Hello again!

After a much-needed break from "Discourses I Hated" last week, I am back to bring you all the latest on some trending topics that grinded my gears this week.

It seems like the despair and cruelty in the world has only felt more and more visceral in recent weeks, and it's becoming even more difficult to find moments of respite.

While I ponder my plan to eventually fade into anonymity, I still manage to keep up to date with (some of) the nonsense on the interwebs this past week.

Without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?

Jane Campion and white women being white women

This week, film director Jane Campion came under fire after taking an unnecessary blow at phenom athletes Venus and Serena Williams during her speech at the Critics Choice Awards. 

While delivering her victory speech after her win for Best Director, Campion made a comment about the other nominees being recognized, and also directly addressed the Williams sisters, who were also in attendance. 

“Venus and Serena, you’re such marvels. However, you don’t play against the guys, like I have to.”

Women of colour, and in particular, Black women, recognize the awkward smile from Venus Williams during this speech. It’s the smile you make when someone makes a microaggression and you have to remain polite and calm to avoid looking like the aggressor, while they smile and laugh in your face as if what they said was actually funny.

Whether or not Campion realized the weight of her comments at the time is irrelevant. It’s the carelessness with which she said what she said that shows she has no idea the privilege she holds, or who her “jokes” impact. Whether or not she meant it as a slight also doesn’t change the fact that it was beyond disrespectful and extremely commonplace for white women to not even realize that they are minimizing women of colour and in particular Black women in their efforts to lift themselves and their accomplishments up.

Campion has since issued an apology to the Williams sisters, calling her words a “thoughtless comment.” The full apology is copied below.

“I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved. I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world-class athletes. The fact is the Williams sisters have, actually, squared off against men on the court (and off), and they have both raised the bar and opened doors for what is possible for women in this world. The last thing I would ever want to do is minimize remarkable women. I love Serena and Venus. Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring. Serena and Venus, I apologize and completely celebrate you.”

Sports journalist Shireen Ahmed beautifully summed up the incident for CBC, and situated it within the larger context of misogynoir experienced by Black women in sports. It also is a reminder that white women often get let off the hook for what they brush off as “thoughtless comments,” while Black women repeatedly pay the price. Campion, despite being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field, will never understand the challenges faced by the sisters, and for her to equate her struggles with theirs or to attempt to undermine their experiences is a total and complete miss.

Immature adults are saying periods should be a secret

A new Disney movie, “Turning Red,” sparked an extremely unnecessary uproar on social media this past week, as immature adults complained about the subject matter of the film. The coming of age film covers topics such as teenage girlhood, intergenerational trauma, family relationships and relationship to culture, but all people can seem to talk about is the film’s discussion of periods.

I, like many on social media, am confused about the outrage. 

I can recall being in high school and feeling so much shame around my period, trying to be covert as I grabbed feminine hygiene products out of my bag and went to the bathroom, quietly dealing with excruciating cramps and back pain as I navigated my school day—as if this natural occurrence I had no control over was just an inconvenience I’d have to learn to quietly deal with. It’s just one of the ways we teach young women to feel shame about their bodies, and to bear their burdens alone.

The film’s criticisms don’t stop there, as some of the reviews are from people complaining that they do not relate to the film’s subject matter.

If people continue to get this outraged at a children’s film attempting to normalize periods and other cultural experiences that are likely very common for young girls and for children of colour, then things will never change. 

But at the very least, we should stop making young girls feel ashamed of their bodies and for things they can’t control. 

Brittney Griner

I know, there is a lot going on right now, but I find it strange that there hasn’t been more attention paid to WNBA star Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia.

According to ESPN, “Griner was detained at a Moscow airport on February 17 after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges allegedly containing oil derived from cannabis, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.” On Thursday, Griner’s detention was extended until at least May 19.

But while one of the top WNBA stars is in custody, not much coverage has been given to how a top athlete could be in custody for a month without much public uproar. Many have pointed out that despite being a top athlete in her field, Griner hasn’t received much attention or support, as the concern about her well being continues to grow.

While there is so much news to pay attention to, we cannot lose sight of this story, and need to continue to press as to the circumstances surrounding her detention, and why the world is seemingly not concerned as to why a Black woman, thought to be synonymous with the “Tom Brady of her sport,” has been detained and the world isn’t talking about it.

Man who thinks telling women to “go to the kitchen” is the pinnacle of comedy

I know far too many men who think that trying to be edgy and contrarian is a personality trait and that degrading women is a natural part of their brand of “comedy,” so none of this surprises me anymore—but it always manages to piss me off all the same. 

This time, the jester in question, Vivek Sharma, CEO of Fairmont Hot Springs Resort in the Columbia Valley, was delivering a speech at a Tourism and Hospitality Conference for International Women’s Day when he made a sexist remark disguised as a joke.

According to CBC, “Sharma asked the women in the room to stand in honour of International Women's Day, but then after a round of applause told them to "go clean some rooms and do some dishes."

A week later, Sharma finally realized the magnitude of his ill-timed and poor-mannered joke and issued an apology, stepping down from his positions.

Isn’t it wild that some men will take any opportunity to dunk on women and completely forget that there are very real consequences for their actions?

What’s wild is Sharma is not alone in his sense of humour, and I’m sure there is a legion of dude-bros out there somewhere wanting to defend his honour and his right to make jokes that nobody with brain cells finds funny.

Goodbye Mr. Sharma. I hope your resignation from your positions gives you more time to practice your comedy in the mirror and think about what you’ve done.

The worst lies women have been told by men

Okay, I’m including this one as a palate cleanser because this thread, despite how depressing it was to see the ways my fellow sisters have been bamboozled and hoodwinked by aint-shit-ass-men, did give me a much-needed laugh.

One Twitter user asked people to share what the worst lie a man has ever told them was, given that “men are getting creative with their lies.”

While I cannot share the lies men have told me without dry heaving, I have rounded up a few of the ones I found funniest. 

If anything, this reminded me that some men really are not good people. Stay safe out there y’all.

Okay, that’s all I have the energy to engage with this week. If you’re not already, subscribe to the 5XPress newsletter, or toss me a follow on Twitter to keep up with all of my responses to these stories and more in real time.

Catch ya next week!


About the author

Rumneek Johal

Rumneek is a journalist, host and speaker. She is currently the BC Reporter at Press Progress where she focuses on systemic inequality, workers and communities, as well as racism and far-right extremism. Her previous work centers on asking tough questions within her community, starting conversation and chipping away at the status quo. Other focus areas for her work include the South Asian community, arts and culture, pop culture, and more. She is a proud Punjabi woman from Surrey, BC.

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