Last Wednesday, November 9th, we held another discussion night, this time on feminism and abortion. We started the evening with discussing the win of Donald Trump in the USA elections. His win can have devastating results to the abortion-laws in America.
Compared to the previous discussion nights, the turnout was quite low, however we had a very interesting and sometimes enervating meeting. We had more time to go in-depth and ponder on the issues at stake, so the quality of a discussion night is not in the amount of people that turn up.
It is almost impossible to live in the Netherlands and not know about Sinterklaas. This mythical Greek-Turkish bishop, who resides in Spain for most of the year, comes over to the Netherlands by steamboat in November. For a few weeks children can put their shoe in front of the fireplace, put a carrot in it for Sinterklaas’ horse Amerigo, and hope to receive a small gift. On the 5th of December the Sinterklaas time has it’s climax on Pakjesavond (Presents Night). Gifts are exchanged, often accompanied by poems. After that event, Sinterklaas silently leaves the country to return to his castle in Spain. Since a few years, there are some ‘going-away’ festivities as well, especially for children with autism.
But Sinterklaas does not come alone. He bring a bunch of helpers, and this makes the festivities very problematic. The Helpers of Sinterklaas wear blackface make-up, including bright red big lips and are called Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). Additionally, they wear big gold hoop earring and their suits are modeled after the uniforms that black child slaves wore in the 17th Century.
In the last few years, more and more people have been speaking out about the Zwarte Piet figure, pointing out that it is a racist and harmful stereotype. A lot of people disagree with this viewpoint and the debate has been quite grim.
A lot has been written about this debate and as intersectional feminists, we feel it is our duty to share some insights on this debate. In this post, we will share articles written by others that can help understanding the tradition and the harmfulness of it; as well as deciding where you stand and maybe shift your position a little bit.
Next week, on the 9th of November, we will be having our next Discussion Night, and this time we will be discussion abortion. One of our members has prepared a great list of discussion questions and in this post we want to present those, as well as sources that will help you prepare for the discussion night and learn more about abortion.