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redefining feminism


vol 46 issue 25  ·  wednesday, march 7, 2012  ·  online »

syllabus snafu

easter exams

questions raised around ta syllabus contest

Easter Monday exams exasperate students

CUPE chair shares concerns and suspicions of intellectual property foul play Jacqueline Perlin


Assistant News Editor @jackieperlin

or the last number of years, the university has been holding contests for teaching assistants to win an opportunity to become a course director by entering course outlines as entries. The university has reportedly retained and used the “rejected” entries for actual course syllabuses, alleges the TA union chair. The TAs would hand in course outlines they wrote to enter a competition where the best outline would earn the winner an opportunity to teach a course. However, this posed a problem when a few TAs claimed to have discovered their course outline being used in a class taught by a different person. “They entered into the competition and they weren’t awarded the teaching tickets, so it was

their intellectual property,” alleges Karen Walker, chair of the Canadian Union Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3903 at York University, noting that the TAs who claim their outlines are being used have approached the Local with their concerns. The course outlines, she says, have also been reported to show up as part of exams. “It’s part of an exam, but [the syllabuses] end up being used by the department and the TAs don’t get any compensation,” says Walker. While the TAs involved have settled with the university and received an undisclosed lump sum to appease the situation, Walker explains that reports from TAs have continued. She has prompted CUPE 3903 to seek changes to intellectual property as stipulated in their collective agreement. However Rhonda Lenton, viceprovost academic, says that credit is given where due. “We don’t take work that was produced by somebody else

without giving them credit,” says Lenton, explaining that no department should be using a TA’s material without attributing it to them. “These two people grieved, but it has happened to other people. We know that it’s happening in other departments,” says Walker. She believes that this is occurring mainly in the women’s and equity studies departments. The main problem, says Walker, is that the current collective agreement uses the term “where applicable” with respect to intellectual property, which according to Walker, creates a loophole for the university. The university, she notes, has not agreed to change this language in a current proposal on the table in negotiations. “We feel it’s just not strong enough to respect our members,” says Walker. “At this point we haven’t been able to make any movement on the issue.” While Lenton refuses to comment on issues pertaining to the current collective bargaining, she

says that her belief is that this issue is not linked to intellectual property. Incidents like these, she says, are “not widespread,” and normal standards of academic integrity apply in the situation. “I certainly would not expect that material would then just be taken by somebody else and used in a course,” says Lenton. She says she can imagine times where a course director or professor would like to use the course outline but the permission of the person who created the course outline would be necessary. “If someone’s course outline has been taken, then I believe that person should bring forward a complaint to the appropriate dean, and the matter should be investigated,” she says, explaining that once the issue is investigated, there would be a resolution. The usual practise is to take the rejected submissions and either return them or shred them.

‘syllabus’ continued on page 2

Ten $2,600 flatscreens installed in Vari Hall classrooms

Leslie Armstrong


Arts Editor @Peachcrate

series of brand-new flatscreens were installed in the Vari Hall tutorial rooms, but teaching assistants and professors using the space were left in the dark about the new installations. Ten flatscreens—each at the cost of $2,600—were installed to

Hufsa Tahir


Staff Writer @excalweb

ork students planning on celebrating the Easter weekend may find themselves cramming for an exam instead. Despite the fact that Easter Monday is recognized as a religious date on the York Registrar’s Office website, exams have been scheduled for April 9.

‘exams’ continued on page 2

editorial Excalibur won

Best In Show at ACP. The end. #WINNING 5

features Redefine

tutorial in hd

New addition to enhance classroom experience

Religious observance policy allows students to reschedule, says administration

arts We deal in only the

edgiest art forms; wood burning and French cinema 6

science & tech Examin-

replace the old projectors in Vari Hall tutorial spaces. However, faculty holding seminars and tutorials were never told that these changes were going to happen, and many are experiencing trouble with the new technology. For some classrooms, tech support took up to an hour to arrive, and they still ran into difficulties. For instance, in Jo-Anne Maclellan’s communication class tutorial, the wireless keyboard barely functioned and she had to call tech support frequently. “I’ve been in classrooms and the TV won’t go on,” says Maclellan. “The equipment fails a lot here.”

‘screens’ continued on page 3

feminism with our Women’s Supplement; it’s excellent. 9

ing the gender dynamics in our engineering program 18

sports An interview with

Dan Church, future national hockey coach 20

health Bad habits vs. Addictions, and admitting our mistakes 21

classifieds 22 comics 23 mark grant

Shiny and sleek, the new flatscreens cost quite a pretty penny.

more exclusive content

2  Campus News

excalibur · march 7, 2012

Campus News Streeters

2012 elections

to your heart’s content

Meet your 2012 election CRO Introducing

How do you feel about the Omnibus Crime Cecile Des Vignes aims for fair, unbiased election Bill passing?

your new meal plan

Josh Morrison

York revitalizes student meal plan options for coming year

second year, undecided

“I am not a huge fan of it. I think there are a lot of circumstances where judges need discretion to make a ruling based on the circumstances of the case, and not necessarily on a set minimum. I think that it takes a lot of the discretion that the judicial system does have, and gives it to the legislator. I think that is a bit of an issue.”

Jacqueline Perlin


Rhea Wilson osgoode student

“It’s a major setback for the state of justice of this country. I don’t think it will contribute to a decrease in crime. I believe that its take on the problem of drugs is rooted in complete ignorance to the facts around drug use in this country and their relation to criminality. I think it’s a travesty, and I really hope it will be challenged constitutionally.” Sara Hanson first year, law student

“[The Omnibus Crime Bill] will not be a deterrent to crime and will only result to further overcrowding of prisons, which is a big concern in Canada where we have overcrowding. Personally I do not agree with the bill. I think that it’s merely a Band-Aid solution and is not getting to the root of the issue, which often has to do with the larger systemic issues such as poverty in Canada.”

photos by mark grant

2012 student union election CRO and York alumna Cecile Des Vignes is looking forward to an interesting election. Tamara Khandaker


Staff Writer @anima_tk

he election for next year’s student union members is right around the corner, and there is one person behind the scenes who is set to ensure the show runs smoothly. As nomination hopefuls gather signatures in advance of the March 9 deadline, Cécile Des Vignes, recently appointed chief returning officer (CRO), is excited for the process to get underway. “I went to the university so I always felt connected to this campus,” says Des Vignes. “I lived on campus when I was here many years ago.”

Des Vignes, who graduated from York in 2008 with a degree in communications and psychology, is currently working in public relations. Like last year’s CRO, she was appointed to her position through a vote by secret ballot. Upon seeing the position posted online, Des Vignes thought her educational background and experience in public relations made her a good fit for the role. She believes that being familiar with election procedures is an important requirement, and she has already acquired the experience as a poll clerk for three consecutive years during her time at York. Unaware of any controversies in past elections, she hopes to move past any issues and do her job. “All I can do is be the best CRO I can be—oversee, be very fair, and

Students question pricey new additions

osgoode student

“I think it’s a terrible bill, it’s bad for society, it’s expensive and it’s not sustainable. It’s going to reshape the way things work, it’s going to clog up the reports because everyone is going to want to go to court because you are facing a mandatory minimum. There’s no compromise offered anymore.” Compiled by Alexander Granger, and Mark Grant

TA troubles Lenton says no grievance or complaint has been filed. If such a situation has occurred, she says it may have been a simple lack of knowledge. However, Walker feels most graduate students take it for granted that they would be expected to do unpaid work and therefore, not be as active in filing grievances. “The department thinks it’s important to have [the course] if it’s an up-and-coming area of research that people are starting to look at, and it might be that a grad student is working on it,” she says. “There’s this whole idea when you’re a TA, you’re being professionalized. You’re gonna do work you’re not compensated for, so a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily question it.”

tudents will be having access to brand-new meal plans come fall 2012. The university is rolling out new meal plan options for students, reducing the minimum entry price that currently sits at $3,000 down to $2,500 for better affordability. The new plan will also allow students to carry up to $1,600 of their untouched meal plan balances forward to ensure that student meals are not taxed by the Canada Revenue Agency. But that isn’t all; the university is also introducing an off-campus YU card restaurant and delivery program that will accept student flex dollars and will allow students to add flex dollars to any meal plan. According to Gary Brewer, vp finance and administration, these changes are occurring as a result of student complaints, not only with regards to the expense of the meal plans, but also to address the the limited options of food available on campus, especially in the evenings and weekends. “From what students have told us, I think we’ve hit the points,” says Brewer.

‘screens’ continued from page 1

Eric Marques

‘syllabus’ continued from page 1

be very unbiased,” she says, adding that she has no personal relationships with anyone on the YFS and has no stake in the election. “To me, it doesn’t matter who wins or loses. I’m just here to make sure that everything is done fairly, and that we are sticking to the bylaws of the elections and the YFS bylaws.” Des Vignes looks forward to an interesting race—the nomination packages are due March 9 when the candidates will be finalized. Unlike last year, when the incumbent party ran with no opposition, Des Vignes anticipates seeing some new faces. “I have a feeling that the ruling YFS are going to be trying to come back, although we do have some new people coming in [to the race],” she says.

Assistant News Editor @jackieperlin

spotted on campus • Tables were set up and Toronto police and York security were present for this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) at York, hosted by Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA). However, Jewish student group Hasbara@York took a different approach this year to counter IAW: Israel Peace Week. Despite the high tension and amount of police and security near Vari Hall, students engaged each other in passionate discussion about their opinion on the matter. “[It’s] about dealing with the media and how important that is,” says Hasbara president Oriyah Barzilay. “If we’re trying to move towards peace, we need to be aware of the media being streamed to children. These children are potentially the ones who can bring peace.” Both groups will be tabling near and around Vari Hall to raise awareness for their group’s cause until the end of this week. ► If you find anything interesting around campus, snap a photo of it and send it to or or tweet @ excalweb with a short description. You could be featured in Spotted on Campus! Compiled by News Department. mark grant

Despite the occasional difficulties, however, she admits that she is impressed with the sleek new technology. According to ITC, the Instructional Technology Centre, the screens went up over the reading week. Whenever profs needed assistance, they could contact the ITC for assistance. Professor Tony Dittenhoffer, who teaches a fourth-year criminology seminar in Vari Hall, ran into several problems when he first encountered the new technology; he was never notified of the changes. “It looked impressive, but it was inaccessible without a pass code and basic knowledge on how to start and operate it,” he wrote in an e-mail. When he called for help, class support sent a technician to offer assistance. Dittenhoffer was later given a written manual for future reference. Janice Walls of York media says the upgrades were to enhance the classroom experience for students and faculty, and noted that the changes may have initially surprised some people. “The goal here is to improve the environment in all of the classrooms to make it better for faculty and students, so we regret if the upgrades caught some people offguard,” says Walls. “It appears the implementation may have gotten

a little ahead of the communications.” She says a key reason for the installation is that the flatscreens yield better quality overall. hey last longer, have better image quality, work better in confined places, can be viewed with the lights on, and are less prone to theft. Students in a Vari Hall tutorial shared their thoughts about the new installation. “There’s unequal funding between different departments, and to keep it even, they’ll buy things like this to balance the scales,” says a teaching assistant. Another feels there are other things that could have been renovated in place of the flatscreens. “I think it’s cool technology, but there’s other things we have to work on,” says the student. “The bathrooms suck. And some of our buildings are just terrible. It’s cool technology, but it’s not going to make our learning better.” Some teaching assistants, however, can get used to the new technology. “It was nice having a blackboard,” one says. “With the pulldown screen, you could still write behind it. But it is a little easier not having to turn the lights on and off [during class].” With files from Yuni Kim

News  3

excalibur · march 7, 2012

movin’ on up

10-year housing plan to create more student resident space YFS raises concern over rise in housing prices Jacqueline Perlin


Assistant News Editor @jackieperlin

he university is rolling out a new campus housing strategy over the next 10 years to renovate current on-campus residents and build more student housing. Gary Brewer, vp finance and administration, explains that the university launched a formal housing review two years ago, assessing the state of housing on campus. In addition, students were asked about what they would like to see in terms of campus housing. Some of the residences, notes

Brewer, are over 40 years old and are in need of renovation. “It’s not just about the price,” he says of the reason why less and less students are opting to live on campus despite the fact that enrolment numbers continue to increase. “It’s the fact that it’s not new, modern, or configured the way students want.” The review was largely undertaken by Scion, a third-party group that looked at on-campus housing. It emphasized that students are more likely to begin living on campus if there are beds available that meet their needs and wants. Brewer also explains that new student housing will also have an academic aspect through initia-

tives, such as ones that would provide tutoring for students in a particular faculty in the residence. The housing strategy will be primarily funded through rate increases of 3.7 per cent, meaning that the price of housing will increase in order to fund the new endeavors. Robert Cerjanec, vp operations for the York Federation of Students (YFS), says that while the YFS recognizes it is important for the university to renovate the existing stock of housing, they maintain that housing prices should continue to stay low. Cerjanec also says that the YFS is vehemently opposed to private housing, noting that since the

ing as opposed to housing in the Village, where campus housing provides a safer environment for students who have access to staff 24/7, security cameras, and much more. However, Cerjanec says that cost is an important factor in students’ decisions on where to live. “Cost is a major determining factor for students,” he says. “What we see are a lot of students going to live in the Village really doing it based on cost.” Changes to student housing on campus will most likely begin this summer after the housing strategy is approved by the York Board of Governors, which is necessary to approve the rate increases.

blue slip

‘exams’ continued from page 1

York observance policy “accomodating” to religious holidays Haniya Khan, a second-year humanities and concurrent education student, believes York should not schedule exams on those dates. “It’s unfair for students who celebrate Easter,” she points out. “They can’t really celebrate [with Easter Monday exams].” She adds that public schools get Easter Monday off, and that certain transit systems run on a holiday schedule on Easter Monday. “If it’s a public holiday, why should York schedule exams [on

university cannot control what the private operator charges for residences, the fees could exceed upwards to $10,000. One would only need to look to the University of Toronto or George Brown College to see examples of such outrageous fees, he adds. Brewer says that based on the reviews, students would be willing to pay more for housing if it provides them with what they want; having private operators on campus will provide more funding to renovating existing student housing through a lease fee, he says. According to Brewer, another aspect of renovating housing on campus is that it motivates more students to choose campus hous-

that day]?” she questions. “What about people who use buses to get to school?” But religious concerns, says Joanne Duklas of enrolment management, are exactly why York has a religious observance policy. This policy states that York is committed to accommodating for religious dates. This means that students may bring forward issues concerning Easter Monday exam attendance with their professors to schedule an alternate date . However, not many students are

aware of this fact, says Duklas. “We did try to do what we can,” she says. “There are other religious holidays, like Passover, which spans more than one day, and we have to schedule around that.” The scheduling of exams on Easter Monday, she explains, is a Senate policy. No exams have been scheduled over the Easter weekend. John Lee, a fourth-year psychology major, holds a more critical view of Easter Monday. “It’s not really a religious holiday,” he maintains. “If York has a good reason for it, then it’s okay.” He believes that while professors should let students know about the policy, there is a bigger chance that the policy for religious leniency will be abused by opportunists. “Not many people are very religious,” says Lee. “I’m sure that people can twist it around for their purposes, pretend they are Christian one day, Jewish later on.” A full list of religious dates for the year is available on the York website under “Religious Observance Dates 2012.”

A very, Vari sweet surprise How a geography project brightened up Vari Hall Yuni Kim


News Editor @YuniKimchi

or at least a few hours, a group of students’ class project brought smiles to the students and faculty passing through Vari Hall. The group was not handing out flyers to the latest campus event or off-campus nightclub, but instead were handing out small slips of blue paper with optimistic, positive messages. “Have a great day!” read one slip. “You look great today!” read another. The project, which was part of a 4000-level geography course called Public Space, aimed to challenge the idea of what public spaces such as Vari Hall are really for. Vari Hall, says fourth-year environmental studies and urban studies major Alix Jolicoeur, can be considered the “heart of campus.” Along with her group mates, Jolicoeur found that the reaction was mostly positive. “A lot of students and staff were surprised to see us offering free hugs, handshakes, or high fives,”

yuni kim

You get a blue slip! You get a blue slip! And you get a hug! Yay!

she says. “Many smiled while walking away, showed it to a friend, a few quickly tossed it in the recycling bin.” To the group’s surprise, some individuals decided to return the impromptu favour. “One person returned the slip with a positive message of her own on the back, another returned to give me a handshake and a friendly hug,” she recalls. “Another looked back and said ‘thank you.’ Why should interacting with other students in such a simple way be so out of the ordinary?”

Editorial  5

excalibur · march 7, 2012

Editorial Excalibur autonomous since 1966 David Ros ∙ Chair Miguel Angus ∙ Business/Advertising Manager Pernel Fisher ∙ Accounts Assistant Eric Rail ∙ Distribution Manager Braeden Urbanek ∙ Assistant Distribution Manager Robert Denault ∙ Web Developer

editorial board Mike Sholars ∙ Editor-in-Chief ∙ x40773 Alex Wagstaff ∙ Managing Editor ∙ x30907 Teresa Yung ∙ Production Manager ∙ x33202 Yuni Kim ∙ News Editor news@excal.on ∙ x55239 Jacqueline Perlin ∙ Assistant News Editor ∙ x55239 Leah Varghese ∙ Web Editor ∙ x33201 Mark Grant ∙ Photo Editor ∙ x21099 Jeff Zimmer ∙ Copy Editor ∙ x33202 Victoria Alarcon ∙ Features & Opinions Editor ∙ x33855 Leslie Armstrong ∙ Arts Editor ∙ x33855 Ernest Reid ∙ Science & Technology Editor ∙ x33855 Wayne Hudson ∙ Sports & Health Editor ∙ x33201 Ayesha Khan ∙ Ad Designer & Bulletins Editor ∙ x33202 Keith Mclean ∙ Graphics & Comics Editor ∙ x33202 Philip Darlington ∙ Multimedia Editor ∙ x21099 Amelia Ruthven-Nelson ∙ Recruitment Manager ∙ x33206

staff Hamid Adem, Dillon Aubin, Sarah Ciantar, Courtney Clinton, Evan Eshelman, Romina Julian, Tamara Khandaker, Alex Millington, Ana Rancourt, Daniel Rependa, Chloe Silver, Hufsa Tahir,

contributors Purniya Awan, Chris Beach, Tom Bonin, Alyssa Dool, Alex Granger, Hyun Kim, Justin Li, Dimpy Mehta, Rebecca Morton, Tejiri Ohwahwa, Aileen Ormoc, Charlotte Pedersen, Ken Ping, Dave Synyard, Najim Zafir

volunteer of the week Ana Rancourt 420 Student Centre, York University 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario m3j 1p3 phone 416-736-2100 • fax 416-736-5841 advertising 416-736-5238

Good news, everyone!


have made it a point to never use Excalibur as my own personal soap box, but I’m going to break my own rule for a moment. Running this paper has been the most thankless job I’ve ever worked, and that sentiment extends to everyone on my staff. We break ourselves on a weekly basis for a product that gets lazily flipped through by students during their lunch breaks, or (more often than not) ignored completely for a free copy of The Toronto Star. When we’re not busy holding the administration accountable for the decisions they make (decisions that affect every person reading this paper), we’re dealing with accusations of bias, racism, sexism—you name it. I have personally been threatened with lawsuits and physical violence. I keep on doing what I do because of a simple belief: Excalibur does good work, and our work matters. In my first editorial at the start of our publication year (May 2011), I said that my goal this year was to tell your story. You, the York community. Global and CTV don’t set foot this far north unless there’s a tragedy to report on. We aim to put a product that reflects what all of you care about on a weekly basis, and that has always been enough for me. However, I would never say no to a golden trophy or two. This past weekend, three Excalibur editors went to represent us at the Associate Collegiate Press annual conference in Seattle, Washington. We were one of the few Canadian schools in attendance, and we were facing some steep competition from dedicated American journalism schools. I am extremely proud to announce that Excalibur won Best in Show in two categories: Four-year Weekly Newspaper, and Publication Website for a Large School. Every inch of this accomplishment was a group

effort, and I personally could not have asked for a better group. With an exciting month ahead of us (please, flip over to this year’s excellent Women’s Supplement) before we wrap up our production year, I wanted to use this space to congratulate my team and thank you, our readers. You have held us to a high standard, and sometimes we don’t meet it. Free time is a precious commodity on campus, and we’re grateful every time you choose us over another round of Tiny Wings, or The Toronto (goddamn) Star. And we would have a rather

empty (if not well-designed) newspaper if were not for our volunteers. If you have written for us two dozen times, thank you. If you have written for us once, thank you. Also, you are cordially invited to come up to our office (420 Student Centre) and look at our shiny, shiny trophies. w

Mike Sholars Editor-in-Chief @Sholarsenal

Editorial Podcast Here

Letters to the Editor The Excalibur opinions section welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (no longer than 300 words). All submissions must be accompanied by the writer’s name, major, year and telephone number/email address. Submissions longer than 300 words will be sent back to be shortened. All submissions will be edited for clarity, spelling and grammatical errors. All editing is up to the discretion of the editor.

Materials deemed libelous or discriminatory by Excalibur will not be printed. All opinions expressed in the opinions section are those of their authors and are not necessarily those of the Excalibur staff, editorial board, or board of publishers. Send submissions to our office at 420 Student Centre, fax to 416-736-5841 or email to Please embed submissions in the body of the email.

6  Arts

excalibur · march 7, 2012

Arts exhibition review

Wood burning technique catches fire

cd review Old Ideas Leonard Cohen


Alex Dabic and Steven La’s wood burning art show Sibilate visited the Zacks gallery in February

Leonard Cohen to shit gold for rest of life mark grant

mark markgrant grant

Like any art form, wood burning gives the artist full control—Debic’s work, left, is precise and technical, whereas La’s work, right, is abstract and natural. Sarah Ciantar Staff writer @excalweb


he Samuel J. Zacks Gallery in Stong college once again put a spotlight on an underused medium: the artistic creations of wood burning. Alex Debic and Steven

La are the two artists behind the skillful and well-executed works exhibited in the show. Stas Guzar, assistant director of the gallery, was responsible for naming the exhibition— “sibilation” means the hissing sound of burning wood. Upon entering the gallery, larger-scale works captivated the viewer with the raw essence of

wood. These captivating works present precision and mastery of these technical skills. Both artists remark on different motives for taking up the unique craft of wood burning. For Debic, curiosity was a predominant factor. He wanted to experiment and develop his technical skills. A positive reception of his works in this medium allowed him to explore the medium for commercial purposes. La explained that his interest in using wood came early in his artistic exploration because of the “nature feel” it gives the works, taking preferring it to canvases. Talking with the artists about their works allowed further insight into their creative process and preferences. “I’m into both drawing and painting,” Debic explains. “I want to become more figurative with my works.” Debic explains his artistic focus is heavily based on the figurative style, and that his interests lie predominantly in realism because it is something he can relate to. “Portraits are a good place for any realist painter to get a start.” One of the most striking pieces was a highly-detailed oil painting on wood by Debic. Debic said this, his most personal piece, was “Study of a Man’s Head,” his first venture into wood pallets in addition to stepping into a new bound of realism. This work remains to be the starting point for pressing his own creative boundaries through use of chiaroscuro lighting and highly emotional subject matter. “The hardest thing is to try to stay contemporary while staying true to artistic preferences,” says Debic. His work focuses heavily on classical elements; as a result, it’s a challenge to remain contemporary. As a contrast to Debic’s work, La’s works have a more abstract quality. He says that his works are highly surrounded by aesthetic qualities, creating works that are visually appealing to the viewer. La speaks honestly about his art, admitting that there isn’t always “deep meaning or analogies in his works,” and at times creates works that he believes will be aesthetically pleasing. His honesty allows his work to be appreciated for its simplicity and high aesthetic value. A large-scale work featured a woman painted in a vibrant chro-

matic scheme, looking downwards with strong compelling emotion. This piece titled “Guilt,” is a personal piece to La because it is inspired by a close friend of his, the subject of the portrait. The blend of colours and the detailing of abstract figuration surrounding the subject is captivating. La says that despite the difference in stylistic qualities, the combination of his and Debic’s work is successful because it’s all unified under the same medium.

The difference in styles is a representation of dualitites. Alex is very classical, intentional and precise. I’m the opposite, and take more of an abstract approach with my works. Steven La, artist

“The difference in styles is a representation of dualities,” he says. “Alex is very classical, intentional, and precise. I’m the opposite, and take more of an abstract approach with my works.” Both artists remark on how helpful the Samuel J. Zacks Gallery was to them, especially Stas Guzar. Debic and La agree that the show would not have been possible without Guzar’s immense help and strong curatorial skills. The power of the exhibition as a whole lies strongly in the fact that all works are unified by the wood, allowing the viewer to experience the works as one consistent entity.

wood burning art Origins Wood burning, the practice of etching art onto wood with redhot metal tools, was originally called “pyrography” (Greek for “burning with fire”)—and “poker work” in the 16th century.

Materials Wood burning artists prefer to work on beech, sycamore, and birch. Solid-tip burners and wirenib burners are used for etching designs.

Dillon Aubin staff writer @excalweb


anadians have mixed feelings when it comes to our music history. We can brag about Canadian legends like Rush and Neil Young, but we also must take responsibility for embarrassments like Justin Bieber and Nickelback. But the internationally celebrated songwriter Leonard Cohen will always be a centrepiece of Canadian culture and pride, especially in light of his latest album, Old Ideas, released in late January. Cohen has been active since 1956 and continues to release material, even at the age of 77. 1967 saw his debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, a raw and emotional folk masterpiece. Eleven albums later, Cohen’s music has evolved into a cleaner rock-oriented sound while also preserving the intellectual charm of a novelist and poet. Old Ideas is an appropriate title for the album—the music doesn’t experiment or innovate. It just offers a modest collection of songs meant to relax the listener rather than impress or mystify. The music itself has a gentle feel. Cohen has his usual ensemble of studio musicians, only this time with a much softer tone. The album consists of mostly acoustic guitars and pianos with the occasional use of strings, backup singers, and other sounds. Hardly any percussion is used on the album, which enhances the calm atmosphere that is constantly present. It seems like Cohen’s voice gets deeper with every album. His deadpan style of singing allows him to stand out as an artist, but also turns off many listeners. His voice suits his dark and personal lyrical tone which has been present his whole career. The problem with Leonard Cohen is that some listeners don’t understand him as a musician. And who can blame them? His raspy, atonal voice is fairly unattractive. But his fans understand the personal nature of his music, and realize that the songs he writes can only be heard through his mumbling vocal style. Ultimately, Old Ideas is a pleasurable listen. It doesn’t bring anything new to folk music, but it is what Leonard Cohen fans want to hear. But if you are not already a fan of the Canadian icon, this album won’t change your opinion.

Arts  7

excalibur · march 7, 2012

film review

Boys will be boys for filmmaker Céline Sciamma French film Tomboy chronicles the challenges of a transgendered girl trying to fit in as one of the boys Tomboy Directed by Céline Sciamma Starring Zoé Héran, Jeanne Disson, Malonn Lévana

Justin Li



ichaël is sleeping in his bed. His mother comes in. “Come on. Get up, get dressed,” she says. Michaël proceeds to put on a pair of shorts. “No,” she says. “You’ll wear this.” She’s holding up a blue, conservative-looking dress. When Michaël protests, his mom simply says, “You don’t have a choice.” We find out that “Michaël” is really Laure. She didn’t have a choice either. Laure is the protagonist of Céline Sciamma’s Tomboy, the story of an androgynous 10-yearold girl (Zoé Héran). When she and her family move into a new

neighbourhood, Laure looks to befriend a group of kids who hang out near her council estate. Her boyish haircut and mannerisms immediately lead them to believe that she is a boy, and when Lisa (Jeanne Disson), the lone girl of the group, asks Laure for her name, she replies, “Michaël.” As Michaël is accepted into the group, her friendship with Lisa blossoms into a burgeoning romance, but Laure’s confused gender identity creates a discord in the way she sees herself, and how she wants to be seen by others. At first glance, Tomboy can be understood as a story of a kid just trying to fit in. When Laure is first introduced to the gang, she is welcomed and accepted as a boy. Her desire to be embraced and to make friends in a strange new town forces her to keep up this lie. Thus, Laure pretends to be Michaël. But in Sciamma’s typical fashion, it’s much deeper than that. It is

heavily implied from the beginning that Laure is transgendered—it’s no coincidence that people mistake her for a boy. At first, Laure only subconsciously understands her true desires, manifesting it only in her attire and her overall appearance. But the more her peers identify her as a boy, the more she is accustomed to it. After a while, she begins to embrace it. The most heartbreaking aspect of Laure’s story is how much inner turmoil her gender epiphany inflicts upon her. Her hidden identity creates certain barriers that impede her ability to be close to her friends, especially with Lisa. This sort of social alienation is devastating for a child. When the boys are all urinating after a soccer game, Laure is forced to hold it in. When she can hold it no longer, she rushes into the woods to relieve herself. In another scene, the boys invite her to go swimming. In order to be “one of the boys,” Laure creates a male appendage out of molding clay to put in her swimming trunks, and swims topless. When she and Lisa become more physical in their relationship, she is forced to keep her at a distance. Scenes like these, where Laure struggles to maintain her façade as Michaël, chip away at your heart, and when we get to the climax, it almost shatters it. Following her under-appreciated 2007 film Water Lilies, Tomboy confirms Sciamma as being one of the most daring and original French filmmakers today. Returning to the theme of adolescent self-discovery, Sciamma proves herself to be the absolute authority in the oftenoverlooked pre-teen genre. Her understanding of adolescents is akin to John Hughes’ understanding of teenagers. Because of this, and her careful, delicate direction and writing, she is able to induce performances that feel natural, as if the kids aren’t acting at all. As a result, Sciamma creates a film that feels endlessly real.

photo courtesy of hold up films

Tomboy was shot in 20 days in August 2010, and the lead actress was found on the first day of casting.

photo courtesy of tiff

A childhood friendship is made complicated by Laure’s secret.

Women's supplement  9

excalibur · march 7, 2012

redefining feminism


photos by ana rancout and mark grant


Women’s Supplement

A different kind of Cosmo girl

didn’t want this supplement to look like an issue of Cosmo. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with this month’s issue’s “50 new sex tips,” but feminism is more than sexual techniques. Feminism is more than pleasing a mate in the name of sexual liberation. Feminism is about people. Feminism is women and men coming together and raising their voices against gender inequality. This struggle comes in many forms, forms often ignored or forgotten. In this supplement, there is a diversity of voices: the political and the personal, the local and the global, and the sexual and the shy. Whether it’s a feminist’s view on pop culture, or a story on women fighting for a cause, this supplement explores feminism in all its forms. You may not agree with some of the perspectives presented here, but I hope you find yourself provoked, interested, and enlightened by the end. The message of this supplement is inclusiveness, and I wanted my writers to explore what feminism means from varying and often unexpected angles. Yuni Kim explores the world of gender politics with a dominatrix, while Jacqueline Perlin uncovers what socially conservative feminism looks like. Purniya Awan writes about the disappearing stigma surrounding the cougar, while Amelia Ruthven-Nelson and Tejiri Ohwahwa battle it out on whether the Twilight series is feminist or not. These articles, and many more, provide insight into the feminist era in which we live. When I visited Bangladesh this past summer, I saw a different kind of patriarchy than the one on the pages of Cosmo. I saw two things: the challenges of being a woman in an extremely male-dominated society, and the incredibly strong women working to change the status quo. I realized, more than anything, how important it is to keep talking and writing about the status of women, and how much open dialogue can contribute to real change. The women of Bangladesh inspired me, an inspiration I hope runs through these pages. I’d like to thank the amazing team of writers for all of the work they’ve put into this project and for helping me over the past two weeks, and the wonderful Excalibur editorial board for their endless support. I want to dedicate this supplement to my mom. A journalist by trade, she dedicated her life to her daughters, and gave me invaluable support as a journalist in training. I hope you’re proud of me, mom. With that said, I hope the stories covered and the views illuminated in this supplement will leave you with a real cosmopolitan perspective on feminism.

Tamara Khandaker Women’s Supplement Coordinator

10  women's supplement

excalibur · march 7, 2012

women in film

Bridesmaids for women and men Academy Award-nominated film, Bridesmaids shows that women are more than just funny, they’re hilarious Romina Julian Staff Writer @excalweb


elissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe respectively, broke new ground by being recognized for their work in a comedy. The year 2011 was a great year for women in film. The critically acclaimed Bridesmaids, in particular, was one of the highest-grossing comedies of the year. Bridesmaids featured not only a female-dominated cast, but characters who went completely above and beyond the boundaries set by Hollywood for female roles. The film journeys through the hardships of preparing for a wedding, while the maid of honour questions whether her friendship will withstand the test of time and marriage. With the success it has achieved, will Bridesmaids pave the way for more films with female ensembles or strong, positive roles for actresses? York film professor Dr. Michael Zryd is optimistic about the effect the success Bridesmaids will have on Hollywood. “I think it made a huge impact,” he says. “Hollywood listens to box office.” He says the film has lessened the fear that female-centred comedies can’t make money, and movies for women have to be very sentimental or romantic. Bridesmaids has also proven that there is a market for romantic comedies amongst men, according to Zryd. “I think Bridesmaids crosses over to different audiences and genres,” he says, referring to the combination of elements from romance and gross-out comedy in the film. The label “chick flick” has long plagued movies that feature three or more leading ladies, often becoming failures in the box office. Those men who end up watching them often give the old “My

girlfriend dragged me to see this movie” excuse. Bridesmaids, which fortunately did not advertise itself as another romantic comedy, wasn’t given the “chick flick” label. While the main plot involves getting ready for a friend’s wedding, the women don’t spend a majority of the time giving each other makeovers or crying to music from Adele. Instead they spent time being “unladylike:” getting explosive diarrhea and defecating in the middle of the street in wedding dresses. Audiences, however, found them absolutely hilarious—both women and men flocked to see this movie. Super-producer Judd Apatow, the man behind The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Superbad, whose films are normally geared towards a male audience, was undoubtedly one of the greatest selling points for the male audience of Bridesmaids. It was reported that 33 per cent of the movie’s audience who saw the film on opening weekend were male. That is three times more than the percentage of men who saw Sex and the City 2 on opening weekend. Zryd points out that Apatow’s films are also more than just raunchy comedy, and that this is perhaps why critics liked Bridesmaids. “There’s always an element of sweetness to [his films], and many of them are quite intelligent,” he says. Apatow has strong beliefs that women can make it in comedy. During an acceptance speech at the Critic’s Choice Awards, he alluded to a quote by Jerry Lewis who said in 1998 that he didn’t think women were funny. In response, Apatow said, “With all respect, fuck you.” During an interview, he said, “I never think about who the crowd is, I just try to figure out the best way to tell the story.” The success of Bridesmaids should teach us how female-driven films could be marketed without being given the Sex and the City treatment. Not all film trailers

universal pictures

Bridesmaids broke new ground by achieving critical and commercial success.

have to focus on the fashion, the glitz and glamour, and scenes that make up the entire plot line. Also, I’m personally sick of hearing “Raise Your Glass” in rom-com trailers. I’d like to see trailers that showcase the story, rather than ones that treat audiences as being dimwitted and superficial. They should not rely on clichés when marketing a film. Then again, perhaps the lack of commercially successful and critically acclaimed films with femaledominated casts has something to do with the fact that there are simply not enough strong, positive female leads out there in the first place. When a female character is shown to be assertive or in power, she is usually the antagonist or the “bitch” in the film. Most of the time, the female lead is the damsel in distress or the supportive partner or sidekick to the male hero. There is not a lot of well-written

material for actresses in Hollywood. A small number of actresses succeed in the drama category, while others often try and fail. Sadly, most actresses find success in romantic comedies, which are typically cheesy, have almost identical story lines and characters that lack depth. The only “chick flick” cliché in Bridesmaids is embodied through the character Helen. She is stylish, uptight, and beautiful, and interestingly enough, is the antagonist of the film. Not only is she vital for the plotline, but she parodies all the characters in every romantic comedy. Movie-makers need to have more faith in the audience; we need originality and substance. The audiences will believe a girl who’s a size 14 as a leading lady, not a skinny actress wearing a fat suit. I think it is time we see a story about the lives of female telemarketers, and not the lives of Manhattan socialites.

Zryd also points out the complexity of Wiig’s character as a standout quality. “She’s an entrepreneur who’s suffering because of the economic downturn,” he says. “Her situation is something that a lot of people can sympathize with. Her experiences with bad roommates and bad boyfriends is something everyone can relate to.” There are too many writers and actresses whose work is not recognized by the public. There are women who are not afraid to go against type, and there are quality writers who can write a well-developed story with three-dimensional characters without the need of CGI or 3D technology. It has been a constant struggle for women to be treated as equals in Hollywood since the beginning of cinema. But with the success of Bridesmaids paving the way for women in film, I hope to see more films with strong and funny female ensembles.


Switching gears: younger guys are fair game Age differences in relationships are no longer a big deal, even when roles are reversed Purniya Awan Staff Writer @excalweb


ariah Carey and Nick Cannon; Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher; Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake. These are just a few of the well-known couples who have broken one of the most nonsensical barriers for women in relationships: age limits. It seems that times are changing and that the notion of a younger man with an older woman is slowly becoming less taboo. Sandra L. Caron, a professor of family relations and human sexuality at the University of Maine, explains the rationale behind this widely accepted idea which has been around for centuries. “For a long time, we’ve been fed this idea that women should look for a man to take care of her,” she says. “A man that is more educated, has a better job, and makes more money”

Stigma has always been attached to younger men with older women relationships, swayed by the Freudian idea that older women are actually substitutes for mothers for these younger men, or are “robbing the cradle.” Valerie Gibson, Toronto-based journalist and author of Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men, first used the term “cougar” to describe single women over 40 who were sexually active to represent a sleek sexiness, aggressiveness, and a desire to take control of one’s life. Gibson says the ideal of an older man comes from a time when women were simply “baby-making machines” who have no other purpose than to procreate. According to Gibson, after they reached 40, they had nothing to offer, but at the time, they rarely reached 40—women would die of disease or in childbirth at a young age, allowing their husbands to remarry. Now, modern knowledge of diet, exercise, and medicine allows us to live long past 40, and often into

our 90s, and since easy divorces are possible, many women are able to leave troubling marriages at an age when they still have half of their lives ahead of them. Relationship conventions have changed dramatically in recent years, and ideas about an acceptable age for one’s mate are increasingly ignored. While women delay marriage more and more, men have woken up to the appeal of independent, financially secure, and sexually confident, older women. Women who date younger men are, for the most part, not the amusingly desperate, manipulative seductress types depicted in shows like Desperate Housewives. It is, in fact, almost always men that first initiate contact with older women, and do so because they are attracted to them physically. “Younger men are attracted to me,” says Gibson when asked if younger men are her personal preference. She speaks with a sexy playfulness that resonates youth. “I guess I’m a very energetic old

woman, very vital, very outspoken perhaps.” We are exceeding expectations in traditionally male-dominated fields, are paid equally (for the most part), and can take care of ourselves. Something as meaningless as age shouldn’t matter. In the UK, 23 per cent of wives are older than their husbands, and in the US, a third of women aged 40-69 are dating men who are younger by 10 or more years. Really, one of the biggest problems with being in such a relationship is dealing with the reaction of friends, family, and society in general. A study, published in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, found that couples thought their age difference mattered more to everyone else than it did to them. Gibson herself has noticed a significant change in thinking— younger people are much more accepting, and view this as just another alternative type of relationship. It is the older generation, and especially older women, who are

the harshest critics of cougars. She credits older female celebrities for making it publicly known that relationships with younger men often work well, and for making it acceptable for older women to be sexy. Gibson finds the best thing to come out of the cougar craze is that it has freed women from fear of aging. “I’m sick of hearing the disease of the month we’re going to get,” she says. “Aging should be about desire and dancing.” “That half of your life should be exciting,” she adds. As a society, we should embrace this new trend. It is indicative of progress, and brings us closer to the goal of true equality. Women and men of all ages should have the autonomy to make important choices, like who they want to spend their life with, without fear of being vilified. Ultimately, age has very little to do with compatibility—what’s more important is the intensity with which our partners live their lives, and that it matches ours.

women's supplement  11

excalibur · march 7, 2012

comic books

Female comic book heroes need to save the day It’s time for female comic book characters to be more than a pair of boobs and more of an asset Alyssa Dool



hen I was growing up, I used to watch Teen Titans every Saturday morning. There was one particular character who I was able to relate to immensely. Her name was Starfire. Starfire was a teenage girl who believed it was okay to feel things, that kindness was the best superpower, and that friendship was important. She was a character I could look up to. Now that I'm 19 years old, DC Comics has relaunched some titles, one of them being Red Hood and the Outlaws. When I found out Starfire was one of the main characters, I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait to see what my childhood hero grew up to become. Unfortunately, when I was introduced to Starfire of Red Hood and the Outlaws, she was sporting a small purple bikini, posing in tropical waters while her male group members gawked at her. This sort of thing isn't uncommon in comic books. I know that. I've been reading them for years, but it still doesn't change the fact that it bothers me. Sherry Lea, an illustrator from Ottawa, sheds some light on what the problem may be. “A lot of the creators of these comics are men. They’re going to draw or write what they think will please their readers,” she says. “Most of the time they think their readers are going to be male so they try to target it towards that audience.” Even though that’s reality, I can't help but be irritated that there isn’t a single empowered female character in Red Hood and the Outlaws that I can relate to. All I see is a highly sexualized female for straight male readers to fantasize about. Usually, creators justify their actions by saying that they are

sexually liberating their female characters. What’s done to these characters, however, is by no means my definition of sexual liberation. It’s proven by the way the creators of the new Catwoman spent the first several panels focusing on Catwoman’s assets—we don’t get to see her face even once. Meanwhile, Starfire is cold, doesn't believe in love, or remember anyone she has had sex with. These two female comic characters aren't sexually liberated; they are what straight males would like to think a sexually liberated woman is. Lea agrees. “It’s a pity, really,” she says. “Since most of the creators are male they completely miss the mark when it comes to creating a woman character with depth.” “They don’t know what it’s like to be a sexually liberated woman because they aren’t women,” adds Lea. The fact is, many female characters in comics are more busy posing than actually doing anything. As a female comic reader, I could not care less about their outfits or sexual relationships. I want to read about a character who is on par with her male counterparts. I shouldn't have to watch some of my favourite characters prance through panels, bend over, and flip their hair back so they can sexually please some of the readers. If the female characters were actually pursuing the male characters, going after what they wanted, then I could honestly say these women were empowered and sexually liberated. Until then, they're just bimbos in bikinis, who serve as eye candy and nothing more. I can imagine a world in comics where both male and female superheroes are equal. When I was younger and I read comics targeted for a younger audience, the dynamics between the characters

victor van den hoef

The over sexualized and under acknowledgded heroine is at it again.

weren’t about who was attracting whom. The stories were about how the characters grew, regardless of whether they were male or female. The character development was equal for every major character. Female readers should be allowed to grow up with characters who they can look up to, just like guys. While male readers have characters like Robin who develop into the likes of Nightwing, female readers are stuck with characters like Starfire. Lea attributes the abundance of strong male characters, as opposed

to female ones, to the number of male writers and illustrators in the industry. “What we need to do is balance it out with some girls. Then we’ll start seeing a difference in the comic book styles,” she says. “That being said, some of the best works are created by male/ female duos,” she says. “They really can grasp the dynamics of real interactions." I want to see positive female character development in comics for adults. When I think about the well-known superheroes—

Batman, the Flash, Superman, and Green Lantern—the sad truth is that I can’t think of any female characters who are on par with them. All those male heroes I just named have emotional diversity, and an actual complex personality. Female characters need that too. Starfire shouldn’t have to be an emotionless lover in order to be a sexually liberated woman. The reader’s focus shouldn’t be on Catwoman’s ass. Females in comics should be just as badass as their male counterparts.

independent magazines

How to stay independent, intelligent, and Shameless Independent feminist magazine keeps it honest Hamid Adem Staff Writer @excalweb


hen Melinda Mattos, co-founder of feminist magazine Shameless, was a teenager, she didn’t fit into any of the young female stereotypes that were so prevalent in the media. The media tried to convince her that she was too smart, her breasts weren’t big enough, and that she needed a boyfriend to feel complete. What does it mean to be a feminist today? While mainstream media is supposed to be bringing attention to issues we should be aware of, it’s small grassroots organizations like Shameless that help bring the real issues that are relevant to us to the foreground. While other magazines like Chatelaine have long been described as setting the Canadian feminist agenda, Shameless is a one-of-a-kind publication, bringing its own unique, “inclusive” feminist perspective to it readers. In essence, inclusive feminism looks at the issues and obstacles faced by young women and trans youth that lie at the intersection

of different forms of oppression, based on race, class, ability, immigration status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. When Mattos got a bit older, she and Nicole Cohen, who is currently a PhD candidate in York’s communication and culture program, created Shameless, which has been making waves in the media since 2004.

Flipping through the magazines as a teen, I never felt I was represented in the publications, Sheila Shampath, editorial director, Shameless

Sheila Sampath, editorial director of Shameless, says that growing up, she felt teen magazines were very alienating. “Flipping through the magazines as a teen, I never felt I was represented in the publications and I think Shameless offers a lot of people visibility and is able to represent them,” says Sampath. With a background in antioppression activism, a passion for creative ideas, a diploma in graphic design, as well as a degree in

sociology and psychology from the University of Toronto, Sampath brings a lot to the table when running the magazine, as do the other members of the editorial team. Because the magazine is a grassroots publication, most of the staff and editors work on the magazine outside of their regular jobs to meet deadlines, and to run events and workshops for the organization. Sampath finds that all the effort is completely worth it because it brings back feminism. She criticizes Chatelaine, which was long held as the premiere feminist magazine in Canada, for not addressing important women’s issues. “I wouldn’t consider Chatelaine a feminist magazine,” she says. “They are owned by Rogers and are funded by commercial advertising,” adds Sampath. “So, on one hand they might be able to bring or break something critical, but on the other hand they have to be careful what they published because they are liable to their advertisers.” Being independent and lowbudget means having to get creative in their publishing methods, and remaining community-based. Running a magazine with such a

strong message means that you are going to be wary of where and how funds are obtained. “We could have sold ad space to Dove and that would have paid for our salaries and for whatever else that we needed,” says Sampath. “But when we need to write critical articles like the Unilever one, it wouldn’t work.” The magazine covered a campaign by Unilever in 2007, which owns Dove and the hair product brand Suave. The campaign for Suave urged women to not let themselves go as they got older, and of course, to use their products to keep themselves looking young. This sharply contrasts Dove’s campaign which showed the dramatic transformation of a model from how she looks in real life to what we see in advertisements. The magazine has also taken a strong stance on sex workers’ rights, which is a divisive issue in women’s groups. “Feminism is split on the issue of sex worker rights, as an organization and staff we believe it’s important that sex worker rights are recognized and addressed,” says Sampath. “When people talk about sex workers they don’t seem interested in talking with sex

workers themselves.” The most recent issue of Shameless tackles this issue with an article written by a former youth sex worker. The article looks at the labour issues and worker’s rights issues associated with sex work. Sampath stresses the importance of listening to the people who are directly involved in sex work when dealing with the issue. “It is important to see what their needs are, rather than people who are just morally opposed to it,” she says. Shameless is organizing a panel with the writer as a response to the foreseen backlash that comes with dealing with such a controversial topic. Since its first issue, the feminist magazine has consistently exceeded expectations of a small, volunteer-run publication. In 2004, they were recognized as Best New Magazine by Toronto alternative weekly magazine NOW, and in 2005, the magazine won an Utne Independent Press Award for Best Personal Life Writing. Sampath recognizes the limitations of being a small magazine. “But the fact that we are still around publishing for almost eight years makes me think that we’re making a difference,” she says.

excalibur · march 7, 2012

Fighting rape culture, one s How communication is key to stopping sexual assault in society

All of a sudden, I heard laughter, and one of them said to the other ‘She just got raped.’

women's supplement  13

step at a time

Charlotte Pedersen Contributor


ana rancourt

ust the other day, I was sitting in the COMN lab and two male students sat in front of me,” begins Shauna Pandit. “All of a sudden, I heard laughter, and ____one of them said to the other ‘She just got raped.’” Suddenly alert, Pandit became extremely irritated. “This is why I’m doing what I’m doing,” she says. Pandit, 24, is a co-president of the Communication Studies Students’ Association (CSSA), and has always been vocal about changing the way we speak about sexual assault. Following a string of sex crimes at York, and increased efforts by the administration to increase campus safety, Pandit felt the need to take action as a female student. She and a group of students are working tirelessly on the CSSA’s newest initiative called “What Do YU Say?”, which calls for greater attention to the way we communicate about sexual assault at York. “Personally it’s something I have wanted to address in some capacity for a while now,” she says, adding that recent incidents of voyeurism, the comment made by Toronto police rep that gave birth to Slutwalk, and the murder of Qian Liu, are among the reasons she felt it was the right time for the campaign. She is of course referring to incidents that have been all over the media, and have given York an infamous reputation among students. Solving the problem, Pandit feels, requires an atmosphere that encourages open dialogue, and does not perpetuate a culture in which sexual assault is tolerated or taken lightly. And while all of these incidents have occurred in connection to York, it demonstrates a very localized sample of a much larger and complex issue that goes beyond Toronto, and even Canada. In an interview with Fox News host Eric Shawn, Liz Trotta—a conservative pundit on the program—made some startling statements about women in the military. When asked to comment about the 64-per-cent rise of sex crimes in the past six years in the United States military, Trotta acknowledged an outdated myth about sexual assault. Trotta stated that feminists want “to be warriors and victims at the same time.” With regards to the increase in sexual assault in the military, she said, “Now what did they expect? These people are in close contact […] it’s strictly been a question of pressure from feminists.” This idea that sexual assault is something that should be expected is absolutely detrimental to the rights of the victim. It speaks up for the rights of the rapist with a very narrow “boys will be boys” interpretation. Something must be done to change these views. The flawed logic in believing that one is not prone to sexual assault if they don’t dress like a “slut” or walk around alone at night is what Pandit wants to tackle. She urges that yes, while the attacks may happen under these circumstances, it is not exclusive to them. Sexual assault is a very real thing that could happen to anyone. We have to make the offender accountable for their actions and stop normalizing this behaviour and degrading the seriousness of the abuse against the victims. A large part of achieving this is to engage both the male and female population using the “bystander approach”—which treats each person as someone who can make a difference—rather than just as a perpetrator or a victim.

Most men don’t identify themselves as rapists so they don’t believe that this issue is something they should be concerned with, but this fact speaks volumes: one in four women in North America will experience sexual assault in their life. Men might not be aware that their sister, mother, or daughter has been sexually assaulted, simply because they do not feel comfortable coming forward and speaking about this issue or seeking help for it. The bystander approach attempts to make males (along with females) realize that this assault can happen to the different women in their lives, and that collective support for these women is important. The CSSA is attempting to create a campaign that speaks to both males and females. Pandit acknowledges the challenges of trying to engage the male community, but feels that it must be done so that men can identify more with the victims of sexual assault. Pandit’s main focus is addressing the way in which we communicate about sexual assault. “The way you think about something, the way you speak about something, ultimately affects your behaviour towards it,” she says. “So if we are able to talk about [sexual assault] in a healthy way, I feel like that is an individual change that might mark a collective behavioural change.” The notion of the impact of words comes into play when we speak about actions and reactions taken towards sexual assault. I can’t tell you how many times I hear “I just got raped by that test” or “I raped that test.” These hateful and highly-charged words are normalized into our vocabulary, which can ultimately affect our view of the violent act. The term “rape” itself was taken out of Canadian legal definitions in 1983 and replaced by the much broader legal term “sexual assault.” While rape is viewed as a very violent and aggressive act, sexual assault has to be classified into degrees of severity. The argument for the replacement of “rape” with “sexual assault” is that the former did not include men as victims, or legally married wives. That means that just 30 years ago, a rapist could not be convicted if the victim was a male, nor could a husband be charged with raping his wife. But perhaps bringing the term rape back into law would help us to stop glossing over the seriousness of this horrific and degrading crime. Pandit is concerned with how casually the word rape is used now. “What it says to me, is that it’s not being taken seriously.” There are other, less offensive ways of expressing a bad experience or being taken advantage of. “It doesn’t speak to a culture where we are supportive of people seeking support,” says Pandit. By taking a more active role in changing the language we use in everyday conversation, we could very well be giving a voice to many victims who are feeling discouraged from seeking support. And while this complex issue does seem like it is larger than any one individual, the fight has to start somewhere, and it can gain momentum through something as simple as communication. It can start with us, and it can start right now. The CSSA will be putting together a viral video with a compilation of different images related to sexual assault, and organizing an open-mic night, where students are encouraged to speak about their thoughts on sexual assault.

14  women's supplement

excalibur · march 7, 2012

women’s rights

A former dominatrix’s perspective on feminism Sex worker advocate Terri-Jean Bedford sits down with Yuni Kim to discuss sex work, feminism, and campus crime prostitution laws Prostitution Laws

Yuni Kim


News Editor @YuniKimchi

n a world where prostitution—despite being one of the oldest professions in the world—is still viewed as taboo, Terri-Jean Bedford has seen and experienced it firsthand. Before she became best known for fighting for sex workers’ rights and her landmark case, Bedford v. Canada, she also worked as the head mistress at Bondage Hotel as a professional dominatrix. Before that, she worked as a sex worker. “Sex work let me survive,” she says of her time in the industry. “If you do sex work from a secure location and in a clean environment, it’s much better than being forced underground the way the laws do to us now, despite prostitution being decriminalized.” Despite the long-standing idea that sex work is an abusive profession to be in, Bedford maintains that it allowed her and many others to make a living. In fact, she believes that all women in the workplace experience some form of sexual harassment regardless of their profession. “High-end prostitutes are making good livings for short hours, and many love what they do and endure no sexual harassment the way secretaries, waitresses, and other poorly-paid women do,” she says. “As a dominatrix, I felt even better than a high-end sex worker, except that it was a more costly and burdensome business to run.” And burdensome it was. In 1994, police raided her “Bondage Bungalow” in Thornhill, and Bedford was convicted of running a bawdy house in 1998. Despite the setback, she continued to fight for sex workers’ rights. “I believe a feminist is a woman—or man for that matter—who believes in maximizing the equality of the sexes in every respect and

Bedford's landmark case challenged Canada’s prostitution laws. The applicants argued that the existing prostitution laws were unconstitutional due to the fact that, despite prostitution itself not being illegal, there were several provisions which made it impossible for sex workers to protect themselves in the profession. The prostitution laws were struck down on September 28, 2010.

courtesy of terri-jean bedford

Terri-Jean Bedford insisted on bringing a black riding crop to all of her court appearances.

minimizing discrimination of any type based on gender.” So in a world where misogyny has a hand everywhere, from the workplace to the streets to our own York campus, what role does Bedford want to play as a feminist? “I see myself as a feminist in terms of supporting equality of opportunity in the workplace,” Bedford says of women in the working field. However, her own feelings of empowerment came

following several hurdles that she had to overcome. Working as a dominatrix gave Bedford a feeling of being in control, except for when she had to deal with the concerns that come with running any illegal business. “I was concerned about the police raiding me,” she says. “I was concerned about making enough money to continue on.” Until she was able to pursue the court case that would result in

the landmark decision to repeal Canada’s prostitution laws, Bedford continued to witness cases of misogyny and violence towards women. She provided her own insights as to why this is such a prevalent social issue today, seemingly more so at York campus. “York has many students that come from or whose parents come from traditional cultures, where men’s pride can easily be hurt by women,” she noted. “Also, I must

comment that women, like the elderly, are a safer target for attackers than able-bodied young men [...] most of York’s students are women.” But as a feminist, Bedford is a strong advocate of fighting against violence through reporting incidents to authorities and encouraging others to offer support to victims. She is also a strong proponent of choice. “Some people condemn birth control,” she says. “Some people condemn pre-marital sex, anonymous sex, cross-dressing, homosexual encounters, bondage, and consensual and safe torture. They see all these things as degrading. People see taking money for doing these things as degrading because people are not only doing something they condemn, but are getting paid for it.” Meanwhile, Bedford remains confident that people will do what they wish to do behind closed doors. The campaign against misogyny and violence is a battle people will collectively have to fight; as for her, she sees herself as a feminist who will always push for equal opportunity and rights for all. “People in private will continue to do what they want because they want to be free,” she says. “That is what this country stands for.”

women's supplement  15

excalibur · march 7, 2012

white knights

paintings by joy wong

Ladies, pick your battles— not your knights Since Andy Samberg strutted across stage wearing a National Organization for Women T-shirt, men have been wary about standing up for women’s rights Leslie Armstrong


Arts Editor @peachcrate

t seems that the feminist world is tightening its grip on masqueraders. Watch out for the “white knight,” these so-called male feminists who wear their identity like a badge on their sleeve and claim to support women’s rights. They also treat women like damsels in distress, rushing to their aid and stunning them with chivalry. The biggest problem with white knights is that they aren’t feminists at all. A term coined by no one in particular and easy to locate on, the recent phenomenon of “white knighting” or “the white knight syndrome” happens when a man openly claims his respect for women in front of women, but cancels it out by treating them like victims who don’t know how to fend for themselves. Famous white knights like comedian Andy Samberg are making the public wonder if there’s something in it for men. Samberg strutted across the stage in a National Organization for Women T-shirt at the Spike TV awards back in 2007, and when the public questioned his motives, he later told Nerve that it was “totally sincere.” Samberg may be using feminism as a way to get girls to drool over him, and that isn’t cool. But for the world to waste their time speculating over whether or not the comedian is a douchebag is a waste of time.

Because of the way the public has treated him since his stand on national television, most men feel discouraged about doing similar actions. Although there’s no mistaking the sickly-sweet chivalry of “Greg F” from Illinois (@irespectfemales on Twitter) who tweets relationship advice and empowering messages for women, the public shouldn’t be allowed to wage war on people trying to stand up for the women’s movement, simply because we don’t know what their motives are. How are we to know whether or not a man is sincere? It’s bad enough that we don’t call them male feminists. We give them the next best thing—they fall under “pro-feminism” because, supposedly, a man could never understand what it’s like being a woman. The feminist movement should be excited that men are taking part in spreading awareness. And many men are doing just that. XY magazine, founded by Michael Flood, is a pro-feminist magazine that publishes articles on important topics like rape culture, gender equality, and recruiting more men into the movement. Why do we focus on the bad examples instead of the good ones? Gender equality may not be widespread yet, but shooting down our supporters isn’t going to affect any change. Even if we’re right about Andy Samberg using feminism as his crutch, the feminist movement needs to pick its battles. For now, let’s work on putting an end to violence against women and unequal pay in the work force. In the meantime, let a man open a door for you.

Asking for it Don’t stay on campus at night; don’t drink too much or leave your drink unattended; don’t walk home by yourself or take shortcuts; be careful who you talk to, and don’t flirt too much­— if you don’t abide by these rules, you’re asking for it. My school is notorious for incidents of sexual assault. “Don’t get raped,” my friends joke. I try not to. But that is precisely the problem: in this rape culture, people are told to not get raped, instead of being told not to rape. I’m beyond frustration. The only way to prevent a rape is to not be in the same vicinity as a rapist. ­—Joy Wong 2012. Oil on canvas. 56" x 32"

There are so many ads depicting women in passive but oversexualized situations, where they choose to submit to aggressive macho desire. Females call each other sluts like it’s a compliment. We have such a disturbing, messy, and layered relationship with the word, and I’ve tried to portray that through the vigorous repetition of “slut” over the canvas, to the point of illegibility, because it’s not an easily decipherable issue. ­—Joy Wong 2012. Acrylic, mixed media on canvas. 48" x 38"

16  women's supplement

excalibur · march 7, 2012

real women

An unconventional take on feminism REAL Women Canada presents a conservative view on women’s issues Jacqueline Perlin


Assistant News Editor @jackieperlin

istening to Diane Watts speak about the organization she has been a part of for three decades, you would never imagine some of its members consider themselves “feminists.” Watts, a researcher and representative of the organization, has been a member of REAL (Realistic, Equal, Active for Life) Women Canada since the mid-1980s, when she became inspired to be a part of an organization that strives to focus on women in the perspective of the family. Watts explains that the organization values the family as the foremost structure that produces the safest place for women and children and also helps the advancement of men. The family produces a “safe haven” for workers, and therefore the home stands as a great cultural contribution. Watts explains that REAL Women was founded in 1983 in response to the government organization called the Status of Women, an agency which advises the government in formation of policies. “The Status of Women claimed to speak for Canadian women, and we felt that no agency could speak for all Canadian women,” says Watts, noting that there are a range of opinions that emerge from women. “We feel very often that some branches of feminism view the

family as oppressive and that’s not our experience or view,” says Watts, explaining that the Status of Women claims females are not fully participating in society because they earn less and engage less in the labour force. REAL Women believes women at home are, in fact, participating more in society than a female would be if they were part of the labour force.

When society has a system set up where they want more taxes, that interferes with the choices women make to take care of their family. Diane Watts, representative of REAL Women

This participation comes via things like volunteering and providing a good environment for their spouses and children. “[The Status of Women] believe women will be fully participating when they’re equal to men, but we believe women don’t have to be doing the same things as men in order to be fully participating in society,” says Watts, adding that the Status of Women’s take on women’s position in society essentially “narrows everything down.” Watts expands on this by adding that many women want to stay at home with their children but fail to do so “because they feel like they’re not doing anything important and they have to be working.” Watts also says that women

ana rancourt

REAL Women believe in combining so-called traditional values with feminism.

these days have less choice when it comes to deciding whether to stay at home with their children or be in the public realm of paid labour. This, she says, is a product of society where a one-person wage is no longer enough to sustain a family that is over-taxed. “When society has a system set up where they want more taxes, that interferes with the choices women make to take care of their family,” says Watts. Johanne Brownrigg, a volunteer with the organization, is one

women online

Is the internet sexist? York grad student explains why and how sexist online communities exist Ernest Reid


Science & Technology Editor @ernestreid

he internet itself is not sexist, but people who use it are. That’s what Megan Glenwright is discovering through her research at York. Glenwright is a master’s student, examining how sexism works on social news website Reddit for her thesis. No matter what women write online, she says, they will be attacked. Glenwright says it’s no longer a debate of how hostile the internet is towards women. She points to hate emails threatening female bloggers with rape, Facebook pages comparing rape to “surprise sex,” and Twitter trends like “reasons to beat your girlfriend.” Misogyny and women’s suffering are reduced to common punchlines online. Sexism is a huge problem online, just as it is offline; it presents itself in different forms depending on the medium. Any issues on Reddit are part of a larger culture of hate. Being a woman is often used as an insult online, Glenwright points out, and being the opposite of a man means being lesser than a man. “The internet is hostile towards women,” she argues, “because of an underlying hatred of women.” Online sexism is apparent; offline, it's more subtle. The

The internet has become a boys club.

anonymity of the net also contributes to misogynistic behaviour. Anonymity, Glenwright argues, takes away the human reaction from what men say. Men online do not see the hurt or fear sexist comments cause their victims. Activity in one realm supports patriarchal thinking in the other. “People making sexist comments online,” Glenwright argues, “are likely to also hold these same attitudes offline too.” Uttering sexist comments in real life only hurts those around you. The pain caused is relatively local. Posting sexist comments

illustration by keith mclean

online is more permanent. Online sexism, Glenwright says, is “essentially there forever, for everyone to observe.” The sexist comment persists, continuing to hurt other women. Glenwright says if the internet is going to be a more accepting space for women, people need to talk about online misogyny, on the web and in real life. These attitudes need to be called out and attention drawn to them. It needs to be explained, Glenwright says, that sexism is not okay and that it hurts everyone involved, online or off.

member who considers herself a feminist. She joined the organization largely to dispute common ideas of feminism, including the notion that a feminist should be pro-choice and advocating for day care so that women have an opportunity to work. “REAL Women were not for universal daycare, which I agreed with because it was a front for our financial sacrifice of me being at home,” says Brownrigg, explaining that to her, a feminist is simply someone who believes men and

women are equal, even though their roles are different. “Nowhere does it say that a woman has to be financially dependent on her spouse,” says Brownrigg, explaining that the organization is feminist in the respect that it advocates giving women the choice to stay at home. For Brownrigg, feminism is based on ensuring women are not objectified and therefore she presents the idea that it is possible to be both a REAL Woman, and a feminist.

women's supplement  17

excalibur · march 7, 2012

team buffy

Why Bella Swan should horrify feminists Twilight’s heroine should only exist as a role model for how to fail at life Amelia Ruthven-Nelson


Recruitment Manager @AmeliaR_N

have always been under the impression that times have changed since the ‘50s, when a woman was expected to devote her entire life to her man, but Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series tells us otherwise. To any reasonable woman with a sense of dignity, it is obvious that Bella Swan, the protagonist of the series, is the antichrist to modern women’s rights. Bland and constantly selfdeprecating, there is virtually no development in Bella’s character through the entire series. She begins the series miserable, in a town where all the boys hit on her and it never stops raining (talk about “first world problems”). She passively accepts her pitiful life until she meets Edward, the 100-something-year-old vampire in a 17-year-old’s body, and instantly falls in love with him. It is clear that Bella suffers from severely low self-esteem and borderline depression, but Meyer sweeps all of that under the rug as soon as Edward comes into the picture. Every moment apart results in Bella’s relapse to her old, whiny self as she sits around waiting for his return. Bella spends too much time putting herself down, wondering how Edward could possibly be in love with her. She is in constant need of validation from Edward, and never once did the idea that she might be a woman worth loving ever occur to her.

Instead of providing us with an independent heroine who we can aspire to be like, Meyer gives us Bella Swan: the constant damsel in distress. Not convinced? Let me recap the series for you: In Twilight, Bella almost dies because she gives up and goes to meet her would-be murderer. Her logic? Trying to stay alive was inconveniencing Edward. In New Moon, Bella almost dies because Edward dumps her and she can’t live without him. Sure, she travels around the world to go and save Edward, but all she had to do was show up. Not to mention, the only thing she ever did from the time she got dumped until the end of the novel was go and see Edward. In Eclipse, Bella saves… no one. Once again, she tries to kill herself in order to save Edward (who did not need saving). In Breaking Dawn, Bella dies. Some of you reading this may argue that she saved her daughter, but being in close vicinity to the action does not count as saving someone. Bella is a protagonist; she is not a hero, and she is far from being a feminist icon. The fact that anyone would even try to argue that Bella is someone to look up to seems outrageous to me, when less than ten years ago we had a real female character who embodied the empowerment of women. Remember Buffy the Vampire Slayer? She also had a vampire boyfriend (or two), but she never once went out of her way to die for them. While Bella tried to get every vampire she knew to bite her, Buffy was saving lives. In seven

Is Bella Swan the big bad of feminism?

years’ worth of episodes, Buffy went to high school, made friends, got boyfriends, broke up with boyfriends, held jobs, found a career, took care of her mother, took care of her sister, saved lives and—oh

team twilight

Bella Swan is modern feminism Know the facts before attacking a modern feminist role model Tejiri Ohwahwa Contributor


hen something becomes as big a cultural phenomenon as the Twilight series, there’s almost always criticism from people who know nothing about the series itself, and base their opinion just on what they’ve heard. With Twilight, much of the criticism has come from women’s groups who look at the series through a feminist lens. We’ve all heard Twilight haters saying that Bella, the series’ heroine, revolves her whole life around Edward (insert screams), the ridiculously hot vampire. She is criticized for having no ambitions, no personality, and no backbone because she lets the men in her life make decisions for her. So is she really a horrible role model for young women? Does she embody everything feminism rejects? To address the question, we must first know who Bella really is. Bella is—despite only being a teenager—mature, intelligent, and determined. She reads books people her age would not bother to read, and aces her classes. She is more than capable of thinking for herself. The strength of Bella’s character is constantly questioned by critics who say she is incapable of ever saving herself, and is always

rescued by a man. What seems to be forgotten is the number of times Bella herself saves the people in her life. In the first book, Bella withstands torture to save her mother. In the second book, Bella saves Edward. In the third book, Bella uses inspiration from the Quileute legend to distract the vampire that almost kills Edward. In the final book, Bella saves her entire clan with her vampire goddess superpowers. Author Stephenie Meyer’s definition of feminism is giving a woman the right to choose, and Bella consistently makes her own choices throughout the series. She chooses to leave Phoenix for the dreary little town of Forks for her mom. She chooses to pursue Edward despite her fears, and despite his insisting that she doesn’t. She chooses to put herself in danger to save her mother, and doesn’t tell anyone about it. She prevents Edward and Jacob from killing each other, and still manages to choose Edward over Jacob. Despite being in love with him, Bella hesitates to marry Edward, and when they do marry, she exerts control in her decision to have sex with him before being turned into a vampire. The bottom line is that Bella is a well-rounded character, and she is the one who shapes her destiny. Ultimately, Bella comes into her own and finds her identity in Edward’s vampire world. Her decision to become a vampire has very little to do with her obsession with Edward, and more to do with feeling like she does not fit in the human world. The

decision is about her, and her only. It is not about wanting to spend “forever” with Edward. Credit must be given to Meyer who, despite her religious beliefs, presented abortion as a viable option for Bella’s life-threatening pregnancy. She was, in fact, encouraged by Edward and his entire family to go through with it, but she is the one who decided to keep the baby, making a choice which is in keeping with Meyer’s definition of feminism. Meyer succeeds in portraying a teenager. Bella is not the perfect heroine—she is silly, romantic, and flawed just like any other girl her age. She is clumsy, sometimes obtuse, and aggravating. She does not find actualization, and this is something that we do not often see in our heroines. This is what makes feminists uncomfortable. We often define this actualization from a masculine point of view of what the world looks like. Bella holds up a cracked image of ourselves we do not want to see. Meyer does not depict an untouchable, perfect heroine, but the transformation of a weak, young girl into a strong woman. We hold on to heroines who are tough and dangerous because they are an alternative to the one-dimensional female characters we see in romantic comedies and the like. We refuse to acknowledge the emotionally flawed and human characters like Bella even though they represent what we are actually like. We need to stop blaming Bella for all things that plague women. There are characters out there we should be much more angry about.

illustration by mark grant

yeah—she saved the world. While Bella’s innate ability to fail at every activity that ever took place in gym class was an ongoing joke in the Twilight series, Buffy had the strength and speed to stop

the demons and monsters. In both series, the majority of vampires kill people. But that is overlooked in Twilight, as long as Bella and Edward are able to be together. Buffy was willing to sacrifice any relationship she had with a boy in order to do her job (you know, saving the world). And yet, young girls are currently inspired by Bella, the girl who would sacrifice the world to be with Edward. It is true Buffy almost died in every other episode, but she was in danger because she was actually trying to accomplish something noble. Buffy ended her series having ended an apocalypse and empowering women around the world. Bella ended her series happy, as an undead housewife. Does someone want to tell me how Bella can still be considered a feminist icon? I don’t want to come across as if I’m just jumping on the hater bandwagon. I’ve read all the books and have seen all of the many films in theatres. I, like other women, enjoy the occasional mushy teenage love story but it deeply saddens me to turn on the TV and hear hundreds of impressionable young girls discuss how amazing Twilight is, while they waste their time dreaming of their own Edward Cullen. She gives up her family, her high school friends, going to university, her body, and ultimately her mortality just to be with Edward. Not only is she annoying, sullen, and melodramatic, but Bella is the ultimate anti-feminist heroine that, through her unbelievable popularity among young girls, sets women back by decades.

18  Science & Technology

excalibur · march 7, 2012

Science & Technology gender & science

Women and the “bogus” engineering classroom York engineering classrooms are fairly balanced, but it’s not an accurate picture of working in the industry

photos by ana rancourt

York’s engineering classrooms may look evenly split along gender lines, but fourth -year engineering student Shailja Sahani says engineering firms are still male-dominated. Jeff Zimmer


Copy Editor @CopyOverload

ork’s engineering classrooms are more gender friendly than the industry itself. Shailja Sahani is the president of the York Engineering Society and a fourth-year student in York’s space engineering program, the only program of its kind in Canada. She sat down with Excalibur to dispel some misconceptions about being female and an engineer. Women are misrepresented in engineering. The few females in the community are overrepresented in engineering social circles. “The few female engineers are always out there,” Sahani says, “they’re always involved.” Engineering conferences are almost 50-50 in gender, she explains, far from what it is in actuality, compared to a firm or a classroom. “The 50-50 split is bogus in the classroom,” Sahani says. York classrooms are different, however. York classroom ratios are better than other campuses, she says. She says there are a lot of women in York’s engineering program. “York has been very kind to me. Our student population is very close,” Sahani says. No one has ridiculed Sahani for her gender. In terms of gender and engineering, there are no “actual problems” at York, Sahani says. There are actual problems outside of York, but “that can’t be avoided.” “Generally it’s pretty bad out there,” she says, for engineering and other professional fields. “There isn’t an even gender split in medicine or law. It’s sad,” says Sahani. Being a female in a generally male-dominated field, Sahani says

York’s faculty is very encouraging towards female students. Sahani says there are a high number of women in engineering compared to other programs. She is the first female president of the engineering society, but there have been many female engineering leaders in the past.

In 20 years, the [engineering] industry hasn’t improved...There’s been some progress but not much. Shailja Sahani, president of York Engineering Society

York’s changing curriculum is balanced between theory and practicum. First and second years are designed for theory-based learning to build a student’s foundation. In the third and fourth years, there is more field-based learning with labs and practical field work. However, Sahani has fond memories of building a robot in first year ENG1000. “In the first part of the semester you design a robot, and in the second half of it, you build it.” Sahani says students choose what to do with their engineering education. “You can get a degree and get out, or you can get an education.” She jokes that engineers learn their Greek alphabet just through the math. Some engineers are interested in personal education and York offers great support and encouragement for them. However, Sahani acknowledges the career-driven students, who just want to earn their degrees and quickly move forward with their careers. Women in Ontario’s engineering community do their best to support and network each other, especially new engineers. “The

networks have been built well. [...] The engineering community is very tight-knit in Ontario,” she says. Conferences are often where these discussions about gender and engineering take place. Sahani mentioned a conference in Ottawa last summer about women in the field and their experiences 20 years later. Despite progress made at York and across Canada, not much has changed. Speakers at the conference discovered that the gender spread had changed very little since they were in school. “In 20 years, the engineering industry hasn’t improved,” she says. “There’s been some progress, but not much.” With more women in York’s engineering programs, hopefully that will change.

Women in engineering


female undergraduates studying engineering in Canada in 2009


per cent of Canadian undergraduate engineering students who were women in 2010.


per cent of Canadian undergraduate engineering students who were women in 2001.


per cent of registered professional engineers in Canada were women in 2010. With files from Engineers Canada

Science & Technology  19

excalibur · march 7, 2012

byte-sized science digests

Compiled by Technology Department

Facebook spies on its users

Japanese space elevator proposed, anime fans react predictably

Facebook uses its smartphone app to spy on users text messages, the (London) Sunday Times reported. The social network giant joins the ranks of Flickr, Yahoo Messenger, and dating site Badoo as companies who take app users’ personal information. Users might be less surprised by the news if they read the terms and conditions when they downloaded the app, but who’s going to do that? courtesy of facebook

With files from Fox News

Not cool Zuckerberg, not cool, I guess I’ll not delete my account.


Mmmmmmm, neurotoxin soup

It will still be impolite to fart in a crowded space elevator.

One Japanese company aims to make a space elevator by 2050. Using light carbon nanotubes, the Obayashi Corporation hopes to make an elevator 96,000 kilometres above Earth. The project is still hypothetical and no cost can be estimated yet. That won’t stop bloggers, however, from comparing their favourite anime to the news. Anime is the only way the West understands scientific developments from Japan. With files from

University of Miami scientists discovered high concentrations of a neurotoxin in shark fins, offering sharks a last “fuck you” to fans of shark fin soup. Fins are high in Beta-methylamino-l-alanine (BMAA), linked to Lou Gehrig’s, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. Fins from as many as 70 million sharks are used in shark fin soup: deliciously unethical. wikimedia

With files from Science Daily

Look at all those potential neurodegenerative diseases.

Shut the fuck up technology

rebecca morton

Imagine this expression, but as a gun pointed at you.

Japanese scientists have developed a speech-jamming device, designed to shut down a person’s ability to talk. The system jams human speech by repeating their speech back at them, with a fraction of a second delay. This effect has been well observed by psychologists and it shuts down conversation without any discomfort to the talker. Perfect for Scott Library. With files from Technology Review

courtesy of plos one

Prehistoric artists knew dick all about drawing male genitalia.

Oldest drawing of a dick in the Americas discovered Prehistoric artists loved drawing dicks just as much as we do. Archaeologists have discovered the oldest known rock carving in the Americas, a stick-man with a penis the size of his arm. Scientists date the Brazilian drawing between nine and 12 thousand

years old. Researchers speculate the carving played a role in fertility rituals, although it could just be a 14-year-old bored in caveman class. With files from io9, LiveScience

20  Sports

excalibur · march 7, 2012

Sports women’s hockey

“I’m a far better coach than I was a player” We sit down with Dan Church, who is set to lead Canada’s national women’s hockey team in the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Victoria Alarcon


Features & Opinions Editor @excalweb

or Dan Church, it all started with a simple phone call. On a Monday afternoon, as he was just about to head out for practice with the York Lions’ women’s hockey team, he stopped to pick up the phone. Brad Pascall, vice-president of Hockey Canada was on the other line to give Church the big news: he would be the next head coach of Canada’s national women’s hockey team. “It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and a dream of mine within the coaching ranks. It’s a huge honour to do it,” says Church, remembering that day three weeks ago. The call never came as a surprise for Church, as he has been involved with Hockey Canada for a long time now. In 2011, he was part of the coaching staff that coached the Canadian women’s hockey team in the 12 Nations Cup and Four Nations Cup. He was also the assistant coach in last year’s world championship in Switzerland where Canada lost to the US in overtime. Since the beginning, Church’s life has always revolved around hockey. Growing up, he played as a defenceman for the University of

Toronto. After he tore his quadriceps, he decided to pursue a coaching career instead. Eventually, after a couple of years coaching boy’s hockey at the novice recreational level, his first introduction to women’s hockey came when he was offered the position to coach the defence of the Newtonbrook Panthers (now known as the Brampton Thunder). “I was a good hockey player but I wasn’t a great hockey player and that kind of opened the window for coaching,” says Church. “I’m a far better coach than I was a player.” It only went up from there when he finally got a chance to be assistant coach of the University of Toronto’s women’s hockey program. After seven years of experience, he moved on to become the head coach of the York Lions. What intrigued Church about women’s hockey initially was the level of play and the talent of female hockey players. “I really appreciated the players, and the purity of the game,” he says. “It’s not so much about the shenanigans in women’s hockey, but about playing the game in a very skilled and tactical way.” Now after several years of getting familiar with different women’s hockey teams, Church will be put in the smouldering hot seat, being given one of any coach’s biggest challenges: winning gold

for Canada. So far, Canada’s national women’s hockey team has come up short in the last three championships, losing to the US and earning silver. This year Church hopes to change Canada’s losing streak and finally come home with gold, but it is no easy task. With about five weeks until the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship begins, Church along with his assistant coaches, Danielle Goyette and Doug Derraugh will have to select Canada’s female hockey players and prepare them for some tough competitors. So far, Hockey Canada’s head scout, Melody Davidson, has picked 29 players, which will have to be whittled down to 23 players by the end of March. Veteran players such as Jayna Hefford, Gillian Apps, and Tessa Bonhomme, all of whom played at last year’s world championship, are part of the selection camp. One of the most notable players in the country, Haley Wickenheiser, will also be part of the selection camp. Wickenheiser was team captain at last year’s world championship and also the captain who led Canada’s Olympic team in Vancouver to win gold. “I think she’s a great role model for young athletes,” says Church. “She’s a four-time Olympian in Canada for hockey. She’s one of

Another one bites the dust, but why? Our women’s basketball team suffered an early playoff exit, but shows more promise than most York teams Daniel Rependa


Staff Writer @excalweb

nother York sports season has come to an end. This one wasn’t quite as dramatic as the women’s volleyball ending. However, it’s still an end worth noting. The York women’s basketball team was recently eliminated from the first round of the playoffs by the Toronto Varsity Blues. Now, the York loss wasn’t really too much of an upset given their track record for the majority of the season. The Lions barely made it into the playoffs, holding on for the last possible position. Even though they did make the playoffs they only made it with a win percentage of .364 in the Eastern conference. In the rival Western conference of the OUA, the last-place team to make the playoffs had a win percentage of almost .500. U of T consistently beat York throughout the season by 15 to 20 points per game. Statistically speaking, the Lions weren’t showing much promise for their post-season hopes and dreams.

This is the same story as every other York team we’ve had this season, excluding the women’s volleyball team. The men’s basketball team finished with a win percentage of .227, which was still somehow good enough to earn them a bottom-ranked position in the playoffs and get eliminated first round. Our men’s volleyball team had a practically .500 season and scraped the bottom of the playoff positions and were also eliminated first round by McMaster. Are we seeing a pattern here? Now, I’m not complaining. I’ve said it before—and still maintain—that any season with a trip to the playoffs is a worthwhile season. And so far, most of our teams have been able to pull that off. Any sports fan will tell you anything can happen in the playoffs, especially when it’s set up in a single game elimination style. But, unfortunately, the York women’s basketball team wasn’t any different than most of our other teams. They played an okay season with enough wins to establish themselves in a playoff position. However, now that the post-season is over we can start looking up for next year. The

women’s basketball team has steadily improved over the past three years with respect to the amount of wins they put behind their name. They have got a roster with eight out of 13 girls being only in their first or second season of basketball, showing a great potential for long-term team chemistry and development. Also, one of those rookies, Samantha Ernest, was elected to the OUA All-Rookie team. We have got a head coach, Bill Pangos, who knows what it takes to make it to CIS championships and has been with the women’s Lions basketball team for their first OUA championship ever and has also been named OUA coach of the year five times. Overall, we have a solid developing team with great talent and staff to back it all up. I think all that’s required now is a little bit of patience and hard work. Like everybody else, I want to see the Lions succeed for York. And when it comes to a lot of our teams, especially our women’s basketball team, we are very young and capable of making this happen. So, please York, let’s just make it happen.

photo courtesy of hockey canada

Dan Church claims the holy throne of Canada Team coach.

the most focused and competitive people you can be around, but she’s got a great heart. She’s very intense and she has a professional approach to everything.” The factors that Church will be looking at when picking the final roster are how the players have played over the course of the season with their club teams, how the player can help the team to win gold and which player is playing at their best. Once the team has been selected, Canada will travel to Burlington, Vermont, where they will face off against their American Rivals.

Despite the location and the rushed timing, Church has already set high expectations for the teamincluding winning gold. And though there is pressure from the media, Hockey Canada, and the country, Church already has this championship planned out: “[It will be about] bringing the tremendous skill on our team and partnering that with being tough, and a physical style of play. That’s what Canadian hockey is about and that’s what’s going to make us successful over everyone in the world, including the United States.”

excalibur · march 7, 2012Health  21

Health a message from the editor First and foremost, Excalibur is a teaching organization. York University doesn’t have a dedicated journalism program, so many of our contributors have never written an article for a publication before walking through our doors. We take all comers, train them to the best of our ability, and put out a final product that I am truly proud to put my name on. But, we make mistakes. The February 1 issue of Excalibur (Issue 21) contained a full-page article in the sports section, “From crack addict to marathon athlete.” Every article that ends up in the paper goes through a string of editors, but the final product always falls on my shoulders. In this article, I failed to catch a string of large and small factual errors that led to the article’s subject, Scott Gallagher, bringing his genuine and legitimate concerns to me. I let mistakes, like the name of his organization (it is “All Addicts Anonymous,” not “Addictions Anonymous”) slip through, as well as others. Everything from the name of an employee (“Jennifer Julian”) to the description of the athletic events he was conducting (“100-metre event”). I am writing this message to show that I take full responsibility for all factual errors that made it to print, and to highlight how much of an exceptional situation this is. We’re all learning here, but we have standards. I let my standards slip, and that is unacceptable. To the right is a follow-up article about Gallagher, highlighting efforts he is making to help the York community. I believe that journalism is pointless without accountability, and that it would be pointless for Excalibur to strive for the truth in our attitudes without admitting when we are truly at fault. If this has shaken your trust in us, I hope I can earn it back. Sincerely, Mike Sholars Editor-in-Chief

break that habit

Addiction, bad habit, or both? How a former York student turned drug addict wants to use his life as a teaching tool Wayne Hudson Sports & Health Editor @WayneaHudson

The things we call addictions, obsessions, or sometimes “necessities” in our way of living are really just habits. When we get accustomed to a certain routine, mindset, or fulfillment (or lack thereof), it becomes a habit. Bad habits can be replaced by better ones, says Scott Gallagher, founder of Addiction Free Youth. Addiction Free Youth (AFY) is a non-profit organization aimed at creating a self-sustaining community that, while initially dependent upon the participants and advisors, evolves into a new lifestyle emulated by the program finisher. AFY helps people accomplish a range of different goals, from perhaps schoolwork all the way to overcoming addiction.

And all I do is speak the language that is their language. Scott Gallagher, founder of Addiction Free Youth

Gallagher has battled addictions in his life. Aside from being a former York student, he is a former crack addict who had to overcome the tribulations of his “bad habits.” Over time he replaced these habits with success, sexual desires, repentance, and most recently marathon running, having completed dozens of runs in Ontario. While the word “addiction” may be accepted in some audiences, Gallagher explains that in some circumstances, “habits” is a more effective term because it tends

to resonate more with the average person. The word “addiction” may cause people to neglect the circumstance that they are in. “You have some people who have addictions but don’t like calling it an addiction,” says Gallagher. “They don’t even like the word. Some people define it differently, and their behaviour is different. Sometimes it’s appropriate when you’re trying to help people to use the language that they want to use. And all I do is speak the language that is their language.” The ultimate objective of the program is to help people gain new habits of thought and action that will help them benefit their lives. From addicts to kids, results have been reached through the core of the program: team unity. After working with addicts and running various health and wellness programs over the years, Gallagher has observed that the nature of these bad habits and need for his programs comes from self-invalidation. “Everyone that comes to these programs—that follows through— has this core belief, you can call it a habit, a habitual belief that there is something fundamentally wrong with them as a human being.” Addiction Free Youth opens the program to teachers to partake in and help facilitate for the kids. However, the teachers must be screened by AFY. The prime requirement, says Gallagher, is that the teachers need to have the mindset of doing it for themselves and not trying to fix them, or else the effectiveness of the program can be diminished. AFY, and Gallagher’s book, which is offered free to York students at www.addictionandchoice. com, attempts to facilitate the idea of good habits over bad ones.

Bacon Carbonara Pasta ingredients 2 eggs 4-6 slices of bacon 1 tbsp of butter 85g of spaghetti or linguine ¼ cup cheese Salt and pepper

preparation 1.

Cut the bacon into small pieces.

2. Heat the butter in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the bacon. Stir the bacon until the pieces are brown. When brown, empty the bacon pieces onto a plate. 3.

Lightly salt and boil the water. When the water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook approximately 7-9 minutes, or until al dente.

nutritional facts

4. Break the eggs into a large bowl and mix them with the grated cheese and bacon.

Calories: 300


Protein: 11g

When ready, drain the pasta. Immediately add the pasta with the eggs, cheese, and bacon in the bowl. The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs.

Total fat: 16g

6. Add pepper to your taste. Mix all together. 7. Serve.

Compiled by Ernest Reid, photo by Ernest Reid Nutritional information provided by Keda Black

addiction free youth

22  Classifieds

excalibur · march 7, 2012

Classifieds Employment Opportunities

ZODIAC CAMP Committed, Enthusiastic Summer/ March Break Day Camp Counsellors and Specialists (Swim, Arts, Sports). Bayview /Lawrence. 416-789-1989 x102(ph) or 416-789-5525(fax)

Professional TUTORING!! Delivering what your TA’s CAN’T Need help in school with: MATH? STATS? FINANCE? ACCOUNTING? SCIENCE? Contact LEXICON LEARNING: 416-452-7936


Help Wanted - For Photo/Video Store in Woodbridge. Part-time/ Temporary. Retail experiences an asset. Call: 416-807-8265

services rates $25 for first 25 words and $35 for first 25 words tie-in special for booking both online and in print. Each additional word is $0.60 plus GST PER ISSUE, no extra cost for bold typesetting. Additional features: $5 for shade highlights. Mini-card size $10 plus GST. Ads may be submitted in writing, by fax or email and paid for with American Express, Master Card, Visa, debit, cash, cheque or money order made payable to Excalibur Publications Inc. at least seven days before the publication date. Display Ad rates are available upon request. Excalibur does not endorse any of the services nor assume responsibility for them. Run your classifieds ad for 11 consecutive issues & get the 12th ad free. For more information, please contact Miguel Angus at 416-736-5238, or at

Toronto’s largest Property Maintenance Company pays $100-$400 DAILY for Spring/Summer work. Honest, competitive, and energetic a MUST! Apply online @ ZODIAC SWIM SCHOOL Qualified, Experienced RC/LS Instructors. P/T days/evenings/weekends. Central Toronto locations. 416-7891989 x100(ph) or 416-789-5525(fax) CAMP TAMARACK Committed, Enthusiastic, Residential Summer Camp Counsellors and Specialists. Beautiful Muskoka setting on private lake. (416) 782-0736(ph) or (416)7895525 (fax)

Bulletin Board guidelines The bulletin board section and club spotlight provide space for groups that cannot afford the advertising to promote on-and off-campus events.

Need essay help? Experienced Masters and PhD graduates can help! All subjects and levels, plus resumes, applications, and editing. 1-888-3458295. TUTOR for 1st year Mathematics & Physics. 30 Years Teaching Experience. (416)274-7051 $25 per hour TUTORING! Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences, Languages, Essays The Student Tutoring Network 416-855-9651416-990-7506, Custom Essay Professional writing and editing Writer’s block? Falling Behind? We can help! All levels and subjects. Contact us at, (416)960-9042

nowhere story • noun

Courtesy of

A tale or recount of an event or events that doesn’t ever reach a particular point or meaning.


All bulletin board entries are screened by, and included at the discretion of, the bulletin board editor.

Aquarius (February 17 – March 11)

The size of the bulletin board section is contingent on the space available in the issue. No bulletin board entry is guaranteed publication

You’ve been working too hard, you need to get extra rest. Try mental and physical exercises to get you going, rather than just another coffee!

When space is limited, preference will be given to groups who haven’t been featured in the bulletin board section previously or elsewhere in the issue. Pending the discretion of the editor, a bulletin board entry may run for two to four consecutive weeks. For more information, please contact Ayesha Khan at 416-736-2100 x33202 or at




(September 17 – October 30)

(December 18 – January 20)

(May 14 – June 20)

Focus on what’s really important to you in your life right now and success will follow.

campus events Desert Rose Gala Middle Eastern Students Association presents the most anticipated night of the year. Dinner, belly dancing, Zaffeh, and so much more! Date: March 16 Time: 7 p.m. Dress Code: Formal dress code, dress to impress! Place: 3710 Chesswood Drive. Downsview, ON, M3J 2W4 Tickets: $45 prior to March 8. Contacts: Hamoudi Jnoub: (416) 835-9633, Dalia Ashry: (416) 666-1712 or Afif Bakkar: (647) 686-7740

Hungama- PSA Formal Pakistani Students Association presents the biggest desi night of the year. Live performances by Bohemia, Culture Shock and so many more! Date: March 16 Time: 6:30 p.m. Dress Code: Formal Desi. Place: Woodbine Banquet and Convention Centre, 30 Vice Regent Boulevard, Toronto, ON, M9W 7A4 Tickets: $50 Contacts: Hamza Noor: (647) 339-7047, Bilal Khanani: (647) 863-4200

You might have trouble focusing on certain tasks this week. Try to stay on course.

Get your priorities straight and you’ll be able to look at new perspectives and opinions.




(October 31 – November 23)

(January 21 – February 16)

(June 21 – July 20)

Think clearly about all of your options and wait for the right moment to act. Don’t rush any big decisions.

Scorpio (November 24 - November 29)

You need to face certain issues in your personal life. You can’t continue to avoid the obvious.

Ophiuchus (November 30 – December 17) Dreams can become reality if you keep focused on what you want. Stick to what you believe in.


Pisces (March 12 – April 18)

The more flexible you are at the moment, the less rigid your problems will become.

This week somebody may try to slip something past you; be aware and don’t let it on.

(July 21 – August 10) When things get complicated remember that this world is far too exciting for petty issues.

Get all the information before jumping into action. Listen to your intuitive feelings.



(April 19 – May 13)

(August 11 – September 16)

You may feel as if you are under a microscope but having others around could help you work better.

Ignore people who are trying to lead you astray. Stick to your vision!

excalibur · march 7, 2012Comics  23

Comics Kong • Script by Chris Beach - Art by Tom Bonin (

ComicCourt • Courtney Clinton

24 Comics

excalibur · march 7, 2012

Nude • Alex Millington

Yodell • Najim Zafir

Caveman Agent • Evan Eshelman

Koo Koo Bananas • Ken P.

March 7th  

Vol 46 Issue 25

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