“How to Get Away with Murder”: Feminism, Intersectionality, and Representation

The television series called “How to Get Away with Murder” covers so many topics that were explored in this course which is one of the reasons it is one of my favourite shows of all time. As an aspiring lawyer and law television show enthusiast, this show was wonderfully executed and the representation and diversity in the show made the show earn its top spot as one my favourite shows. The main cast consists of 4 queer characters (3 of them being people colour) and 4 women of colour. I love that this show gave many people the opportunity to see themselves represented when they are often left out of mainstream media.

Annalise Keating is main character, played by Viola Davis, and Annalise is a bisexual dark-skinned black woman who is a practicing lawyer and law school professor. The head of Annalise’s law firm, Tegan Price, is an Afro-Latina lesbian who finds solidarity with Annalise as the only women in their entire law firm. They are hardworking and uncompromising, and they support and empower each other when they could easily be petty and competitive towards each other as ambitious women in the field of law. The trope of women competing against each other instead of uplifting each other is something I’ve seen often, so it was nice to see this wholesome, respectful, and supportive bond between Annalise and Tegan who are extremely powerful and competent women in a field that is dominated by men.

Annalise is a successful lawyer who brought a case about justice system reform (in regard to racially biased incarceration and low funding for public defenders) to the Supreme Court. She did this with the help of Olivia Pope who is another black female lawyer from the television show “Scandal” — another one of favourite law shows with a powerful black female lead. This is a huge accomplishment and many people told her that she could not accomplish anything with this case and many people tried to stop her, but Annalise was uncompromising and dedicated to justice, and she went through a lot to bring her case to the highest court in the United States. This was so inspiring to me as a young woman of colour and this show actually sparked my interest in law. The show through Annalise’s eyes reflects and intersectional point of view as a black queer woman in the United States and bell hooks covers the same topic of intersectionality in her texts about feminism.

“How to Get Away with Murder” has multiple seasons but one of the topics it covers is targeted physical assault against gay men. It also showcases the experience of a Pakistani refugee with the threat of persecution for being gay. Also, Annalise gets threatened and targeted for being successful, being black, and being a woman who excels in the field of law. The show also explores Annalise’s internal conflicts about her sexuality. The show takes the opportunity to talk about certain topics and experiences from Annalise’s intersectional point of view as a woman. Intersectionality is a topic that was covered by bell hooks when talking about feminism and the female experience. Annalise also takes sexual assault cases, and this raised awareness for young girls that are targeted and the victims that do not get justice in real life.

I also had to shout out the fact that they portrayed a healthy homosexual relationship between 2 male members of the main cast, one of them being an HIV positive Filipino man. This is unlike any type of representation I’ve seen in mainstream media anywhere and I’m so happy and proud to see this type of representation in a popular American television show that actually has a good plot.

I have such a deep love and appreciation for this show and I’m sad it is ending after I’ve invested myself into this show for 6 seasons, but it’s truly an amazing show that covers so many important social issues related to gender, race, and sexuality while having a talented cast and an incredible plot.

Here is Annalise Keating’s speech at the Supreme Court and Viola Davis’ amazing acting:

Blog 5: Feminism is for Everybody

Masculinity and what it means to be a “man” means different things to different people. The traditional and stereotypical characteristics created by society that dictate what a man should be can be detrimental and toxic. Forcing men to be put in a specific box of masculinity. A lot of men feel forced to fit into the box of masculinity that is widely accepted but it limits self-expression and individuality. This pressure leads to insecurity about not living up to social norms and being put down or having their masculinity invalidated.

In “Masculinity as Homophobia”, Michael Kimmel discusses how if a man is “unmanly” and does not fit into society’s version of masculinity by not fitting into certain gender norms, he will be painted as emasculated and therefore “gay”. This limits men to only present themselves in way that will satisfy the social norms of masculinity so that they will not be associated with any gay stereotypes because being associated to anything that is gay would be the worst possible thing to ever happen to a man. This is the way that society has dictated men to feel and Kimmel expresses the following when he mentions that “homophobia is more than the irrational fear of gay men, more than the fear that we might be perceived as gay”. This limitation of toxic masculinity linked with homophobia is extremely problematic and imprisoning of men. Kimmel states that men feel this pressure to remain manly in almost every aspect of life, “What [they] wear. How [they] talk. How [they] walk. What [they] eat. Every mannerism, every movement contains a coded gender language.” Kimmel says that this definition of masculinity should change and I agree. Redefining this version of masculinity that confines men would free them from the toxic constraints of gender norms and expectations that are intertwined with homophobia. Redefining masculinity would help everyone do whatever they want without fear of judgement.

In “Understanding Patriarchy” by bell hooks, she mentions that “patriarchal ideology brainwashes men to believe that their domination of women is beneficial when it is not”. She holds both men and women accountable for misrepresenting masculinity and the patriarchy is limited to benefitting men, however, it also negatively impacts men too. It is more complicated that placing blame on only women and only men for gender and social norms and she emphasizes that both sexes are responsible for defying these norms and systems.  She states that “we have to both acknowledge that the problem is patriarchy and work to end patriarchy” and that a solution lies within a collective effort to end sexism and homophobia and ending the way that men and women invalidate each other’s experiences and sufferings from the constructed systems of masculinity and the patriarchy. 

With the discussions made in these two readings by Kimmel and Hooks, we can see how redefining masculinity can be freeing and liberating. Once people start to realize that masculinity and gender roles are completely made up constructs and decide to let go of judgements of other people, it will be a much more vibrant and accepting world. Many things can be solved with an open mind and an accepting heart.

Blog 4: Vanier Vibrant’s LGBTQ+ Community Fair

Vanier launched a semester-long initiative to celebrate Vanier’s LGBTQIA+ community called Vanier Vibrant. Vanier Vibrant took off on Wednesday March 6th, starting with Vanier Vibrant’s LGBTQ+ Community Fair. This event was held to highlight local LGBTQIA+ community organizations and resources in Montreal who set up tables in Jake’s Mall during UB. Visitors could participate in fun and educational activities to win prizes.

The fair was set up to promote safe sex and to educate visitors about LGBTQ+ sex education in particular, which is a topic that is often over-looked or dismissed completely in schools. The organizations talked about topics like HIV/AIDS protection, consent in any romantic or sexual relationship, and they promoting LGBTQ+ services that were free and accessible. Some organizations present were the McGill Union for Gender Empowerment, Jeunes Queer Youth (JQY), and sext|ed. Sex-ed pamphlets were free to be taken as well as papers with referrals to different gender/sexuality events and resources. The different tables offered free condoms, lube packets, pronoun pins, and candy.

Students responded well to the fair and found that it was very educational and informative because the people were very sex savvy and eager to have discussions. Many people also appreciated the free access to contraception and many crowded the tables to learn.

The community fair made me learn more about LGBTQ+ sex education in particular. This is a topic that is still stigmatized and unmentioned so it was nice to learn new things that everyone should educate themselves about like how individuals and their partners deal with HIV and the different tests and medications that can be related to anyone’s sexual health.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the community fair because many people would appreciate the free items offered and educational pamphlets. It is a good way to discuss and learn about safe and consentual sex as well as prevention. The fair was very sex focused and clinical so the social and relationship aspects could have used more coverage but in general, it’s a great thing that Vanier is giving this opportunity to the community and fairs like this should be accessible in every school.

Marinel Sumook Ubaldo

Marinel Sumook Ubaldo is a 22 year old climate change activist from the Philippines. I am like her because we are both young Filipino women whose families have felt the aftermath of natural disasters in the Philippines, but we are different because I have not experienced the firsthand effect of any natural disaster due to climate change in the Philippines like she has. 

She is a survivor of the super-typhoon called Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines in 2013. It was the most powerful typhoon in recorded history. Over 7000 people died and around 15 million people were displaced in the Philippines. This typhoon happened as a result of the climate crisis and many people like Marinel were left with nothing. This experience made her realize that it was her duty to fight for climate action from the Filipino Government to protect her community. She is fighting for the government to provide access to clean water, electricity, and housing. She is also urging governments of wealthier countries, who have contributed the most to climate change, to support the countries that are suffering the most from the dangerous effects of climate change.

Because of her activism, the President of France invited Marinel to talk in front of leaders about climate change at the COP21 conference in France. She has also spoken in front of thousands in New York about climate injustice. This makes her different from me because she has been successful in fighting for her cause in front of world leaders who were listening to her.

I chose to talk about Marinel because I wanted to talk about a Filipino activist since activism is often trying to be silenced in the Philippines. There are many allegations made from Filipino climate activists reporting threats from the military and illegal mining companies. Activists are risking so much to address the climate crisis that has been worsened by richer countries like the United States and Canada, who have used poorer countries around the world as dumping grounds for their garbage. These countries are already in vulnerable climate locations and they are experiencing the worst consequences of the climate change crisis. 

I think Marinel is inspirational because she reminds people to not underestimate the power of the individual. She came from a remote area in the Philippines but she is speaking out about climate change around the world. I define “inspirational” as someone who gives their all to a movement that they are passionate about. Marinel used a traumatic experience to better her community by speaking out and she got people to listen. An inspirational person to me is someone who is uncompromising and determined to implement real change and Marinel embodies that perfectly.


“Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security” by Todd Miller




Blog 3: Gender Equity in Aboriginal Cultures

In the early contact period of Europeans and Aboriginals, Aboriginal culture consisted of very different beliefs that tradition religious European culture. Aboriginals had an egalitarian outlook on gender that allowed freedom and equality between males and females. In some aboriginal cultures, another two-spirit gender identity was accepted as well. European culture did not have egalitarian gender roles and women were in the shadows of their husband. Their beliefs on gender roles were very influenced by religion (Christianity) and it held many restrictions for women regarding sexuality and their societal status. 

A lot of the European social norms about gender and the inferiority of women still exist in society today. There may have been improvements in “the West” but there are many places in the world where women and seen and treated and the weaker/inferior sex. Also, worldwide there are still many social stigmas about what women can/cannot do.

I knew about the egalitarian ways of Aboriginal cultures based on previous reading and research I have done but I was not aware of the extent of true egalitarianism and acceptance that was a part of Aboriginal cultures. In this cultural, sexuality and premarital sex was accepted, as well as acceptance towards different gender expressions and same-sex relations. From this, we can learn and acknowledge that before European influence and colonization, there were many other functioning societies that maintained a very a very egalitarian culture towards all genders. 

Blog 2: Colonization and Global Homophobia

Homophobia is a global issue that is still widely prevalent around the world. Many places criminalize homosexuality due to the fear, intolerance, and hatred surrounding this marginalized group. But how has homophobia become such a wide spread and global issue, and has it always been this way? There is no singular answer to this complex topic but homophobia become a commonly adopted global conception largely because of colonization. 

Pre-colonization, many indigenous communities and African and Asian countries generally accepted homosexuality in ancient times, with some proof going back at least 4000 years in Egypt. In pre-colonial Africa, same-sex relationships can be shown in ethnographic evidence. Later, the European Penal Code system was forcefully implemented and this code criminalized homosexuality. There is also proof of openness towards same sex relations in ancient China within the history of the most famous dynasties dating back thousands of years. Mainstream homophobia made rise in the early Republic of China because of Westernization efforts.

Today, in 71 countries, there and regulations that deem same-sex relations illegal and over half of these countries have been under British colonial rule. British rule is the reason that almost all of these countries have inherited the outlawing of same-sex relations and around 49 of these former British colonies criminalize homosexuality today.

All this being said, it is important to recognize that homophobia was not an inherit or global trait and many post-colonial indigenous communities had functioning progressive societies that were inclusive towards homosexuality and different genders. It is also interesting to see how many of the countries around the world that still have serious homophobic issues are the ones that have been inclusive of same-sex relations post-colonialism.


Kalende, Val. “Africa: Homophobia Is a Legacy of Colonialism.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 30 Apr. 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/30/africa-homophobia-legacy-colonialism.

Kang, Wenqing. Obsession: male same-sex relations in China, 1900-1950, Hong Kong University Press. Page 3 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_China)

Westcott, Ben. “The Homophobic Legacy of the British Empire.” CNN, Cable News Network, 12 Sept. 2018, http://www.cnn.com/2018/09/11/asia/british-empire-lgbt-rights-section-377-intl/index.html.

Blog 1: Defining Feminism

People define feminism in many different ways and there are also a lot of different perceptions of feminism but Valenti and hook’s definitions are similar in the way that they refer back to the dictionary definition of feminism. They define feminism as simply the equality of the sexes. They acknowledge the different versions and interpretations of feminism but they emphasize how feminism is not anti-male, the only goal is equality and getting rid of the ways in which men and women are negatively affected by toxic stereotypes about gender and the patriarchy. Valenti’s feminism is rooted in women’s empowerment and how sexism and the degradation of women has the goal of making women feel like they are not good enough the way that way are. Feminism to hook is rooted in intersectionality and she emphasizes how feminism is for every single person of every gender, not just for middle-class white women. These two women also dismantle the misconceptions about what the feminist movement actually is. 

I would personally define feminist in the same way as Valenti and hooks did. Feminists want equality of everyone regardless of gender but also regardless of race, class, sexuality, disability and any identity that has intersects with gender that has often been overlooked in conversation in regards to feminism.

I really like how Valenti mentions how a lot of insults towards both men and women have undertones that express how being a woman or being feminine is considered an insult. This is one of the ways that sexism is ingrained so deep into little things and it is hard to notice. I also like how she mentioned that feminists have often been associated with masculinity as an insult. She is showing how women are constructed and insulted for the way they express their gender no matter what. This is also applicable to men but the mention of women being confined into a box where they can’t be too feminine or masculine is also another way that gender stereotypes and sexism affects women. Valenti is vocal on social media and as a journalist and hooks has written many books and I really appreciate how they are using their voices and platforms to educate people and spread awareness about issues that matter to them because it will inspire others to be passionate and speak out as well.