Blog 6: The Danish Girl

The Danish girl is a biographical drama/romance movie that came out in 2015 directed by Tom Hooper and starring Eddie Redmayne. It is based on a true story. I saw this movie the first time when it came out and honestly I really loved it. Not many movies make me cry but it definitely made me shed quite a few tears.

I’m going to start off this blog with talking about the general plot to make sure everyone reading this is on the same page. To continue, the movie takes place in Copenhagen in the mid 1920’s and is about a man named Einar and his wife Gerda, who are both painters. Gerda asks Einar if he can pose as a woman for the painting that Gerda is painting and it reveals Einar’s lifelong struggle with gender identity. Einar who now identifies as Lili, begins her journey as a woman and deals with many things such as still having to dress as a male in public, the changing relationship with her wife and all around emotions about being “different.” It all becomes too much for Lili and seeks help from psychologists because she thought she was mentally insane for feeling the way she felt. Eventually, she meets a doctor who says that he’s met a lot of individuals like Lili and suggests gender reassignment surgery in which Lili would be the first woman do undergo the procedure in the world. Lili immediately agrees and travels to Germany, undergoes the surgery and shortly dies soon after, but as a woman, her lifelong dream.

Firstly I would like to mention that this movie isn’t exactly historically accurate. The real Lili had many successful surgeries but she died of complications from a uterus transplant. Even so, this movie was very emotionally moving and really showed how strong Lili was despite the historical time she was living in. One of my favourite scenes is at the end, briefly mentioned in the above paragraph, is directly after Lili’s surgery and she’s on a rocking chair. Her wife, Gerda, despite everything Lili put her through, is still by her side, supporting her through everything. Lili says, “how have I ever deserved such love,” and then dies shortly after. It really shows the bond that Lili and Gerda and how even though Gerda had a hard time with it, she was supportive.

Some key concepts of feminism are demonstrated throughout this movie. One key concept is equality. Feminism in its essence supports the equality of all, regardless of gender, age, profession, sexual orientation, ethnicity and religion. Lili lived in a time where being transgender was never heard of and often categorized as having schizophrenia or being homosexual, needing treatment above all. I don’t know exactly how Lili was treated, but I can imagine how difficult it was for her to live day by day feeling like the odd one or thinking about being put to death or requiring jail time, which was the punishment in many countries at the time for such “crimes.” To emphasize LGBT treatment in the 1930s, Germany criminalized homosexuality requiring jail time or being sent to concentration camps to die there. Even so, Lili, according to history, was able to get a divorce, get her name legally changed and even her own new passport with her new name on it. I doubt Lili was treated exactly equal to any other person identifying as cisgender, but this movie really supported equality and how we should treat everyone with equal intentions and actions. Another concept of feminism is the notion of self acceptance. Feminists want everyone, especially women, to feel good in their own skin, feel unique and love themselves as they are. Lili was confused with her past male presence and decided to take a leap forward and live the way she wanted to live, displaying strength and fortitude.

In conclusion, the movie “The Danish Girl,” is a portrayal of the struggles of gender identity and the journey to self acceptance and explores the concepts of equality and self acceptance despite societies standards. I hope anyone going through something similar can find the strength and courage to do what feels right and have access to help whenever needed.


Lili Elbe:

Information on the movie:

LGBT laws in 1930s:

Equality and gender equality:

To watch the trailer click here:

Blog 5: Masculinity

Masculinity is a word that many people struggle to define, or they think they know how to define it but only from their own view point and struggle to accept other definitions. The word in itself is a label and often through stereotypical viewpoints causes many emotional harm to many men and women who define this word in a different way. The stereotypical way to define masculinity is the image of a macho man, enjoys cars and dangerous sports, money, gorgeous women and dresses very “heterosexually.” This is a very inaccurate image. Bell Hooks, feminist and social activist, and Michael Kimmel, American Sociologist, talk about masculinity and the label and social constraints this word gives to many men as well as the patriarchy which subscribes to the stereotypical masculine point of view.

In Bell Hooks essay titled “Understanding the Patriarchy,” she talks about how the patriarchy is not only systematically damaging to women but also men, “Patriarchy demands that they [men] become and remain emotional cripples. Since it is a system that denies men full access to their freedom of will, it is difficult for any man of any class to rebel against the patriarchy, to be disloyal to the patriarchal parent, be that parent female or male.” In this passage Hooks explains that the patriarchy is damaging to men because it restricts their access to talk about their emotions and hard to want to fight against it, especially against parents that subscribe to patriarchal view points. In these cases men become emotionally detached and sometimes causes many problems in the future for their mental health. Hooks explains that to properly fight against the patriarchy and allow men to become “liberated” from this social system is to name the problem and acknowledge it to end it. This is easier said than done.

Furthermore, in Michael Kimmel’s text entitled “Masculinity as Homophobia,” he discusses how men are socialized to believe and act a certain way to avoid being labelled as “too feminine.” He writes, “The fear of being seen as sissy dominated the cultural definitions of manhood. It starts so early.” Here he is referring to when children, especially boys, make fun of other boys for doing things that are gender socialized as being too “girly” which continuously, throughout childhood, instills a need to be the stereotypical masculine figure. To add, Kimmel writes, “As young men, we are constantly riding those gender boundaries, checking the fences we have constructed on the perimeter, making sure that nothing even remotely feminine might show through.” Kimmel is explaining how many men feel trapped by the stereotypical view of masculinity and often feel powerless because deep down some of these men don’t want to subscribe to these confining societal ideologies. To act upon the gender struggle for men, Kimmel suggests that men do not participate in the actions of exclusion or escape that men have been doing for centuries and instead strive to stand up for equality and justice. Another way to interpret his solution is to get men to try and redefine masculinity to which it could help men feel “liberated” from how they are expected to behave in our society and act in a way that they feel reflects their person and not what society stereotypically reflects.

Moreover, Hooks and Kimmel’s essays at their core discuss men and the ways that society dictates and makes them behave, act and live. The word masculinity needs to be redefined so men can feel start behaving in a way that they feel is what is reflective of them. Men redefining what masculinity means to them could be beneficial to other social issues such as sexism, racism and homophobia because if every man felt secure with themselves with absence of gender struggle, there would be a lot more equality among the society as a whole. This equality and renown feeling of inclusion with absence of insecurities among men will allow all men to feel less angry against society and allow them to be more mindful of other sexual orientations, women’s rights and feelings towards the radicalization of other peoples.

Blog 4: Decolonizing the Gaze

Image result for dayna danger

I decided to spend my Monday morning learning about two local mixed indigenous artists talking about decolonization among other topics such as gender identity, bodily recognition and sovereignty and also their art that they make in relation to these topics. The presentation started out with a queer, two spirited woman named Dayna Danger and later another two spirited individual named Faye Mullen. Though, I will be focusing on Dayna Dangers part of the presentation.

To begin, Dayna Danger is an artist from “so called” Manitoba and she creates arts using mediums such as sculpture, photography, performance and video. The key message of Dayna’s presentation is to show that she uses art and the use of different bodies, gender expression and identity in a safe space to represent the colonization and space (land) takes away from minority communities like hers and the need for decolonization and support for bodily sovereignty our society lacks. This presentation introduced me to a lot of new topics that I have never heard of before and it really interested me. I learned about what it is to be two spirited and also a bit of her Métis heritage including the murder of Louis Riel. She said many interesting things about land appartenance and how she always wants to know who’s land she’s standing on. Finally, she also touched upon some taboo topics such as pornography and BDSM and how it is is important to demystify it to end colonization.

I had interviewed my friend briefly after the presentation and I had asked her what she thought about the presentation. She said she liked the way that Dayna represented herself and brought up a lot of important topics that are underrepresented such as the meaning of being a true spirit individual and how it is like to be a part of the indigenous community. I interviewed someone else afterwards and they said they found Dayna’s art very unique and really brings up important topics not only for the LGBTQ+ but also the aboriginal minorities. This presentation is just a small slice of international women’s week at Vanier and I would recommend this event to others, especially the heartwarming part about the dangers that are posed on the indigenous communities.

For more information about Dayna Danger:

Blog 4: Ellen Page

Ellen Page is a very inspirational woman. She is a Canadian actress, producer and activist.  She was born on February 21st, 1987, and raised in Nova Scotia, born to her mother who is a teacher and father who is a graphic designer.  Ellen page has been in a few movies you may know such as Juno, Inception and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Ellen Page has recently become more of an active participant in climate and environmental activism.

Furthermore, in her most recent work, she travelled to her home town and surrounding areas of Nova Scotia to shed light on a problem called “environmental racism.” According to Kaitlyn Mitchell, environmental racism is used to express, “the interconnectedness of environmental health, socio-economic conditions, and racialized discrimination.” This means that there is discrimination against a minority group in an environmental context. A popular example would be if one would dump their toxic waste near a poorer African American community just because they are poorer, compromising their health. In context to Ellen Page, she went to Nova Scotia to make her documentary to make known many problems in the area and features minority communities trying to get money for a huge clean-up of major water ways such as the Boat Harbour in which tonnes toxic waste is being dumped into it.   Also these communities are fighting to stop the construction of a huge dump as well as the construction of a natural gas storage facility. All of these negative actions are seriously affecting the environment, including the contribution to climate change and many other gravely important aspects of life. Not only is it impacting climate change, but also the health ocean wildlife, the health of everyday people, and also animals.

Ellen Page is appropriately using her platform to inform and make known these events to help make instill change and make progress to halt climate change as well as aid in the end environmental racism. This documentary was shown in the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019 which I think is amazing. Ellen Page is very inspirational and a woman that we all should look up to.

Link to trailer of documentary:





Blog 3: The Indigenous Vs The Europeans

The society dating back all the way to the 17th century was a very different time. The Europeans came and they met with the aboriginals for the first time. The European school of through at the time was that women had to follow in the footsteps of their husbands, be a virgin before marriage, and not have a voice about many things. Whereas, with the aboriginals in this time period, it was very socially acceptable to have premarital sex, women had their own voice, and women had their own place in society, contributing to their economy. In comparison, their views and social norms were very different and the Europeans were appalled when they saw how women were “allowed” to behave.

Furthermore, the way western society is now, has a lot of similarities and differences to back in the day between the Europeans and the aboriginals. In a lot of countries still to this day, women are treated the way that the Europeans treated their women. But in Canada, views differ. It is becoming an increasingly normal way of life to have premarital intercourse before even ever considering marriage, women can have any job they choose, women do have a voice and women can be as sexually promiscuous as we want. But, even though this is the case, doesn’t mean that everyone thinks that way. Many people in Canada still believe that sex should be kept for marriage and have a lot more conservative views.

The aspects of indigenous culture that struck me the most is the fact that back in the 17th century and beyond, having sex before marriage, with many partners, and not only for procreation, but for pleasure was acceptable. I had never thought of it that way and it is interesting. We can learn a lot from the indigenous peoples and the way their society was run. We can learn and understand that women weren’t always treated inferior and instead valued and equally encorporated into the society, unlike the Europeans.

Blog 2: Chhaupadi

There is a century old tradition among the Hindu religion in Nepal and parts of India and Bangladesh that is called Chhaupadi. It is thought that when women get their menstruation they are seen as “dirty” and “impure.” Mary Cameron, a professor of anthropology at Florida Atlantic University says, ” the practice is tied to deities—the belief that any kind of impurity will make deities angry and may cause misfortune to a community.” Each month, these women are banned from their homes or are locked in a dark isolated room for the length of their period. The women who are banned from their home sleep in what’s known as “menstruation huts” which are very small cattle houses in which are very unsanitary and potentially deadly. Moreover, women during their periods aren’t allowed to touch or interact with male family members, not allowed to touch food, religious icons and cattle, go into the kitchen or use any communal water sources. It is said she will curse the family and bring them misfortune (Cousins, 2019).

Furthermore, in these geographical locations, they experience very harsh Himalayan winters and women are left freezing all night with not a lot to protect them. The huts are made of mud, the windows dont have glass, door doesn’t close and no running water inside. There have been many cases of women dying in these huts from exposure to the cold (hypothermia), snake bites and smoke inhalation from their attempts to stay warm (Cousins, 2019).

In 2005, Nepal’s supreme court banned this taboo practise but it still has seized to exist and discriminate, oppress and pose harm on women everyday. Finally in 2017, Nepal’s government decided to take more action to protect the girls and women affected by Chhaupadi. A sentence if caught making a woman take part in Chhaupadi is three months in jail or a 30 $ fine. Also, many of these huts have been destroyed all over these countries (Regan, 2019). Personally, destroying the houses does little for these women, it is the mindset and inhumaine beliefs that have to be changed to allow these women to have the respect, care and freedom they deserve to experience like any other human living on planet earth. I believe that education is where the answers lie; a basic knowledge of female anatomy and a basic lesson in human rights need to be incorporated in the school systems in those countries. I sincerely hope that these unfortunate women find a form of comfort and support in their lives to help them get through their menstruations and the treatment they deserve from all.


For more information and perspective, check this video out:

Blog 1: Defining Feminism

Feminism is a huge topic and many people define it in different ways. In “You’re a Hard Core Feminist. I swear.” by Jessica Valenti, she defines feminism as the “Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes” whereas Bell Hooks in her book, “Feminism is for Everybody,” defines feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression.” You might be thinking that both of their definitions mean the same thing, but both Valenti and Hooks are looking at them with a different perspective. Valenti is focusing more on the need for more equality between both genders, for example; equal pay, equal treatment, and equal opportunities in the workplace. In contrast, Hooks is focusing more on ending the stereotypes and the sexualization of women, for example; being able to look girly at work, having children if one wants, and not being sexually targeted at clubs or bars. Although, their definitions are a bit different, in their essence they are comparably similar as well. Both authors are saying that at the end of they day, they want equal treatment for everyone, which is what feminism is based on.

Feminism is important to these women because throughout their lives have they’ve experiences some type of inequality or have seen gender equality in the news or first hand. I personally have experienced inequality and even forms of sexual assault in some cases throughout my life, so I agree with these women, I want equality just as much as them. I would define a feminist as someone, who fights to end gender inequality and social injustice between the genders. I have always thought of this definition as my definition for feminism.

Furthermore, in “You’re a Hard Core Feminist,” by Jessica Valenti, a part that really struck me was the part about girls boycotting Abercrombie & Fitch because of a shirt that read: who needs brains when you have these (referring to a girls breasts). I find this very disgusting and profoundly upsetting. The girls that shop there are relatively young and they will grow older and think that the only importance is their “assets” meaning their breasts. I’m happy that people spoke up and got the shirt removed from the shelves.

By Kara Lawlor