Ok, back to my very intermittent advent music meme.
Had the various play all optionsplaying hping to jog something lose and, with all the confusion and miserable collaboration of so many supposed believers in freedom and democracy, and the disgusting display of misogyny of American voters this seem appropriate to display my opinon of all of them without becoming them.
Been very neglectful of this over the last few days. Anyway this one; key lyric, "I will not be afraid of women" , was always going to be the next one. A favourite of mine since discovering Dar Williams when I still lived down in Devon; so something like twenty years ago maybe, it will not be the last Dar Williams track I post before the Solstice.
Yea, there was a time I didn't like the love, I liked the climbers, I was no sister then, I was running out of time and one liners, And I was afraid, like you are when you're too young to know the time, and So I watched the way you take your fear and hoard the horizon, You point, you have a word for every woman you can lay your eyes on, Like you own them just because you bought the time, And you turn to me, you say you hope Im not threatened,
Oh, I'm not that petty, as cool as I am, I thought you'd know this already, I will not be afraid of women, I will not be afraid of women.
So now were at a club, you watch the woman dancing, she is drunk, She is smiling and shes falling in a slow, descending funk, And the whole bar is loud and proud and everybody's trying, yeah. You play the artist, saying, "Is it how she moves, or how she looks?" I say, its loneliness suspended to our own like grappling hooks, And as long as shes got noise, shes fine. But I could teach her how I learned to dance when the musics ended,
Oh, and thats not petty, as cool as I am, I thought you'd know this already, I will not be afraid of women, I will not be afraid of women.
You tried to make me doubt, to make me guess, tried to make me feel like a little less, Oh, I liked you when your soul was bared, I thought you knew how to be scared, And now its amazing what you did to make me stay, But truth is just like time, it catches up and it just keeps going,
And so Im leaving, you can find out how much better things can get, And if it helps, Id say I feel a little worse than I did when we met, So when you find someone else, you can try again, it might work next time, You look out of the kitchen window and you shake your head and say low, "If I could believe that stuff, Id say that woman has a halo," And I look out and say, "Yeah, shes really blond," And then I go outside to join the others, I am the others,
Oh, and that's not easy, I don't know what you saw, I want somebody who sees me, I will not be afraid of women, I will not be afraid of women.
I was excited but nervous when Marvel and Netflix announced their Jessica Jones series. I knew the source material, knew sexual violence was central to the story, and I was worried about what the adaptation would be.TV has not had a great track record with stories about rape – often featuring gratuitous scenes and victim blaming storylines – and the world of superhero comics certainly hasn’t been great on the subject, either. But I held out hope for a show about a complicated retired lady superhero, despite my subject matter concerns.
Binging the series with my girlfriend this weekend, I was stunned by what I saw. Yes, this is a “superhero” show with a female lead, but Jessica Jones is so much more. The show does what we all got excited about Mad Max: Fury Road doing this summer: it’s a story about the aftermath of sexual violence that doesn’t include gratuitous rape scenes, one that takes on issues of violence and patriarchy head on without replicating harmful tropes. ButJessica Jones goes further than Fury Road by making survivors the central characters, and making their trauma and recovery the meat of the show.
Far from a drab, depressing treatise on patriarchy, Jessica Jones does all this while being an entertaining, tightly paced and expertly told superhero show. The writers – led by Melissa Rosenberg (it’s no surprise Jessica Jones‘ showrunner is female, and an example of why it’s so important to have greater diversity in who gets to tell stories in Hollywood) – build a tense, engaging narrative that finds drama in the process of trying to rebuild after trauma and the ways the world treats victims. Kilgrave is a terrifying villain because we are initially introduced to him through Jessica’s PTSD – we know the impact he’s had on her, making him a much more compelling bad guy than those featured in any Marvel movie. And we’re presented with characters unlike any we’ve seen in mainstream pop culture before – especially Jessica, who isn’t just another all too rare example of a complicated, messy female lead – her complexities are incredibly true to life because they’re clearly informed by psychological and interpersonal realities faced by survivors.
The first episode plunges us into one of the most powerfully accurate depictions of PTSD I’ve ever seen. Jessica wanders, drunk, through her own life, always on edge, feeling disconnected and alone, memories flooding her consciousness at the worst times, pulling her into the past. Our superpowered hero (super strength in Jessica’s case) is trying to move forward after an intense experience of trauma: before the events of the show Kilgrave, another “gifted” individual with mind control abilities, became obsessed with Jessica, forcing her to stay with him and do whatever he told her. She’s escaped, but she’s still very much in her past, and over the course of the season Jessica must confront her own trauma directly.
Mind control is often used in superhero stories as a baddy-of-the-week conceit. After all, if you really center mind control and take it seriously, it’s extraordinarily dark and disturbing. And that’s what Jessica Jones does. The show is very clear that everything about mind control is wrong – that it is fundamentally taking away another person’s ability to consent. Fluffy pop action hero fare this ain’t – this is the best of magical realism, using a twist of reality to get at real world issues. Mind control serves a a metaphor for sexual violence, to be sure, and the show uses it to elucidate a number of common experiences survivors face in victim blaming patriarchy. Jessica knows no one will believe what Kilgrave has done to her. She struggles to let herself off the hook for actions she took while under his control, as do many other characters. And she knows the official avenues for taking action – like the police and prisons – can’t be relied on to stop this violent perpetrator.
The show is packed full of survivors of mind control, all of whom struggle with this violation of their consent. They’ve had a range of experiences with Kilgrave, but there is never a hierarchy of victims: a man who gave Kilgrave his coat when told to has just as much place at a survivors meeting as someone who was under his control for extended periods of time, and this is never questioned. Speaking of male survivors, there are a number on this show, and they all get to have moments of being emotionally open about the trauma they’ve experienced.
Sexual and relationship abuse doesn’t get to be just treated through metaphor, though. It’s clear from the beginning that Kilgrave used his mind control to abuse and rape Jessica and Hope, another character he uses to get at our hero. It’s not until more than halfway through the series that Jessica states outright that she’s been raped, though. This feels in no way like avoiding the subject of sexual violence. Instead, it feels like we’ve followed Jessica to the point where she’s able to name and speak her trauma. Further, we’ve spent a number of episodes with her, seeing the aftermath of the abuse she experienced, understanding her terror at the very real depth of Kilgrave’s evil, seeing this powerful superhero try to escape rather than jump into revenge mode. So when rape is mentioned it doesn’t get to be the sensationalized plot twist or ratings grab it has been on many other shows – it’s real. We know what Jessica’s talking about. We know her experience through watching her fight to survive. And there’s no need for a gratuitous rape scene to communicate this reality to the audience.
The most disturbing flashback scene to me is a brief moment where Jessica is not under Kilgrave’s control and is unable to escape, which Kilgrave tries to convince her means she wanted to stay with him. This is perfect use of the mind control trope, letting the audience see Jessica’s struggle to escape and her own difficulties parsing that moment, and seeing Kilgrave try to force his version of reality on her. Through the conceit of mind control, the show gives us a moment that perfectly represents someone trapped in an abusive relationship without being exploitative.
There are so many ways in which Jessica Jones depicts realities of trauma that fly in the face of TV tropes. Abusers are so regularly given second chances on TV (it seems to be a trope based on wanting to keep characters likable and on the air, and it’s sick). There are a number of moments on this show where characters could give abusers (not just Kilgrave – everything on this show is about trauma and abuse) a second chance. We do see Jessica struggle with this in some ways, showing us the depth of Kilgrave’s manipulation, gaslighting, and victim blaming. But no abuser gets that second chance, no matter how compellingly they argue they’re a changed person – the sort of thing that often gets TV characters off the hook.
Like Supergirl, Jessica Jones has no problems regularly passing the Bechdel test because it’s a show with a female lead who’s surrounded by other powerful women who are all actively engaged in their own stories, none of which are just about a man (it also features scenes with multiple black characters interacting on screen – something that’s still all too rare on shows not executive produced by Shonda Rhimes). But the show goes well beyond this very low bar, featuring survivors – male and female – supporting each other and working together. It takes place in an unflinchingly horrible world, but it’s full of people struggling to be their best and support each other in this context, which I find especially hopeful and inspiring because it’s so accurate to reality.
Jessica Jones is not perfect, and I’m sure the fact it does some things so well and is currently being praised for that means there will be a wave of critique as well. But the show gets so much right in ways I’ve never seen in mainstream pop fare like this. And it does all this by being excellent TV – in fact, it’s probably the best example of a narrative designed specifically for binge watching that I’ve yet seen. The one-two punch of this and Masters of None has this anti-capitalist very excited about the new paradigm where Netflix has enough data to know there is an audience hungry for shows that deal with racism and gendered violence in real, powerful ways.
In a pop culture context that’s full of shows and movies reproducing and perpetuating rape culture, Jessica Jonesthrows down the gauntlet, demonstrating how TV can be used to address sexual and relationship violence, trauma, and PTSD in real ways that treat survivors with respect and give no purchase to abusers. It’s frankly stunning to see a story like this produced by Netflix and Marvel, and I hope the praise the show is currently getting means we get more stories like this in the future.
Maryam Monsef Came To Canada As A Refugee. Now, She's A Cabinet Minister.
Maryam Monsef is sworn in as the minister of democratic institutions on Wednesday.
Canada’s newest democratic institutions minister is a 30-year-old woman who fled Afghanistan with her widowed mother and two sisters when she was a child.
Maryam Monsef is the new MP for the bellwether Ontario riding of Peterborough–Kawartha. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau elevated her to his 31-member cabinet — making her the youngest minister and the fourth-youngest ever.
Monsef was born in Afghanistan and raised in the western city of Herat, near the Iranian border. She lost her father when she was a toddler and both her sisters were under the age of two. Her mother was in her 20s. No one knows for certain what happened to her father, Monsef told The Huffington Post Canada Tuesday in a phone interview from Peterborough.
“The most we know is he was caught in a crossfire between the border of Iran and Afghanistan,” she said.
Years earlier, before she was born, she said, her uncle had been abducted from his dorm room at Kabul University. A third-year pharmaceutical student, he was politically vocal and had been heard making anti-communist remarks on a bus, she said.
“That night, his dormitory was invaded, and he and his housemates were taken and never to be seen or heard from again,” she said. “I think that was an important wake-up call for the family.”
Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef flanked by her sister Mehrangiz and mother Soriya Basir on the left and sister Mina on the right.
Monsef’s childhood was spent moving between Afghanistan and Iran.
“That is why the opportunity that I have now matters so much more. Because you can come from such a history … [and] have the opportunity to be part of the decision-making process that affects people’s lives so deeply. What a great honour that is, and what an incredible privilege.”
The Soviet invasion had ended up on Afghans’ doorsteps, and, like many others, Monsef’s family crissed-crossed the border hoping the conflict would end, she said. Her mother made a living cooking, cleaning, sewing and knitting, with some support from Monsef’s uncles.
“It’s not a dignified way of living,” the new MP told HuffPost. Her mother also taught English in their home and sometimes in a school, she added. “But that wasn’t enough to sustain her, because the Taliban didn’t support women or their education.”
'... brought up with so much love'
Her mother tried to “make life work” while in Iran, but her family wasn't welcome there. Other kids teased her and her sisters. As illegal refugees, she said, they also lived under the constant threat of deportation.
“I will tell you that we didn’t know that we were poor. We didn’t know that we didn't have a future. We were brought up with so much love and so much support…. We thought we had it all, and we didn’t feel a void of a father figure, because my grandfather filled that role for us.”
In 1996, her mother chose to leave her support system and her culture behind to come to Canada. The journey, Monsef recalled, involved donkeys, camels, and airplanes. It took her through Iran, Pakistan, and Jordan, she said, and all the while, she and her sisters had chickenpox.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau poses for a photo with Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef and her mother Soriya Basir during the federal election campaign.
The family claimed refugee status when they arrived in Canada, ending up in Peterborough, where Monsef’s uncle lived. She was 11.
“The grass is green, there are 40-something of bodies of water surrounding Peterborough, and people were nice and smiling, and there were robins out. I’d never seen a robin before.”
She described it as a “hardship” adapting to the new country. She was homesick and didn’t understand English. Everything was culturally foreign — even the housing. She laughs when describing going through puberty and trying to fit in her new home.
Several community groups and social services helped her family integrate and provided a safety net, including the food bank, the Salvation Army, the New Canadians Centre, Casa Maria Refugee Homes and the YWCA. She still volunteers at Casa Maria and the Y, she said.
“The volunteers and the neighbours … came into our lives and made us feel like we weren’t alone … that we had a community … that it was going to be OK, [and] that we belonged there,” she said. “Twenty years later ... that kindness stays with me, and I hope that as a member of Parliament, I can repay some of that through my service.”
The single politician likes to joke that she’s “married” to Peterborough.
Maryam Monsef poses on Parliament Hill on Oct. 27.
In 2014, at 29, Monsef ran unsuccessfully to be mayor of Peterborough. On Oct. 19, after knocking on 70,000 doors, she rode the Liberal wave and was elected as a first-time MP.
But her big job begins Wednesday, after she is sworn in as a Privy Council member, and attends her first cabinet meeting.
Monsef didn’t ask for the democratic institutions portfolio and seemed surprised to be given it. In an interview, she spoke more passionately about women’s issues, pay equity and violence against women than she did about changing the way senators are appointed or reforming the electoral system.
“Living in a democratic system is a gift,” she told HuffPost. “Democratic reform is a big and ambitious agenda that goes across many policy areas,” she said, promising to speak more about it later.
For now, Monsef is content to represent Peterborough federally. And her mother is very proud of her.
“All that hard work, all that sacrifice; it’s meant something.”
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When Canada's newly appointed prime minister, Justin Trudeau, was sworn in to office on Wednesday, he announced that he had daringly appointed 15 of his 30 cabinet roles to women. His decision inspired widespread coverage and praise — perhaps understandable, given that the choice is unprecedented in Canadian history and an anomaly in the context of male-dominated global politics. But while Trudeau's appointments are certainly commendable, they shouldn't be exceptional: In fact, equal representation should simply be the status quo.
Trudeau is the exception. "It's important to be here before you today to present to Canada a cabinet that looks like Canada," Trudeau said of his appointees on Wednesday, according to the Guardian. Such equitable political representation should be incorporated in cabinets and other political bodies the world over, and yet the global reality hardly reflects this. Only 22% of all national lawmakers around the worldwere female as of August, and 17% of cabinet members were women as of January, according to United Nations Women. A 2014 study found that at the current rate of progress, it will take the United States in particular an incredible 500 years to achieve gender parity in politics, the Nation reported.
The prime minister also made the effort to represent his nation's citizens by accounting for racial diversity: He assigned two aboriginal members — including a native woman as the new minister of justice — and three Sikh politicians to his cabinet.
This choice is an encouraging step given that a Canadian study released earlier this year showed the previous Parliament failed to represent the Canadian people and, as the study's author told the Star, likely resulted in decisions that were "uninformed and/or not reflective of the general population."
Beyond parity: Trudeau's appointments do not just numerically reflect the nation, but also combat deeper biases about leadership. When women are granted opportunities to lead, they frequently occupy roles stereotypically deemed feminine: Of the 17% of government ministers who are women, the majority oversee social sectors like education and family, according to U.N. Women.
Yet studies also show that women's leadership in historically male-dominated realms can be vital. Take finance, for example: Women fill less than 20% of bank board positions hold only 3% of bank CEO roles, according to the Telegraph. Yet a 2013 Commission on Banking Standards study recommended that the banking industry ameliorate its "overwhelmingly male" culture, and otherstudies have questioned if the global financial crisis would have happened had more women occupied economic leadership positions.
That Trudeau notably appointed a man, Jean-Yves Duclos, as Canada's minister of Families, Children and Social Development and a woman, Chrystia Freeland, to be in charge of international trade, therefore, are important contributions to disrupting this status quo.
You can't be what you can't see. Ultimately, Trudeau's appointments aren't just models for how current governments can better reflect their own populations, but also provides a crucial model for future generations. Many have previously argued that representation is critical to encouraging girls to pursue careers in male-dominated fields across the board, and politics are no exception.
As Marie C. Wilson, founder of the White House Project — an organization that aimed to encourage women to pursue political leadership in the U.S. — has said, "you can't be what you can't see." That Trudeau has proven to young Canadians, as well as young adults the world over, that equitable political representation is possible is meaningful and will hopefully have a significant impact on generations to come.
Julie Zeilinger is a staff writer at Mic as well as the founder and editor of The FBomb (thefbomb.org), a feminist blog partnered with the Women’s Media Center. She is also the author of "A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word" and "College 101: A Girl’s Guide to Freshman Year."
What Would Happen If the U.S. Defunded Planned Parenthood? Cutting the program would affect millions of Americans and destabilize America's progress toward fewer unwanted pregnancies. FRANCIE DIEP AUG 6, 2015
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