On Friday May 3, 2013, Professor Jane Bailey spoke at Clicks and Stones, a conference about cyberbullying co-sponsored by the University of Toronto’s Centre for Innovation Law and Policy and Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. In a presentation entitled “Online sexualized bullying: why an equality analysis matters”, Professor Bailey relied on the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in AB v. Bragg Communications Inc. as the basis for making two central points: (i) that individually initiated civil litigation offers a very limited opportunity for redressing the harms of sexualized bullying because it is often slow and expensive, and can expose the target to further unwanted and sometimes humiliating publicity; and (ii) that proactive, collective equality-based responses to the misogyny, homophobia, racism, classism, colonialism and typecast gender conformity that frequently inform sexualized bullying are also needed. You can view Professor Bailey’s slides from the presentation here.
Have you been to derby yet? Roller derby seems to be reaching a ‘tipping point’ in our current cultural context, and all kinds of girls and women (with men and boys cheering them on) are in on the game. Leagues are springing up all over the place, in large cities and small towns, fielding competitive, recreational, and even junior teams. These girls and women look like they are having fun, and the atmosphere is celebratory and welcoming: ‘Come Join Us!’ is a common refrain.
Derby isn’t particularly glamorous: the list of protective gear reads like that for any contact sport, and includes helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, and mouthguard. This certainly isn’t any Legends (originally ‘Lingerie’) Football League, where women wearing ridiculously little clothing (no longer actually lingerie, but now ‘performance apparel’ where the fabric is the only change) perform on the gridiron for the pleasure of the men watching (if you have any doubt, note the original brand tagline: ‘True Fantasy Football’). Instead, derby girls are dressing for themselves: as one site puts it, “if you want to train hard AND wear fishnets and glitter, this definitely IS the sport for you.”
As far as I can see, in roller derby (as Annie Lennox famously sang), “Sisters are doin’ it for themselves”. What they are doing is being outrageous: wearing outrageous clothing, taking outrageous names (skaters like JANEgerous, or Short Fuse on teams with names like Bay City Bruisers) and having outrageous fun. Don’t get me wrong: you won’t see me on the track any time soon. It looks like it hurts, and quite frankly, like my friend Samantha Brennan says in her blog Fit, Feminist, and (almost) Fifty, I’m too old to get hurt like that. But I love the fact that derby exists, and I love the fact that derby provides a space where women and girls can be beautiful, physical, and intense, on their own terms and for their own purposes.
I wonder what it would take to make online social spaces more like roller derby and less like the ‘Legends’ Football League? I’m not just talking about substituting mouthguards for the current ‘duck face’ aesthetic, though that would go a long way. I’m talking about privileging function over form; I’m talking about representing all of who we are and who we want to be; and I am talking about having fun (and, yes, being outrageous). Of course, it won’t work if we do it alone – but then, one person hardly makes a roller derby league. It takes a whole team – and maybe we can start one!
Clicks and Stones:
Cyberbullying, Digital Citizenship
and the Challenges of Legal Response
May 3, 2013
9:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Campbell Conference Facility, Munk School of Global Affairs, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON.
Governments are reacting to the cyberbullying phenomenon in various ways. In Canada, several provinces and the Canadian Senate have examined the issue in depth. The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights has made seven recommendations to the federal government, including promoting human rights education and the values of “Digital Citizenship.” At the same time, cyberbullying cases are reaching the courts here and elsewhere, revealing limits to the ability to address the problem with our legal systems. What’s the most effective approach? Join the discussion on May 3, when the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law and Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work present two panels composed of Canadian and US experts on this important issue (including eGirls’ own Jane Bailey).
Panel 1: Digital Citizenship
Moderator: Dean Faye Mishna, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto
- Senator Mobina Jaffer, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights
- Professor Wayne MacKay, Chair of the Nova Scotia Task Force on Bullying and Cyberbullying
- Professor Shaheen Shariff, Department of Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University
Panel 2: The Challenges of Legal Response
Moderator: Adjunct Professor Eric M. Roher, University of Toronto Faculty of Law
- Professor Mary Anne Franks, University of Miami School of Law
- Professor Jane Bailey, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law
- Professor Andrea Slane, University of Ontario Institute of Technology
This conference is free and open to the public, although seating is limited. For more information or to register, please follow this link.
It’s always a privilege to do research with young people, and I’m often blown away by the candidness and honesty of girls who are willing to sit down and talk to you about their online lives. This last round of eGirls research has also broken my heart. We interviewed around 60 girls, most of whom are facing an incredible amount of judgment and pressure online about their bodies – girls are too fat, too made up, not made up enough, expose too much cleavage (read slut), don’t expose enough cleavage, have too many friends (read desperate), don’t have enough friends (read loser). I found the oppressive need for attention to detail, to present that “just right” image, absolutely exhausting. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live with that burden every day of a high school career. But most of the time, I felt like I was in a time warp, talking to my mother and grandmother about “that kind of girl”. Continue reading
Seems to me it’s getting hard to get through a day without bumping up against cyberbullying. Websites (including our own!), news stories, legislative debates, courtrooms, chatrooms, are all loaded with explorations of the causes, effects and potential solutions to this social phenomenon. Legal responses in Canada have included everything from amending the Education Act in Ontario to specifically address cyberbullying to court proceedings aimed at uncovering the identities of anonymous cyberbullies to proposals to specifically criminalize cyberbullying. Of course, comprehensive responses don’t begin or end with law – education is understood to be critical. But it is easy to fall short on that score as well. Many different websites offer practical preventative tips advising us not to give out personal information and encouraging us to unplug every now and then. While this may be good advice for me, it doesn’t easily mesh with young people’s full integration of “online technologies into their social lives” (as reported by MediaSmarts in their 2012 report Young Canadians in a Wired World III (p. 15)). And, in any event, these kinds of tips always leave me wondering what else we need to be educating ourselves about. Continue reading
A team of outstanding undergraduate social science students at the University of Ottawa are organizing a conference on gender-based violence, the first student-run conference of its kind in the region!
Girls Night 2013 is a conference and discussion forum on gender-based violence, with benefit concert for the Canadian Women’s Foundation. The conference will be held on campus at the University of Ottawa on February 8-9, 2013, and will have a keynote address, panel discussions, workshops, yoga, self-defense, and an organization fair. The benefit concert on Friday, February 8 will feature Montreal’s Motel Raphael and Bowmanville’s Eleven Past One, and will be held in the UCU Agora. The weekend will conclude with a wine and cheese reception at JunXion in Byward Market on Saturday, February 9. This conference is open to all students at the University, as well as faculty, community members, and outside delegates from other universities and organizations.
Registration can be completed online (and more info can be read) at http://www.pidssa.ca, or in person at the PIDSSA office (FSS 2002 on campus at the University of Ottawa). Early registrants will receive a free Girls Night 2013 t-shirt!
You probably heard or read about AB v Bragg in the media. It’s the case about the 15 year old girl who wanted to be able to use a pseudonym (rather than her real name) to pursue an order requiring an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to disclose customer information relating to the IP address from which a fake Facebook profile about her originated. AB went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) and was ultimately granted this right. The analyses at first instance, before the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal and before the Supreme Court of Canada focused primarily on the privacy interests of young people.
On November 21, 2012, in an invited lecture organized by the University of Ottawa Women and the Law Association, Professor Bailey explored the kinds of equality arguments that might have been advanced in support of the SCC’s decision. She considered some of the reasons why equality was not raised and suggested why the absence of the “e” word matters.
When we think about literacy, we often think about schools and teachers. But what about Media Literacy? Last week, MediaSmarts teamed up with the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) to present the seventh annual Media Literacy Week. To launch the event in Québec, Montréal’s Laurier Macdonald High School hosted a panel discussion on November 5th, about Online Privacy. The discussion was broadcast live to students at 33 schools across the province. Following opening remarks by Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, eGirls’ very own Trevor Milford – University of Ottawa student researcher extraordinaire – was among the panelists. Along with Daphne Guerrero from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, and Colin McKay from Google Canada, Trevor shared his experience and expertise, and fielded some very insightful questions from students. Covering topics ranging from privacy settings to cyber-bulling, the students proved to be media savvy and in tune to the challenges of navigating the public/private divide online. And the best news is, you can watch the discussion too!
On October 31, 2012, Professors Bailey and Steeves will be meeting with the Law Reform Committee of the Parliament of Victoria, Australia, which is conducting an inquiry into sexting. The Committee will be travelling to Canada and the United States in order to gather international opinions and views on legislative and policy responses to sexting and has invited Professors Bailey and Steeves to meet with it as part of its mandate. Professor Bailey has spoken on the issues of sexting and online child pornography in a number of national and international forums, and published a paper on The Gendered Dimensions of Sextingin 2011 together with UOttawa LL.B. graduate Mouna Hanna. Professor Steeves is examining sexting in the upcoming Young Canadians in a Wired World (YCWW) survey of 6,000 Canadian school children (visit MediaSmarts to learn more about YCWW).