Friday, January 23, 2009

Belated and Not Unforeseen

Hey Folks,

Thanks so much to everyone who read this blog during its short lifetime. As I am still pursuing a career in journalism, I imagine I will contributing to a similar blog at some point (in fact I'm here to check up on this blogging project for class), but I'm closing this particular one. I apologize, but personal strife as well as the rigors of academics keep me too occupied to give what I consider a satisfactory effort here. I'll be at LiveJournal and welcome new friends there but Lucky Fava Bean is biting the dust.

Again, thanks so much to the few who actually read (especially Athene and Julia),


Monday, September 1, 2008

Amy Goodman Arrested at RNC

Journalist and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was arrested earlier today at the Republican National Convention. Apparently she was arrested while attempting to assist her colleagues who were themselves being arrested while covering protests at the convention. She and Democracy Now! producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar are now in the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul. There's more info and how to help free Goodman and her colleagues here, and a video of Goodman's arrest here.

Goodman was obviously not causing any sort of disruption. The fact that she, a journalist, was arrested while covering the protest is not only a disservice to her but an attack on the free press. Citizens have a right to know that protests like this are going on and hear what their fellow Americans have to say. It is enraging and scary that this can happen so easily.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Is racism the only thing that could stop Obama?

Lately Barack Obama has made me rather wary. Looking closely at his policies, it's clear that his administration would not be a every progressive's dream. Obama's pretty conservative economically and his plan for Afghanistan doesn't differ much from McCain's. The United States would still have military bases across the world under his presidency and even Guantanamo is unlikely to close. Yet despite these flaws, he's still light-years ahead of John McCain, who's platform is argubly Bush 2.0 if not worse. The lesser-of-two-evils situation has become exasperating to say the least but that's the reality of American politics today.

An article by Jacob Weisberg in Slate confronts an unsettling idea: racism might really keep Obama out of office. Weisberg examines the statistics and comes to the conclusion that a sizable proportion of white voters are uncomfortable about Obama's presidency principally because of his skin color (or because of some ridiculous idea that he's secretly a radical Muslim). I recall a Daily Show segment during the primaries in which an older woman voter basically said she didn't vote for Obama because his middle name is Hussain. Will this election go down in history as the one where voters made their decision on the basis of a candidate's middle name?!

Maybe African heritage really is a bigger burden in politics than a vagina. I thought it was the opposite while Clinton was still in play, but who can really say? If Hillary was the Democratic nominee, we might be having this same conversation, except the polls would be saying that men felt uncomfortable voting for a woman.

Regardless, I agree with Weisberg's statement that choosing McCain over Obama will not just be a misstep for the American people. It will signal to the world that we're still just as backward as we've always been with regards to race.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Re: Once a Stripper, never a Feminist?

From the latest Ms. Magazine:

In your Spring 2008 issue ["Milestones"], Diablo Cody is quoted as saying she is a feminist. [But] in Cody's book Candy Girl, she tells about her life as a stripper, lap dancer and peep-show entertainer. Her life as a sexual entertainer and sex object for males hardly seems like a feminist activity. Perhaps she was one of those "young women" that Helen Mirren mentions [in "Lest We Forget"] who have been empowered [by] sexual objectification. Cody and others like her who have used their bodies as sexual objects have disrespected women and encouraged the subjugation of females.
-Pat Tate, Millersville MD

This is a troubling road to go down because society already rejects and denigrates the sex worker. While I think idea the that women can find things like stripping 'empowering' is questionable at best, rejecting strippers and other women who work in the sex industry is not going to solve anything. We need to answer a few questions first. Why is it that sex work is the best-paying gig for some women and what does it say about us as a society that we don't offer them anything better? I don't mean to paint Cody as a complete victim, or say that women can't consciously choose sex work but why must these women be further degraded by feminists, who should be their allies? Why is it so hard to see from their point-of-view? Why can't we identify with the 'fallen woman?' (or do away with such terminology for that matter?)

Referenced portions from Spring 2008:

Milestones-Four films written by women were nominated for screen-writing Academy Awards this year, an Oscar record. Diablo Cody, who won best original screenplay for Juno, said, "As a feminist, and someone who feels that women are marginalized in this industry, I'm thrilled that women are getting this sort of recognition."

Lest We Forget-"Being a sexual object is mortifying and irritating, yet it's giving you power--an awful power that you've done nothing to deserve, a powerless power. I think some young women fall in love with that power, and it's really objectifying. And when it starts falling away, it's an incredible relief. -British actor Helen Mirren, to More magazine

Monday, July 28, 2008

Egyptian film challenges taboos

The Yacoubian Building, based off of the book by Ala Aswani, is taking the Egyptian box office by storm. The film frankly tackles taboos such as homosexuality, terrorism and abuse. It is stirring quite a debate about what is acceptable to discuss openly in Egyptian culture. Director Marwan Hamed wants to engage discussion and feels that Arabs should be more open about such issues: "In our countries... we need to talk more, to express ourselves, to have discussions in a civilised way - to make this country better." (BBC article here)

It looks fascinating, I can't wait to see it for myself. The film has already graced Tribeca and Cannes and I sincerely hope it will find its way to Toronto for TIFF. If it does you can rest assured I'll be the first in line :)

Apologies for the lack of posts here, I really want to start using this space better. I recently participated in Blogathon/Day of Blogs at this blog and it made me realize how much I love writing. I had so many ideas and potential posts taking up room in my head and I didn't implement them. But no more! Fava deserves better.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Conversation with U.S. War Resisters in Toronto

Last night I attended an event with the War Resisters Support Campaign here in Toronto moderated by Andy Barrie, himself a Vietnam veteran and resister who came to Canada in the 60s. Ten men and one woman from all over the United States, many of them spouses and parents, spoke about their experiences in the military and as conscientious objectors. Many did tours in Iraq and all of them are officially AWOL for resisting participation in the war.

The legacy of the resister in the United States is fraught with accusations of "draft dodger" and "traitor" but it becomes glaringly obvious when talking to these resisters that their decisions to refuse military service come at great personal cost. Chuck Wiley, who worked on an aircraft carrier before going AWOL, is giving up opportunities for high-paying work back in the States. The kind of mechanical work he is trained for requires security clearance from the military for him to be hired, otherwise his skills are completely unmarketable. Some resisters face rejection from their own families for their decision, all are faced with an uncertain future.

To stay in Canada legally, the resisters need to be granted refugee status by the Canadian government and could otherwise face deportation and jail time in the States. Corey Glass had just received his deportation date that day, and now has about three weeks left before he could face prison time or Iraq. After that, Glass' prospects are few. A bad conduct discharge from the military is the equivalent of a civilian felony. Yet the resisters prefer this uncertain fate to being tools of an illegal and unethical military occupation. Said Jeremy Hinzman "we didn't join to kill innocent people."

But hope is not lost, MP Olivia Chow was in attendance and preparing a motion to allow the resisters to remain in Canada. Time is of the essence, especially for Corey Glass. More information on helping the resisters can be found here.

I was really struck by the hard work these men and this woman were going through to get by here and stay in the country. They live here now, work here, pay taxes to Canada. Many said they would stay in Canada indefinitely if not permanently if granted permission. They're living here and contributing to Canadian society like new Canadians. Were it not for the political implications of their immigration, they would just be settled here normally.

Saturday, April 26, 2008