Contours is a project to map and shape the contours of debates, experiences, concerns, and aspirations. It is a space for women’s voices and an invitation for us all to start a conversation.
In the wake of a rising hateful right-wing movement emboldened by the election of Donald Trump in the United States and by the popularity of Conservative Party contenders Kellie Leitch and Kevin O’Leary, Contours reasserts the need for a platform to voice our concerns. Contours strives to show that we have a community of women at the McGill Faculty of Law who will stand for one another and amplify each other’s voices.
Most of our readings in law school were written by men and reflect their perspective. The history of legal academia guarantees that women authors will be a minority in our readings, and I’ve yet to encounter a non-binary author in law school. Yet the voices of women and non-binary folks are neither secondary nor fringe. Sitting at a table every year, seeing who picks up our publication with a smile, it is becoming increasingly obvious to us that the stories found in the pages of Contours are of interest to everyone. We gladly invite our male readership to incorporate into their everyday practices the knowledge found in our volumes. We encourage them to grant feminist considerations a core role in their interpersonal and socio-political practices. Far from being fringe, women and non-binary people’s voices deserve mainstream attention.
When Contours was first published in 2013, I was already a student at the faculty. Then, it would have been beyond my wildest imagination that I, a trans woman, would be writing these words or that I would be the Head French Editor of a women in law publication. The times are changing, though perhaps towards polarisation rather than progress. However, I am honoured to have been part of that development and could not be prouder of everyone working at Contours for making the publication an inclusive space in a too-often exclusionary environment.
More than ever, Contours strives to be intersectional. Both our content and our team this year embody our commitment to intersectionality. Queer women, trans women, and women of colour all find their place on the executive team, and play their part in ensuring that our pages bolster the voice of all women.
Our fifth year at Contours is a big one. We’re revamping the issue and expanding our reach. We have more editors than we have ever had. We’re collaborating with #LawNeedsFeminismBecause. It is my dearest hope that this year will be the first step towards increasing the influence of our publication and that it will continue to encourage women and other people of marginalised gender identities at the faculty to speak up.
Volume V ranges over a diversity of themes: disability, prison rehabilitation, abortion, food law, slavery, inclusiveness, sexual assault, speaking up, mentorship, and dating. We also have the honour of featuring an interview with six female faculty members whom discussed with us a range of topics to do with teaching at the McGill Faculty of Law as a woman.
Another exciting feature of this volume is our collaboration with #LawNeedsFeministBecause. The volume features a number of captions from their 2017 McGill photo campaign. We are thrilled to support this initiative which gives a platform to the voices of women in law beyond the walls of McGill.
One caption in particular speaks to the heart of Contour’s mission. “#LawNeedsFeministBecause the male perspective is still seen as objective.” This is the belief that we seek to destabilize with each of our publications, and it is no less true this year. Challenging the dominant narrative set by the male perspective is a tremendous task, and we are thankful to every woman who took up their pens to write for us this year.
The weight of writing can often be the heaviest on those we need to hear the most. Despite a desire to share and considerable efforts in putting their thoughts on paper, some writers were unable to submit their pieces for this volume. Contours wishes to recognise their emotional labour and thank them for the work they put in. We hope that we will be able to include their voice in future volumes.
I hope you will enjoy reading this volume as much as we have enjoyed editing it.
Remember. Reflect. Reimagine.
Bienvenue dans la conversation et bonne lecture.
Florence Ashley Paré