The Femisphere: Bloggers From Canada

Women, Action and the Media (WAM!) recently released “Exploring the Canadian Feminist Blogosphere,” informed by research conducted on behalf of WAM! Vancouver. The report delves into the distinction between blogs that explicitly identify as feminist and those that come from a feminist sensibility. While it paints an interesting picture of the developing feminist blogosphere in Canada, it doesn’t offer feedback from or dialogue between the blogs/bloggers themselves: so that’s where The Femisphere steps in! Here, my interviews with four Canadian feminist bloggers …

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Anupreet Sandhu Bhamra

Anupreet Sandhu Bhamra is a Vancouver-based blogger who deconstructs identity through the lens of life: as Self, journo, woman, mother and yogini. A transnational journalist, Sandhu Bhamra is an award-winning broadcaster and has reported across major media platforms (print, television, Internet) for more than 15 years.

Blog: Sandhu Bhamra on Finding Self

Age: 36

Location: Vancouver

Twitter: @SandhuBhamra

Blogging since: May 2012

When not blogging: A trained Yoga teacher, she teaches Yoga in its classical, holistic essence. She’s raising “two impressionable, precious human beings under six, with my very understanding and loving husband of ten years.”

Post Pride:

Patriarchy and racism give birth to rape culture, not a drunk woman or her miniskirt

Reject “girl things” and “boy things”. Sex organs don’t dictate nurturing or adventure

If you are not White, you are not-Canadian-enough

What is the main focus of your blog? Do you find that your location frames or otherwise informs what you write about?

The focus of my blog is to find the Self within. It is not merely a philosophical statement, but an effort to understand my identity wrapped in different narratives. I try to deconstruct identity and belonging by critically examining it through the lens of my personal and professional life, under the categories, Canadian Identity, Racism, Gender Equality, Parenting and Yoga.

Geography informs my writings as locations feed into narratives of space, belonging, culture and nationality that in turn lead to the creation of identity.

Have you seen the report “Exploring the Canadian Feminist Blogosphere?” What were your initial thoughts?

I haven’t read the whole report, but have looked at the findings. My initial thought was: We are making an impact! All the wonderful writers out there who write in the framework of gender equality are making a difference, as studies are commissioned when a substantial noise is being made.

Do you think it accurately depicts the Canadian feminist blogosphere? How would you describe it in your own words?

As with any study, it is hard to say if a small pool reflects the larger picture. On the point of using and not using a “feminist label,” I’d say, the word feminism itself is undergoing a shift. What is feminism really? How do we understand it? Does it mean the same for a man who is fighting for women rights and a woman who is fighting for herself to be treated as a person with opinion and intellect? How does a woman of color in a multicultural setting define feminism? Is it only about a gendered perspective or does it involve the narrative of race as well? I myself use the label Gender Equality, but the intent is not to reject the concept of feminism but to define it how I see it–as a woman, as a woman of color and as a woman of color who is a first-generation immigrant in a multicultural society.

How do you, as a Canadian feminist, see yourself fitting in with the larger feminist discussion occurring online?

My writings don’t conform to a specific mold. They are informed by the larger feminist discussion, but I blog from my own perspective, from my own lens of life and experience. Like all voices, mine is a piece that “makes” the larger discussion, not “fits” a standard pattern. Just because I am a woman, I can’t speak for another woman who is in a different space and experiencing life differently, so I don’t think any voice can conform to a larger discussion but rather, each voice creates the larger discussion.

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Chelsea Vowel

Chelsea Vowel is Métis from the Plains Cree speaking community of Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta. She is mother to four and her passions are Indigenous education, Indigenous law, the Cree language—and roller derby.

Blog: apihtawikosisan.com

Age: 35

Location: Montreal, Quebec

Twitter: @apihtawikosisan

Blogging since: April 2011

When not blogging: I teach Inuit youth who are under Youth Protection.

Post Pride:

The Stolen Generations(s)

Language, culture, and Two-Spirit identity

Idle No More Women’s Townhall: What we’re doing, where we’re going

What is the main focus of your blog? Do you find that your location frames or otherwise informs what you write about?

My blog focuses on ‘Indigenous issues’, so it’s full of Indigenous feminism, Cree language (because that is my language), myth-busting and decolonization. Because Indigenous feminism is so inextricably linked to decolonization, I focus more on colonialism than patriarchy, because for us patriarchy is just one of the many colonialist tools being used against us.

Have you seen the report “Exploring the Canadian Feminist Blogosphere?” What were your initial thoughts?

The results don’t surprise me. If you identify as feminist, I think  you attract a lot of negative attention, and if it’s just you alone blogging, it is hard to maintain the energy to keep going in the face of all of that. In any case, that is what I got from reading it.

Do you think it accurately depicts the Canadian feminist blogosphere?

I honestly have no idea. I am in a bit of a niche setting and I don’t interact a lot with Canadian feminist blogs.

How do you, as an Indigenous feminist, see yourself fitting in with the larger feminist discussion occurring online?

I am a Métis feminist. What I hope my work does is help Canadian feminists of settler and non-settler backgrounds understand how colonialism in this country impacts all of us living here, and I also hope that my work helps settler feminists understand how Indigenous feminism and settler feminism come from fundamentally different histories. If these basic issues are not understood, then we cannot work together.

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Annie Urban

Annie Urban is a mother of two, a consultant and an activist. She blogs about parenting, feminism, social change and the intersections among them.

Blog: PhD in Parenting

Age: 37

Location: Straddling the Ontario/Quebec border, right near the nation’s capital.

Twitter: @phdinparenting

Blogging since: 2008.

When not blogging: Self-employed consultant.

Post Pride:

Why Humanism, Feminism and Attachment Parenting are Compatible

Badinter’s “The Conflict”: Oppression of Mothers Through the Lens of France’s Hegemonic Masculinity

Gender and Kids – Fitting In Versus Getting Sucked In

What is the main focus of your blog?

My research, my analysis, and my focus is on parenting, feminism, social change and the intersection between them. My blog is not about wrapping ourselves up in the warm blanket of complacency. It is about asking how we as parents, as feminists and as human beings can improve the way we relate to our children, to each other and to the earth we inhabit. It is about questioning things, proposing solutions and testing ideas.

Have you seen the report “Exploring the Canadian Feminist Blogosphere?” What were your initial thoughts?

I looked at it briefly.

Do you think it accurately depicts the Canadian feminist blogosphere? How would you describe it in your own words?

I think the report attempted to be comprehensive and cover a lot of breadth. While that could be a positive attribute, I think that perhaps spending time looking at and documenting blogs that only have five posts may have taken time away from a more in-depth analysis of more established blogs or discovery of feminist themes within larger multi-author blogs. In the case of my blog, for example, the profile states “Author(s) does not identify as a feminist,” but then a few lines further down in the blog description quoted directly from my profile stating “Annie blogs about “parenting, feminism, social justice and the intersection between them.” I’ve always identified as feminist and have close to 100 blog posts on feminist themes.

How do you, as a Canadian feminist, see yourself fitting in with the larger feminist discussion occurring online?

While my blog is explicitly feminist, I don’t think it is explicitly Canadian. I am Canadian and that certainly influences what I write about and my perspectives on issues. However I think I’m fairly well integrated into broader North American and global feminist discussions, especially those in the parenting space. As a Canadian, I am sometimes able to offer a different perspective on issues such as maternity and parental leave, abortion, breastfeeding rights and so on, since our laws and rights are somewhat different in Canada than in the United States. At the same time, my priorities may be different. For example, making maternity and parental leave more flexible is a big issue for me, whereas most American feminists are still fighting for any maternity leave at all.

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Marianne Prairie

Marianne Prairie (writing on behalf of a big team of awesome ladies) used to be web project manager, had a short career as a comedian and performer and now is mostly a columnist, writer and researcher.

Blog: Je suis féministe

Age: 30

Location: Montréal (but with contributors from all

over the province of Québec and from Europe)

Twitter: @jesuisfeministe

Blogging since: For Je suis féministe, 4 years; she’s been writing on the web for 7 years.

When not blogging: She’s a stay-at-home mother of 2, and when the kids are asleep she’s a columnist/writer.

Post Pride:

Médias, FFQ et féminisme nouveau

En réponse à la pub du Camp Bud

Médias sociaux, débats et nouvelles solidarités : 10 constats

What is the main focus of your blog?

Je suis féministe is a collaborative space for young French-speaking feminists. We have regular contributors but anyone who cares about feminist issues or wants to react to an event in a feminist perspective can submit a text. When we launched the blog in 2008, there was not much on the web for the young feminists of Québec. We wanted to fight isolation and create a community to discuss the topics we liked or hated.

Do you find that your location frames or otherwise informs what you write about?

Yes, totally. Being one of the few openly feminist French blogs of Canada, we tend to write a lot about what goes on in Québec.

Have you seen the report “Exploring the Canadian Feminist Blogosphere?” What were your initial thoughts?

We didn’t know that report even existed. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. I think it’s very interesting that the definition of what is a “feminist blog” had to be changed during the research because not every blogger identified as a feminist. The F-word can be a burden sometimes and trolling counts for a great part the weight. We are a team of 7 to manage Je suis féministe. Our lives are super busy and the only way to keep it going is to share the duties and responsibilities. It keeps us motivated; we know what is the “blogger burn out.”

Do you think it accurately depicts the Canadian feminist blogosphere? How would you describe it in your own words?

I’m sure it does. There are a lot of blogs I didn’t know in the list and I’m glad the feminist blogosphere is active and multiplying. We need to be out there, to write and publish texts that can be shared and found through search engines. More feminist content on the Internet sounds really sweet to me.

How do you, as a Canadian feminist, see yourself fitting in with the larger feminist discussion occurring online?

I think our voice is important since our culture in Québec is distinct from the rest of Canada, but we share the same concerns (one of them being the Conservative Party and our Prime Minister).

The bloggers we spoke with suggested you also check out these Canadian feminist blogs:

Absolute Equality

Gender Focus

Kick Action

Kwe Today

Le Mauvais Genre

Les Furies

One Life Glory

Stay at Home Feminist

Vendetta Grrrl

Womanist Musings

You can also check out a much longer list of blogs in the WAM! report. And, as always, leave your own suggestions in the comments below!

 Photos of Anupreet Sandhu Bhamra, Chelsea Vowel, Annie Urban and Marianne Prairie courtesy of the bloggers. 

Comments

  1. Where are the Aboriginal / Native Women???

    • Chelsea Vowel is Metis and identifies as native. There are also native bloggers rec’d in the list of other bloggers to check out.

      • sillyrobot says:

        Identifying as native does not make you native, and the recognition of Metis as native erodes the rights of the truly indigenous people of Canada.

        • I am just seeing this ignorant comment now, quite a bit after the fact.
          âpihtawikosisân-iskwêw ôma niya, ahpô otipêyimisiw-iskwêw mîna manitow-sakâhikan nitocin. I speak my language, I was raised in my community and in the culture, and I am absolutely Indigenous. It’s a shame you seem to know so little about the issue. êkâwiya pîkiskwê.

  2. Lozen: “Chelsea Vowel is Métis from the Plains Cree speaking community of Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta”.

  3. sillyrobot says:

    Why why why did you open with yoga? I came here to find out about feminist bloggers, not to be preached to yet again about yoga. In my experience yoga is mostly espoused by hippier than thou pretend vegan yuppies. Yoga save me from your followers!

    At least there was some speak of postcolonial theory amongst the frou frou.

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