Milley

 

On Sunday, March 7th, 2021 a petition was started by Vanessa House Milley (my mom!) to ask the OCDSB to plan for a better model for the September 2021 school year. The Ottawa Carleton District School Board sent out an email on February 27th with the headline “September 2021: We’re Ready to Welcome All Students Back to the Classroom”. Reading this I was super excited because I thought we would be going back to a more regular routine without quadmesters. Instead, the title was completely misleading with the contents of the email saying that the only change that would be implemented was “We hope to start the year and/or move to two classes a day and a lunch break between classes as soon as possible.” 

 

At this point, over 1, 800 people have signed the petition and it has reached an audience with the members of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, Joel Harden, our Member of Provincial Parliament, who will be speaking to the provincial legislature this week about an increase in funding for next year and an elimination of the quadmester system. Catherine Mackenna has also signed, retweeted and shared the petition. 

 

It is obvious by the large, positive reaction from the community that many people have the same view, students and parents alike The current schedule, while it may have been effective this year for stopping the spread of COVID, has had an entirely negative effect on the mental health of students. In a survey the OCDSB recently sent out, ten of thousands of students expressed their sadness, frustration, depression, anger, and strain that the current system has put on them. Personally, I lost all motivation for school. I am frustrated and stressed out with my schoolwork and for the online portion I am always distracted. So upsetting were the combined comments, that our school sent out a list of support resources for those who needed it. Not even 12 hours after the survey closed, the OCDSB sent out the email describing the schedule for September. Unless I am very much mistaken, less than 12 hours does not seem like enough time to evaluate the comments and create a structure for the following school year. At this point, we do not know what September will look like, but only planning for the worst-case scenario does not seem like the best plan. The school board still has five months to think of a better plan or more than one plan depending on what the situation looks like in September. 

 

We have seen that other school systems work while following safety guidelines and limiting spreading. For example, my younger sister goes to an elementary school where they are in school full-time and follow the same timetable as they would pre-Covid, they all wear masks, eat inside,  sit six feet apart, and stay in one classroom the entire day while their teachers rotate. The Catholic schools have the cohort system, but they have two subjects per day instead of only one, which, according to student feedback, has proven to be much more effective. They are also set to return full-time in-school with no cohorts for September, along with lots of other Ontario cities including Toronto, which currently has six times more cases than we do in Ottawa. Why is it that Ottawa, with limited cases, is ignoring the fact that while students are physically safe, they are not safe from a mental health point of view - and this continues to get worse? We are moving out of the current pandemic, but into one that could be much more damaging, a mental health pandemic. 

 

If you agree with what you have read or you want to help get the OCDSB to develop a new plan for the September 2021 school year, please sign the petition down below, and share it with your friends, family, and on social media. We are getting closer to truly making a change!


https://www.change.org/p/ottawa-carleton-district-school-board-ocdsb-plan-for-a-better-2021-22-secondary-school-year

 

The Global Silicon Shortage Explained

March 24, 2021

By: Grayson Mulder

 

Due to the pandemic, the world has been in a bit of a freefall for the past year. Governments have been scrambling to bring things back to some form of “normalcy” but with the rise of digital communication becoming more essential than ever before, there has been a huge demand for laptops, tablets, and computers in general. This may seem all well and good but the demand for these devices is so greatly above what is typical, that there has been a shortage of silicon, the primary element of all computer processors. 

 

Why does this matter? The fewer chips for these devices are available, the fewer computers are available to the people who need them which are needed for work and education for many people. Furthermore, the new generation of video game consoles that came out in November last year are facing supply issues as well which has caused scalpers to purchase them en mass, often using bots to buy them faster than a human ever could. They resell them on websites like Amazon and eBay for over double the RRP. 

 

Even the automotive industry is struggling because cars require chips and those are in short supply. This is surprising as cars use much lower-end silicon than what you would find in a traditional computer. Because the tasks it needs to perform are very simple compared to what your home computer is doing. Silicon quality can also vary greatly between even chips of the same line and if the chips do not meet performance expectations they will be thrown out this means that perfectly good chips are being thrown out so not even every chip produced will ever be used further exacerbating the issue. 

 

This all culminates in a substantial shortage of parts and silicon. There is hope on the horizon though with the vaccine rollout (slowly) happening and people being less reliant on technology and hopefully soon fully returning to work and production becoming more robust and supply catching up with the demand things should return to normal regarding the issue.

 

Women In STEM

 

March 24, 2021

By: Knightwatch Editors

 

March 8th was International Women’s Day, and to acknowledge the day, Ms. Armstrong organized a virtual showing of the documentary, Picture a Scientist, hosted by Ms. MacKechnie. The documentary discussed the severe gender-based discrimination that women face in STEM fields. There is a long-standing misogynistic culture present in these fields, and to this day, women are excluded, ignored, talked over, and treated like technicians by their male colleagues. This gender-based harassment leads to a “leaky pipeline” of women continuously leaving their positions as students or workers in the sciences. The higher the job position is, the more likely it is to be held by a white, straight man. 

Not only does this misogyny make it extremely difficult for women to find success in the sciences, it also buries the scientific achievements of women throughout history. A large majority of the scientists in our texts are white men, but they aren’t the only ones who have made significant impacts in science. 

Head over to our Music/TV/Movies/Podcasts section for a podcast recommendation to learn more about women in science throughout history.

 

The Socialization of Women

March 24, 2021

By: Anonymous

 

Ever since elementary school, many young girls have been tied to a ‘how to be a lady’ sort of culture. The tutorial is long and out of order, but this set of rules seems as binding as ever.

This way of thinking tends to follow a pattern, influenced by experience and adapted for safety. It started when we were very young; I can speak for many of my peers when I say that ‘playground games’ from kindergarten went too far. I remember back in kindergarten, boys would chase girls to kiss them, grab them and ‘kidnap’ them. It was always brushed off with “he’s doing that because he likes you”. I played in these games and thought nothing of it. Teachers watched and parents were told, they didn’t step in, why would they? It’s just a game. I was always told that boys will be boys, and I had no reason to disagree.

As I grew older, the games continued and evolved. In the second grade, boys would try to touch girls’ crotches, saying ‘I got your no-no square’. It made me uncomfortable, of course- but I didn’t say anything to a teacher. Neither did anyone else. Boys will be boys.

In the sixth grade, we’d been taught about consent, and assault, and rape. We all knew that rape was bad, obviously. The teachers were watchful for inappropriate behaviour. However, they didn’t hear what certain boys would whisper to each other in corners, or in the yard. Just barely out of earshot, they’d whisper things like ‘oh, I’d wheel her,” “she’s disgusting,” “did you see how low-cut her top was”. It was gross. I heard it, felt self-conscious, then moved on. Why would I say anything? They’re just being boys.

Thankfully, I’ve learned and grown out of this way of thinking. I am not afraid to call out this behaviour, and I am not afraid to act, dress and think the way I want. It doesn’t mean that everyone has had the privilege to do so. I have been lucky to grow up in an accepting environment, with strong women in my life. My mother taught me to be confident and to uplift other confident women. Despite this, I have dealt with my fair share of insecurities, envy and internalized misogyny. I’m still in the process of learning how to feel joy rather than jealousy for others, and it’s hard. We are all products of a competitive and cutthroat society.

Even with the way I’ve been treated by young boys, it is not any child’s fault. Children imitate, they have been brought up to think this way.  A boy in kindergarten chasing a girl around to catch and kiss them isn’t evil, nor do they know what they’re doing is wrong. They’ve seen it on TV, from their fathers, from the men that they look up to. It comes down to education. Consent, manners and respect need to be taught young, to break the cycle of abuse. The responsibility falls on fathers to do the work, and raise respectful sons. Don't teach girls how not to be raped - teach boys not to rape.

While reading this, many may be thinking, ‘what about feminism?’ I agree that acts such as the MeToo movement did wonders for awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace, and I believe the feminism that’s grown from the women’s suffrage movement can be beautiful. Within the movement, though, we have a long way to go. Modern white, cisgender feminism does not create a safe space for all women. Racist women and trans exclusionary radical feminists, or TERFs, run rampant in feminist spaces. Not to mention the lack of diversity- most online ‘girl power’ groups that I’ve seen are dominated by white, cishet, middle class women.

Many marginalized groups don’t feel they have a place in feminism today. The racist stereotypes that intertwine with misogyny, missing and murdered Indigenous women, and the brutality against trans women are ignored in mainstream feminism. The movement is important, it’s undeniable. Nevertheless, there is so much progress to be made and issues to be tackled, and the absence of intersectionality is the first on that list.

Anyone affected by misogyny reading this is not surprised. My experiences are not uncommon, they know how I feel and why I am angry. Some men, however, might not realize the harm of their actions and why their words left such a mark. I am not here to put blame on anyone, simply to hold accountability. We all have room to grow and unlearn the societal standards that have been pushed on us since birth, and it is a long, difficult process. Uplift others, hold each other accountable, continuously educate yourselves, and aid those in need as much as you can. We, as a community, need to do the work.

 
 
 
 
 
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