In the context of this course I had to choose a cinematographic work putting forward feminist ideas and concepts. I have decided to pick the movie Mulan. Mulan is a Disney animated movie taking place during the imperial time in China. A group of nomad warriors called the Huns were threatening to invade the Chinese land and were a menace to the people. Because of that, the Emperor asked that one man of each family joined the army to protect the Empire. The person who will be the most helpful to protect the people is a teenage girl called Mulan. This movie is very empowering and shows girls from a very young age that gender does not define their abilities to do whatever they want, as long as they stay true to themselves.

The first concept brought upon in the movie is the role women have in the Chinese culture. At the time, young woman were count on to uphold the family honor, if they did not get married, they brought great shame to their family. In one of the first scenes of the movies, Mulan, the main character, had reached the age where, according to tradition, she had to meet a “match maker”, a woman who would determine if she had the abilities to become a bride. As in all Disney movies, a song accompanied the scene, giving a very clear idea of what a girl was destined to become in the imperial china. One verse said that men wanted obediant girls who can have children and have a tiny waists while another verse said that men honored the emperor by bearing arms and girls honored him by bearing sons. during her encounter with the match maker, she was told that she was too skinny and that it was not good for bearing children. Mulan was very stressed and clumsy during her interview because she had to act in a way that was not herself. Her attitude did not please the match maker, who told her she would never bring honour to her family, which saddened Mulan because she understood that, by being herself, her family would lose other people’s respect.

Another concept challenged in the movie is the ability of women to be treated as men’s equal. After having ruined her chances of finding a respectable husband, Mulan found out that her father had to join the army during a visit from the Emperor’s counselor. She immediately intervened, asking that her father would not be forced to join the army because he had already served his country and was injured. The messenger was very shocked that she dared address him without permission to speak. The fact that she “stood up” for her father was very humiliating for him. She then decided, in the middle of the night, to cut her hair (long hair being a symbol of beauty), tie it like a man, bear her fathers armor, and take his place in the army. Arriving at the training camp she had to train alongside the other soldiers but she was slower than them. The Captain Shang therefore sent her home but she did not let herself be brought down by that and worked harder and smarter to prove she was as strong as men. Proving herself, she was allowed to stay and rapidly became one of the best soldiers, and even saved the captain’s life from an invaders attack that she helped win. At that moment she had gained the respect of Shang respect. Unfortunately, by saving him, she had hurt herself and a doctor had to examine her body, discovering she was a girl (she disguised herself as a soldier named Ping). The news was soon discovered by all her companions and the Captain was told by the counselor that she was guilty of high treason and ultimate dishonor meaning she had to be executed. Luckily for her, Shang did not kill her but he exiled her, leaving her alone in the mountains. It is interesting to see how Mulan was a very respected soldier before people knew she was a woman! Her gender could have costed her her life!

Left alone in the snowy mountain, Mulan realises she did not take her father’s place only to protect him. She also wanted to prove to herself that she was capable of doing things right, that she was worthwile. It had certainly been hard for her to learn that she was not good enough to become a bride and bring honor to her family. At that same moment, she sees from afar the Hun invaders enter the city. She immediately decides to rush to the city and warn the soldiers, who were entering the city as “saviours of China”, that they had failed to supress the invaders and that the country was still in danger. At first, the captain Shang, who once had respected and trusted her (as Ping), was reluctant to believe her. Seeing the Huns attack the city after Mulan had warned him brought him bak to his senses and he decided to trust her. So, after convincing Shang and her three soldier friends to help her stop the invaders, she saved the Empire! The Emperor and all China bowed down to her, the hero! The Emperor offered her a medallion, the sword of the leader of the Huns that she had managed to defeat and a place as counselor (firing the man who had treated her of treator and had said that she was not a hero, she was a woman and she would never be worth anything). Following her heart, she refused the offer to become counselor and decided to go back home to her father, who, by then had realised that the greatest honor he could ever have was to be Mulan’s father, a smart girl who spoke her mind and followed her heart.

Mulan was the last of the 90’s Disney princess movies, even thought she is not really a princess. She repeatedly challenged the role of women in the Chinese Society and proved that being a woman is not synonym of weakness. She proved that her gender did not define her abilities in both physical and psychological areas by demonstrating that military tactic, physical endurance, strenght and loyalty are not things proper to men, but to every individual who has the courage to be themselves and work hard to excel in their talents. Not only does this movie present women and men as equal, it points out that a woman does not have to meet society’s norms to be an ideal wife. In the words of the Emperor, “the flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all”.

Femenism is for Everybody

Ever since I am a little girl, I have been socialized to expect men to act a certain way. Men are the fairy tale’s prince charmings, who came to the rescue the vulnerable princess. They were brave, they fought dragons and rode a mighty horse, while the helpless princess waited for him to save her. They were the great adventurers who were afraid of nothing. In the school yard, they were those who were expected to be the fastest runners, or the best kickers. They are the ones who are expected to be brave enough to tell women how they feel about them and they should be able to provide for the woman they love. So many expectations; it must be scary to be expected to become the head of the family, to be expected to act like a man. What I find crazy is that, it seems like men put the burden of being a man, act like a man and think like a man on themselves! Through history, it seems to me like they were the ones to put unwritten rules on their behaviours. Hooks and Kimmel explain to use just how much these expectations society has toward them can affect their personal life and their way of expressing themselves.

In his article Masculinity as Homophobia, Kimmel said “The fear of being seen as a sissy dominates the cultural definitions of manhood” (1994, 147). Which is totally true! I had never realised how much men are limited in the way they can express themselves until I read Kimmel and Hooks’ works! It happens in front of me everyday; Almost every time a guy says something slightly effeminate or even emotional, people are quick to say ” Man, you are acting gay, what’s up with you!?” And often the guy reacts and laughs about what he just did or said and adds ” It was a joke”. And that is such a painful thing to watch because, nothing is wrong with a man being effeminate, or talking about his feelings, or being scared or being sensitive! But men insist in acting as if it was wrong, which is difficult for me to understand because they are blocking themselves from expressing their true self! Also, according to Hooks, the big problem is patriarchy. The concepts that men are in control. Many men that agree with this ideology stress that “men cannot be men, only eunuchs, if they are not in control” (n.d., 4). This idea is not only harmful for women, who are seen as inferior by men, it also has a big impact on men who feel threatened by other men’s quest for power.

I sincerely think that, if men are no longer afraid of being themselves, no longer afraid of being seen as “sissy”, human relations would be greatly benefited. I think if men are free to say what they really think, without fear of judgement, it would be a big step forward towards gender equality because men wouldn’t express themselves with intimidating agressive manliness, but with respect and openness to other ideas. I also think that the gradual abandonment of the patriarcal ideology would bring a great boost to our society’s quest for gender equality. neither men nor women would be in power over one another, but working in partnership to achieve common goals, it would be amazing!

That being said, we do not live in an ideal world. In order to build a wonderful and equal world, I think an important thing to do is to talk about the issue of patriarchy, and educate people about the issues it brings to our society. It is also important to educate men and woman about the importance of acceptance. We must accept people for who they are and we must respect how a person expresses their personality, the same way we want to be respected. I think many men would be more than glad to learn that it is patriarchy that is behind all the expectations society has for them. Since we cannot control what a person think or says, I am convinced discussion is the way to change people’s perspective on the role of the mal in society. Educate to elevate.

Hooks, B. (n.d.) Understanding Patriarchy. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/noe-a/AppData/Local/Packages/Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/Downloads/hooks_UnderstandingPatriarchy%20(1).pdf

Kimmel, M. (1994) Masculinity as Homophobia. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/noe-a/AppData/Local/Packages/Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/Downloads/10_Kimmel_MasculinityasHomophobia%20(1).pdf


In the context of this course, I attended a representation of the movie Rafiki. The movie was about a lesbian couple struggling to have a healthy relationship in a community that is ruled by the Church. Living in Kenya, Church is a very important aspect of society, which makes it very difficult for them to love each other publicly without being judged by others. As a christian person, I appreciated the presence of church in the movie although I strongly disagreed of the treatment the community gave to Kena and Ziki. This movie opened my eyes and made me remember that people form the LgBTQ+ community are not accepted as well as in Canada in other parts of the world. I did not think differently after this movie because I already thought that people of the LGBTQ+ community should not be subject to harsh treatments or violence in any way. Also, the producer is native from Kenya, from the same city where the movie took place which means that the movie represented the situation in an accurate way. The movie was filmed in 2018, meaning that up until recently, homophobia is very present in her city, which is a representation of the whole country. To conclude, I would recommend my friends to attend to the events because it is informative and it opens us to the world.

Berta Cáceres

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Berta Cáceres receiving the Goldman Environmental Prize

Berta Cáceres, may she rest in peace, was born on March 4th, 1973, in La Esperanza, Honduras. Before I learned anything about her, I never knew environmental martyrs, people who are tortured or even killed because they fight for the well being of our planet, could exist.

Berta was an amazing woman and I am proud to share similar traits with her. Like Cáceres , I am from Central America. My country, El Salvador, and hers are neighbors and both are homes to descendants of the Lenca people, an ethnic group from the Pre-Columbian era she was part of! I also recognize myself in her concern about climate change but I unfortunately do not have the same courage as her to speak up and take action for what I stand for, I guess that’s a huge difference between her and I. Also, even if my origins are Salvadorian, I was born in Canada, a country extremely different from Honduras. When I was born, I had the guarantee that my rights would always be protected by The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Unlike her, I have the right to protest against the government or corporations without having to fear for my own safety because I have the protection of the Constitution. Her, on the other hand could not rely on the State, the police or the army to grant her protection because they are corrupt. Countries in Central America are runned by rich people who manipulate authorities with money to have them do what they want.

Berta is the co-founder of the organism COPINH which is the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras. During ten years she campaigned against the construction of the Agua Zerca Dam which was to be constructed on a territory occupied by the indigenous Lenca people, her people. She also formed a human blockage that stayed in place for more than a year on a route leading to an illegal construction site! Her works on the campaign were recognized with the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015, about one year before she was murdered. The reason why I chose her to be my inspirational woman is because her fight made me think of a subject of actuality: The Wet’suwet’en’s fight against the Coastal GasLink’s project to build pipelines on their territory. I chose to talk about her to make us reflect on the importance of the fight that is being held right now in Canada to go against a similar problem! Learning about Berta Caceres made me realise that indigenous people’s rights are almost always neglected by Governments at any time, in any place and that today is a perfect moment to follow Caceres’ example and to protest against those inequalities, especially here, in Canada, where protesting is allowed!

March 2nd, 2016, Caceres was murdered in her house in La Esperanza. It has been said that a few months before this sad event, special forces of the Honduran military trained by U.S., received a hitlist with her name on it. She also had already received a total of about 33 death threats, and she claimed that 10 members of her organization had already been murdered. I chose her to be my inspirational woman because she did not give up. She was a female environmental activist in a dangerous and corrupt country, she had a four children, she was constantly threatened of being killed, she fought for an Indigenous community, some of her partners had already been murdered before her and she did not give up. She had all the reasons to let go, silent her voice and suffer the injustices, but she decided to go on, she decided that it was worth it. That is my definition of ‘inspiring’; someone who decides to persevere in what they believe at all cost. Someone who, unlike me, takes action for what they stand for and do not give up.


Gender Equity in Indigenous Cultures

As Quebec teenagers, we all have experienced the boredom of attending history classes. From the young age of seven years old, we were taught how Quebec’s first inhabitants were indigenous people, we have learned how they lived and how they met the Europeans. All that was not very exciting when we were kids, because it was taught to us in such a monotonous tone that we could not help zoning out or falling asleep. But what if I told you that First Nation’s history is all but boring!

After reading the study ‘’Gender and Cultural Diversity in the Early Contact Period’’, I was reminded of the greatness of the First Nations. Every single aspect of their society was carefully organized to assure the common good. Roles would be separated between men and women not based on gender, but on abilities. Men and women had different responsibilities to fulfill, and these tasks completed each other. There was a great number of different civilizations and all of them had different ways to hierarchize society, separate powers and roles, and of pass down heritage, yet, almost all of them gave a big place to the women in society. They were fair. For example, in the Iroquois civilization, the women decided how to distribute the meat that was hunted and brought to the matrilocal household by the men. Such content in one sentence! This is so different from what we know! In our society, men do not bring what they worked for to the families of their spouses and then, let their spouses decide on how to use it. Because in the indigenous civilizations women are treated with a great amount of respect and work in partnership with men, I had this illusion that women were praised and put on a pedestal and what not, because in my head such equity in a society is unimaginable. Let’s take our Canadian political system for instance. Yes, women have the right to participate in the political sphere of society, but we have been socialized to believe that the country should be led by men. BUT WHY? The Iroquois Clan chiefs were chosen by the elderly women, who were well respected, and their society worked very well might I say. Why, at a moment in history, did people start stripping women of their capabilities?

The European settlers had a very different view of gender than the aboriginal people. They had this very anchored idea that women were delicate beings unable to handle hard work, she was subordinate to the husband and had to obey him. All concepts of ‘partnership’ and ‘working together’ and ‘using each other’s different talents to complete each other’ are completely lost. Women in position of authority belonged to the church and were still under a male figure of authority superior to theirs. Public life, private life, all was ruled by men. Horrible. Stupid. Pointless. The worst part is that, marginalizing their own women was not enough! They had to come to the American continent and forcefully brainwash the aboriginal people into believing that all that nonsense was true! I am glad that, in the documentary we saw of the Wet’suwet’en, their spokesperson is a woman. To me, this means that colonialism was not strong enough to whipe out all ancestral beliefs and traditions and it gives me hope.

Afraid to be a Woman

Think about your day. Was there a moment when you felt uncomfortable? A moment when you wished you were somewhere else because you did not feel safe? Odds are that it happened to you at least one time this week, maybe even without you noticing it. I know it happened to me, and it felt horrible. Yesterday, I was heading back home after school, it was about 8 PM and the metro wasn’t very occupied. I was tired so I decided to use the elevator to access the main floor. When I arrived to the elevator, I noticed a man, about three times my age, looking at me from afar. I couldn’t clearly see what he was looking at, but I knew he was staring at me and it made me quite uncomfortable. I decided that his bad manners wouldn’t affect my decision of taking the elevator, after all, I was really tired! But, when I entered the elevator, I automatically regretted my decision. I felt really unsafe and I was praying that another person would enter, which happened, thank God! He kept staring at me, and even seemed like he wanted to talk to me which, very honestly, scared me. As soon as the elevator doors opened, I rushed out and I didn’t look back … I felt bad and guilty, almost as if it was my fault that he acted like that towards me! I had the reflex to analyse my outfit, trying to understand what he was looking at! I was dressed in lousse black track pants, and a baggy black coat that I had zipped all the way to my chin and my hair tucked in my coat, really, it wasn’t pretty! Then I realised…I was feeling guilty of being a woman!

Once I got home, I decided to do some research. I knew I wasn’t the only young woman to whom this had happened and I wanted to know what to do, what to think, how to act if it happens again! But why should it happen again? Why should I be afraid of stepping out my door alone? So many questions where bumping into my head, how can the look of one man put me in such a terrible mood? Luckily, I found the answers to some of my questions. A study lead by R. Callus and A. Churchman demonstrated that 56% percent of Canadian woman are afraid of walking alone at night in their neighborhoods versus 18% of men. This basically means that more than the half of women in Canada live in society without being completely secure! What shocks me the most is that I was unaware that the sentiment I had experienced was shared by other women across the country (2004, 199)!

Later on during the day, I did a survey with some of my friends asking them a simple question: Did you ever feel like you had to cross the street to avoid a stranger who mad you feel threatened? Or did you ever feel unsafe while walking around in a public area? All the guys I asked that question to told me that the only reason why they ever felt like they had to cross the street is if they walked by a dog, and they only felt threatened if they crossed a group of boys their age because they didn’t want to get into a fight. On the opposite side, all the girls to whom I asked the same exact question responded that both situations had happened to them and that they always had a fear of getting kidnapped! And this just made me relise how much of an issue that is in society! How twisted it is! and I really wonder how we can remedy to that problem once and for all.

Kallus R. & Churchman A. (2004) Women’s struggle for urban safety. The Canadian experience and its applicability to the Israeli context. Planning Theory and Practice. Retrieved from

Valenti & Hooks

Valenti and Hooks, both feminist, have similar and divergent ideas on how to define feminism and what it means to them as individuals. When describing feminism, Valenti makes it feel like it is something for women, all women of course, but exclusive to females. Where as Hooks makes it more unisex, she defines feminism as something everybody can be as long as they stick with the basic idea that sexism, under any form, should end. The way these authors explain feminism is also quite different! Valenti takes the time to explain to her readers that the stereotypes on feminists are false and that they are a great factor why women are reluctant to publicly identify themselves as feminists. Hooks has a different approach, she explains where feminism in America comes from based on historic events including women as well as men from the white, native and black community. Putting aside their differences, these two very eloquent women agree that being feminist is something people should be proud of, and that the stereotypes given to the members of this movement are absolutely false and should not affect them. To them, feminism is important because it aims to end sexism, a concept that refrains, shames and oppresses women unjustly.

Based on my readings and summing up the definitions given by the two authors, I would say that a feminist is an individual that believes that there should be equality of sexes and an end to sexism. Even if it seems quite logical and simple, before reading these essays my definition of feminism was biased by the myths, rumors and stereotypes circulating in our society. To me,  a feminist was a radical woman, with very liberal ideas and a modern set of values fighting to be able to whatever she wants to do. I am glad to know now that being a feminist is for everybody and that there is no need for the members to stop wearing bras or stop shaving their armpits in order to be acknowledged as one, which was honestly a big relief, not that there’s anything wrong with people who choose to do so!

I was really pleased by the way Hooks explained feminism as it being a topic linked to racism and segregation. The reason why it paused my reading and made me enter into deep reflexion is because I always say “ I am not a feminist” with the idea in mind that before thinking of the equality of sexes, we should think of the racial equality. I was convinced of this without realising how closely linked these two concepts are and that we can really not separate them! Both movements seek to end unjust behaviours inflicted to them by other members of the society and in every ethnicity there are individuals of the two sexes. I guess my thought has always been that if a black, latina, asian, etc woman gets treated differently from others it is not principally because she is a woman but because she is a part of a cultural minority. And quite honestly, even if these readings opened my eyes into a new way to see the issue, I am still very confused.

After reading briefly about the two authors, I was happy curious to read their essays. I felt like these well informed women could teach me valuable things on the topics they addressed and I was not disappointed at all.