Tag Archives: Intersectionality

Reclaiming our Narratives: Conversations on Gender and Racial Profiling in Toronto

GRP - PosterThis event has been fully booked for a while.  It’s tomorrow at Osgoode, organized by a dynamic group of women and a great collection of organizations (see below for a complete list).  IFLS is pleased to be a sponsor of this event and once the post-event report is finished, we’ll hope to have it available on this blog.

You can find a full description of the event below – or click here for a program in pdf.

Reclaiming Our Narratives: Conversations on Gender and Racial Profiling in Toronto 

Saturday, November 28, 2015, 9:30AM to 6:30PM

We all seem to be talking about racial profiling – from lawyers to police officers; from the media to politicians; from people who are profiled every day to those who have never been subject to the experience. But what aren’t we talking about when we talk about racial profiling?
Join us on November 28, 2015, as we discuss the many ways gender impacts racial profiling. We will highlight the often silenced stories of women, girls and trans people, and their experiences with racial profiling — whether at the border or in jails, whether it’s the direct experience of being profiled or the indirect experience of parents and supporters of those who are profiled.

10:00am: Keynote 11:00am: Police brutality and incarceration 12:00pm: Border policing 1:00pm: Lunch & free clothing bank provided by Windfall Clothing 2:00pm: Racial profiling and reproductive justice 3:00pm: Youth experiences 4:00pm: Closing plenary: remedies and resistance
We know these conversations can be traumatizing for people who are forced to live with the experience of being profiled. We will strive to create a safe and accessible space for speakers, facilitators, and attendees by providing the following services throughout the conference:
active listeners and/or counsellors; ASL language interpretation; child-minding;  Halal food options; gender-neutral washrooms;  room accessibility for mobility devices and tokens for transportation support.
A final report detailing the conference will be produced and distributed. We will also explore other ways to share the event’s key insights.
Organizing Partners:
This event is the collective effort of a number of people and organizations, including
Across Boundaries (rep: Idil Abdillahi); Andrea Anderson, PhD Candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University; Anti-Black Racism Network (rep: Idil Abdillahi); Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law (rep: Fathima Cader); Harmony Movement (rep: Brittany Andrew-Amofah); METRAC (rep: Jessica Mustachi); Network to Eliminate Police Violence (rep: Kimalee Phillip)


NIP: Ed. Collection: Within the Confines: Women & the Law in Canada

Within the Confines: Women & the Law in Canada

The editor is Jennifer Kilty, of U of O Criminology, and the Table of Contents is quite broad (see here) with contributions from UBC’s Emma Cunliffe U of M’s Amar Khoday and U of O’s Angela Cameron.

PreOrder Available for November release.


Western feminists have long treated the rule of law as an essential ingredient of social justice; however, as the contributors to this collection remind us, meaningful justice remains out of reach for many women and racialized minorities precisely because the law turns a blind eye to the inequities that structure their daily lives. In fourteen chapters that open vital debates about the erosion of the welfare state and the media’s complicity in concealing political injustice, Within the Confines details the brutal ironies of a society that criminalizes the vulnerable while absolving the elite. 

Distinctive in its focus on Canada, the book traces the linkages among racial, ethnic, sexual, and economic vulnerability and reveals the inadequacies of legislative approaches to socio-historical problems such as drug trafficking, homelessness, infanticide, and the legacies of settler colonial violence. In accessible prose, the authors dismantle the myths behind topics that are often sensationalized in the media—pornography, single motherhood, sex work, filicide, gangs, domestic abuse, prison conditions, HIV nondisclosure—and present alternative arguments that expose the justice system’s role in widening the gap between the rich and the poor. What emerges is a poignant challenge to the neoliberal fable that women and minorities in Western democracies now enjoy full equality and an urgent call to action for those who seek to shift institutional norms in more equitable directions. 

A valuable resource for a wide range of fields, including criminology, sociology, social anthropology, gender studies, political science, social work, and legal history, this multidisciplinary volume offers a fresh perspective on the disturbingly predictable judgments that criminalized women face in Canada.

"I literally couldn't give a…": Feminist fight on the web.

You don’t need an MA in gender studies to know that race matters to feminism | Chitra Nagarajan and Lola Okolosie | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk:



In their article “In defence of Caitlin Moran and populist feminism” , Rhiannon and Holly from the Vagenda magazine employ a heady mix of biographical context and anti-intellectualism to defend the indefensible: Moran’s dismissal of the representation of black women. They write that “feminism is, and to an extent always has been, a white, middle class movement”, which must be resuscitated from the “dust and the stuffiness” it has been cocooned within by reinventing itself. To do this the movement has to silence its most “academic [which] is almost incomprehensible” and express “its ideals in a way that thousands of women understand and identify with”.

Nagarajan and Okolosie refer to this piece from the Vagenda Team, in the New Statesman

It almost seems as though some educated women want to keep feminism for themselves, cloak it in esoteric theory and hide it under their mattresses, safe and warm beneath the duck down duvet. As long as that happens, though, the lives of many women and men in this country will remain the same. Feminism should not be a discipline far removed from the lives of ordinary people, but part of a larger social justice movement that strives to achieve a better life for everyone. Caitlin Moran may not be perfect, but she has come closest thus far. In the last few weeks some have been bandying about the oft-quoted phrase “my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” We would suggest that anyone with an interest in genuine equality for all adapt that phrase to “my feminism will be comprehensible or it will be bullshit.”

Rhiannon and Holly wrote that Vagenda piece as a defence of Caitlin Moran (author of How to Be a Woman, columnist).  Assigned to interview Lena Dunham, whose show “Girls” has been both much feted for showing something real about the lives of young women and much critiqued for being relentlessly white, Moran was tweeted at by someone asking whether she addressed that lack in the interview.  She tweeted back, “Nope. I literally couldn’t give a shit about it” thus unleashing (come on, it’s the internet, what else could be unleashed) mainly a sh*tstorm but also some thoughtful commentary (see Guardian story which opens this post as one example).

Here‘s Jezebel on the story, here‘s Bitch Magazine.

One of the things I find really curious about the Vagenda “defence” (which they have of course had to defend through twitter now) is that their argument in some ways closely tracks the arguments made in Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism edited by Jessica Yee (now Danforth).  Until it diametrically diverges.  That book (see here for an old IFLS post) also took aim at the academy – but from a very different position.  Yee and her co authors were largely women of colour, deeply concerned about the silencing of particular experiences and concerns by academic feminism, not just the academy’s more general tendency to either exclude or pirate experiences into bodies of work made inaccessible to the subjects of study.

I don’t think the  Vagenda argument has much to it.  They slip between class and race in both their original piece and their defences, and to the extent that they are claiming that intersectionality is incomprehensible, I don’t think they can really run with that…it’s not that hard to understand. Operationalise, detail, capture, yes, but understanding the basic concept?    Please.

So that’s the story.  In other news, British papers are full of articles about the netmum’s survey (if you’re reading this blog, let me warn you that clicking through will probably really piss you off) that found feminism irrelevant and used FeMEnism to “reflect women’s personal choice”. Argh.  See here, here and here for examples of feminist responses.


Sexism, Racism, And Swimming

Former IFLS visitor Sarah Keenan (now at SOAS), over at Racialicious, unpacks the chatter about Ye Shiwen’s record-breaking.

Sexism, Racism, And Swimming At The London 2012 Olympics

…like all Olympic medallists, Ye has been tested for banned substances, and has come up clean. But that’s not enough for thousands of armchair commentators who have suddenly become self-appointed experts on what could possibly be the ‘natural’ physique and capabilities of a Chinese girl.


Columbia LS starts Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies under Prof Kimberlé Crenshaw

The announcement is here:  Columbia Law School : Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies Established.  Note that they will have Fellows…..


The Center’s mission includes facilitating intellectual dialogue between innovative intersectionality scholars, developing cross-disciplinary research networks, and integrating intersectional research and analysis into policy debates and social justice advocacy. With a core objective of growing the research field as well as practical applications, the Center will host researchers, policy-makers, and advocates seeking to develop projects and interventions pertaining to intersectionality. The Center welcomes fellows from the United States and abroad.

Timely! Or overdue (not Columbia’s fault – all of us).  Either way, delighted – this is great news. I have been having conversations for years now about  the gap between the rich theory of intersectionality and its usually pallid (! no pun intended) and formulaic appearance in litigation.  Some of this does seem to be about the need to develop the empirical illustrations of the process(es).  I look forward to hearing about the work coming out of this Center.

If you find yourself in New York right now, HURRY.  You can catch Catherine A. MacKinnon, sponsored by the Center and the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, speaking tonight, 630, on Intersectionalities: Theorizing Multiple Discrimination, Identity and Power “Intersectionality as Method.  More info here.