Have Your Cake and Eat It Too was created in response to the upcoming anniversary of White women's suffrage in Alberta and its significance to me as a White woman living in this province. The work embodies the colonial sentiment that is my inheritance as a woman raised White in this land: a mash-up of entitlement, ignorance, consumption and desire.
Have Your Cake and Eat It Too is celebratory, but not unequivocally so. It responds with ambivalence to the uneven distribution of political and social power among Albertan women. Lighting candles for the hundredth anniversary of women's suffrage, I am aware that indigenous women have only been voting in this province since the '60s. Celebrating the groundbreaking work of the Famous Five, I am aware that my first-wave forebears helped spread eugenic ideology; that their work shored up support for the Sexual Sterilization Act of 1928. Because I am White, I am able to celebrate hard-won victories 'for women' and enter into a White feminist narrative that glosses over the unequal granting of rights that is a part of Alberta's history.
In Have Your Cake and Eat It Too I am investigating the dissonance between two contradictory beliefs: the myth that feminism has swept all Albertan women along its progressive path at an even pace; and the fantasy that White women can somehow maintain privileged access to the benefits of social progress without becoming complicit in inequality. The work is an investigation into the imaginative capacity for self-deception, a performance of having it both ways, a manifestation of the contemporary colonial spirit in white frosting and coloured sprinkles.