#ABWomenSpeak June 13 - Raine McLeod - Transcript

16/06/2021

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First, some housekeeping: please ensure that you keep 2 metres from anyone who isn't in your bubble and we recommend that you wear a mask. This is intended to be a COVID-safe event, please make good and safe decisions. Please be aware that how you represent yourself during this event will be held against us as a whole. As unfortunate as this is, we will be judged. It is imperative that the actions of one do not overshadow our overall message.

Our goal today is to talk about women's right to free expression as provided to all Canadians under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; a right that is currently under threat with Bill C-10 before parliament. This bill from the Liberal government proposes the removal of Section 4.1 of the Broadcasting Act, the clause that excludes "user-generated content" from regulation by the CRTC. These reforms, should Bill C-10 pass, will curtail free speech online, ensuring that individuals who challenge government-sanctioned ideology cannot speak out about their criticisms and concerns on social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube, a form of censorship feminists are already experiencing in our attempts to remind the public, media, and politicians that human biological sex is important, real, dimorphic, and immutable. If Bill C-10 passes, the platforms women use to connect with each other and advocate for women's sex-based rights will be forced to censor our words and content, under threat of fines from the CRTC. This is a terrifying prospect, considering the threat women already face online when we're talking about anything that our opponents don't like.

We face abuse, rape and death threats, and threats of social and professional alienation; if the federal government are successful, we will be under more pressure to obey than ever.

On June 1, 2021, Feminist Current's twitter and website were hacked and Meghan Murphy was doxxed, putting her at significant risk. Canada's leading feminist website was attacked because Meghan stands for and platforms others who stand for women's rights. Articles on the site were replaced with vulgar and juvenile posts and the twitter was filled with homophobic and misogynistic slurs and it's fortunate that Meghan is out of the country so she didn't get hurt, as her home address and her telephone number were released to the public. The media, by the way, have been silent about this attack on journalism and women's safety.

On June 3, in Scotland, a woman named Marion Millar was charged under the United Kingdom's malicious communications act for sharing to twitter a picture of ribbons in the suffragette colours, in green, white, and violet; the same colours that I am wearing on my sash today, the same colours that you will see on the sashes of other women who are also here today. That photo has been called homophobic and transphobic and Marion faces a maximum sentence of 2 years in prison under UK law. For sharing a photo of ribbons tied to a fence.

On June 7, a woman with caWsbar wrote to Women and Gender Equality (formerly Status of Women), the governmental department responsible for ensuring that women's equality is advanced, to ask what definition of "woman" their ministry uses in their official documents and policy. The definition of "woman" that they use. Simple question, right? Their response was "WAGE does not use a specific definition of 'woman'."

Let me help you: adult human female.

I want to make clear that this is a non-partisan issue. This isn't about left-wing or right-wing politics; this is about WOMEN. This isn't about being a Liberal or a Conservative, it's about being adult human females who have experienced oppression on the basis of our biological sex and our right to talk about it. We can't identify out of our experiences, there isn't a magic wand. Do not misunderstand: we are explicitly and exclusively PRO WOMAN. Any insistence otherwise is deliberate misrepresentation of what we are saying and our goals.

My name is Raine McLeod. I'm the WHRC Canada English Country Coordinator, I'm the president of Alberta Women's Advocacy Association, I founded Alberta Radical Feminists, I'm from Calgary and I know that women are adult human females and that biological sex is the foundation of our oppression.