"The white fathers told us, "I think, therefore, I am" and the black mother within each of us – the poet – whispers in our dreams, I feel, therefore I can be free."- Audre Lorde

Friday, October 30, 2009


Despite my pacifist convictions, I still often fantasize about violently running over Queen's boys, with my old little brown bicycle. Despite my desire for peace, this fantasy never fails to make me smile.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

lamentations of poverty: the day i met Erika

[Preface- for my gender&poverty class we had to take on an identity someone struggiling with poverty, and write a reflective paper about our experience. it was an extremely helpful excersize in empathy, and it really helpt me understand the corruption of the welfare system... which prior to the class i had no idea existed. the following are some experts from my experience. i was assigned the identity of erika- a young, First nations woman who moved to kingston in hopes of finding a "better" life, but instead finds herself without employment, lacking support and on welfare. Dealing with invasive welfare policies and racism, Erikas story is the story of many women whose lived realities are bound by the shackles of grinding poverty]
Erika taught me that poverty is soul crushing. She taught me Desperation. Hopelessness. Fear. Worry. Humiliation. Vulnerability. Anger. Suspicion. The emotions embedded in poverty are truly raw and truly debilitating. Erika taught me that we live in a world that scorns us as failures if we can’t “find” work. We live within a system that makes us feel guilty for being poor. We exist in a society where being on welfare makes you feel like an unwanted burden—an undeserving baby suckling desperately at the dried up teat of a loveless government. We live in a country where the day-to-day anxieties of mere survival are silenced and ignored, yet they consume our every thought. While the rest of society pretends we don’t exist, our hungry stomachs remind us of the aching reality of our own existence. Our existence feels raw and naked, as the welfare system strips us of dignity, dehumanizes us, invades us, mocks us, and breaks us. Instead of hope, we are filled with fear. Because to be poor, to be Aboriginal, is to be criminal.
* * *
As a single-woman, my welfare cheque was only $572/month, which meant within only the first week I was already $143 short to even pay for basic rent/utilities. Realistically on that little amount of monthly income I would not have no money leftover for food/laundry/phone/savings. The meager amount of welfare payments set us up for failure. How do you possibly survive off of $572 a month?!
I think that’s the point. Poor, Aboriginal “dependent” women were “never meant to survive”. Our histories and experiences of violent colonialism remind us that our survival was merely an obstacle in the path of the development of the Canadian nation. Our present realities of continued oppression reminds us that native bodies are disposable –we see it in the lax law enforcement regarding violence against aboriginal women, particularly in the murder of Pamela George, (Wallis and Kwok 2008, p. 249), we see it in the government’s failure to recognize the unique needs of First Nations peoples, we see it in the system’s complete disregard of poverty as racialized. We are being crushed by the fist of poverty because we were not meant to survive.
I remained in poverty because I could not find viable employment. I could not find viable employment, not because I was lazy or lacked ambition but because “…there simply are not enough jobs to go around” (Swanson 1997, p. 151). Society blamed me for my struggles. This is a society convoluted with the myth of success defined by individualism. This is a society polluted with the toxic illusion that we all start off having “equal” opportunities. A society that overlooks the disproportionate amount of racialized/immigrant women who are experiencing the death-grip of systemic social exclusion and poverty.While I am not entirely dismissing my own agency, I am saying that the welfare system and policy is self-deprecating and makes it very difficult to see an out. It shifts all fault on the individual, rather than focusing on the reason why such crippling poverty exists in the first place. The government has significantly transformed the welfare system in response to a supposed “need” to clamp down on welfare “frauds”, but yet turns a blind eye to the system that produces the need to “cheat” in order to survive. The focus on “cheating the system” obscures the more important issue of all –the filthy rotten system of capitalism itself. Why is a “.3% fraud rate” in Canada (Little 2001, p. 30) more disconcerting than the fact that “the richest 10% of ‘our nation’ own more than half of Canada’s wealth”?!?! Perhaps in attempting to “combat poverty” and “reduce the need for welfare” federal governments should invest time in deconstructing and destabilizing the very system that creates the inequalities of poverty in the first place.. As Swanson argues, many factors push the unemployment (and hence poverty) rate up into a double digit range: such as free trade, and the ability of multinational companies to move quickly around the world to encourage jobs in countries where wages are lowest…” (Swanson 1997, p. 151). Rather than tackling these devastating issues, the government refuses responsibility by blaming and pathologizing ‘victims’ and denying systemic racism rather than supporting those being affected most by the vice of capitalism. This is why welfare was unable to remove me from poverty.


I believe that the Government pries open our jaws, and crams a fistful of “independency” down our throats…. forcing us to swallow the nauseating propaganda of “individualism”. This is the greatest flaw of the welfare policy changes— the myth of mandatory independency. What we need is to relearn the value of a radical-interdependency. We need to learn and VALUE the significance that community can bring into our lives. We need to recognize the truly revolutionary power of community, mutuality and relationships in working towards resistance, dignity, healing, survival and our collective struggle for equality. We need one another. Desperately.

The most important thing I learned from this exercise is that even in my own state of class privilege as a white educated student, I am not free. This activity resolidified my favorite quote by Audre Lorde, in Sister Outsider: “I am not free when any woman is unfree, even if her shackles are very different from my own. And I am not free as long as one person of Color remains chained. Nor is any one of you” (Lorde 1984, p. 133). This excercise is a lesson in compassion, empathy and freedom. It is a lesson that our own liberation is inextricably bound in the liberation of those around us who remain burned and bruised by an unjust system. Our own freedom will never happen, as long as stories like Erika's are ignored and forgotten.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

damn your naked arms

my wildly untamable aloe vera plant is deeply in love with the tree outside my bedroom window. aloe vera sits on the sill, his tiny green plant-arms press up against the glass, trying desperately to reach the hands of his lover--the enormous tree that lives on the other side. at night, when the wind is near, her branches quietly tap secrets on the window. i suspect thats how trees share love poems. sometimes she casts shadows that dance on my walls. aloe vera can't dance, but he watches thoughtfully. we notice even in her charcoal reflection, that she is beautifully grace full and beautifully strong.

they want to hold eachother, i can tell. sometimes when i lay in bed, i feel sad for them. In the summer, with windows open, they nearly touch. they breathe the same air. grow in the same sun. but this, this is the closest to embrace they'll ever get. the distance between them is a mere thin pane of glass-- small, and seemingly transparent, but distance none the less. and because of this distance... they'll never be real lovers.
- - -
i love this tree outside my window. partly because i see the same beauty my aloe vera plant sees in her. and partly because the painful love story her and aloe vera share.
sometimes i fear her gentle enormity. its a "god fearing" fear of amazement. i often dream of crawling out my window, and onto her branches, curling up to be rocked to sleep in her mighty outstretched arms. to be cradled. to hide in her leaves. to dance along her shadow. to bury myself beneath her roots.
i love that autumn has kissed her crimson and gold. I love that i can study each golden vein of her many leaves while laying in bed. I love that each tarnished leaf has a memory. a beginning. a story. memories and stories i ache to hear, but somehow already seem to understand.
i woke up the other day to notice her naked.
i literally felt panic, when i realized her last leaf left had fallen dead to join the others on the earth bellow. i secretly want to scotch tape them all back on. i hate that's she's naked. i hate that her branches can no longer reach inside my window. i hate the grey horizon of the soon imposing november sky. it doesn't do her justice. it robs her of the beauty and glory i clung to.
i hate that her naked limbs remind me that my own world is changing. her spar city reminds me of the inevitability's of transition. i hate change. i hate that her beauty is a memory.
As this season passes, I am reminded of the distance between you and i. i am reminded together we are getting ready to fall. i don't want us to be a memory. i dont wan't us to be separated by a thin, god-awful pane of glass. but i remember i cant bare to reach out to you. a dying tree.
your shadow dances on my bedroom wall, and i have to look away.

Sometimes death takes many forms,
even while alive.

Friday, October 23, 2009

coming out: a rant from outside the closet.

I did it. Finally. I came out to a roomful of queer-minded, sex-positive, anti-oppressit, liberal feminists.
They didn't stone me alive. or mock me. they didnt spit on my shoes. or shatter my spirit. they also didn't collectively boo me, with choir like precision.
Instead they listened, as i fumbled nervously for the right words to say.
risk. there is an enormous risk involved, in any coming out- a daunting vulnerability that can either leave you broken with humiliation and pain, or can leave you with more freedom and confidence than you started off having.

in this case, I left the room, with more wholeness, than I had coming in.

It sucks living a fragmented life. It sucks having an internal civil war between your own identities-- a constant struggle, that leaves you aching for peace. but that peace doesn't come when your in a space that makes you feel unsafe. when your in a space that makes you feel ashamed to be who you are. guarded and on trial. when you exist in two worlds that battle one another, until you are so divided it hurts to claim allegiance to anything at all. It's a relentless inner monologue of fear. A fear that their hostile words, burning glares, troubling sarcasm and patronizing dismissive assumptions create. After five years of hiding. Five years of denying one part of my self in the classroom, and the other-part of myself at home, IM DONE.
Im desperate to harmonize my conflicting identitites. Im despserate to stop living in the confines of a closet.
Im desperate enough, that I'll step out and just say it.
Im..... a......a....... c.hr...is...t..ia...n.

I shannon hope gendron, friggin love jesus. and his radical teachings of love. I love the Creator with a a love that shouldn't be apologetic or guilty. with a love that i am proud of. with a love that i believe will change the world.

i shannon beleive that the god i worship has alot to say about feminism, social justice and freedom. the god i praise is a god of love, a love so radical and so political that it becomes revolutionary. my god is an anti-racist, anti-capitalist, peace-monger, who wants to "stick-it-to the man" just as much as any feminist i know does. My jesus isn't silent about oppression. he isnt silent about a system that screws, and dehumanizes us all. he isnt silent about the chains wealth, greed, hatred, power and war create. he offers a new way, a new life, a kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. why do i have to be ashamed of this? why do i let people tell me i can't/shouldn't be both a "christian", AND a queer-minded, anti-colonialist, sex-positive, class conscious feminist.

i wish i had a t-shirt, that said these things on it. so every time i have to explain what i believe to someone, i can avoid the , "oh, but im not one of those christians. the 'in-your-face, anti-abortion, anti-fag, conservative, bigoted white-washed, middle-classed, heterosexist, evengelical, "you and your post-modernist/liberal politics are going to hell"', suburban sort of christians", speech.

if i had it on a-t shirt, i could just point to my chest and smile quietly.

people like this frustrate me. sometimes i feel their ruining the "god thing" for the rest of us.

their actions/histories humiliate me. they tarnish something beautiful. for a long time, (and still) i have a hard time identifying as a "christian" because immediately non-christians tack on the meaning for me. because of the unfortunate actions of "churches" and people. the meaning people attach to the term "christian", often in a feminist environment is the shitty and limiting stereotype of the crazy conservative evengelical rawwing about how god created adam and eve, not adam and steve. our histories as christians have given a black eye to the god of love. our histories of war, genocide, colonization, exclusion, homophobia, corruption, they are real histories whose legacies haunt us today. but they are things we ought to step up and OWN.

If im going to come out as a christian, or rather, as someone who professes a love for following jesus, then I've got to take responsibility for, rather than deny the shit "the people of god" have done to create the (often justified) negative view the rest of the world has of us. we've burned people really bad, in the name of god.

It's easy for me to separate myself from those types of christians. its easy for me to other them, and blame them for screwing up everything. but as hard as it is, "people like that" need to become "people like us". If we're all following jesus, we're in it together.
the church is a whore, but she's my mother. is slowly becoming my anthem. The crazy conservative middle-class Evangelical man down the road, who has a bumper sticker of the jesus fish, and beside it "support our troops" sticker, and who spends his Tuesday mornings protesting abortion outside the clinic, while wearing expensive name-brand middle-aged man pants, made by children in the "third world", makes me cringe. but this man, this conservative, frustratingly upsetting man, is my brother. and even though i disagree with his expression of faith, I've got to love. and realize again, we're in it together.
And if Im going to make any change, at all, the best thing to do is come out. Come out as a feminist, to the dress-pant wearing church goer, with the fancy car and homophobic and sexist attitudes, and come out to the feminists, the lesbians, the academics, who inferioirize my faith and my god.
my only solution is to come out. come out and dance. write. and speak, fearlessly and without apology, for what i believe in, on both sides, with the hope that somebody, somewhere will be challenged. that somebody somewhere and some point will have to rethink, and reimagine a broader face for both christianity and feminism.
I will come out because
the closet is stuffy. and far too small to dance in.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


i like brendan.
i like liz.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


i like my house-mate todd.

Friday, October 16, 2009


i used my jack-knife to open a bottle of wine. and it imploded. on my face.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Im not sure why people feel the need to grow out of them.
They really do make life fantastick. a good slumber party is like adding extra tasty cheese ontop of the pizza of friendship
. :) its a glass a wine. or a few. for an evening of gigling and secrets.. another glass for breakfast come morning. its the agreed gluttony of late night pizza. its enjoying one another's conversation so much that you forget to notice your pumpkin's nose growing bigger and bigger, until it takes up half of his face. its falling alseep during sex and the city, and waking up the next day, where you left off. lazily slumpt on a fouton in pajamas, with feet soaking in small tubs of water and epsom salt, while dead feet skin cells, dance with cat fur on the carept floor. and all is well with the world. its knowing there's someone next to you, who is for that moment the only other person in the world sharing the same thoughts, the same worries and the same laughs as you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

harvest moon*

I strongly recommend listening to the following link while looking at these pictures. http//www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3FkaN0HQgs

snail coitus makes me smile