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The Interdisciplinary Work of Lyss England

Posts tagged feminism

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about unpaid labour and care work.

My experience with care work started when my mother was dying and I felt compelled- by myself, by my family, and by society in general, to prioritize my young life around caring for her. I used to go with her to chemo appointments, I’d sit with her in her bed and sing to her while she suffered, and I tried to pick up some of the things she’d done before she got sick. With help from my aunts and uncles, my dad and I became a care team. But I was only fourteen, and I didn’t have the capacity to balance that work with forming an identity outside of that. It was all consuming. I stopped playing music and doing theatre. I did well enough in school, but didn’t care to immerse myself fully in anything academically, even though I may have been inclined to. I held down a part time job and did well at it, but it wasn’t my focus. My whole life became care work.

When I fell desperately in love at only eighteen, I did what I had learned to do best: I cared for him. I worked hard to build a life where I’d be able to contribute enough financially and emotionally to support him while he lived his dreams of being a professional musician. I went to school and volunteered with a feminist organization and provided a lot of financial and emotional support for survivors of gender-based violence through fundraising and community outreach. When my friends were struggling with the stress of school or relationships or parents, I was the first one to drop everything I was doing to be there for them. When my partner wanted to move to a small, rural town where he’d grown up, I agreed. After all, I liked the idea of living in a small, artsy town. I liked the idea of building a life where we could raise a family, engage with our hobbies, and maintain humble but generally fulfilling careers.

When we moved, I quickly realized that my single undergraduate degree wasn’t going to get me far in the field I had dreamt of working in. It turns out, social work is a lot more about following government guidelines than actually actively caring for people. In this community, I fought my way into a grassroots charity organization where I attempted to use my creativity and advocacy experience in a way that met their mandate. I attempted this work for years, and when paid opportunities came up, they were never for me. I worked with a few counselling and direct support agencies for minimum wage with no benefits or support, but it wasn’t sustainable physically, emotionally, or financially. I managed a multi-million dollar company for a couple dollars over minimum wage for a few years until I requested some reasonable disability-related accommodations the company refused to meet. So I started working with another multi-million dollar company where I was paid less than what I’d been promised in the interview and was sexually harassed to the point where I no longer felt comfortable making the forty minute commute to be paid $16 an hour.

During this time, I volunteered in my community theatre company and volunteered at a radio station pushing boundaries with a show that addressed topics relating to discrimination, empowerment, recovery, and care. I initiated an annual rally against gender-based violence in my community. I advocated for equality at a municipal level and became a go-to outreach support person for women in my community. And all of this went unpaid.

As I make the transition to motherhood, which has, naturally, been an arduous process, I’m reflecting a lot on my priorities, on where I’m placing my energy, on where I’m at in my life and what this transition means for me in terms of my future. I’m realizing that my failed career paths come down to the fact that, in a world of Bell Let’s Talk days, the society I live in isn’t one that prioritizes active care.

We want to say, “I’m always here to talk with you”, but we rarely know how to practice the kind of active care or advocacy that is required to make a change in a person’s life, and when we do, that work isn’t sustainable under the rule of capitalism. That kind of work doesn’t lead to job opportunities, it doesn’t lead to being able to pay our rent or buy our groceries. It’s no surprise that mental health is poor for almost everyone or that we live in a culture that is deeply traumatized as a baseline. We’re all just trying to make it month to month, day by day.

As a pregnant, disabled woman, I’m in a position where my career won’t be prioritized the same way for quite some time. While I grow this human, while I give birth and attempt to heal my body, while I feed and raise my son, I know from my past experience mothering (because, let’s face it, I’ve been mothering since I was fourteen years old) and from the experiences of mothers around me: this will be all-consuming. So how do I meet the demands of capitalism as a woman who has dedicated her life to unpaid care work so far when I push that boundary further?

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Check out my conversation with Holly Barclay!

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We chat about:

  • Why Holly chose to become a librarian and archivist
  • What the process of becoming a librarian and archivist has been like
  • How Ford’s government has impacted libraries in Ontario
  • Working with plants
  • Holly’s favourite bee facts
  • Navigating pregnancy and childbirth as a feminist in a rural area
  • Becoming a mother- and the identity shift associated with it
  • Care work, emotional labour, and asking for what we need
  • How Holly’s work keeps her well
  • and more!

Featured Tunes:
At the Library by Green Day
Lions and Tigers by Sleater Kinney
Prelude No. 7 of Book 1 (Debussy) by Daniel Weirsma
Braille by Regina Spektor

Check out my conversation with director, Carol, and actor, Justine, to hear all about The Drowning Girls, which opens this weekend!

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“Bessie, Alice, and Margaret have two things in common: they are married to George Joseph Smith and they are dead.

Surfacing from the bathtubs they were drowned in, the three breathless brides gather evidence against their womanizing, murderous husband, reliving the shocking events leading up to their deaths.

The Drowning Girls is both a breathtaking fantasia and a social critique, full of rich images, a myriad of characters and lyrical language: thought provoking, suspenseful and gripping theatre.

Winner of the Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding New Play.”

Performances at the Firehall Theatre, Cobourg.

May 24, 25, 31, June 1, 6, 7, 8, 2019, at 8:00 pm

May 26, June 2, 9, 2019, at 2:00 pm

Tickets $22 (+ handling)

Call 905-372-2210 or 1-855-372-2210 or purchase online at www.concerthallatvictoriahall.com

Check out my interview with Nickola!

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We talk about:
– Nickola’s background in art and process of becoming a professional tattooer
– How being passionate about gender equality influences her professional creative work
– Why Nickola loves the medium of tattoo
Project New Moon (how and why it started and how to get involved)
– Nickola’s tattoo healing tips and a bit about what she wants her clients to know

…and more!

DONATE TO PROJECT NEW MOON HERE!

Featured Tunes by:
Ellen Torrie
Winona Wilde
Jimmy Bowskill
James Taylor

Check out my conversation with Val Russell and Lucy Caldwell, the director and lead actress from Northumberland Players‘ rendition of Silent Sky!

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“The true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, Silent Sky explores a woman’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women’s ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them. Social progress, like scientific progress, can be hard to see when one is trapped among earthly complications. Henrietta Leavitt and her female peers believe in both, and their dedication changed the way we understand both the heavens and Earth.

Silent Sky is the poignant tale of a woman’s dedication to the stars and the human touch that makes life under the cast sky beautiful and timeless. It is a beautiful and insightful piece of theatre.”

Featured Tunes:
Northern Star by Fortunate Ones
Starlight by Muse
I See Gold by The Good Lovelies
There’s a Star For Everyone by Aretha Franklin

Check out my conversation with Kat Mokus!

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We talk about:

  • 2spirit and nonbinary gender identities
  • Kat’s creative work, including their zines, through Disabled Femme
  • The intersection between mental health and physical disability
  • Why access to cannabis is important
  • Gender-neutral pronouns
  • Keyboard activism
  • Kat’s new project, Accessible Resiliency
  • Various types of therapy and our favourite coping strategiesFeatured Tunes:Corn Dog Sonnet No.7 by Sincere Engineer
    Rotten Egg by Avem
    Grow Up/Stay Young by The Anti-Queens
    Realness by RuPaul

Additional Stuffs:

twitter: mx_kat_mokus
instagram: mx.kat, accessibleresiliency
Kat in Broken Pencil

 

Celebrate with my live in-studio audience and I for my 50th episode!

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Featuring:

Top 10 Fan Favourite Moments:
10. Ep. #20 The Meniere’s Disease Special
9. Ep. #2 Rob Stevenson
8. Ep. #15 Shanna Layton
7. Ep. #47 Sabrina Scott
6. Ep. #28-35 The Municipal Election Episodes
5. Ep. #8 Cailey McCormack
4. Ep. #16 Amy MacArthur
3. Ep. #46 Maggie Robbins
2. Ep. #36 TBTN Committee
1. Ep. #10 Harmony Page

Top 3 most downloaded episodes on iTunes
3. Ep. #44 Maria Papaaiannoy-Duic
2. Ep. #43 Wayne Kennedy
1. Ep #19 Jeannette Breward

Live In-Studio Audience:
Scott MacIntosh
Avril Ewing
Nat Komel
Cailey McCormack
Jeannette Breward
Jeff Wheeldon
Hailiah

Tunes:
– Outta Hand by The Bombpops
– A recording of Kim Doolittle‘s live in-studio performance from Ep. 17
– A live in-studio performance by Hailiah
– Sing Every Day by Avem