Elevate Difference

Herizons Magazine (Winter 2011)

Edited by Penni Mitchell

When I first moved to Canada, Herizons was virtually the only magazine I came across that dealt with feminism and issues concerning women. My understanding of the women’s movement before that point was primarily focused on within the U.S., and it’s not exactly the same. The laws are different in Canada. Thus, they affect women in a different way and Herizons helped me understand that.

There are several things that non-Canadian readers might discover in this issue. To name a few: there are over 500 cases of missing Aboriginal women within the nation; the Ontario Court of Appeal now allows Muslim women who file sexual assault complaints to wear the niqab, if they choose to; Ottawa will hold a global women’s conference this summer; and a Quebec bill proposes that Muslim women be prohibited from receiving or delivering public services while wearing a niqab. These are issues that are addressed articulately in this issue through the contributing writers of Herizons.

The only problem is that these facts aren’t necessarily recent news, not for people living in Canada at least. These are topics that any Canadian resident might know if they follow the national news. Such is the trouble with distributing a quarterly magazine. By the time it’s out on print, the topics feel very backdated. Issues such as Muslim women in Canada having certain rights while wearing the niqab have been out since last year and as someone who regularly follows women’s news in the country, I was already well-read on the various opinions and attitudes that come with it.

However, there were some parts of Herizons' winter issue that educated me. Did you know that a young woman in her twenties recently started the first women’s magazine in Afghanistan? I certainly didn’t. Not until now. It’s called Negah-e-Zan, meaning "A Vision of Women," and is committed to women’s empowerment. There’s also a great, lengthy Q & A piece with Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us, and performance artist S. Bear Bergman. Bornstein and Bergman have put together an “anthology of new transgender voices” called Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation. In the interview by Mandy Van Deven, they discuss the obliteration of the gender binary and what feminism can learn from trans politics.

Herizons is undoubtedly packed with great content about feminist views. But I would say that this issue works better on the international scale. It would probably be more interesting to a non-Canadian who is interested in learning more about how the women’s movement is perceived and enacted in another country.

Written by: Fadi Gabir, April 24th 2011