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.
A new study from the Canadian Women's Foundation found that while almost all Canadians agree that sexual activity between partners should be consensual, two-thirds do not understand what consent means. If you can't tell if someone is consenting, ask: "Are you okay with this?" Encourage them to answer honestly. Decent people treat others with respect, especially when it comes to something as intimate as sexual activity. Sexual activity without consent is sexual assault. It's all pretty simple.
Sexist insults and harassment is something women who are involved in politics, the media or head up public organizations unfortunately have to deal with on a daily basis. This sort of taunting has become extremely commonplace in our digital world. It is not acceptable, and society should take a strong stance against it!
I've been a Toronto FC season's ticket holder for five years and I'm the mother of TFCs most devoted fan. So it was my 13-year-old TFC enthusiast who was the first person I wanted to talk to about the appalling sexual harassment at the Mothers Day match when a fan shouted "F--- her right in the pussy" at CityNews reporter, Shauna Hunt. Turns out our kids have been sharing this offensive "prank" for a year and most of us hadn't really heard about it or thought to talk to them about it until this week. Shouting "F--- her right in the pussy" is sexual harassment, verbal assault and a blatant threat of rape.
Though I am about as much of a dentist as I am a squirrel, the Dalhousie Dentistry scandal cannot be ignored, even by a humble B.F.A, such as myself. Of course, I was outraged by the misogynistic nature of a Facebook page that was created for the express purpose of debasing women within the dentistry program. However, the first thought that ran through my mind wasn't outrage over their sexist remarks.
"Boys will be boys" and "it's just guy talk" are expressions that we need to erase from our vocabulary as a justification for some men's blatantly inappropriate behaviour toward women. This week, we saw disturbing events at Dalhousie University's Dental School involving comments of a sexual nature and those suggesting sexual violence against women, posted on a social media site. Response to the incident ranges from condemnation to commentators justifying the action of the male students on the basis that this was "just guy talk."
"It's the way these girls dress Manju -- it's just an invitation for a man to come on over and rape them." I was 16 years old, lounging on the front steps and listening to my mom chat with our neighbour about a rape case dominating the local news cycle. As they spoke, I saw my mom's worried eyes repeatedly dart over to me and anxiously frown. A couple of months later my family moved and I never saw or spoke with that neighbour again. But oddly, I thought of her often. It was neighbour Brenda who once again came to mind when I decided to share my experience in the Huffington Post about being sexually assaulted by Jian Ghomeshi.
When you're a woman, tone policing is rampant. Amid the hate and abuse, we are expected to stay as calm and eloquent as possible. Our justified rage is always attributed to over-sensitivity, hormones, or PMS-ing. We are treated as emotional, not intellectual beings, when the truth is we are emotional AND intellectual beings. Intellect without emotion is dead inside. There's a whopping double standard regarding tone between men and women (and of course others along the gender binary and non-binary folk). Men who are angry are passionate and driven. Women who are passionate and driven are just angry.
Today is International Men's Day, so let's join hands today and celebrate all that men have done for the world. Wow, I couldn't even type that with a straight face. But International Men's Day? Seriously? Every day is International Men's Day, or really International Cisgender Men's Day. Every day the achievements of men are celebrated. Every day their innovations are hailed. What's next? International White People Day? International Heterosexual Day? I'm sure some of you would love that.
Girls like me are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Our critiques about, let's say, the misogyny within our community are so often co-opted by white Eurocentric feminism as a kind of "see, look, the oppressed brown women need us!" And at the same time, I don't want to silence myself from critiquing by own community just because I'm scared that some white feminists may twist my words.
"Innocent until proven guilty" is a criminal law concept used in conjunction with the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard to guarantee an important legal doctrine: it's better for guilty people to go free than infringe the liberty of the innocent. This high threshold isn't used in civil action, where judges decide guilt on the balance of probabilities standard. And it certainly isn't required in Facebook or any public forum of debate. There may be two different accounts of the same incident; that's OK. Trust me when I say, there is no need to Columbo such a situation.
As the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre approaches, it is interesting to reflect upon the evolution of gun control and the government's approach to questions of gun violence and misuse. However, ensuring a safer environment for women -- and for society in general -- requires more than official recognition of sexism or any other so-called justification as an invalid reason for violence.
David Letterman recently hosted Parks and Recreation actor Aziz Ansari on his show who beautifully summed up what it means to be a feminist. I think even those Hollywood girls who won't call themselves a feminist will agree with this analogy: "You're a feminist if you go to a Jay Z and Beyoncé concert and you're not like, 'I feel like Beyoncé should get 23 per cent less money than Jay Z. Also I don't think Beyoncé should have the right to vote and why is Beyoncé singing and dancing -- shouldn't she make Jay a steak?"
Trish Kelly, a prominent member of Vancouver activism and a self-described sex-positive" and "queer" resigned her nomination as a candidate for park board in the city's upcoming municipal election, because of the surfacing of a humorous and risqué Fringe Festival video she made about masturbation from way back in 2006. As a male, I struggle with the guilt that something like that would not be nearly as damaging to my public figure.