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Allied Arts & Media

A Bridge to the Past: Flashes of Activism from rabble.ca

“Everything On (The) Line: 20 Years of Social Movement Stories from rabble.ca." Photo via rabble.ca's website.

I don’t remember 9/11. 

Maybe that’s because I was a Canadian toddler, rather than American, or was just too young — but opening to the first story in Everything On (The) Line: 20 Years of Social Movement Stories from rabble.ca I am transported back by the moving words of Monia Mazigh and Barâa Arar, mother and daughter of Maher Arar, a Syrian-Canadian who was arrested on September 26, 2002. 

This transportive ability — to travel back in time and to live something you have a different memory of — is the primary accomplishment of rabble.ca’s  compilation of stories from the last twenty years. 

rabble.ca is an independent, nonprofit  award winning left wing media outlet with 1M unique readers annually worldwide, based in Vancouver (original territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations). They aim to extend and amplify the work of social movements and front-line activists in Canada.  

Everything On (The) Line is a collection of stories, but also the fossilized voices of journalists and activists during high-intensity moments in Canadian politics. Editors S. Reuss and Christina Turner have unearthed articles from rabble’s archives which capture the concerns and opinions of the activists, feminists, and fighters before us —concerns that still exist today. 

The articles speak from Indigenous rights to climate change; personal accounts of protests and violence; outrage and critique for the government. The collection focuses on the personal lives of Canadian citizens impacted by these threats, while also panning out to inspect the governments of the early 2000’s, tying traumas from the violent injustices occurring around the world together: uniting pain but also hope across two decades. 

The aim of the collection is not only to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Rabble, but to allow the past and present to converse; articles from 2001 in tandem with essays from 2020. 

It is an opportunity for readers to “reflect on the social movements that challenged capitalism, racism, settler colonialism, and patriarchy over the past two decades.” (5)

Readers hear the personal stories from Monia Mazigh and Barâa Arar, to personal accounts of when Black Lives Matter Toronto turned the Pride Parade into a protest. Words from protestors of the G8 Summit burn with anger still, 19 years later. 

In her piece “What Do We Want and Where Are We Headed?” Pamela Palmater expresses how “ultimately, we want to be free to govern ourselves as we choose; free to enjoy our identities, cultures, languages, and traditions; free to live the good life as we see fit.” (129) This desire for freedom and respect echoes throughout the twenty-four pieces in the book. 

Anger and fear and distrust bubble up within these essays. 

Amber Dean writes about attending Robert Pickton’s trial in 2007 for the murders of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Marnie Frey, Brenda Wolfe, and Georgina Papin — asking how colonization can be over when the violence persists?

Michael Stewart picks apart the Harper government’s inability to “cope with the tender, patient, ironclad solidarity of Indigenous people in Canada.” 

Murray Dobbin asked in 2009 how the government would face their denial and complacency in the face of crisis. 

All are systemic issues still present today; the final section with pieces from 2015-2020 carry ghostly echoes of the first section from 2001-2005. This disturbing parallel calls for transformative justice, addressed by Walters and Zellars in their 2020 essay on abolishing the police and collective care. They call this turbulent time an “[opportunity] for reflection and growth [which] must be central to our abolitionist imaginings” and to “have the courage to dream, try, fail, try again, and fail better.” (173) 

The collection also contains new essays from esteemed writers such as Nora Loreto. In her piece “Real Change Meets Radical Tactics” Loreto traces the resurgence of feminist action in recent years, raising the point that “for what remains of the mainstream feminist movement, the dominant frame is still firmly white. Whiteness obscures the fact that women do not experience systemic violence in the same way. It creates a tent so large that feminism becomes a matter of self-identity […] feminism has become slippery and toothless.” (145) This comment spoke to me as a reader, as a feminist, and as a member of LiisBeth, because whiteness is a barrier in the feminist organizations I see and participate in. 

LiisBeth’s masthead is primarily (some queer) white women; “Everything On (The) Line” was compiled by two white women; LiisBeth partners with rabble.ca’s, putting together a monthly roundup. A white, queer woman is writing this review, the last in a funnel of white voices. 

That being said, 35 per cent of LiisBeth’s contributors are women of colour and over 50 per cent of the articles written in the last year featured enterprises and projects founded or operated by women of colour, queer women and trans folk.  

When rabble.ca was founded, a UNECE study found 40 per cent of journalists in Canada were women, and 97 per cent of journalists across all media were white, according to a study done by Laval University in 2000. This statistic from Laval University, as well as the point that there was (and still is) no current study to compare this data to, was mentioned in a rabble.ca piece in 2016 by Joanna Chu titled “The face of Canadian Journalism is still white — and it’s time to push back.” 

The collection spurs questions and invites reflection not just on the state of our world, but also journalism — those who wrote before us and how future writers will curate, cultivate and uplift all voices. 

It’s an opportunity to see how far we have come, but also look at where we still need to go. 

Everything On (The) Line is not perfect, because history is not perfect. What we glean from these reverberations of rallying voices is that the next twenty years should be equally as action-packed, as fueled by the desire for change. We should read about and reach for change, as the voices of rabble.ca have. 

The fifth section of the collection is titled “Activism and Indie Media: Pasts and Futures”, where publisher Kim Elliot and Mathew Adams call rabble.ca a bridge for the social movement, and reflect on how the launch of rabble.ca in 2001 gave them the focus of “[amplifying] the voices of resistance struggles and movement-focused news.” 

Hopefully, Everything On (The) Line can be the bridge to the past that lays the foundation for the next twenty years of rabble.ca.

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LiisBeth TikTok Playlist: 04.21

Image of tiktoc logo, two women and van gogh background
Photo Credit: Unsplash

There are a lot of ways to experience music, but TikTok is one of the weirdest – especially when it comes to trends. If you are anything like me, you have gone months giggling over a snippet of a trending song before listening to the whole thing – if you ever get around to listening to it at all. It is an absolute trip when you finally hear the entirety of a song that you both know intimately well and not at all.

So this is LiisBeth giving you that experience ten times over. We hope you enjoy listening to the full version of ten of our favorite trending TikTok songs.

Yucky Blucky Fruitcake  — Iamdoechii

What better way to kick off our TikTok playlist than with the iconic introductory track Yucky Blucky Fruitcake gifted to us by Iamdoechii? On TikTok this song is often used to show off transformations – whether it’s weight loss, a post-high school glow up, or the journey from positive pregnancy test to newborn baby. Perhaps more than any other song on this list, Yucky Blucky Fruitcake is a reminder that TikTok trends barely scratch the surface of a full song. Iamdoechii skillfully weaves several genres and musical styles together and lyrically presents a detailed description of her personality and history, proving her complexity as a musical artist and person in one fell swoop. Yucky Blucky Fruitcake has a quirky sense of humor, fun pop culture references, and will reward your undivided attention.

Track Star  — Mooski 

Track Star has three main trends associated with it: the dance, people running (often at track meets), and a game of hide and go seek where you set your phone to count down and try to hide before it takes a photo. In the full track, Mooski’s syrupy vocals lament his partner’s tendency to run away from problems instead of communicating. The whole song is great, but the minimalist bridge is especially good. Perfectly mixed, percussive, and smooth, Track Star is a solid start to Mooski’s music career.

MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)  — Lil Nas X


Okay, so chances are good that you heard Montero all the way through before it started circulating on TikTok. Currently on its third consecutive week at the top of the Billboard Global Charts, Montero is the deliciously gay follow-up to Old Town Road that we could never have dreamed was on the horizon back in 2019. Peppy, flirtatious, and oh-so-thirsty, Montero doesn’t have a definitive trend associated with it yet – unless you count queer thirst traps as a trend. Which, come to think of it, why not? We’re here for it.

Day ’N’ Nite  — Kid Cudi 


“Now look at this” is by far the most popular Day ‘N’ Nite trend, although the song is also a popular backing track for the trend where you type a message in two colors and turn off the lights halfway through the video – this renders half of the text invisible, which usually inverts the original message. Kid Cudi, who wrote the song at a tough time in his life, briefly made headlines for his complicated reaction to people using this song comedically. Personally, I think that’s all the more reason to listen to the full track. It’s a good one for late-night drives, so throw that baby on repeat and enjoy Cudi’s company one of these nights.

Praying  — Kesha 


The trend behind Praying utilizes Kesha’s jaw-dropping high note (an F6 for those of you keeping track) near the end of this inspirational ballad. Often coupled with the MegaMouth filter, this trend is a hilarious way to indicate an overdramatic response to a situation. Even Kesha took a stab at the trend, reliving the awkward red-carpet moment in which Jerry Seinfeld refused to give her a hug. The memeability of the song does not detract from its power. Written after her long battle to free herself from her abusive producer Dr. Luke, this is an anthem full of anger, forgiveness, and self-love. Get ready to be inspired to fight another day.

deja vu  — Olivia Rodrigo 


deja vu is the most common backing track to videos playing with the inversion filter. The current trend is split in two: some users toggle the video back and forth to highlight the symmetry of their own facial features while others use it to highlight the physical similarities of siblings or other family members. deja vu is a 10/10 pop song: dirty, beachy guitars; lyrical, breathy vocals; a surprisingly prominent drumline; and a relatable break-up complaint. How dare your ex do the same old things with their new person and pretend those things are unique or special?

Moon (And It Went Like)  — Kid Francescoli 


This track is the current fave to play behind slide shows of vacations, adventures, and gorgeous photo shoots. Often starting off with a lip sync to the titular line, there is no denying that this track perfectly accompanies any set of memories. The full song doesn’t deviate far from what you’ve already heard: it is mostly instrumental and is sentimental and peppy. At six and a half minutes long, this song is ideal to chill out to while you’re making the memories that you’ll eventually upload to TikTok.

bury a friend  — Billie Eilish 


With a song as rich as bury a friend, it’s not surprising that there are a few trends to choose from. My personal favorite is the spooky, Eilish-inspired back bend, but people also use the Neon Twin effect to creepily stare themselves down or use the song to showcase a makeup transformation. The full song is well-worth a listen, with a surprisingly saccharine introduction, innovative percussive choices, and the quintessentially creepy Eilish sound. Screeching, chittering sound effects, whispery vocals – the whole nine yards.

Levitating  — Dua Lipa 


Levitating is also mostly used to comedic effect. The call and response of “You want me!” / “I want you baby!” makes for the perfect vehicle for TikTokers to simp over their favorite characters, poke fun at bad relationship choices, or make jokes about wanting things that they shouldn’t want. Outside of the jokes, though, Levitating is a great pop song. Fun, bouncey, and a verified mood-booster, this a song you can’t help but sing along to. With any luck we’ll all be playing this one beach side this summer.

Hope  — Twista and Faith Evans 


Hope is another comedy trend. The video begins with the TikToker showcasing their hopes for the day and then – just as Faith Evans hits the words “I’m hopeful” – the video freezes and a list of everything that the TikToker did to procrastinate pops up on the screen. This is an older song, but if you have not heard the whole thing, you should. Faith Evans’ sweeping, gospel vocals and Twista’s highly personal rap come together to make an emotionally charged song that will inspire you to do better and be better.

Let us know if you think these songs hold up as full tracks or if we should have left them in the world of 60 seconds or less! We hope you dig the playlist as much as we did.

Want to listen to the songs on Spotify? Click here.

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International Women’s Day is over…but LiisBeth playlist curator, Aerin Fogel, founder of Venusfest, asks “Should it be? And why is it just one day?” This playlist reminds us that struggles to transform how we relate to each other takes decades.

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Rabble Roundup

Rabble Roundup: 04.29.21

In our roundup this month, we’re sharing content from Rabble that looks at different themes, ideas, and conversations that feminists are engaging in right now. As a feminist, womxn’s entrepreneurship publication, we’re interested in what the feminist movement—and the action resulting from it—looks like at the moment. Here are our top picks for Rabble content that dive into this.

The many burdens of women’s work 

In this interview, Chelsea Nash writes: “Do women benefit in the workplace from assimilating into the male-dominated culture, or from resisting it? Put another way, is it better to focus on the similarities between men and women workers, or to point out gendered differences and vocalize the ways women don’t fit — literally and figuratively — into many non-traditional workplaces?”

These are the questions that biologist and ergonomist Karen Messing tries to answer in her new book, Bent Out of Shape: Shame, Solidarity, and Women’s Bodies at Work, coming out April 5 from Between the Lines.

Investing in a feminist economic recovery

So what is a feminist recovery? 

Through a deep dive into the work of Anjum Sultana, the national director of public policy and strategic communications for YWCA, Maya Bhullar writes about how a feminist recovery plan that is multifaceted and intersectional, focusing on the diverse needs of women, two-spirit, and gender-diverse people, is the starting point of the change the needed to address those who are often marginalized, especially during the global pandemic.

Trudeau is all words and no action on male violence against women

“April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and while there has been plenty of awareness this year, there remains precious little government action on ending the scourge of male violence against women and children, both at home and globally,” Matthew Behrens writes.

Since 1961, over 10,000 women have been victims of femicide in Canada. At the same time, spokespersons for male-dominated institutions like the military and the police are increasingly using the “Trudeau-esque language of acknowledging the failures to end violence against women as the standard response for failing to do anything about it.”

Behrens says it’s easy for men to be applauded for declaring that something must be done to end male violence, but such words ring hollow amidst the dearth of accountability mechanisms and system change required to ensure transformational change.

 

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Rabble Roundup

Rabble Roundup: 01.21

Rabble Roundup Jan. 2021

We’re kicking off the first Rabble Roundup of 2021 with a look at the riots in the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, the Proud Boys, and how the attacks reflect the interconnectedness of white supremacy, racism, and inequality. Here are our top picks that dive deeper into this.

U.S. Capitol riot lays bare ugly realities of racism and inequality

As its title suggests, this Rabble article by Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and columnist Denis Moynihan look at the experiences of racialized congressmembers such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz and Pramila Jayapal during the riots at the Capitol. It also looks at how “the violent white-supremacist insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 put the ugly realities of racism and inequality in this country in stark relief. Taking these on remains the urgent challenge of our time. Trump’s departure from the Oval Office is only the first step.”

Should the Proud Boys be labelled terrorists?

Through the experience of the wrongful arrest and consequent imprisonment and torture of her husband Maher Arar, Monia Mazigh looks at the complexities of defining a person or and organization as a “terrorist.” She talks about the not-so-distant past when the “mere pronouncing of this word signified mobilization for human rights, activism against security certificates, pushback against Bill C-51, and the physical and emotional drain these campaigns meant for me and many activists. When you have been labelled a terrorist, you are usually a Muslim man — and by all legal standards it is one of the worst accusations, if not the worst, to have made against you.”

Nevertheless, Mazigh says she believes that the Proud Boys must be labelled a terrorist group, “Not because I like the labelling, but because it is a matter of simple coherence. Up to now, white-supremacy violence was hidden and protected by mainstream institutions — until it exploded in the world’s face in front of the U.S. Capitol.”

Read her words in rabble.ca on the harm caused by both the word “terrorism” and the act itself, and how we must move from calling out white supremacy to actively condemning it.

NDP wants Proud Boys listed as terrorist, some activists say ‘bad idea’

In the wake of the Washington insurrection, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh suggested the Canadian
government list the far-right group Proud Boys as a terrorist entity. Both Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole were quick to say Singh’s idea sounded like a
good one. And yet, many activists believe it may not be.

In this rabble.ca article, rabble’s politics reporter Karl Nerenberg looks at the consequences of
listing an entity as terrorist in Canada. This includes the fact that authorities could seize a listed
entity’s property, or they could force the terrorist-listed group to forfeit some or all of its assets.

 

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Rabble Roundup

Rabble Roundup: 11.24.20

The Best of Rabble–Curated by LiisBeth

In our roundup this month, we’re sharing content from Rabble that looks at different themes, ideas, and conversations that feminists are engaging in right now. As a feminist, womxn’s entrepreneurship publication, we’re interested in what the feminist movement—and the action resulting from it—looks like at the moment. Here are our top picks for Rabble content that dives into this.

Trudeau’s fake feminist foreign policy targets progressives

As the headline suggests, this Rabble article looks at how the Trudeau government’s broader foreign policy is decidedly non-feminist, and their “feminist” marketing legitimates those policies.

The article looks at how the Liberal government has responded to some key feminist foreign policy issues, including its opposition to negotiate a treaty to abolish nuclear weapons, remaining silent on the feminist win in Bolivia, and trying to oust a Nicaraguan government in which women hold half of all cabinet positions and 45 per cent of the legislature.

Building grassroots, decolonial, intersectional feminism

In this episode of Rabble’s Talking Radical Radio podcast, writer and media producer Scott Neigh interviews Angela Marie MacDougall and Jennifer Johnstone, about Women Deliver—an international non-governmental organization focused on gender equality and women’s rights they have cofounded together. We also hear from Rhiannon Bennett, a Musqueam woman and the decolonization and accountability consultant for Feminists Deliver.

Through the podcast, we hear about the work Women Deliver has done, especially during the pandemic. This includes online public education events focused on things like anti-Asian racism, anti-Black racism in Canada, decolonization in the age of reconciliation, and most recently one called Towards Liberation: Beyond 21st Century Capitalism featuring luminaries like Angela Davis, Pam Palmater, Harsha Walia, and Erica Ifill.

‘Take Back the Fight’ should be mandatory reading for young feminists in Canada

In this book review by Vancouver writer and organizer Rayne Fisher-Quann talks about why Nora Loreto’s new book Take Back the Fight: Organizing Feminism for the Digital Age is “a manifesto, a scathing criticism of the status quo, and a call to action for the next generation of feminists all in one.”

Fisher-Quann talks about how Loreto’s book covers everything, and “meticulously examines Canadian feminism’s past, present and future,” creating a blueprint for feminist movements in the modern age.


 

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Our Voices

What’s Feminist About the Female Empowerment Brand?

Photo of Selling Sunset on Netflix. By Clara Handler, Getty images

Bad Feminist* confession:  I binge-watched all of Selling Sunset and I know I’m not alone. The Netflix reality series follows the lives of six “elite” women real estate agents who sell luxury homes in LA, and is nearly three times more popular than similar reality shows.

My Selling Sunset spree was entirely predictable. I compulsively watch all The Real Housewives franchises. Any reality TV show populated by wealthy women can count me in. It’s definitely not about the drama. It’s about witnessing a cultural miracle: women with lots of money and time to themselves.

Kelly Diels. Photo by Clover and Bee Photography

I’m a feminist marketing consultant and founder of a multiple six-figure business, but I grew up working class. My grandmother had her first child at 15 and washed linens in the hospital laundry; my mother was an office assistant who got married at 18 and had me at 19; and my aunt worked at McDonald’s. All of them took care of their kids and homes largely unassisted by their husbands. So for me — and, I suspect for a lot of women — peering into the lives of working women who have oodles of leisure time and cash is a thrilling yet foreign experience.

But Selling Sunset is familiar on another level. There is a moment when one of the glamazon real estate agents explains her identity and brand aesthetic like this: “I’m Gothic Barbie.”

Gothic Barbie? Like, Doctor Barbie? Architect Barbie? Yoga Teacher Barbie? Real Estate Agent Barbie! Watch these beautiful Career Barbies work! That is actually the premise of the show. It’s also a social mandate. Barbie is the Platonic ideal for ‘woman’ in western culture. This is who little girls of all classes are socialized to be. This is what professional success for women is supposed to look like, no matter what the occupation.

So, yes, I recognized Selling Sunset’s Career-Barbie formula because, like most girls in our culture, I grew up with it.  I still see it — and try to resist it — every single day in the business world.  In conference keynotes, on podcasts, on Instagram, and in their online business programs, women leaders and business coaches teach us that professional success means becoming Career Barbie or what I call a Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand.

There’s a step-by-step formula for it:

Step 1. FEMALE: The first rule is be beautiful and show it. Get hyper-stylized, hyper-feminine photos of yourself taken, preferably in luxury locations.

Step 2. LIFESTYLE: Build authority over other women by displaying the enviable  power tools of (white) femininity: beauty, decor, shoes, bags, clothes, children, husbands, vacations.

Step 3. EMPOWERMENT: Use the language of social change and promise that women’s financial lives will improve if they emulate your empowered, embodied example.

Step 4: BRAND: Now you have one. Yourself! Use this caricatured version of you to sell and build wealth and personal power (but only over other women).

Women influencers, business leaders and reality TV stars create Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brands teaching us that being white, thin, young and pretty makes it easier to win attention, get jobs and make money. The prerequisite for professional success is white beauty.

Hmm, that’s also what Barbie taught us, and that brand is 61 years old.

There is nothing new about this exclusive, privilege-based success strategy. What’s changed are the mediums in which we consume it (Instagram, online courses, reality TV and cell phones). And what we now call it: empowerment. We used to call it patriarchy.

Kelly Diels is a feminist marketing educator, writer and coach based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Diels specializes in feminist marketing practice for culture-makers and aims to raise awareness about how business-as-usual formulas actually reproduce oppression. Check out her new program, FLORA, and seminars at www.kellydiels.com


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