Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Guerrill-Anne: A Beautiful Corrective

This is genius, taken both at face (heh) value and a little deeper.

In an article titled "Anne-tagonizing posters connect icon to P.E.I. abortion debate," The Guardian says:

P.E.I.'s most famous fictional character has become part of the province's ongoing abortion debate.

The next paragraph refers to Anne of Green Gables.

But the anonymous person or group, who goes by the handle Karats, has made no such claim. I find it interesting that probably only in PEI (and maybe Japan) would such an image be assumed to be the "feisty" red-haired character created by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

In fact, a commenter called "J" at the Guardian link says: "Who said it's Anne? Maybe it's Wendy? LOL."

Here is Karats's manifesto, if it is such:
Karats is the voice of a community calling for justice.

Karats sees the effects that the lack of abortion access has across PEI, in particular for low income individuals, and other vulnerable populations.

She sees the denial of access and upholding of barriers to abortion services by the PEI government as putting the kibosh on an opportunity for gender equality across our province.

Karats is trying to generate conversation on the topic and encourage the Premier and the government to enthusiastically concede the pending court case brought forward by AANPEI and LEAF. [link added]

“#HeyWade - Take this opportunity to not only bring access to the Island but to proudly show you support Island women gaining control over their health and lives. Be the Premier who brings PEI into the 21st century!”

For more information, please contact:
Twitter- @iamkarats

The guerill-Anne asks that people look for the poster and snap photos to be sent to an Instagram account. If you visit the site, you'll see that Karats gets around a bit.

Posters started appearing on January 28, the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, R v Morgentaler, striking down Canada's existing abortion law in 1988.

The upcoming court case in the manifesto was announced on January 5, by the newly formed group, Abortion Access Now PEI.
Abortion Access Now PEI says it is taking the province to court to force it to provide full and unrestricted access to publicly funded abortion services on the Island.

The group says it has filed a notice of application in the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island against the P.E.I. government. Under the Crown Proceedings Act, any group filing a lawsuit against the province is required to provide notice of 90 days.

"For over two decades, we have advocated for on-Island, safe, legal access to abortion," Ann Wheatley, co-chair of Abortion Access Now PEI, said in a news release.
DAMMIT JANET! has been covering this stupid situation for years. Some background can be found here.

Of course, the fetus freak reaction was completely predictable. In an article that starts off "Yuck!" LieShite misrepresents the character's background (ooo, lying again???) to make its glurgey point, stating that Anne was "unwanted," adopted, yet "life-loving." So, according to "pro-life logic," all unwanted, adopted children will grow up to star in famous fictional series.

(Anne was not "unwanted," by the way. She was orphaned because her biological parents died.)

In addition to the photos at Instagram, the campaign has generated lots of interest. Here's Karats responding to a question about the bandana.

When the analysis gets literary, it gets even more interesting.

(Full disclosure: I was not a great Anne-fan. My mother was, and that was perhaps enough to turn me off.)

At Vocative, Tracy Moore quotes a fetus freak calling the choice of Anne ironic "because she’s the epitome of the unexpected blessings of choosing life even in challenging and non-idyllic circumstances," and continues:
But literature professors who focus on children’s lit and are familiar with the series and character say it’s not quite so obvious. “Yes, she had a pretty tough childhood,” says English professor Philip Nel at Kansas State University, who has taught the books. “She’s orphaned when she’s young; her parents die, and she ends up having some bad early experiences. She initially works for people who exploit her and use her to raise other kids.”

But, he adds, there are a lot of ways you could use her as a feminist icon for your cause, also. “She’s outspoken, she’s independent, she competes with Gilbert Blythe in school and is very smart.”

Another professor of children’s literature on the East Coast who didn’t wish to be identified [????] said it depends on the interpretation of both the books and the abortion issue. Even though Anne is orphaned in the book and taken to live with the Cuthberts, her background doesn’t figure as tragically as it sounds, nor does she fit a standard narrative of the unwanted child typically presented as a candidate for abortion in the language used by the debates.

“Her parents die of an accidental illness, but they weren’t impoverished or indigent,” he said. “Eventually in the series, she finds their house and some of their things, and discovers they were a loving couple with a home, and she was wanted and loved.”

He says a so-called militant feminist interpretation of Anne isn’t off the map, though. “Anne makes her own choices. She puts off marriage. There’s a romance plot, but she spends a lot of time putting it off to pursue things she’s interested in—education, friendships, work, writing. No, she’s not radical about it, but she’s very self possessed and very self-assured.”
At BookRiot, Brenna Clarke Gray says:
First, while Anne exists in a world before feminism, she’s a strong proponent of women having agency in their own lives. Her decisions — to be educated, to teach, to write, and to marry — are all her own choices, made freely. And Anne loved babies and cherished her own children, to be sure, but she also knew what it was to be unloved, unwanted, and abandoned. She knew pain and tragedy and she sought to limit both in the lives of people around her. Her face makes perfect sense in a campaign that, at its core, seeks to do the same thing.

Second, as scholars such as Herb Wylie have pointed out, PEI (and Atlantic Canada as a whole) is trapped by the expectations that narratives like Anne of Green Gables create: when tourism depends on a version of yourself that is trapped in a quaintly backwards time, social progress becomes undesirable. To co-opt an image like Anne that has been tied to one particular version of what PEI can be, and to use it to agitate for a more progressive society, is a beautiful corrective.

As I said at the start, the campaign is genius.

Simple enough to get fetus freak knickers in knots.

But nuanced and rich in more intelligent interpretation.

May it succeed and prove "a brilliant corrective" to an idiotic situation.

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