Excerpts - Manifesto of the Pan-Canadian Young Feminist Gathering

Wednesday, December 14 2011

In October 2008, more than 500 young women attended the first pan-Canadian young feminist gathering, “Waves of Resistance/ Toujours RebELLEs, in Montreal. The adoption of a manifesto was the climax of the gathering.

We are the young RebELLEs who have answered a feminist call and we are proud to call ourselves feminists. We recognize that there are multiple interpretations of feminism and we celebrate and integrate this diversity. We are committed to the continual expansion of the plurality of our voices. We are committed to an ongoing process of critical self-reflection to inform and transform our movement. We acknowledge the historical exclusion of "Othered" women by the majority Western feminist movement. We strive to learn from the past, honour the struggles of our foremothers and continue to dream for the future. We value the allies of feminism who support us in our fight for equity and justice.

We are women of diverse abilities, ethnicities, origins, sexualities, identities, class backgrounds, ages and races. Among us are employed, underemployed and unemployed women, mothers, students, dropouts, artists, musicians and women in the sex trade. We state that transfolks, two-spirited and intersexed people are integral to our movement and recognize and respect gender fluidity and support the right to self-identify. Our women-only spaces include everyone who self-identifies and lives as a woman in society.

We are told that feminism is over and outdated. If this were true then we wouldn't need to denounce the fact that:

In reality, many of the demands of our feminist mothers and grandmothers remain unmet. Women continue to be the victims of sexual violence. Our communities are haunted by the silence that follows these assaults. Throughout Canada, in spite of our right to it, access to abortion services remains insufficient. Across Canada as well, colonized, marginalized, racialized and disabled women are coerced and/or forced to undergo unwanted or uninformed abortions, forced to use contraception and are subjected to forced sterilization. The hyper-sexualization of women in the media has taught us to view women as sexual objects rather than complete human beings. Getting off, lesbianism and being queer are taboo and a women's choice to seek sexual pleasure is seen as negative. Our identities are eroded as we are taught, from the time we are children, and through television and magazines, that how we should look, dress, and act is determined by our sex. Violence is normalized, sexual abuse eroticized. Our sexual health education is inadequate and our reproductive rights are disrespected. Our needs are not being met.

In reality, women still represent the majority of the underprivileged. Our government steals children from poor and Aboriginal women. Capitalism exploits working-class women and confines middle- and upper-class women to "consumer" roles.  We are told that equality has been achieved, but still the wage gap persists. Immigrant women are denied acknowledgment of their academic credentials and are forced to endure intolerable work environments in order to stay on Canadian soil. We lack affordable and accessible childcare. Women remain underpaid, underappreciated, and undervalued in the work force. We have gained the right to vote, yet gender-based discrimination keeps women virtually unrepresented in political office.

In this globalized world, we must construct international feminist solidarity. The actions of Canadian political and economic elites harm women around the world, and in a way that is specifically gender-related. War, genocide and militarization are characterized by the use of rape as a war weapon, femicide, and the sexual exploitation of thousands of our sisters. Free trade contributes to women's increasing social, economic and cultural insecurity. In response to Canadian imperialism, we will globalize our feminist solidarity.

In this so-called post-feminist world, our roles in society are still defined by traditional views on gender. Religious and political forces aimed at maintaining the pillars of power in our society silence us from voicing our rights.  We denounce the current rise of right-wing ideology in Canadian society and the steps backward in women's rights that this has caused. We are being stripped of rights for which those who came before us fought hard. Geography marginalizes women, with remote, northern and rural women lacking access to basic services. Showing solidarity with our sisters means trying to understand all of the issues we face - including race, class and gender - and standing together against oppression.

Finally, we denounce the dismissal of the feminist movement as redundant. Our struggle is not over. We will be post-feminists when we have post-patriarchy.

Feminists Unite!

RISE AGAINST the industries that cause us to hate our bodies and our sexuality

RISE AGAINST heterosexism that makes it seem that there is only one way of living, loving and being sexual

RISE AGAINST the socialization of children in gender binaries, race categories and colonial erasures

RISE AGAINST the education that reinforces the heteronormative nuclear family

RISE AGAINST the religious Right and its influence on State policy and legislation...

RISE AGAINST the objectification and control of women’s bodies...

RISE AGAINST the sexual division of labour...

RISE AGAINST sexual exploitation

RISE AGAINST PATRIARCHY

We will:     Change our attitude: get pissed off, refuse, resist, walk out, speak up!

We will:     Transform our daily lives and relationships: actions can take place in small interactions

We will:      Encourage people to learn about, care for and love themselves and their bodies

We will:      Support safe and accessible space for individuals to define and express themselves without fear of judgement

We will:     Create alternatives, write poetry, articles, letters, make art

We will:     Join with others, find common ground, build community, create feminist spaces and gatherings, raise awareness, educate, spread the word

We will:      Believe that a better world is possible and work to achieve it

We will:     Organize and struggle: build alliances with existing feminist groups and create new ones, fight together in solidarity, be seen and be heard, disrupt, trouble, destabilize established powers, become culture jammers

We will:      Build solidarity based on the commonality of our diverse struggles and perspectives

We will:      Value people rather than profits

We will:     Demand massive State reinvestment in social programs and the end of privatization

We will:     Organize pan-Canadian decentralized days of feminist action against the rise of the Right

We will:     Protest and resist sexist bills and laws that threaten our reproductive rights, racist immigration laws, war, free trade, repression, the criminalization of political movements, corporate exploitation and plunder of the earth, and violence against women

We will:      Champion safety, respect, justice, freedom, equality and SOLIDARITY!

It is a call to action!

Find out more, get involved! www.rebelles2008.org ; info@rebelles2008.org

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