The main obstacle to social mixing is that humans are tribal. We're also hypocrites. While I chastised the insensitive building manager, I also want my immediate neighbours to be like me. Before I moved into my last place I had the choice between a bigger apartment in a "sketchier" building or a smaller place in a building with tenants who were also in their late 20s with steady jobs. You can guess where I ended up. The human instinct to favour the familiar exists in all people. Its the job of good policy to help us overcome our tendency to discriminate.
The fact that there's finally a rom-com about abortion is wonderful. "Obvious Child", starring comedian Jenny Slate, depicts a world where an abortion is more like a trip to the dentist than a life-ruiner. For many upper-middle class women such as me, the undramatic portrayal is a welcome reality. Our lives are much improved since motherhood has morphed from a straitjacket into a spandex that accommodates 21st-century ambitions. But not all groups of women have benefited from more flexible notions of maternity.
07/03/2014 08:33 EDT
In perfect fulfillment of gender stereotypes, I don't watch sports. I'm immunized against World Cup fever. But while I won't follow the scores or watch any games, I am interested in the part of Brazilian football that has nothing to do with athleticism. Think of the American TV series Friday Night Lights. Football in small-town Texas is a metaphor for optimism. Coach Taylor's drills are about more than winning high school games. He gives both the all-American jocks and youth with criminal backgrounds the tools to win at life. For Brazilians, soccer is about hope. In fact, the sport is one of the country's most effective social programs.
06/17/2014 08:23 EDT
Humans excel at making assumptions about situations we don't understand. Almost a quarter of Canadians think homeless people are to blame for their circumstances and almost a fifth think their tragic flaw is laziness. You might think this yourself. But what if I told you that many people become homeless for the same reason Sidney Crosby was sidelined from the NHL? A recent study by St. Michael's Hospital found that almost half of homeless men suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and that 87 per cent of those injuries happened before the men lost their homes.
06/03/2014 08:15 EDT
Sociologists say that unless you're a tech aficionado, it's hard to care about government spying that doesn't affect your daily life. For most white, middle-class people, data gathering seems abstract. We can't see it happen and the only manifestation is a targeted ad on our Gmail that we might dismiss with a "well, that's creepy." For poor people, surveillance is an everyday reality.
05/20/2014 09:30 EDT
The reaction to this week's news about Parks Canada's plan to install Wi-Fi in more than 100 locations proved some people still want Internet-free zones. My initial reaction was also negative. I re-visited my dream of moving to a wooden cabin (though most of those probably have Wi-Fi by now too). But once my inner Thoreau settled down, I realized wired woods aren't so bad if I can muster the willpower to turn off my phone. On a broader level, I'd rather live in a society that lets me choose how to behave rather than tells me what to do.
05/04/2014 01:34 EDT
The Atlantic just ran a long piece titled The Confidence Gap, in which the authors remind us that because of self-doubt, women make less money, receive fewer promotions and rarely land top roles. The message is clear: grow a pair, or enjoy your crappy view from the bottom rungs. It is no good that insecurity and anxiety are the reins holding back a woman at work. But I'm tired of being told the key to success is to change. Man up. Woman down. Instead, corporations could join the 21st century and see "female qualities" as virtues.
04/22/2014 10:01 EDT
Ask most women about their book clubs and I'll bet they mention wine within 30 seconds. Husbands laugh at their wives who use literature as an excuse to impress their friends with phyllo-pastry appetizers. So what's the big deal? The problem isn't with the clubs themselves, but with the stereotype they reinforce: women may read fiction, but they don't take it seriously.
04/10/2014 08:34 EDT
Most non-believers are too busy hating religions to think of the good work they do. I'm one of them. Trust me, this is not a Jehovah's Witness-type plea disguised as a column. But when it comes to helping others, atheists and agnostics should take religious notes. As we work longer hours and live lonelier lives, we've become worse at dedicating ourselves to a cause.
03/25/2014 09:23 EDT
Rape culture has been thrust into the spotlight due to some unfortunate Facebook messages exchanged among University of Ottawa students. The content of their conversation is appalling, but most appalling is how common this type of dialogue is among groups of males. Instead of being able to speak truthfully among one another, men feel pressure to brag about the number of girls they've slept with and how many tequila shots they fed those girls. And maybe it starts off as hot air to impress the lads, but if men talk enough about how cool it is to demean women sexually, some of that talk is bound to turn into action.
03/06/2014 09:34 EST
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, has become a punching bag for work-life balance advocates who view her can-do attitude as a recipe for burnout. Most recently, her workplace manifesto, "Lean In", was panned by Rosa Brooks, a law professor and Foreign Policy columnist whose rally cry is "Women of the world, recline!" It's a hard to disagree with more naps, but the reality is more complex. We should strive for work-life balance, but know when to ditch it. Working smart is knowing when to work hard, rather than avoiding it all together.
02/27/2014 12:15 EST
Facebook provides a seductive substitute for the kind of remembering we should do in the physical presence of others. But the digital proxy will always feel hollow. Screens protect us from the messiness of human emotion, yet it's only by allowing ourselves to feel vulnerable that we experience anything meaningful.
02/24/2014 09:10 EST
When I think of the Olympics, I think of the comedian Louis C.K. He has a bit about a friend's country bumpkin cousin visiting New York City for the first time. "We pass a homeless guy and she sees him," he says. "I mean we all passed him but she saw him." Come Olympic time, I'm that cousin. I can only see how the Games ignore a country's real problems. Because the most disgusting aspect of the Olympics is a country's attempt to distract viewers from domestic issues worthy of international attention.
02/09/2014 11:27 EST
Kevin O'Leary thinks the fact that 85 rich people hold the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion will motivate the impoverished to become the next Bill Gates. To say 85 people serve as "the motivation" everyone else needs to be the next Bill Gates is to admit that you've never spent time with anybody who makes less than $60,000 a year.
02/06/2014 12:00 EST
Girls, which just began its third season, is often criticized for indulging privileged people's problems. But the show actually critiques first-world entitlement. Girls creator Lena Dunham doesn't endorse her characters' behaviour or ask us to feel sympathy for them; she wants their personalities to expose our own weaknesses.
01/16/2014 09:35 EST
I was the first to say robots could not make good romantic companions. Lovers? Sure. There's ample proof machines can get that job done. But love -- I want-to-spend-the-foreseeable-future-with-you and will-even-spend-time-with-your-family-just-to-please-you love? Nah. And then Spike Jonze ruined everything. I was more than ready to hate the relationship between Theodore his Operating System (OS) Samantha, but that quickly changed when I realized their dynamic was more evolved than many human-to-human romances. If machines can learn to be independent, we could certainly fall in love with them.
01/12/2014 10:46 EST
Sexually fluid is a category more and more women fall under -- there's a reason Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" was a No. 1 hit for seven weeks. But Justin Timberlake has yet to release "I Kissed a Boy." Why aren't men as eager to go with the sexual flow? Blame the one-sided nature of objectification in North American culture. A normally straight female who is attracted to another woman doesn't face nearly the same stigma as a man in the same situation. Everyone is taught to view women as sex objects, whereas Playgirl never had the potential for a Hugh Hefner-like empire.
01/05/2014 11:58 EST
Though I was never going to have a career in numbers, the process of succeeding in a subject through practice and memorization did wonders for my self-confidence. If recent test results are any indication, each year, more Canadian students aren't feeling the same triumph. That's a problem we need to solve.
12/15/2013 11:58 EST
There's something about Justin Trudeau with his sideways smiles, V-necks and ladies' night that reminds me of smarmy men from my past. That connection is hard to break, even though as a friend recently pointed out, he's probably the politician who best reflects my views. As with our personal relationships, we are often blind to our favourite politicians' faults. We defend them when others bring up their shortcomings -- "You don't know the real Barack!" -- rather than accept the facts. That's why it stung so much when I recently read a piece in the <em>Globe and Mail</em> titled "From messiah to lame duck: How Barack Obama fell to earth."
12/02/2013 08:11 EST
Traditional masculinity, the blue-collar variety where men use their hands and act as competent providers, is no longer in vogue. With poster boys like Rob Ford and Chris Brown, "manliness" is no more than politically incorrect dirt that feminists trample on with their Birkenstocks. And that's too bad.
11/25/2013 08:54 EST
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