Brandy’s 2nd Self Story titled “The True North Strong and Free” focused on Brandy’s 31 years unaware that we as Canadians live on stolen land. In reading Brandy’s story I see a different side of patriotism through her experience in the Armed Forces. I was easy to engage in Brandy’s story as her emotional attachment to our country is filled with pride and honour. I appreciated Brandy’s journey she outlined through her growth and willingness to learn about her First Nations neighbours while living on a reserve and in British Columbia. Although Brandy’s relationship with our country has changed and her normative narrative has switched to one of contemplation and questioning, her love for Canada remains strong in her pursuit for Canada’s truth.
Brandy’s story and normative narrative are incredibly different from my own. Being almost a generation young than Brandy, I was introduced to Canada’s colonization when I first learned Canada’s history. Although I was taught that North American was “discovered” by Western European people I also learned that First Nations people suffered from this history. When I was 12 my mom did her masters in education and our family together learned more about colonization and First Nations culture than many kids in my school, which has also launched my intense desire to uncover Canada’s history. Unlike Brandy, my knowledge of First Nation’s culture is mostly contrived from a book while she has real experiences in First Nations communities. Despite our differences, both of our stories recognize our positionality within our stories and create a commitment to learning more about Canada colonial history.
Pascale’s 4th Self Story on Gender began with a story based on an instance where she felt that her gender was well performed when she was a home maker for a day. I found it interesting that Pascale’s reaction to “performing” her gender was initially negative only later realizing that to align with gender norms in not a bad thing. Pascale also mentioned the Sensoy and DiAngelo quote stating that our gender has been trained in all of us, and that although our normative narrative has been “trained” our experiences are valid and what matters is our knowledge as to why we enjoy our gender expression. Pascale concludes that although she “performs her gender properly” she doesn’t always, and has the ability to live on a sliding scale of gender expression.
Pascale’s gender story is quite different from mine as she feels comfortable (maybe only some of the time) relating her gender to those on the opposite side of the binary. While Pascale feels that she often fits into the normative narrative, I feel like I only get a 50% at best. My skills in house keeping are sub-par and I rarely wear makeup or do my hair more than brushing through it. As stated in Sensoy and DiAngelo’s text ” Gender refers to the roles, behaviours and expectations our culture assigns to those markers: how you are supposed to feel and act based on your body is seen as female or male”. (38) Although we know these things about gender, guilt can still creep in when we do not perform the way we should according to the narrative. In both situations, our gender performances have made us feel uncomfortable, which tells me that not many people have everything figured out in terms of gender and their relationship to their own gender.
Taking it Further Edited:
In all three Canadian Normative Narrative Blog posts, Brandy, Pascale and I reflected on what being Canadian meant to us as middle class white woman living in Saskatchewan. Although Brandy is older than both Pascale and I, she was taught the same colonial story (the praised normative narrative) that we are a “free” country with unlimited opportunity. As we know from Peggy McIntosh’s article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” the myth of meritocracy is “the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all.” Although we have learned this throughout the course, all of our blogs spoke on the idea of freedom without pursuing further who freedom is available to. This myth of meritocracy permeates our culture with the common rebuttal of “Why don’t you people just get over it” and “why can’t we all just be human” (Sensoy, DiAngelo) showing that Canada does not yet understand white privilege.
The second Normative Narrative I observed arise in our blogs on Canadianism is one on multiculturalism in Canada. As Pascale disrupted in her blog post “Using the word “multicultural” it gives the false impression that historical issues have been dealt with when really it is just a metaphorical Band-Aid that prevents the country from confronting the issues and reconciling with it.” Before taking this class and within this blog post, I believed strongly in multiculturalism in Canada. This normative narrative is not only comforting, but essential to Canada’s white institutional powers proclaiming Canada is multicultural without supporting these claims. As we know from Verna St. Denis, multiculturalism itself was a political tactic created by Pierre Trudeau “so that bilingualism would not create extra problems.” This normative narrative excuses discrimination in Canada and paints our nation as one with compassion and acceptance.
I have chosen to disrupt our normative narratives surrounding gender, as all of us feel that we disrupt the normative narrative in some way. Within the normative narrative of Canada, women are taught to be submissive, well behaved and to put up with the abuses of men. The video titled “Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney, Childhood and Corporate Power” includes a quote on the abuse by The Beast character towards Belle saying “Overlook the abuse, overlook the violence there is a tender prince lurking within and it’s your job to kiss the prince and bring it out.” Throughout this class the disruption of gender as a binary system has helped me to disrupt gender and roles and disrupt gender in my own life.
Within Brandy’s self story surrounding feminism she spoke on her journey and disruption of feminism as a word with negative connotation. Brandy disrupts normative narratives as a mother and daughter with the ideals that men and women are equals whose roles should be held up as such. Compared to my self story, Brandy’s life has been very different than mine while I am able to begin thinking of feminism earlier in my self story. I disrupt this story too, through not relating my gender to those on the opposite side of the binary. Women cannot be categorized by what men are “not” in order to follow gender norms in North America.
Overall our normative narrative surrounding both gender and national identity, and further race, all seem to be fairly skewed compared to what research has told us is accurate. In general, our narratives seem to uphold institutions such as white supremacy, the patriarchy and nationalism in a capitalist and colonized society. As we learn from sharing our stories with each other, all stories within our narratives are different and unique based on our experiences and postionality. As I move forward from this class I will continue to consider my positionality within the normative narrative and think about not only my peer’s stories but those who do not traditionally fit into my community.