Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Snowball Effect

There is a well known phenomenon that exists in today's society where information gets transmitted across the globe as fast as a bat outta hell (although one would think that the bat wouldn't want to get out of hell so quickly as they have been deemed rather ghoulish and halloweeny...maybe I should have found a different saying...anyways). This is called the Snowball Effect.

It begins as something of little significance (or maybe very significant but no one knows what it is) and it builds and builds upon itself until, lo and behold! Everyone knows about it.

I'm talking about the Kony 2012 incident.

I'm sorry, I mean The Kony2012 Movement, brought to you by Invisible Children, funded by homophobic churches.


But hey, I'm not here to complain about Invisible Children (even though they are suggesting that we give money and technology to an already corrupt Ugandan army to look for a guy who's half dead in the Congolese jungle and who hasn't been active in about 6 years).

I'm here to complain about the dozens of facebook/blog/twitter/reallol/9gag/tumblr posts about it. It's funny, because people didn't know shit all about Joseph Kony (I'll be honest, I didn't know about him until last year- 2011- when I was representing Uganda at my school's mock UN debate) and then all of a sudden they claim they care about making a guy famous that, frankly, they know nothing about. They don't know that he hasn't been seen in Uganda for more than 5 years, they don't know that he is currently hiding in the Congo and they don't know that he's going to die soon from malnutrition and the elements because he's got nothing left to go on with (aside from about 5 International Criminal Court warrants for his arrest for crimes against humanity).

Yes, Joseph Kony is a monster, yes, it's fantastic that everyone knows about him! I'm not complaining about that. 

What pisses me off is this:

Three weeks ago, the day before the Invisible Children video went viral, I saw two posts for Kony 2012 and an invite to "Cover the Night" which I respectfully declined.

I may be in social sciences, but I am not a political activist.

Two days later, my newsfeed was plastered with photos, memes (yes, there were asshole trollers making jokes about him) and SO MANY LINKS FOR THE VIDEO. And tons of little quotes like

"Help spread the word! By bringing a criminal to justice, we can help make a better tomorrow!"

And exactly how are we going to accomplish this?

So all I saw, all everyone was digest-posting about was Joseph Kony. Friends were going all "THIS IS WHAT WE SHOULD CARE ABOUT" on me while others were simply apathetic.

And the best part?

Two days later, I didn't see a single post about Kony 2012. All of a sudden, my news feed was back to normal with Marianopolis Memes, girls posting pictures of themselves with their heads covered in pasta or out clubbing, guys sharing prog-rock music and people watching kittens barking again.

The next week at school, there wasn't a single rally, no table in the hallway in front of  Wayne's World advocating the capture of Joseph Kony, no donation fund jar, no bracelets for sale.

The snowball effect: something of little significance that builds upon itself until all of a sudden, everyone knows about it and everyone is talking about it.

A quick climax coupled with a swift drop.

How effective.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Blanket Violence Against Women

The Shafia case of a father and wife killing their three daughters and barren first wife due to “shaming the family” was one that I followed very closely in the newspaper. The daughters Zainab, Sahar and Geeti and first wife Rona had been killed by their father/abusive husband before being put in a car and push into a river.

Up until then, the girls had sought refuge from their abusive father and mother going so far as to run away from home. The youngest had confessed to her school guidance counsellor that she was afraid to return home, terrified that her father would kill her. Unfortunately, the bodies of the three girls and their father's infertile first wife were found in a river in Ontario, brutally killed by the very people they had warned their trusted ones about.

The trial termed the brutal murder an “honor killing” (an absurd recently deemed un-islamic idea by the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada) and the father Muhammed, wife Yahya and son Hammed were sentenced for first degree murder: life in prison with a possibility of parole in 25 years.

When Project Liberty had a display at Marianopolis advocating Stop Violence Against Women, lying on the table were photos and stories of a dozen girls, all killed for their right to live and be happy, mostly in various Middle Eastern countries. The crimes committed by their family members (usually a father, brother, husband or mother) ranged from getting acid thrown in their faces, being brutally stabbed and even stoned to death.

But the worst part is that many of these brutal “honor killings” are happening right here in Canada. The Shafia girls were killed in Kingston, and Aqsa Parvez, a 16 year old girl killed to save her family from “embarrassment” was strangled to death in Mississauga by her brother.

Aside from the horrific "honor killings" the number of women being harmed is even greater once you take into account how many are domestically abused or sexually assaulted in the African continent and other third world countries. This is where the issue of awareness comes in.

I am currently taking an Art and Activism class and for our final project we either have to write a paper or create a work of art. With the help of my sister, we came up with a plan to make a quilting project to raise awareness about violence against women worldwide.

Here's how you can help:

Let your friends know about this project. We want to get as many people involved as possible.

Decorate a patch for a quilt (6x8 inches on cloth) with anything you like. Bear in mind these questions while decorating:

-What does it mean to be a woman?
-How do you feel about gender equality?
-What sort of activities do you like to do?

The patch can be decorated any way you wish, as simple as coloring with markers to bedazzling it. You can put anything you want on it such as an activity that you like (a book perhaps, or a keyboard and musical notes) to what you think it means to be a woman (love, family, etc...) Think about everything you are allowed to do and dedicate that to a woman who was denied that right.

Please have the patch ready by the first week of April if you are participating in Blanket Violence Against Women's first quilt. The finished quilt will be on display at Marianopolis College during Arts Fest if you wish to see it.

Thank you!

Please, if you have any questions, feel free to send me an email!

Blanket Violence Against Women is a movement to raise awareness about the atrocities of abuse against women by creating the ultimate source of warmth and protection: a quilt. Every patch donated to this cause is dedicated to those women who cannot experience what we do. Please tell your friends and unite to end violence against women.