Former TC Media News Director. Freelance writer, editor, opinion columnist. CJAD800 radio contributor.
Toula Foscolos is a writer, editor, and former News Director for a number of weekly newspapers in the Montreal region.
Her weekly column, Toula’s Take, published in eight weekly papers and available online, tackles a variety of local, national and international topics.
You can follow her on Twitter @toulastake or on her personal blog www.toulastake.com
News that former NHL enforcer Todd Ewen's recent death was ruled a suicide saddened me. There is no doubt in my mind that competitive sports exact a physical and mental toll on professional athletes -- deaths are not just the consequences of a violent game and the long-term nefarious effects of injuries incurred on these athlete's bodies and brains, but a reflection of a society that does not allow for its men to be weak.
Jacques Parizeau was a passionate and principled man who believed in Quebec's independence, but he was at times a divisive politician. Judging by the many hateful comments I saw last night, his "money and the ethnic vote" speech after the razor-thin Quebec independence referendum loss in 1995 will continue to haunt his legacy. The over-the-top indignation I'm seeing from some is getting on my nerves. Is that one sentence from 20 years ago the only thing some of you can remember from his entire political legacy? Parizeau was so much more than just a rant, more than just one ugly moment in time.
Forced marriages? Women forced to give birth in private and give away their children? Women trying to end an unwanted pregnancy with a coat hanger and the help of some back-alley doctor? All barbaric acts condoned, perpetuated, or conveniently ignored by the Catholic Church right here in Canada only a few decades ago. How soon we forget and pretend we're the evolved ones now...
To these women this isn't just the monster who kicked them down the stairs or told them they were worthless. He's also the man who romanced them and won their heart, the man they sleep next to, the man they make love to, the man who may be the father of their children, the man they build a life with together. To walk away from him is to walk away from the good moments, from the dream of that life. The possibility of what might have been, if only he could change and see the light. Abuse victims didn't "ask for it" or "like it" or "cause it." They are victims, and asking "why didn't they just walk away" -- whether unintentional or not -- blames those victims.
Truth be told, I have so many issues with FEMEN, I wouldn't even know where to begin, but I'll attempt to explain them all here as best as I can. For those who don't know (and there are many of you), FEMEN is a Ukraine-based movement started in 2008 to protest the growing sex industry in the country. The movement soon branched out and began protesting other gender issues, including the perceived oppression of women at the hands of religious institutions.
"Our patios are like national parks. Huge and filled with cougars." This is Jack Astor's latest brilliant burst of marketing genius. Cougar: An older woman who frequents clubs in order to score with a much younger man. Now here's the term for older men who date younger women for casual sex. They're called... men. The term 'cougar' is so derogatory, ageist and sexist, it baffles me that some women use with it pride. Jack Astor's logo is an ass. As in a donkey's ass. I've never felt any which way about the company, but after today, I feel like that logo suits them perfectly.
American Apparel founder and CEO Dov Charney, was ousted from his very own company spread like wildfire this morning. And it was predictably greeted with major glee among most of my feminist friends, who've had enough with this guy's gag-inducing sexist marketing campaigns, as well as his own personal conduct with employees. I still have no intention of ever purchasing anything from them in the future. Ousting Dov Charney may have been the right decision to make, American Apparel executive board members, but that's not why you finally got rid of him.
Seven months later and I'm still stunned by the palpable pain I feel in the pit of my chest when I think of him. I marvel at how grief just patiently sits there quietly, waiting for me to suddenly catch a glimpse of someone who looks like him, or for a whiff of someone's Aqua Velva aftershave, that cheap blue stuff he splashed on his face when I was a kid, and suddenly pain, like a searing knife, cuts through me. Seven months of firsts. The first Christmas without him, first New Years' celebrations, first Easter, and now... the first Father's Day.
As polarizing as the debate seems to be, I've never had any qualms publicly declaring that I strongly support assisted suicide. To be frank, I have trouble understanding those who don't. Numerous drunk drivers who killed behind the wheel have received such lenient sentences they amounted to no more than a slap on the wrist. But if I assisted a loved one who was dying a slow and painful death, out of compassion and a desire to end their suffering, I would be subject to the same or even worse penalties as someone who indiscriminately and unconsciously mowed down an innocent pedestrian while driving drunk. Why?
It's an ambitious goal, and the amount they are hoping to raise through crowd-funding is $75,000 (no small amount), but Ricochet has assembled a strong team of journalists (which they intend to pay fairly) and initially only having the editors volunteer their time and expertise, thus hoping to gain people's support and financial commitment.
A young woman's recent decision to film her abortion and share it with the world has been making headlines lately and, over the course of the past few days, I've observed the puzzled, horrified, and downright hateful reactions of many on my social networks. But the more I saw the hate, the more I realized that what Emily Letts did was pretty ground-breaking and unbelievably brave. Letts isn't celebrating abortion. She's simply demystifying a procedure that most people have been conditioned to avoid talking about, and by doing so, removing all the shame and fear associated with it.
CBC and Radio-Canada staff across the country are bracing for deep cuts today, as the public broadcaster aims to respond to an estimated $100-million revenue shortfall in the next year. It's likely that some Canadians may be rejoicing at the news, but I am certainly not one of them. Their raison d'être is not simple distraction, it is to be universally accessible, contribute to a sense of national identity and community, and -- most importantly -- keep a safe distance from vested financial interests. What that means is you can't necessarily assess their worth based on numbers, but rather good programming. You think we can't afford to offer intellectually-nurturing programming in these tough economic times? I think we can't afford not to!
The last days of the provincial electoral campaign have made me feel people's disillusionment and frustration at the lack of inspiring options even more profoundly. During the debates Marois, Couillard, and Legault behaved like they were in a cage fight, barking insults at one another. It took all the self-restraint that I had not to switch channels. But, contrary to everything around me, I'm hopeful. I'm convinced that I'm witnessing a new breed of Quebecer emerge. One that isn't so easily defined... and therefore not as easy to manipulate and pigeonhole. Nothing will ever be as black or white as it once was, because the world we now live in is a million shades of grey.
First off, and since International Women's Day is around the corner, can we take a minute to define 'rape culture' for those who seem to think it's an irrational and highly charged blanket statement that seeks to vilify all men for all sins? Even men who consider themselves feminists don't often get it, because they too come from a place of unconscious privilege.
"I like my violence like I like my beer: domestic" This was the recent Facebook status of popular east-end Montreal bar, Nacho Libre, whose social media manager somehow thought it completely appropriate to publish this cringe-inducing "joke." Isn't domestic abuse a riot? Sexist jokes are not funny -- they're hostile.
There's vast potential for an additional revenue stream that can more than offset the losses of choosing not to sell cigarettes in their pharmacies. CVS's move is not only socially conscious; it's also a shrewd business move. And smart, educated, and astute consumers don't begrudge a company posting a profit, if their demands have been met and their concerns addressed.
Despite the many upstanding, ethical police officers out there, the force has given the public numerous reasons to question its conduct. There have been a number of high profile cases of alleged police brutality in Canada and Quebec, including the 2010 G-20 Toronto summit protests, the 2012 Quebec student protests, and the Robert Dziekanski taser incident.
Last night, tennis fans sat riveted in front of their TV screens, watching 19-year-old Canadian, Eugenie Bouchard, beat former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic and triumphantly reach the semifinals of the Australian Open. And after that exhilarating and shocking victory, what did the on-court interviewer ask this dedicated and amazing athlete? Who's the man of your dreams, Eugenie? Who are you crushing on, girl? Because, being a woman, what else could she possibly be interested in? Entrenched sexism needs to be pointed out, ridiculed, and eradicated.
On Thursday photos of American Apparel's new storefront mannequins started appearing on my social media feed. These mannequins were sporting a full bush gloriously peeking through their underwear. It was utterly perplexing to me that people (both men and women) could barely contain their disdain at the sight of what is absolutely natural; a woman's pubic hair.
It's very simple, really. Legalizing prostitution does not mean we're normalizing it or even necessarily condoning it (for those "what has the world come to?" folks), but simply regulating it. Criminalizing sex work (and the related actions required to engage in it) has never eradicated prostitution and it never will. That's just wishful thinking. But better regulation ultimately establishes the conditions for increased protection of sex workers, and isn't that what it's all about? If legislation has the power to prevent or even simply decrease the odds of one less sex worker from being abused or killed, then what are we sitting around discussing?