Who Butters Your Bread?

by Thea Michailides

In the U.S., multinational corporations have become “favored citizens” protected by the state. Tensions between individuals and interest groups mount and serve as a convenient distraction from the fact that politicians and government no longer have any need for, or interest in, individual citizens. Corporate “bailouts”, “too-big-to-fail” corporations, Citizens United vs. FEC, outsourcing protections, as well as numerous other examples illustrate how the state is placing the interests of corporations above individuals. Within the U.S., corporations have used their tremendous economic power as political leverage to further this growing trend.

Politicians and PACs are financed primarily (if not exclusively) by corporations and economic elites whose interests are therefore prioritized. Proposals based on bold, common-sense strategies for change that offer potential solutions for improving the current economic climate seem to be buried from the public eye by Conservative/Republican interest groups. The financial power of these corporations is enhanced when the state is weakened by debilitating deficits and political turmoil; our current domestic situation is a prime example. Continue reading “Who Butters Your Bread?”

The Necessity of Feminist Voices in Radical Visual Culture

by Lauren Denitzio

Meredith Stern, "Safe Sex is Hot"

As a radical and as a feminist, it is tempting to assume that those around me are all “on the same page” or equally aware of the certain privileges we each possess or the conditioning and historical disadvantages we have experienced.  As an artist and illustrator it is tempting for me to assume that my audience is comfortable with anti-homophobic, anti-sexist, and sex positive themes.  Despite sporting the “radical” or “left-wing” label, these groups – whose members I consider friends and colleagues – are not exempt from the necessity of challenging our views on gender, patriarchy, and other feminist issues.  I have started to examine the ways in which visual resistance is used by feminist voices within these groups and how prevalent, or not, certain issues have become in radical circles.

Sandra Campbell, in her essay Creating Redemptive Imagery, makes valuable observations concerning the role of the individual in shaping what is acceptable representations of power structures and violence against women in visual culture.  She calls on individuals to make it their responsibility to discuss how the representation of these establishments in the media can affect change.  She then states that “by doing this we will lead the way to the establishment of structures and supports for artists and others in our cultural industries to develop, to market, and to disseminate a wide range of alternatives.”  It is the range of alternatives, the expression of another world where patriarchal power structures do not exist, that needs to be creatively represented if the popular mindset is going to shift to its favor. Continue reading “The Necessity of Feminist Voices in Radical Visual Culture”

Discrimination in France: Banning the Burqa

by Rosamund Hunter

Protesting the headscarf ban in 2004, France. Credit: AP.

Since the French lower house of parliament recently banned the burqa—the full body covering worn by many Muslim women—human rights activists must step up to condemn this potential new law.

The French senate still must approve the controversial proposal before it will become law, but the initial support by parliament was overwhelming: the final vote was a whopping 335-1.   Unless the senate has radically different voting patterns, France can expect to be a burqa-free state soon after the September vote.  Not to mention, the French public supports a ban as well: 57% say they favor a ban with only 37% opposing.

The irony of imposing what could be described as forced “emancipation” is not lost for many feminists, human rights advocates, and anti-racist activists.  Certainly for feminists, this is another case where the notion of “women’s rights” comes to justify the subjugation of other oppressed groups.  Feminist movements have a complicated history of seeking to improve the lives of already privileged women at the expense of other groups.  The proposed burqa ban in France is rooted in a history of racism and discrimination directed at the French Muslim population. Continue reading “Discrimination in France: Banning the Burqa”