Karen Cho on the Status Quo of feminism in Canada

Craig Takeuchi, Georgia Straight

When Montreal-based director Karen Cho won the World Documentary Award at the 2012 Whistler Film Festival on December 2 for Status Quo?, a film about the ongoing struggle for women’s rights and issues in Canada, she said that she was “absolutely shocked”. …

The project, which was based on comparing the Royal Commission on the Status of Women (tabled in the House of Commons in 1970) with the present day, changed her view of what feminism was all about.

“When I was talking with women through the research, I realized that a lot of these issues that were brought up in the past or fought for in the past, they continue to be concerns for women, in some ways, women are losing grounds on rights that might have already been won or it’s issues like, in the case of childcare and violence, that are still continuing,” she said…

“It’s not all about the differences between men and women,” she said. “Today, we see it as it’s equally about the differences between women themselves….It’s the intersection between race, class, sexuality, all of those things….”

“You can’t expect all women in the world to agree on everything, especially because their life situations are…different from each other. So I think it’s healthy to have these debates and to also think about things outside of your point-of-view. The world looks a lot different if you are a woman of colour, if you’re a poor woman, if you’re an immigrant woman, than it does if you’re a university-educated, full citizen of Canada woman. So when we think about policies or how to improve women’s lives, we have to think of ways to uplift all of women’s lives, and not just a few at the top.”

She addresses a wide variety of topics ranging from the ongoing issues surrounding missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada to the live-in caregiver program, in which Filipina workers are separated from their own families (who remain in the Philippines) while they work here taking care of Canadian families.

“We’re essentially profiting from the poverty and misery of other countries and using these women as a kind of cheap form of labour to do work that’s very necessary,” she said. “Childcare is extremely important…but we don’t treat these women as if their jobs are important….You really have to question the morality of these programs that we’re setting up.”…

“I never thought that women’s rights were an issue that would affect my life, or affect me in any way,” she said. “And through learning the history and seeing the condition of women’s lives today, I realize that these issues aren’t issues of the past; they’re my issues today.”….