Blog 1: Trying to define Feminism

Jessica Valenti and Bell Hooks each have similar but different views on feminism.  They both find it essential to promote feminism, however they have different definitions on what feminism means to them.  Bell Hooks is a well-known writer, educator and activist. Her books emphasize her view on racism and gender roles in today’s society. Jessica Valenti is an American feminist writer. She was the co-founder of the blog, Feministing, which she worked on for seven years. Bell Hooks and Jessica Valenti are both strong feminist that believe that women should be able to be comfortable in their own skin and  have the same rights as men. 

            In the article by Bell hooks, she first describes her interactions with people who try to define feminism. She adds that her view of feminism is not angry women trying to be like men, but it’s more of women trying to gain equal rights. She focuses more on women needing to have equal rights in society and the issue of sexism. On the other hand, Jessica Valenti writes more about how women should feel good about themselves and have self-respect. Jessica expresses how feminism should allow society to see through the nonsense that would make people believe there is something wrong with them. A similarity between them is how they are strong advocates for feminism and want to enforce the idea of feminism to everyone they possibly can, in order for women to finally have equal rights to men and feel confident in their bodies. 

            Something that stood out to me while reading the two articles was how Jessica Valenti mentioned that people find feminism is becoming out-dated and not as important anymore. This section of the article was really interesting to read because I was not aware that majority of people on the media have mentioned how feminism is considered to be “dead”, since no one speaks about anymore. She also mentioned how society thinks that since there has been no big movement lately, that would probably signify that feminism has reached its peak, or that feminism is dead. This whole statement that she has heard from people really shocked me because I know that there is still more work to do in order to improve equal rights for women, but that some people think that feminists have succeeded in doing what they were intentionally trying to do surprises me. 

Blog 2: Beauty Standards

Social media is a big part of our society and is one of the biggest platforms where women and young girls get their view on how women are supposed to look like. The appearance of a woman says everything about her according to society. Society wants women to have a curvy body with a thigh gap, a small waist, luscious lips, no cellulite, big breasts and a big butt and the list goes on and on. It doesn’t help that celebrities are being praised for their bodies when no one actually knows what they get done to look a certain way. Many women believe that by achieving the look portrayed by celebrities and models, it will make men want them more. The fact that most women will do things to change their appearance for the approval of others and not themselves is very alarming. This creates extremely negative and toxic expectations for women.

There’s an increasing amount of pressure for women to look a certain way that is accepted by everyone. Young girls and women will go to certain extremes in order to achieve these beauty standards that they think will make them more accepted by everyone. Some will turn to eating disorders while others will turn to plastic surgery to change their appearance. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, “since 2000, overall procedures have risen 115 percent, but the types of procedures patients are choosing are changing.” This just goes to show the need to look “perfect” no matter the circumstances, is a risk women are willing to take just to be able to please society’s view. Since girls/women are always exposed to these so called “perfect” bodies on social media, they are getting the wrong image and only becoming more and more self-conscious about themselves and have a lower self-esteem.

There is a serious lack of diversity in our society today. Not only body wise but also when it comes to race. This is something more people need to realize in order to change our views for the better. So many women on social media look similar to one another that people start believing that is how you are supposed to look. Its unhealthy for women to constantly be exposed to this notion of beauty. As a society and a community, we need to realize how being different from others is just as beautiful. We need to change these unattainable beauty expectations and be more open to diversifying our society’s view on women.


Blog 04: International Women’s Week

On Tuesday, March 3, I attended The Importance of Collective Care in the Helping Profession by Anuska Martins. Her presentation was very powerful because it’s something that a lot of people go through on a day to day basis. She spoke about Intimate Partner violence (IPV) and about the ways to help those who are in danger. She stated how it can happen to normal couples that don’t necessarily expect it to come. She also mentioned how there’s many different types of IPV and how some people don’t want to admit that they’re in danger, so they result to being in denial. Her Key message was to ultimately inform people to keep their eyes open to danger even from a loved one in order to save them from violence. 

Anuska mentioned the shelter she works at for the safety of many women. She explained the significance of the shelter that it purposely looked like a house in order to not draw attention and to keep the women safe. The women in the shelter would receive support and advice from the professionals there and the shelter could hold up to nine women and their children for up to three months at a time. 

This presentation made me think differently about the views on intimate partner violence because of how dangerous and scary it is. It’s so unfortunate that so many people are victims to violence due to their partners. I think that it’s crucial to always keep an open mind to the possibilities of danger even though it may be the person you love. As Anuska mentioned, it can happen to anyone. 

To conclude, Anuska explains it’s important to always help others, but also to not forget about ourselves. We forget sometimes we’re all people, we all get tired and need breaks. I would definitely recommend this presentation because it taught me so much about something I didn’t really dive into before. 

On Thursday, March 5, I visited the auditorium for international women’s week and learned about Art in Response to Backlash presented by Sonya Stefan. Her presentation was very interesting, but not what I had imagined. Throughout her entire presentation she provided lots of videos and pictures about the things that took interest in her life. Sonya Stefan is a dancer, curator and filmmaker who embarks herself in many clubs. The first one is, La Lumiere Collective which is a mini cinema where people can share their films for a very low price to one another, Telepresence where she collects old surveillance equipment to make her films, Kids Pop where she provides many services for young children and families and lastly, Lux Magna which is a celebration of culture and arts. 

Many other students and I enjoyed her presentation, but we began to question what the connection between her passion for art, dance and film to International Women’s week was. She then gave her key message which was that her work is based on body, and with that comes a lot of complication to women. She said how she grew up hating her body and only after age 35 she began to love herself due to her expression of arts. She mentioned also how dance was an industry where a lot of women had to shut their mouth and obey, therefore exploring dance in a healthy way really inspired her to be the best version of herself. 

Her presentation didn’t really make me think differently towards the struggles that women must go through, but it did inspire me. I adored the way Sonya challenged many negative aspects into positive because of art. 

To conclude, Sonya did add that her definition to feminism was someone who is honest, open and willing to learn. She said how she was born a feminist and would probably die one as well. I would recommend her presentation to a friend, because it showed me how there’s so many different ways of being an inspirational woman. 

By: Julianna Noto

Blog 1: Defining Feminism

The feminist movement should be viewed in a more positive and powerful way than it is now. Our society doesn’t necessarily understand the true meaning of what being a feminist is, which is why it is such a controversial topic and causes many people to have a false sense of its significance and see it negatively. After reading their articles, we can agree that Jessica Valenti and Bell Hooks both shared similar thoughts and opinions on what feminism is. It is about empowering women and standing up for what they believe they deserve in all aspects of society (social, political, economic, etc.). Both authors explain how feminism is not about being “anti-male, anti-sex”, but rather about having equal opportunities and respect for one another. Many people have trouble grasping this point in feminism. 

In Jessica Valenti’s article, she expands more on the issue of how there are many stereotypes about what people think feminists look like when in reality women should be able to express themselves freely and not have to follow certain norms in society. Valenti believes that feminism is about “making your life better”. As women, we often experience situations where we are made to feel as if we are not good enough or not worthy enough. Being able to see through that and realize we are, can help us feel good about ourselves and learn self-respect. On the other hand, Bell Hooks focuses more on the issue of male domination and ending sexism. She shows how feminism essentially challenges the thought of male domination by fighting for our rights and standing up for ourselves. While they talk about this topic from different viewpoints, they are both conveying the same important message about bringing awareness to this topic. I believe it is important for these authors since it’s time to change the way people view feminism. They have grown up and lived in a society that has degraded women for so long that it is time to change this way of thinking.

While reading these two articles, many things they mentioned were very eye-opening for me. One of the biggest things that struck me was in Jessica Valenti’s article when she was explaining how the worst thing a guy (or anyone) can be called is a girl when it comes to insults and so on. It made me realize how often I have witnessed that in school or between a group of people and not understanding the true meaning behind their words. 

I have always understood the true and important meaning of feminism, so reading these articles didn’t change anything for me when it came to the definitions. Although, reading these articles did give me a lot more knowledge on things I didn’t think about before and made me realize how many problems women face on a daily basis which was very eye-opening for me.

Blog #3: gender equity in Indigenous cultures

Indigenous and European cultures were very different when it came to gender relations. The indigenous lived based off of an egalitarian society where women were just as important as men and shared fairly essential everyday duties. The Indigenous are more open minded about premarital sexual intercourse and two-spirit individuals (person who identifies as both female and male). On the other hand, the Europeans believed that men had the upper hand in everything and were superior to all women. They had the mindset that women were inferior, therefor stayed home and did the bare minimum. Premarital sexual intercourse was not even spoken of because it was an inappropriate topic for Europeans that shouldn’t of even been thought of.

The Indigenous society is very similar to our contemporary Western culture because we share the appreciation of both women and male tasks that are completed daily. In both cultures, men and woman are very much needed to fulfill important tasks. In today’s society, as much as we think genders are finally seen as important figures, there are still defects when it comes to trying to keep the equality of genders while the indigenous never had these issues. In this case, we would share a similarity with the European culture where women are not getting enough recognition.

The Europeans were very amazed and shocked when they encountered the indigenous because of how clever they are to identify male and females as equally relevant as one another and see no reason to discriminate one gender from another. Over the recent years, I clearly realized that woman are taking a stand and proving their point across that both genders are just as equally needed in the work force, political world and so on…

The Disabled Women’s Network: Bringing the Intersection of Gender and Disability to Light

International woman weeks has for objective to raise awareness about the problems women are facing daily whoever they are, their ethnicity, background and sexuality. Inclusivity is the key of the whole concept and thats why disable individuals should be represented to whoever they decide to identify themselves. The disables women network is a non lucrative association that came to speak to us, the Vanier students, and bring awareness to the challenges women with visible and invisible disabilities faces everyday in a society that is not conceive to acknowledge their needs. The message D.A.W.N association is trying to share is that their goal is to finally implement a more equal system by providing accessibility and ressources ( tangible or not ) to those living with impairments.

The vanier students seemed pretty engaged with the issue and even started to state the accessibility point present at vanier for the students from  physical disabilities. They weren’t quite as engaging concerning the questions asked by the speaker but I think that we all had a common understanding of the lack of ressources present for disable people in our society. The conference was quite repetitive since there was a lack of participation from the students but it didn’t stop the speaker to make us realize the ableism of our society. The event really made me more empathetic to the women suffering from any form of disabilities and the injustices they have to live with on a daily basis. It also redefined the definition of disabilities for me.

Dawn is an amazing organization that really focus on the equity in every way for the women all over the world. Their mission is inspiring and the awareness they are trying to spread should be taken more accountable by the city. Montreal is one of the city with the less ressources for people with physical disabilities and their psychological ressources or programs are also limited. Action must be taken to benefit the population. I would recommend this event to develop the student sensibility about the matter but I think that the presentation could’ve been better because it was long and at some point repetitive.