Friday, February 1, 2008

for your consideration: drug-hazed, flu-addled, sleep-deprived blogrant

i am neither awake nor asleep, just floating. and beginning to suspect that i am now one a bonified insomniac... or at least person-with-unusual-sleep-habits, which i am considering patenting as a disorder, called PWUSH, and subsequently marketing an appropriate cure/palliative/placebo.

convinced of at least one thing: there really is no rest for the wicked.

was up late battling bureaucrats and patriarchy, as well as what i am coming to suspect is a 24 to 48 hour flu (which i'm not ruling out as unconnected w/ said bureaucrats and patriarchs). am now up early (6 am) for similar reasons. after many hours of lying exhausted-but-unsleeping in bed, buzzing with a few extra doses of cough syrup whose drowsiness warnings are beginning to sound like idle threats, one has to get up and choose one of several options:

- reading old susan sontag essays (like bed-time stories for the aspiring bien-pensant)
- watching youtube videos of other people who are likely to empathize, themselves bearing the same computer-screen-frosted look and dishevelled appearance, and ranting about whatever it is that keeps them up at night... see davis fleetwood, a fave example of someone who clearly doesn't sleep and may or may not subsist on newspapers he devours after reading the day's headlines).
- or return after many weeks of neglecting your blog, and post something.

i have chosen option three: (prescription) drug-hazed, flu-addled, sleep-deprived blogrant.

today's topic: activism (surprise)

in case you don't know, i have been an activist for the past several years, wreaking havoc with a fine organization called the miss g project for equity in education. it's a grassroots collective that a few friends and i started when we realized that all the sexist, homophobic, racist, classist, etc. shit that goes on in high schools doesn't have to be that way. in fact, it should really be the *object* of education to see that the opposite happens: that schools are safe, inclusive, and equitable learning environments so that all students can access their right to public education.

from our experience, it was clear that this was not the case. quite the contrary: schools are generally scary, horrible dens of violence rooted in historical oppressions that most students have neither the space nor the language by which to discuss or challenge them. if education isn't providing students with these things... what is it doing?

our solution: lobby the ministry of education to include a women's and gender studies course in the ontario secondary school curriculum. revolutionary? yes. unprecedented? no. why: why not? outcome: giving students access to important feminist knowledges that have otherwise been left out of the current provincial curriculum (aside from locally-developed courses, which are awesome, but which few teachers have the time or energy to design, even if they have the will and know-how). other important benefits: justice, prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, a richer understanding of the human experience, critical analytical skills and knowledges that students take with them throughout their academic and non-academic lives. oh, and quite possibly, the end of patriarchy. (and for people still in feminism 101: that means everybody wins - yes, even you, rich, white men. giving up some of your privilege won't kill you, i promise.)

i am up tonight because over the course of three years working towards this goal with these outcomes in mind; after having proven that a wide-spread demand exists throughout the province through the hundreds of emails, postcards, and letters the ministry has received supporting our cause; after having busted our asses to raise awareness, host events, call and email and call and email everyone we know again and again... the ministry of education has still not met our demand.

this, even though we have been told by the minister of education, herself, that this project is "the most effective lobby effort the ministry has seen in recent years."

i am up tonight dissillusioned w/ our supposedly 'democratic' processes. wondering why it is that the government can so blithely, so calmly dismiss this on-going public outcry. call, email, write, scream, rant though they might, the citizens of ontario are not being heard.

i am up, also, amazed at how little society acknowledges the work of activists. amazed as i remember my high school lessons on 'government' represented by two bodies: the electorate and the elected. never mentioned was that vital, tireless, sleepless body in between: the people who make sure that the elected do what it is they were elected to do. without these people, without activists, democracy would not function. and yet, if they are not rendered invisible, they are caricatured as "hippies" (cue image of stereotypical white boy w/ dreadlocks and placard), reviled and dismissed as "idealists," "dreamers," and (remarkably) "lazy."

if this doesn't prove how intellectually-impoverished and conservative mainstream society has become, i don't know what does. most activists hover perilously between idealism and extreem pessimism, are not dreadlocked whiteboys... and as for this 'hippie,' i only dream when i sleep, which i can assure you is not very often.

1 comment:

Feminist Catalyst said...

Oh feminist-one. Saddened to see (or rather, read) you so discouraged.

Know that us O-Town folks are still carrying on the fight. There is solidarity in these hills.