Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Black and Gold

***Third time writing this post as Blogger seems to be intent on obliterating it every time I try to save as a draft. So, here goes...***

For the largest portion of my academic career, my school colours have been Blue and Gold. My high school, Evan Hardy Collegiate, in Saskatoon and my university (which continue to siphon large wads of tuition out of my account to this day) sport this duo of colours. When I first attained continuing teacher status in the school district, I took it as a good sign that I was once again at a school of blue and gold... then came the downsizing, and the lay-off year (two very different circumstances under the collective agreement) and when I found my feet again, I was firmly planted at a school where Black and Gold were the colours of pride. Seriously, they even found BLACK Christmas tree ornaments... Don't ask me where.

This week is (another) Spirit Week and the Student Council planned a noon hour pep rally for today and everyone was encouraged to dress in school colours. Since I don't coach or sponsor any teams or clubs here, my wardrobe lacks a single item of school branded merch. Therefore, I had to dig through my t-shirt dresser to find an appropriately co-ordinated shirt to wear with my black slacks. Happily, the only shirt that fit the bill is one that I was very proud to wear as it advertises a wonderful annual event in support of an even more incredible organization.


The Can't Stop the Serenity screenings are held annually around the world with proceeds going to the Equality Now charity whose mandate is to end violence and discrimination against women and girls. Because of my weekend work schedule, I have yet to actually attend one of the screenings but, being very fortunate in friends, Vancouver's own CSTS organizer, Gayle, was kind enough to deliver a shirt to me at the library back in 2008. At least my money went in the EN kitty that year. Have I mentioned that Serenity was the first movie Jeff and I ever watched together? I knew it was love...

In 2006, Joss Whedon spoke at an Equality Now event called 'On the Road to Equality: Honoring Men on the Front Lines' where he was given an award for his advocacy on behalf of the charity and where his mother, Lee Stearns, was honoured by his introducer Meryl Streep as the individual solely responsible for inspiring the founding of the organization through her "radical ideas about women’s strength and independence and passion and empathy".

Joss' speech is, as always, eloquent and moving and entertaining but it's his little zinger at the end -- his pared down, concentrated response to the one question he is asked more than any other question -- his final words after numerous earlier, lengthier draft responses which didn't seem to get the point across to interviewers -- his pointed reference to why Equality Now is such a necessary organization -- that has become an infamous, viral meme that spreads as fast as the Internet allows:

So, why do you write these strong female characters?

Because you’re still asking me that question

(By the way, the transcript for the speech is available at American Rhetoric. Great lesson plan material for English teachers and speech-writers!)
Tomorrow, December 6, 2012, marks the 23rd anniversary of the massacre at Montreal's École Polytechnique where fourteen women - Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz - were shot and killed by a mentally unstable man for the crime of being women studying engineering (at a school he was rejected by). Montrealers, Canadians, university students, engineers and those who seek a better world for not only our daughters but all humanity, commemorate the day and remember the tragedy of those students and the hate that ended their lives.

*** This is where my original post ended. This morning, I found the following on my Facebook Newsfeed and felt it apropo to attach to this post ***


Jada Pinkett-Smith Speaks Against Human Trafficking, 2012

After slaying critics in defense of her daughter Willow, outspoken actress and activist Jada Pinkett-Smith took to Facebook today to drop some knowledge on how the degradation of women has resulted in problems for both sexes.

As we look at societies where the women are lost, struggling for education and otherwise disregarded, versus those who consider women the center of their communities, Jada‘s words ring all the more truer. Read what she has to say below:
How is man to recognize his full self, his full power through the eye’s of an incomplete woman? The woman who has been stripped of Goddess recognition and diminished to a big ass and full breast for physical comfort only.
The woman who has been silenced so she may forget her spiritual essence because her words stir too much thought outside of the pleasure space. The woman who has been diminished to covering all that rots inside of her with weaves and red bottom shoes.
I am sure the men, who restructured our societies from cultures that honored woman, had no idea of the outcome. They had no idea that eventually, even men would render themselves empty and longing for meaning, depth and connection.
There is a deep sadness when I witness a man that can’t recognize the emptiness he feels when he objectifies himself as a bank and truly believes he can buy love with things and status. It is painful to witness the betrayal when a woman takes him up on that offer.
He doesn’t recognize that the [creation] of a half woman has contributed to his repressed anger and frustration of feeling he is not enough. He then may love no woman or keep many half women as his prize.
He doesn’t recognize that it’s his submersion in the imbalanced warrior culture, where violence is the means of getting respect and power, as the reason he can break the face of the woman who bore him four children.
When woman is lost, so is man. The truth is, woman is the window to a man’s heart and a man’s heart is the gateway to his soul.
Power and control will NEVER out weigh love.
May we all find our way.