Canadian Feminists Issue Manifesto

// 3 November 2008

The first Pan-Canadian Young Feminist Conference, Toujours Rebelles, has issues a manifesto – it’s damned impressive…

Feminists Unite!

DOWN WITH the colonial legacy of genocide and assimilation of Aboriginal peoples, particularly of Aboriginal women

DOWN WITH the sexism and racism of the Indian Act

DOWN WITH dishonoured treaties

DOWN WITH assimilation

DOWN WITH racial profiling

DOWN WITH Canada’s fake multicultural policy

DOWN WITH warmongers & military power

DOWN WITH racist child welfare policies

DOWN WITH stereotypes in the media

DOWN WITH genocide and femicide

DOWN WITH stealing women and children


RebELLEs AGAINST banks for hijacking the world

RebELLEs AGAINST drug companies for institutionalizing women’s health

RebELLEs AGAINST public spaces that don’t accommodate all bodies

RebELLEs AGAINST development that destroys nature

RebELLEs AGAINST the class system that keeps us impoverished and deprives us of safe, affordable housing

RebELLEs AGAINST the state that forces other countries to adopt the capitalist system

RebELLEs AGAINST the devaluation of women’s paid and unpaid work

RebELLEs AGAINST corporations for making money off our backs

RebELLEs AGAINST the advertisers who destroy our self- esteem and then sell it back to us


RISE AGAINST the industries that cause us to hate our bodies and our sexuality

RISE AGAINST heterosexism that makes it seem that there is only one way of living, loving and being sexual

RISE AGAINST the socialization of children in gender binaries, race categories and colonial erasures

RISE AGAINST the education that reinforces the heteronormative nuclear family

RISE AGAINST the religious Right and its influence on State policy and legislation

RISE AGAINST rape and violence against women

RISE AGAINST the objectification and control of women’s bodies

RISE AGAINST all anti-choice bills, laws and strategies

RISE AGAINST the sexual division of labour

RISE AGAINST poverty and women’s economic disadvantage and dependency

RISE AGAINST income support programs based on family status instead of individual status

RISE AGAINST masculinists, their false claims and demagogic arguments

RISE AGAINST sexual exploitation


We envision communities committed to:

  • Eradicating all forms of violence – including sexual, institutional, emotional, economic, physical, cultural, racial, colonial, ageist and ableist
  • Challenging all forms of oppression, power and privilege
  • Recognizing that others’ struggles against oppression cannot be separated from one’s own, because all people are intrinsically; and being conscious of how one fits into the different structures of oppression while fighting to eliminate them all
  • Freeing our children and ourselves from the gender binary
  • Building institutions and structures that promote the principles of Justice, Peace & Equality
  • Eliminating economic inequality
  • Funding and supporting affordable, accessible childcare, and the economic freedom to mother in the way we choose
  • Learning and teaching true herstory and histories of our victories and struggles, especially those of women of colour and Aboriginal women
  • Fighting the stigma and shame of mental health and psychiatric survivors and supporting their struggles

We will: Change our attitude: get pissed off, refuse, resist, walk out, speak up!

We will: Transform our daily lives and relationships: actions can take place in small interactions

We will: Encourage people to learn about, care for and love themselves and their bodies

We will: Support safe and accessible space for individuals to define and express themselves without fear of judgement

We will: Create alternatives, write poetry, articles, letters, make art

We will: Join with others, find common ground, build community, create feminist spaces and gatherings, raise awareness, educate, spread the word

We will: Believe that a better world is possible and work to achieve it

We will: Organize and struggle: build alliances with existing feminist groups and create new ones, fight together in solidarity, be seen and be heard, disrupt, trouble, destabilize established powers, become culture jammers

We will: Build solidarity based on the commonality of our diverse struggles and perspectives

We will: Value people rather than profits

We will: Demand massive State reinvestment in social programs and the end of privatization

We will: Organize pan-Canadian decentralized days of feminist action against the rise of the Right

We will: Protest and resist sexist bills and laws that threaten our reproductive rights, racist immigration laws, war, free trade, repression, the criminalization of political movements, corporate exploitation and plunder of the earth, and violence against women

We will: Champion safety, respect, justice, freedom, equality and SOLIDARITY!

Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 3 November 2008 at 12:21 pm

Manifesto says it all. This is what happens when women become sufficiently angry enough not to accept patriarchal systems and attempts at brain washing all women into becoming men’s sexualised commodities and men’s sexualised slaves. This includes how race, ethnicity etc. are all used to enforce and maintain male oppression over all women.

Pete // Posted 3 November 2008 at 8:25 pm

A manifesto like that, whilst containing plenty of good things and things that need saying is of pretty much no use in furthering feminism equality or society.

It reads in just the same way as countless ignored political statement from fringe leftist groups in the 80’s, big on STRIDENT declarations and BIG gestures with little or no attempt to appeal to the vast majority of people.

It does not appeal to all those who would support feminism as many of those who read this will see little more than a socialist diatribe, outlining the discredited policies of the British Labour party circa 1983 with a smattering of sensible feminist policies.

It will not appeal to those who do not consider themself feminist, it will not recieve mainstream support and more importantly will turn off many feminists who arnt to extreme left. This is very much preaching to a small group who already believe everything that has been laid out here.

In short this is mostly extremeist political nonsesne, as helpful to modern feminism as an endorsement from George Galloway. Feminism needs to move away from far left politics and the end of capitalism and focus on the practical, the possible and above all what is best for women.

maggie // Posted 4 November 2008 at 8:08 am

I’ve printed this out and put it on my kitchen notice board – for my daughters, son and partner to read.


When I was a little girl my goal in life was to see these injustices eradicated. I hope my children see a difference. Changes will happen.

Louise Livesey // Posted 4 November 2008 at 10:28 am

Hi Pete,

I am intrigued that you, as (I assume) a man feels righteous in telling feminism what to do – and indeed telling feminism how to further the position of women. Added to which you rely on typically patriarchal notions like women speaking out is “stridency” (rather than, you know, part of being a politically aware human) and that anything you don’t agree with is a lack of it’s lack of “sensible”-ness (because women are obviously always irrational).

Plus you presume a manifesto is written to “attract” new people (might I suggest by which you mean men) rather than a statement of intent. I’d also suggest you have substituted the word “equality” here to mean “not challenging patriarchy”.

Even the dictionary definition of “manifesto” makes clear it is

a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives, as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization.

So this is a statement of Rebelle’s intentions, opinions and objectives – it isn’t designed to be for *all* people, but for Rebelle and their supporters. You are obviously a political Liberal or even, perhaps, a Conservative, that’s all well and good but it doesn’t mean anyone, especially women, have to agree with you – after all capitalism disproportionately disempowers women (compared to men) because, for a start, we earn less and are expected to pay more, because we are used to “market” goods for comsumption and because capitalism posits us as the most vulnerable workers who tend to work the least lucrative contracts and are expected to be “grateful” we’re even allowed into the Labour markets.

In short, Pete, it’s work examining your own patriarchal, wealth driven privileges before deciding you’ll tell women what they should do. By all means say you don’t agree with it, but don’t decide you, as a man, can tell us, as feminists and women, how to think.

Sabre // Posted 4 November 2008 at 11:48 am

It would be good to see an extension on the ‘we will’ section that says ‘how’ they are going to achieve the things they want, i.e. what practical actions will happen as a result of the manifesto. Otherwise it risks being seen as just a rant (although a good one).

Aimee // Posted 4 November 2008 at 4:44 pm

Pete, is it not safe to say that capitalism is inextricably linked to, and almost entirely contributory to women’s oppression? Right wing policies (especially in the west) are almost invariably geared to empower one section of society; white males. Further, feminism will almost always be geared to politics. Just because their policies are not geared towards *your* best interests (ie. maintaining the male position of power, though I disagree that this would be in anyone’s best interests), doesn’t mean it’s insensible and doesn’t mean that it won’t appeal to anyone other than women.

Louise Livesey // Posted 4 November 2008 at 4:47 pm

Well said Aimee. I’m rather in awe of that response.

Anne Onne // Posted 4 November 2008 at 6:24 pm

Eloquently and briefly encapsulated, Aimee! Another reason I love lots of the commenters here.

I can’t see how it would turn off many feminists who aren’t at the extreme left. You don’t have to be to the extreme left to realise that racism is bad, that sexism is bad, that the exploitation of the oppressed is inhumane and that the current system rests on the back of the labour of poor people, particularly women, particularly women of colour.

To be honest, there are a lot of people who call themselves ‘progressives’, and may be more progressive than the Right, but aren’t actually all that progressive. It’s not particularly progressive to support liberal causes only as long as you gain a direct immediate benefit from it, and ignore discrimination against one group as you rail at discrimination at another. The kind of progressives who would be put off from a Manifesto just because it states that they want to eliminate inequality and fight rape or colonialism aren’t really that progressive.

And if someone’s really scared off by progressive principles, how were they an ally to begin with?

Besides, the same people that would be turned off aren’t exactly queing up to read more moderate, well explained literature or blogs on the subject. You can lead the horse to water…

But really, different approaches work for different people and places. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a hopeful manifesto. Sometimes what we need at a time is a ‘We can do it’ moment.

Juanita Dias // Posted 4 November 2008 at 8:03 pm

I don’t agree that a strident, socialist approach is the most effective way to improve the lives of the oppressed.

That said, I have some questions about the above manifesto, would would value some clarification:

“RISE AGAINST masculinists, their false claims and demagogic arguments”

a. How do you define masculinist?

b. What makes a claim false?

c. How do you distinguish between empirical and normative arguments when opponents are making them?

“Support safe and accessible space for individuals to define and express themselves without fear of judgment”

Why fear judgment? Wouldn’t it be more effective to inspire allies to withstand judgment, rather than evade it?

“We will: Demand massive State reinvestment in social programs and the end of privatization”

This is a political argument, and therefore (within the context of democracy) subject to the whims of the electorate. Assuming that such demands have a strong possibility of being rejected, what is the alternative to massive state intervention and the abolishment of privatization? Perhaps helping people on an individual basis would be more effective at reducing poverty and suffering, rather than merely demanding systemic changes with unpopular political arguments. Of course, helping people on an individual level would require a personal investment of money and time. Is that too much to invest?

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