Archive for the ‘activism’ Category
Today is the 100th anniversary of International Womens Day. It’s so cool that we have such a day. However, as with any other special day (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day and so on) the question becomes why can’t we celebrate and honor the same thing every day? With today, there is another question as well – has it made any difference?
Certainly we have made great strides in the last hundred years. To look back at our own society and see the changes is astounding. Women can vote, we have increased income parity (I know, we’re not there yet), contraception improvements and so on.
Yet all over the world, women are still struggling. Many can’t own property. They can’t get a divorce. They get stoned for having an affair. Many societies don’t allow their girls to go to school. Women do roughly 2/3 of the work and make about 10% of the income overall. Even here, women are far from represented in our politics. A CBC show this morning was talking about how only 30% of their interviewees were female in the last year. 52% of the population, 30% of the opinion – that’s not exactly representative. There’s still a long way to go for complete equality.
It’s a long slow process. It’s important to look back at how far we’ve come. Celebrate the successes so far. Then look ahead and say, what’s next? Set goals for those next steps and make comparisons this time next year.
One thing I would like every woman to do is recognize her own beauty and power. One of the biggest ways we keep women down is by making them feel bad about themselves. Whether they feel stupid, ugly or ineffective, it makes them stay small. In a perfect Bad Kitty world, women everywhere would not feel that way. Additionally, they wouldn’t allow anyone to attempt to make them feel less.
In order to facilitate this, here are some of my suggestions:
- Show women of all sizes, colors and ages in advertising and entertainment. This is improving slowly. Ramp it up!
- Give women places to connect with each other. When we realize that we are all the same at our core, we become more supportive and loving toward each other.
- Find ways in the workplace to make everyone, not just women, feel heard and appreciated. When people, especially women, feel they have been heard and respected, the energy changes. Tired of women sniping at each other and gossiping in the lunch room? Make sure they are given some say in what happens around them.
- Create laws that put the onus on the abuser, not on the abused. Make it easy for women to get out of those situations. Even better, give them the power and self confidence so that they won’t get into them in the first place!
- Create more esteem education for young women. There is a terrible epidemic among girls being overly self critical about their looks and their core selves. It’s happening at a younger and younger age and it scares me. If we have programs in place to raise up young women instead of tearing them down, just imagine the difference!
- When assisting struggling communities, focus on the women. A Sherwood Park organization went to a village in Ethiopia and gave the women means to purchase land. A year later, they returned and the women greeted them with singing and dancing as their entire community had changed as a result.
- Women, when you are in the workplace, be a woman. You don’t have to be a man to compete. You are so much more powerful in your feminine self than when you try to be someone, and something, you’re not.
- Ladies, stand up for yourself. Take time for yourself. Put yourself first in your own life. Give yourself positive messages. Smile when you look in the mirror. Help others from a place of strength, not obligation. No one can take power over your life better than you can. Start today and next year the world will be a better place for everyone you come into contact with.
I firmly believe that when a woman owns her own unique beauty (inside and out) without feeling the need to change or improve, her world will change and the world as a whole will change. The change in the world will be so dramatic, we won’t recognize the place. Women handle conflict differently. They collaborate rather than dominate. Take a few moments to think about it. I hope it makes you grin from ear to ear like I do.
Be Beautiful, Be YOU!
It takes brave actions to make change. In order to make an impression and a difference, often rules need to be broken. Playing by the rules, staying with the status quo and keeping the waters quiet lead to stagnation and stems from fear. It doesn’t matter if you’re wanting to make wide sweeping social change or a change in your life, courage and a departure from the rules will be necessary.
We see examples of this every day in big and small ways. It could be a child pushing their boundaries. It could be a worker refusing to do a degrading task at work. It could be a revolution. No matter how big the action, change is inevitable. And thank goodness for those brave enough to take the chance.
Change is happening constantly. It makes me wonder why we’re so afraid of it. Aren’t you glad we have a bill of rights? Aren’t you glad women have the vote? Aren’t you glad we no longer live in caves? Aren’t you glad you moved out on your own? Where would we be if we never changed? I shudder to think!
There are many arenas in which change happens.
We are currently witnessing a political change – the riots in Egypt. After 30 years of the same government (kind of sounds like Alberta a little, doesn’t it?), the people have HAD IT!
They are passionate and angry. They are willing to do whatever it takes to get Hosni Mubarek out of power. They need change. They want change. They won’t stop until they have change.
I heard a tape on the radio of a woman running from the police. It was chilling to hear her talking on a live feed with Al Jazeera as she ran looking for someone to hide her. She was afraid and she was determined. Another woman was interviewed talking about how she was 20 years old and had the same government all her life. She was so calm and collected despite having been beaten by the police earlier in the day. She very clearly in a steady voice with no hysterics stated that she would not stop no matter what they did to her. The fact that the protesters are breaking the rules every day is proof that big change is inevitable and generations to come will have these brave souls to thank for it.
I heard a story recently from a Muslim woman who went to her grandfather’s funeral. It’s against the religion for women to go to burials – even family. Her grandfather was very important to her, so she went. Her uncles slowly brought her in closer and closer until she was amidst all the men near the burial site. She was given incense and placed it in the soil, as is the custom.
Back at the wake, she feared the reaction of her grandmother, aunts and other females in attendance. They were supportive and grateful to her. They felt she represented all of them at the ceremony.
This is a seemingly small gesture, yet it goes against 100′s of years of tradition. That one small, bold move could change the course of women in the culture greatly over time. One small step starts a journey.
I’ve been trying to decide on a category for this next one, but it covers so many areas. It’s cultural, it’s political, it’s for animals, it’s unbelievably brave!
For those of you who missed the movie, The Cove, which I’ve spoken of here before, you must run out and get it NOW!
It’s an adventure story, a story of risk, a story of love for a creature that sometimes seems smarter than we are and a story that, even after seeing it, I can’t fathom.
A group of film makers discovered that there are mass killings of dolphins occurring consistently in Japan. They risked their lives along with those of several divers and other helpers to get this story. The thought of what was being done is chilling. The risk to the lives and reputations of the people involved was high. If it weren’t so clearly a documentary, the story would be hard to believe.
What’s even more amazing is that the same government that tried to ban the movie and arrest the people involved invited them to the Japan film festival! Their risk could save the lives of 100′s and 1000′s of glorious creatures in the not too distant future.
I’m sure we all can think of people who have made a change for their own sanity or growth and how hard it was to do so. From the woman who leaves the husband who beats her despite the fears of what he will do and wondering where the next cheque will come to feed her kids is making a brave change. The person who leaves a job to pursue their dream while everyone else screams that they’re crazy is taking a big risk. The teenager who says no when everyone around them is trying meth is making a choice that may lead to a backlash that will take continued courage to endure.
What changes have you made? What changes are you willing to make to make your life and the lives of those around you better? What rock are you going to drop into the pool to make ripples you may never be aware of? Every small adjustment has huge consequences. Be brave. Take a risk. Make a change. You’ll be glad you did.
Be bold, my kitties.
Have you ever heard something that made you shake your head in disbelief and laugh at the same time?
I had one of those experiences today. Earlier this year, a high ranking cleric in Iran, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, stated “Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes.” Did you catch that last part? Increases earthquakes? Wah? That would be the head shake part.
Then a woman decided to test the theory. Jen McCreight called it Boobquake. Through Facebook and Twitter 200,000 women the world over participated in the “experiment” by wearing cleavage bearing outfits to test if earthquakes would increase. Surprisingly, there was no change in earthquake activity. Now that makes me smile and boobquake, come on, that’s funny!
What’s not so funny is that we women still have to fight to prove that we have the right to dress as we like and be who we are. As Jen said on an interview today on Your DNTO on CBC radio, the attempt to keep women covered is an attempt to minimize their power.
Yes, YES! Women are still being told to hide who they are and to be ashamed of their bodies because the powers that be (mainly men) know that if we are let loose, the world will change. We won’t cause earthquakes, but the earth will quake! When women truly own the power of who they are they use their power for good. They bring people together in wonderful ways. They nurture and create. They encourage others to grow and make a difference in their world.
So what are we afraid of, people? Couldn’t the world – and our immediate circle – use more of those things? If it takes a little cleavage to make it happen, wear that v-neck and make it happen!
Own who you are. Love your body. Love yourself. And, by extension, love everyone you come into contact with and make the earth move, baby. You have the power!
The Smithsonian Institute has been going through some controversy recently. They currently have an exhibit called Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture. Surprisingly, the controversy isn’t so much around the overall theme of the exhibit which is the role of sexuality and gender in art. Given that there is a lot of content dealing with homosexuality, you’d think that there would be a lot of spark around it. However, it was saved by an even larger fire around one individual piece that has since been removed.
Fire in My Belly is the offending piece. This four minute video is provocative. There is mature content, so be advised if you decide to watch.
With images ranging from ants crawling on a crucifix, a mouth being sewn shut and masturbation as well as many fire images all overlaid with an eerie soundtrack featuring an insistent, verging on hysterical voice repeating “unclean” there is plenty for people to object to, if they choose.
Nothing much new here. Art has been censored since the beginning of time. I can just imagine a critic looking at a cave drawing and grunting, “No, Grog, no genital on mammoth. Children be scarred. Fix now.” The thing is, art is about conversation and if it doesn’t create conversation, why bother?
I can’t completely say I’m a fan of Fire in My Belly. I find it disturbing and that makes me think about. In that sense, I am a fan. Art that creates no emotion is of no interest to me whatsoever. Whether I experience a warm sensation or a churning of my stomach, I want to experience. That’s why art exists.
One definition of art is “the creation of beautiful or significant things”. Note the word SIGNIFICANT. It’s easy to appreciate art that makes us go “oh, pretty”. It’s a little harder to appreciate that which gives us the willies. Yet, that is what sticks in our heads.
Earlier this year I heard a piece called The Murder of Crows. It’s a haunting spoken piece with a room set up with chairs, 98 speakers and a gramophone horn. Even without visuals, my boyfriend and I were riveted by the piece. The fact that I can remember what it was called is an indicator of the impact it made on me. On the other hand, there is currently an exhibit at the Alberta Gallery of Art which I’ve seen twice featuring some incredible landscapes, including some Group of Seven pieces. I quite like a number of them but can’t remember what any of them are called.
The great thing about people who shun, censor or protest against any type of art is that they actually give it more weight and attention. I may never have heard of Fire in My Belly if it weren’t for those who loudly took offense and had it banned. I always wonder why people who don’t like things don’t just keep their mouths shut. Less people will pay attention to it when that happens than when you make a loud noise. Case in point, the number of people who saw the substandard 1988 The Last Temptation of Christ. Now, with the resources available online, the chances of even more people seeing what you are making all the noise about are even higher. Hello youtube!
In this case, there were some people who believed so strongly that Fire in My Belly be seen that they camped out at the Smithsonian with their laptops and smart phones to show it to people anyway. Bravo! Sorry, to all you deeply offended folk, your plan backfired in more ways than we could possibly have imagined back in the The Last Temptation of Christ days.
Like the rest of life, we all have our opinions and we are most certainly entitled to them. The problem always comes when we try to make everyone else feel the way we do. The biggest joy of being human is being individual. I have a Nelson Mandela quote hanging on my wall. “When we lose the right to be different, we lose the right to be free.”
Those who try to impose their opinions on others are, in their own little way, trying to usurp the freedom of us all. Continue to have and express your thoughts. They are of value whether I, or anyone else, agree. It is in the expression that we reveal our beauty and the beauty of the human race in general.
That is art, my friends.
Dance is a powerful force. If there was any doubt about it, the documentary I saw the other day, War Dance, puts it to rest. The story is based in Northern Uganda, which is a war zone. It follows 3 children (13,13 and 14) who are about to go to Kampala (the capital) for a dance competition.
Been there, seen it. No, wait, you haven’t. These kids have been, literally, through hell and are still living it. From being orphaned, to mom being forced to bury dad’s hacked up body in the fields with her own hands and forced to hide in the bush for weeks in fear waiting for mom to return, to being abducted by the rebels and forced to kill – these kids are not ordinary or suffering through “normal” childhood trauma. On top of it all they are now living in a refugee camp with very little resources in conditions we westerners can only imagine (and shudder at the imagining).
Thankfully, they do have schooling which includes music (Western school trustees, take note!) and the school, for the first time, has been chosen to go to a music competition featuring schools from across the country.
What makes this story incredible is how these children, despite their situation, are positive about the future and find dance to be a release from the pain and sadness they experience every day.
At the opening of the movie, Rose says (and Dominic echoes it later), “Even though we are from the war zone, we can do good things.” Over and over all three children talk about how dance makes all the bad things melt away and I have no doubt it serves a large role in keeping them positive and forward thinking.
So, my lovelies, what pain and troubles are you going through? As big as our stuff feels, I’m pretty sure that for the most part it doesn’t hold a candle to what these children, and the 60,000 other people who live in this one camp (not to mention the 2 million others in camps around the country) go through daily.
Take a page from War Dance and remember the power of music and dance. When things are at their worst, find a way to dance. Go out with friends or dance in your room. Move your body and you will shift your mind! There’s nothing better than dance to take you out of your head – where we spend way too much time.
Play, enjoy and see what changes happen to your mood, your motivation and your life!
You deserve the very best, so dance your way along the road.
Be Beautiful, Be YOU!
The most anticipated movie of the year came out last weekend. My man and I went to see it in 3D – of course. Much ado has been made about the stunning visuals of Avatar. New technology which I don’t understand is being touted. And, yes, the images are outstanding! The trailers haven’t even begun to show the intricacies of the Pandoran world created by James Cameron and his team. The way the hair falls. The neon lit evenings. The night sky and horizon unlike anything we’d see on earth. It is breathtaking. This Avatar trailer focuses more on the visuals than the others I’ve seen but still falls far short of what you will experience in the theatre.
What sometimes gets lost when a movie is steeped in spectacle is the story. How many action or effects laden movies have you seen that you can’t even remember anything about the characters or story? All you can say is “wow, what a ride!” In retrospect, though, it leaves you rather empty.
Avatar, thankfully, is not in that category. Yes, the spectacle will make your mouth drop. You may start to get a bit of a belly ache from all the eye candy. In the end, movies are about telling a story and Avatar certainly rises to that expectation. It is, in essence, a fable. A cautionary tale about humanity and our tendency to take what we want rather than to understand those we are taking from. It’s very much a modern, futuristic retelling of the destruction of the North American natives.
There are some goofy terms, as to be expected in a fable. The magic ore the powers that be want from the planet Pandora is called “Unobtainium”. (Groan) The Navi of Pandora speak and gesture very much like Natives have been stereotypically portrayed in movies for decades.
The story is generally predictable. Science and military clash. The one sent to infiltrate falls in love with the people (think Dances with Wolves in space). The underdog wins over the bad guy in spectacular fashion. However, even a predictable story is all about the telling and Avatar tells it beautifully.
The movie took me back to last week’s blog about the power of love vs. the love of power. Our marine hero Jake played by Sam Worthington, when given the opportunity to actually live with the people he has come to manipulate realizes how beautiful they are. He comes to respect their way of life and becomes one of them. In the end, he helps them defeat the seemingly undefeatable – going against gun ships with bows and arrows.
I was once again reminded how impotent force is in the long run. The bullies will inevitably make headway in the short run. Love and understanding will win in the long run. Of course in the movies the love and understanding fights fire with fire so there is an incredible confrontation at the climax of the movie. In real life, it takes longer and is much less dramatic to overcome the big powerful machine. And yet, it’s still worth it.
Whether with flying and crawling creatures and all the clans coming together for a big fight or people going out to give out free hugs, offering food to a homeless man or comforting a child who’s crying – the fight is worth fighting. The fight for love and understanding must be fought.
Are you part of the love army?
Be Beautiful, Be YOU and spread your love to all in your own unique way.
Hugs and Happy Holidays,
A few posts ago we discussed the movie The Cove about dolphin slaughter in Japan.
In that post I mentioned that the DVD was coming out in December. It is available now so if you’re looking for a last minute gift for a socially conscious friend or family member or someone who loves a great adventure story, be sure to pick up The Cove!
Please remember to give to those less fortunate this holiday season. There are many charities struggling to reach their goals. Share your blessings with others. Even when we feel squeezed, there is always someone who is worse off.
You are blessed! Enjoy your holidays.
Love and warm cookie scented hugs to you all!
Some things make me really sad. One of those things is when people are short sighted, closed minded and cruel. I have a friend that has been going through a great struggle due to such people. I’d rather not go into detail to protect those involved. Especially the child who is being pulled apart due to the greed and prejudice of adults.
As we come closer to the season of Peace and Goodwill to all men, it’s even sadder that over the centuries we are still so wrapped up in having to be right, in proving our point, in making others suffer so we can feel bigger that peace still seems so incredibly far off.
Wars among countries, within countries, within families and communities. It makes my heart bleed. Why, oh why can’t we just understand that at the very core we are all the same no matter our sex, religion, education, color, sexual orientation or anything else.
We all hurt. We all struggle. We all have moments of joy and sorrow. We all want the best for our children. We all want a good, happy life.
If we could only take the time to really listen, to really share, to be clear and honest in all things, imagine how differently – and truly – we would see each other. What we would see is that those people we previously hated or thought were somehow less than us are actually just like us and that they are worthy of our love and understanding.
Make an effort to open your hearts in this season and all through the year and see what beauty surrounds you in the hearts of those you come into contact with. Please, do it for the kids. Let’s break this cycle of hate and discrimination and learn that we are all one big, disfunctional family that needs each other before it’s too late.
Be Beautiful, Be YOU- and let everyone else do the same.
Today is World Kindness Day. Having just had Remembrance Day (or Veteran’s Day for our US friends), it seems very appropriate to put the two together. Remembrance Day is focused on giving our vets and Armed Forces the respect they so richly deserve for putting themselves in harm’s way. Whether you believe in the current conflicts or not, it is still a job that requires great commitment and nerve which deserves the honor of those of us who stay home safe and sound.
In conjunction with remembering war and violence and those who keep us safe, World Kindness Day is about remembering that not everyone has it as good as we do. It causes me to remember how fortunate I am to have so many great friends who would drop everything to help when I’m in need. It causes me to remember how fortunate I am to have what I do – a house, a family, food and clean water. It gives me a moment to pause and remember that even in our privileged country, not everyone has these simple things that most of us take for granted.
So today, do something for someone else. Plug an about to expire parking metre. Give to the Food Bank. Give to a shelter. Give the homeless guy your lunch. Donate to a charity. Gift someone who is down a smile and hug. You’re creative people, use your imagination. Just do SOMETHING!
And, why not do something every day. It only takes a moment to make someone else’s day brighter. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it will brighten yours as well.
You’re beautiful, spread it around!
This spring a powerful movie was released called The Cove. It started out to be something other than it ended up. The result blew everyone’s minds, especially those involved in it. While filming in Japan, the film makers discovered that under the cloak of darkness, dolphins were being slaughtered. They could not let this story go untold.
The film turned into not only a documentary of the slaughter but also of the adventure and covert ops that needed to be undertaken in order to tell the story. They put themselves in grave danger and took unbelievable measures to get this story including hidden cameras, night dives and the best surveillance equipment available.
Unsurprisingly, the film makers were not looked upon fondly by the Japanese government and a warrant was issued for their arrest.
The entire adventure is a story of sticking to your guns, following your dreams and going against all odds. The result is not only a beautiful, moving movie which has won a multitude of awards including such honors as Best Audience Award (Documentary) at Sundance and Sydney‘s festivals and Best Feature Film in Nantucket among many other accolades.
A new development recently occurred that was the icing on the cake! They were invited to the Japanese film festival! It was a last minute addition to the festival which surprised everyone, not the least being director Louie Psihoyos. His reaction is posted on Boing Boing. And on The Cove website blog.
You can read more about the film and the festival at The Huffington Post.
This story makes me smile. The slaughter is horrific and the story needed to be told, the atrocities revealed. For someone to stick up for the defenseless, that makes me smile. For someone to stick to their guns against all odds including, I’m sure, many naysayers telling them to quit, that makes me smile. This is an inspirational story on so many levels.
The film is out on DVD in December. If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to make a point of rectifying that next month and be inspired.
You rock, go out there and share your vision!