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SPRING 2013

WHY ARE WOMEN LEAVING LAW? ONE WOMAN REVEALS WHY SHE LEFT THE PROFESSION

PLUS THE FEMINIST SPRING FEMINISM REIGNITED INTERNATIONALLY

DIRTY DANCING? THE SECRETS LINGERING BEHIND THE BALLET CURTAIN


tribute

TRIBUTE TO

NELLIE MCCLUNG Nellie McClung was a Canadian author, feminist, politician and social activist who

spearheaded the women’s rights movement in Canada during the 1920s. She was a part of The Famous Five—who launched the “Persons Case” in 1927. Their case was won on appeal and women were declared “qualified persons.” This magazine is named after McClung as a tribute. May the memory of her and the other members of The Famous Five live on through the actions of others. Correction: On page 29 in our Winter 2013 issue, Maria-Belen Ordonez, assistant professor at OCAD, was written as Marie-Belen Ordonez.

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Image courtesy of Michael Kooiman


tribute

Stay Together By Virginia Sexsmith

They stood alone, held their ground, didn’t give in. We stand together, hold our ground, won’t give in. “You’ve won the fight,” they say. “We’ve come a long way,” we reply. Ground to break, change to make. We stand together. Image courtesy of Daryl Mitchell

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editors’ note

Even after women break through the glass ceiling, they often face gender-based discrimination. The old boys’ club still exists in many professions, and it is motivating feminists to speak out against injustices. After leaving law for a career in journalism, writer Siobhan McClelland believes she made the right decision. On page 18, McClelland reveals her struggles while working in a sexist environment. As you’ll find out, the male-dominated legal field is compelling many female lawyers to abandon their careers. Our magazine challenges gender disparities that are evident in our society. And we like to showcase the stories of feminists who are taking a stand for women’s rights. Kelsey Rolfe introduces you to a feminist who has challenged gender assumptions in her community on page 7. Female leaders also champion other progressive causes, such as indigenous rights. Writer Vjosa Isai uncovers the progressive, female-led Canadian movement Idle No More on page 8. On the international scale, women’s health issues are a source of advocacy for the feminist movement. Medical treatments are seen as taboo for many women in developing nations. And the fight for basic political rights is an ongoing battle. Kathryn-Lynn Raskina explains how she’s been affected by this hush-hush culture on page 28. Finally, we bring you to the streets of China and Egypt with exclusive reports from Benjamin Dooley. Explore the middle-class struggles that women face in rural China on page 10, and the effects that the Egyptian revolution are having on women on page 16. In our Spring 2013 issue, we focus on the inspiring tales of women who are standing up to injustices across the globe. We hope you enjoy these poignant stories. It is our wish that we can all learn from these women so we can defy the limitations that stem from gender stereotypes. For more information on our magazine, please visit our website at www.McClungs.ca, like us on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/McClungs) and follow us on Twitter (@McClungs). We appreciate your feedback and can be reached through email at mcclungs@ryerson.ca. Sincerely, Breanne Nicholson and Olivia Stefanovich

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Photograph by Michaela Fraser

EDITORIAL Editors-in-Chief Breanne Nicholson Olivia Stefanovich Managing Editors Gabriela Rodrigues Sonia Straface Head of Research Tricia Strachan Head of Copy Allyssia Alleyne Handling Editors Jennifer Cheng Shannon Clarke Natalia D’Amico Jessica Galang Virginia Sexsmith Tasha Zanin Copy Editors Jennifer Cheng Natalia D’Amico Jessica Galang Farah Mustafa Aimee O’Connor Hana Shafi Robin Tarnowetzki Kathryn Weatherley Fact-Checkers Eman Ali Natalia D’Amico Ramisha Farooq Aimee O’Connor Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai ART Art Director Jannis Morgan Assistant Art Directors Michaela Fraser Harleen Singh Illustrators Lauren Gatti Courtney Nicholson Christopher Rosier Photography Director Katherine Iles Assistant Photo Director Michaela Fraser Photographers Vjosa Isai Saghi Malekanian ONLINE Social Media Director Judi Zienchuk Online Editors Natalie Ast Allison Ridgway BUSINESS Advertising Chriselle D’Souza Circulation Team Eman Ali Tracy Laranjo Kathryn Weatherley Marketing & Promotions Director Gia Samaniego WRITERS Amanda Stancati, Kelsey Rolfe, Vjosa Isai, Natalie Ast, Benjamin Dooley, JordannaTennebaum,SiobhanMcClelland, Chriselle D’Souza, Jenna Campbell, Laura Calabrese, Kathryn-Lynn Raskina, Olivia Stefanovich, Breanne Nicholson and Shannon Clarke SPECIAL THANKS TO: Oakham House, PointOne Graphics, Lynn Cunningham, Stephen Trumper, Jaclyn Mika, Avary Lovell, Jennifer Stacey and Vanessa Pasquarelli


TABLE contents

OF SPRING 2013

Woman in Trades

6

The Power of One Idle No More

7 8

After the Curtain Closes Left Behind The Right to Know Reviving a Revolution Women Adjourned Revisiting Abortion

9 10 14 16 18 22

She Said/She Said: Working Mom

26

Her Story: Suffering in Silence

28

Q&A

30

DIY

32

Reviews Comic

33 34

SHORT NELLIES

FEATURES SHE SAID HER STORY Q&A DIY REVIEWS

Cover photograph of Vanessa Pasquarelli by Katherine Iles

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short

F

rom an early age, Ashorina Shamoun was fascinated with learning how things worked. She excelled in physics and mathematics, and went on to study civil engineering at the University of Toronto. Eventually, Shamoun made her passion a full-time career and landed a position at Dufferin Construction Company. “I decided to get into civil engineering because I thought it would have an impact on the society we live in,” Shamoun says. She began as a construction co-ordinator in 2008, and now works as a proposal co-ordinator. She prepares plans for highprofile civil infrastructure projects, such as rail transit and major toll highways. But women are still uncommon in Shamoun’s field. According to Statistics Canada, the number of women in the labour market has increased over the last 30 years, and are now starting to participate in less traditional occupations. Though the data shows a slight growth in the number of women in trades, these figures are still relatively low. In a 2009 survey, over half of women worked in sales and services, and finance and administration. Other common fields included social science, education, government services, religion and health. Only two per cent of women worked in trades, transport and equipment operations, and related occupations, compared to 27 per cent of men. From 1996 to 2006, there was approximately a four per cent increase of women in construction and transportation management positions. Although this increase is small, it prompted the creation of many programs targeting women, including Women Building Futures, an Alberta-based non-profit that offers trades training for women, and British Columbia’s Industry Training Authority’s Women in Trades initiative, which provides apprenticeship programs. On its website, the initiative lists three reasons why women should take up trades: these occupations are generally higher paying than retail jobs, they ensure a degree of job security, and they lead to increased job satisfaction and confidence. Also, the Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Tech-

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Who says women can’t use tools? Amanda Stancati unveils the power of one woman who is making it in the trade industry

IN

nology, and the Canadian Association of Women in Construction are organizations that promote and support women in trades and their contributions. Date from Statistics Canada reveals that in 2007, 11 per cent of apprenticeship program graduates were women. While they also accounted for 65 per cent of enrolments in the food and service trades group. However in the same year, fewer than four per cent of women were enrolled in building construction programs. Beyond choosing a career in trades, there is a growing inclination for women to learn how to do small jobs around the house instead of hiring professionals and having to pay for simple services. Since women are staying single longer, earning higher salaries and buying their own homes, they want to be able to fix things on their own. This desire for basic home repair education has led to the creation of programs like Home Depot’s free, monthly Do-It-Herself Home Improvement Workshops that began in 2009. The physical demands may also be an impediment to women’s participation in trades, but Shamoun says she brings other strengths to her field. “I can say that, as a female in construction, we are great at multitasking and time management—two essential traits of a good construction manager,” she says. Shamoun recognizes the difficulty in maintaining a work-life balance, which can arise for people of either gender working in construction. “You don’t see a single woman in the role of [project manager]. I don’t know if it is a function of my capabilities or my own choice to move toward this role,” Shamoun says. “The struggle lies in where I see my career heading versus where I see my personal life heading. I know, for myself, 14-hour work days are not conducive to a good family life.” Despite this, Shamoun finds satisfaction in what she does. “The best part of my job is the pride in seeing something in your community and being able to say, ‘I built that,’” Shamoun says.

Ashorina Shamoun Photograph by Michaela Fraser


nellies

THE POWER OF ONE

When Stephanie Guthrie experienced gender discrimination, she didn’t sit back—she sought justice. Kelsey Rolfe uncovers the political journey of one feminist who refused to be silenced

A

spate of sexual assaults in Toronto left many women nervous, and Stephanie Guthrie wasn’t immune to the fear. The 28-year-old founder of Women in Toronto Politics admits that even she had trouble convincing herself to leave her house. On a warm evening in early September, she peeled herself out of bed and went outside. On the way to her favourite local bar, she and her boyfriend passed a group of eight men in their early twenties. During their conversation, Guthrie heard two of them joking with each other, one suggesting in jest that the other needed to “stop raping girls.” The comment—delivered as the punch line —prompted uproarious laughter. But the joke wasn’t funny to Guthrie. “I said to them, ‘You know, guys, there are a lot of women being sexually assaulted in the city right now, I don’t know if you’ve seen it in the paper,’” Guthrie recalls. Their response was outright misogyny, yelling back at her “Shut up, bitch!” and “Suck my dick!” For Guthrie, that was the last straw. “I lost it,” she says. “And I screamed ‘Fuck you!’ at the absolute top of my lungs.” This wasn’t the first time Guthrie called someone out on their beliefs. In the last year Guthrie, who grew up in Peterborough, Ont., has made a name for herself as an outspoken feminist who is determined to promote awareness about injustices. She attracted media interest last July when she drew attention to a “beat up Anita Sarkeesian” video game, which involved punching Sarkeesian, a Photograph by Vjosa Isai

Canadian-American feminist and media critic, in the face until she was bruised and bloodied. “It was a really eye-opening experience,” Guthrie says of having “sicced the internet” on Bendilin Spurr, a 25-year-old man from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Guthrie questioned Spurr’s actions over Twitter by tagging his hometown newspaper in a tweet to make sure they picked up the story. “In having those conversations I learned a lot about misogyny, and I learned a lot about the internet,” she says. “How, unfortunately, they seem to go hand-in-hand.” The internet misogyny she’s referring to is often recognized as “trolling,” which focuses its vitriol on women. During the Sarkeesian controversy, Guthrie was bombarded with hate tweets —including a death threat—but she kept her responses measured, cool and professionally written; instead of blowing off the messages, she systematically shut down her trolls’ arguments. Her goal is to change perceptions and she does it by hearing people out—including misogynists. “If you want to get people onside with something that you’re doing, beating the drum is not the best way to go about it,” Guthrie says. “Engaging people in discussions about issues that matter is essential if you want to change the way that people think about things.” Her determination later led to Spurr removing the video, and enabled Guthrie to create a strong political presence.

WiTOpoli grew out of a discussion with Neville Park, a regular #TOpoli tweeter who goes by an online pseudonym, about how few women are considered influential in the discussion about Toronto politics. “The ones who get retweeted the most, who have the most followers, and who tend to have the greatest influence over the discussion are mostly men,” Guthrie says. During their conversation, the idea of staging a panel on women and their role in political discussion came up. Guthrie decided to organize it, and included Park as one of the speakers. Guthrie’s pet project has received a lot of support from prominent Toronto tweeters, as well as a couple of bigname panelists like Ward 27 councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam. In 2012, the organization hosted two panel discussions and a workshop focused on how to get women talking about making the city better. They turned those recommendations into deputations at their November deputation party, and in December, four women from the workshops presented their recommendations during the budget deliberations. “I want to empower women to join the discussion about politics,” Guthrie says. “I want them to be aware that even if they don’t know the whole history of politics in the City of Toronto, and even if they find the language of the motions difficult to decipher, I want them to know that it doesn’t mean they don’t have something to contribute.” McClungs Spring 2013

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nellies

IDLE NO MORE When controversial Bill C-45 was introduced in Ottawa, four

women decided to take action and inspired a movement that has

influenced people around the world.

T

he voices of Canada’s indigenous people calling for social equality have been ignored by Ottawa officials for far too long. With the recent introduction of Bill C-45, a piece of federal legislation that would further compromise indigenous rights, some believe that the government is attempting to silence their pleas. Now, equipped with drums, chants and resolve, leaders of the Aboriginal community refuse to sit quietly while the Canadian government violates their treaties. Idle No More is a grassroots movement that was created by four Aboriginal women from Saskatchewan in November 2012. What started off as an email conversation between Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdams, Sheelah McLean and Nina Wilsonfeld about the implications of Bill C-45 turned into a social movement after the women decided to share their concerns through local seminars. While Bill C-45 affects specific legislation such as the Indian Act, which reduces the power that Aboriginal communities have to lease out land, the movement’s overall goal is to pressure the government to restore legislation that promotes social equality and environmental protection. For McLean, Idle No More is another opportunity to participate in the history of anti-racist and anti-colonial education. While conducting research for her master’s thesis paper, “Beyond the Pale: Whiteness as Innocence and Education,” McLean found that “[our] identity con-

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Vjosa Isai introduces you to the founders of Idle No More

struction through race, class, gender, and sexuality as identity markers that we have in our colonial context, can determine in many ways the kind of socioeconomic and political status we have in Canada.” McLean shared her findings through activism and educational work. Along with teaching university and high school classes for nearly 20 years, McLean opted to raise awareness on sustainability issues, racism and homophobia 10 years ago. Her ability to analyze inequality stems from an understanding of how colonialism affects all types of oppression, and draws from a wide range of social theories, such as feminism and critical race theory.

“IDLE NO MORE IS NOT JUST A NATIVE ISSUE.” “The history of Canada shows that white settlers’ society has benefitted from a nation to nation relationship. They need to make sure that this history is acknowledged and rebuild what it looks like to have equity,” McLean says, stressing that the Idle No More movement is not just a native issue. “Anything collective is being attacked right now. Groups are coming together and saying we need to push back against this,” McLean says. This is exactly why the movement was founded. McLean claims that corporations and shareholders in the media have been diverting public discourse on the main goals of Idle No More. “They want to turn Canada into an extraction state,” she says. “The only thing that stands in their way is indigenous rights.” Initially, McLean’s only relationship to the other Idle No More founders was

through Facebook. With social media, McLean had organized a rally against refugee health care cuts and invited McAdams to give a speech. Their support for similar social justice issues started the conversation on Bill C-45. “We immediately connected,” McLean says. Idle No More was born with the posting of a Facebook event page calling for residents of Saskatoon to meet at the Station 20 West community centre for a teach-in. The turnout was much greater than expected, with 400 people in attendance to learn how the bill would affect indigenous sovereignty issues. The women used Facebook and Twitter to promote upcoming events and to collect petition signatures. Their action spread around Saskatchewan, and attracted the attention of other communities throughout Canada. The movement saw an overwhelming response on their December 10 day of action, when over 3,000 people gathered on Parliament Hill. “The one thing that people should know is that all of the leaders that contacted us were women,” McLean says. Idle No More exploded in the mainstream news. Before urgent calls for action, like Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike, could seriously threaten Bill C-45, Prime Minister Stephen Harper pushed the bill through two weeks before it was due on the table. At that point, McLean and the other founders began receiving hundreds of solidarity letters from other groups. “It’s not easy to work across these identity constructions that have been what maintains the system for so long,” McLean says. “But it’s essential.” She claims that nothing shows this better than the joining of hands between Natives and Canadians from different settler backgrounds in a round dance.


features

After The Curtain Closes Beneath the demure smiles and elegant lines, there are dangerous consequences for ballerinas. Natalie Ast exposes the dirty secrets of the ballet world from Deirdre Kelly’s new book

T

he sound of thumping ballet shoes is drowned out by the dramatic sounds of a Tchaikovsky musical score. The dancer glides across the stage effortlessly, but every muscle is tight and pronounced on her rail-thin figure. Her arms embody the strength and weightlessness of the swan she is portraying. She finishes a set of fouettés and runs off stage, where she falls to the ground, panting. She whips off her shoes, revealing bleeding toes, and ties on a new pair before taking to the stage again, tiara glittering as bright as her smile, even though she is breathing heavily behind clenched teeth. Ballerina: Sex, Scandal and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection by journalist Deirdre Kelly explores the history of the ballerina and the dedication female dancers have to their art, as well as the price they pay for this devotion. Beyond ballet’s surface of delicate tutus and glamorous galas is an ugly underbelly. Ballerinas have always taken comfort in the art, but in the past, their physical beauty was sometimes exploited. Their beauty has also been romanticized through the roles they play, and in the past century, their lithe bodies and femininity have been idealized to the point where dancers are starving themselves to stay in a company. And in spite of the glory and suffering, many struggle to simply pay bills. But in the beginning, ballet wasn’t as female-focused as it is today. Ballet in the 20th century shifted its focus from showcasing a ballerina’s femininity to dancers submitting their rights and bodies to the Photograph by © Scott Poborsa 2013

choreographer. George Balanchine was the most influential, and his style affected the ballet world forever. “I didn’t know that skinny was a modern phenomenon. I also didn’t know that the tyranny of thin has a start date, and it’s 1963,” Kelly says, referring to the rise of Balanchine’s ideal woman. “I knew that Balanchine preferred a leggy ideal, but I didn’t realize that until then, dancers and ballerinas came in all shapes and sizes, in fact they had for centuries in the history of the art. They were celebrated for womanliness, not for being desexualized overlorded beings.” Balanchine’s dancers were kept on a short leash. He encouraged them to eat less, and was jealous of their romantic lives, Kelly explains. While Balanchine opened the doors for diversity in ballet, many women were slaves to his oppressive demands. Some dancers went under the knife (Gelsey Kirkland, one of Balanchine’s protégés, surgically tweaked her earlobes, nose, lips, breasts and ankles to enhance her onstage line. She also struggled with eating disorders, and a cocaine addiction that helped her perform his choreography faster). Balanchine said: “Ballet is woman.” But Balanchine had forever changed ballet’s perception of a woman’s image. On average, professional female ballerinas weigh as much as 20 per cent below the ideal weight for their height, according to Kelly’s book. Low body fat leads to low estrogen levels and makes them androgynous, which is ironic, since ballet is meant to highlight femininity. Heidi Guenther of the Boston Ballet died in 1997 after struggling with anorexia nervosa. She was 5’3” and weighed 93 lbs at the time of her death. Her family tried to sue the Boston Ballet and its artistic director, Anna-Marie Holmes, who told Guenther that she wouldn’t be offered a contract with the Corps de Ballet, a group of the company’s elite dancers, if she didn’t slim down. But the courts dismissed the allegations, since the coroner’s report revealed that Guenther died of a heart attack linked to an irregular heartbeat. Balanchine’s dancers in the 1950s and 1960s earned about $85 a week, and

even today, many are still struggling. In 2005, Canadian dancers earned a median income of $19,767, according to Kelly’s book. Dancers often work several jobs to make ends meet and, along with the low pay and long hours, female dancers must deal with the risk of being dismissed because of injuries or simply getting “too old” to dance. While many dancers stand in silence and accept a fate of early retirement or unfair dismissal, some have stood up for their rights. One of the largest cases involves Kimberly Glasco, who sued the National Ballet of Canada for unfair dismissal when she was fired in December 1998. Glasco fought for around 18 months, and eventually settled for about $1 million. Her career ended at the age of 38. Kelly followed the story for the Globe and Mail. While other news sources painted Glasco as a greedy or bitter ballerina, Kelly reported the facts. To this day, Kelly, a practicing dance critic, is denied entrance to all of the National Ballet of Canada’s press events and is denied press privileges given to other journalists. Kelly still struggles to understand the National Ballet of Canada’s attitude towards her. A decade after the case was over, Marcia McClung, the granddaughter of Nellie McClung and former head of communications at the National Ballet of Canada, told Kelly she “backed the right horse.” “I backed Glasco, I did not report erroneously, there’s not one misstatement, not one erroneous fact,” Kelly says. She says she had no personal interest in the story. “I didn’t see [Glasco] for decades, I saw her for an hour for coffee, I saw the issue, saw she was victimized.” McClung told her that it wasn’t that she said anything wrong, it was that she said it all. “The culture is a culture of silence,” Kelly says. “And I’m living proof of it.” Kelly continues to review the National Ballet of Canada’s productions, but pays for her own tickets. “Ballerinas are magnificent beings I love them, I love ‘em all. I really respect them as artists. I want to respect them as human beings with rights,” Kelly says. “I think I said that for every piqué step forward you take a jeté back.” McClungs Spring 2013

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features

LEFT

BEHIND C

hairman Mao Zedong once famously said, “Women hold up half the sky.” When he said that 60 years ago, China was in the midst of several social and economic upheavals, and Zedong viewed the full participation of each of its citizens as essential to his vision for China’s future. Today, China faces another period of transition, one which may see it emerge as the world’s largest economy in a matter of decades, creating unprecedented opportunities for China’s youth. Though the Chinese women of today share the weight of these new horizons, they are hardly experiencing their fair portion of prosperity. China’s broad investments in development, particularly in urban planning, have created more demand for talent and more opportunities for young peo-

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ple than at any other time in the nation’s history. Yet as China’s youth look towards a more dynamic future, women are finding themselves in a limited role, hindered by tradition and assumptions concerning their roles and abilities, while receiving encouragement for median and low-level employment. This is particularly true of the more rural areas essential to Chinese development, which one could call China’s “new cities.” Although China is one of the world’s up-and-coming countries, it seems that women are losing out. Viola Fang is a university student in her first year at Peking University in Beijing studying graphic animation. The 17-year-old, who was an honours student in high school, spends her spare time practising hip-hop dance, and studying English and Italian. “I’m

excited to go to Beijing and start my career,” Fang says. “Things are wonderful here, but I think things would be better for women in a larger city.” Her hometown of Hohhot is the emerging economic, cultural and administrative centre of northern China. A little over a decade ago, Hohhot was a backwater, comprised of clay huts and cheap brick houses. With China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001, its reform and opening-up policies led to the large-scale privatization of state-controlled enterprises, and rural towns, like Hohhot, boomed. Since 2000, the city has undergone a plethora of development projects and now has shopping malls, two railway stations, and nine universities and colleges. It is a story not unlike the dozens of other metropolises that have emerged over the last decade. Cities like Heifi, Baotou and Shenyang may sound unfamiliar, but they are an integral part of China’s modernization regime. China has injected massive amounts of capital into housing and development. The idea is to create more homeowners Photographs by Benjamin Dooley


features

Middle-class society may be on the rise in

China, but it’s coming with a price. Benjamin Dooley reveals the economic issues that chinese women face during the country’s progressive changes

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features and industry, which will in turn create more demand for consumption. Edward Chancellor, a global strategist at a global investment management firm, GMO, wrote on the BBC’s website that China’s mass urbanization plan is to “[build] a new Rome every two months.” Improving the education of millions of youth, including women, is an essential element of this growth. And these new advancements have created a sense of optimism in China’s youth. Yet, once students complete the highly competitive state exams, many prefer to move to larger, more established cities to find work. Still, women often find themselves doing lower-tier work with little opportunity for mobility. “It is very difficult for women, particularly in private companies. They don’t really want to hire women for important jobs,” says Minnie Fa, a 24-year-old elementary teacher from Hohhot. Though her friends have moved to established economic centres, like Beijing, Dalian, Tianjing and Shanghai, they have found it difficult to move into senior positions as women. According to The Economist, women

and the National Bureau of Statistics, women in senior positions work longer hours than their male counterparts. The same survey found that women in urban households were earning about 67 per cent of men’s wages, and only 56 per cent in rural areas. In much of China, attitudes remain largely conservative when it comes to women in senior positions. “It is more difficult for women in my field,” says Sandy, a Hohhot native and accountant for a Chinese firm. “Women are considered weak, delicate. The men want to discuss business at restaurants, drinking bia ju [whisky], but it is improper for women to be seen drinking like that in public, so no one thinks to invite a woman.” In fact, women are hardly represented in the echelons of China’s business or political spheres. As of last November’s party congress meeting, women hold only 10 of 205 seats on the Chinese Communist Party’s central committee, down from the previous 13. Ruby Fang, a middle-school teacher in Hohhot who is bilingual in English and Mandarin, is optimistic. “I’m more excited about the future now. It is also

“Things are wonderful here, but I think things would be better for women in a larger city.” - Viola Fang

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currently make up 49 per cent of China’s population, and 46 per cent of China’s labour force. That’s almost as high as many Western countries, and slightly better than its neighbours South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Many find work in the state-owned companies, as work hours at the lower levels are much more stable. Some, however, prefer to find work in multinationals, believing that they have less gender discrimination. But these figures are misleading. According to the Third Survey on Chinese Women’s Social Status, jointly launched by the All China-Women’s Federation

Photographs by Benjamin Dooley


features

very scary. There is also a lot of pressure, not just from competitors, but also from family,” Fang says. “For me, I want to succeed in my career, but my parents expect me to marry and find an apartment or move back [in] with them.” These complications can be especially problematic in the case of a divorce, as China’s divorce laws grant ownership to the legal owner of the house, which is usually the man, even if the woman has contributed financially. In many cases, spouses find themselves trapped in relationships because of financial and societal considerations. But there are few alternatives. Chinese culture places a high emphasis on marriage, sometimes as a means of social mobility. Young women are often pressured by family to marry in their early twenties, and are not considered ideal spouses if they are single after a certain age. “Leftover women” (sheng nu), is a popular expression referring to unmarried women who are 27 and older. Its meaning, and the attitudes which define it, are exemplified in a March 2011

article published by the Women’s Federation following International Women’s Day in China: “Pretty girls don’t need a lot of education to marry into a rich and powerful family, but girls with an average or ugly appearance will find it dif-

ownership has prevented over half the population from entering the housing market in a compelling fashion. Research done by Leta Hong Fincher, a doctoral candidate at Tsingua University in Beijing, suggests that women’s wealth is shrinking because they’re left out of the housing market; a market which, though still very dynamic, is costing the state money as more youth are moving away from newer, state-built cities. According to Andrew Jacobs of the New York Times, the weight of male responsibility for paying mortgages is a contributing factor to China’s housing bubble. Last year, China’s economic growth dropped below 10 per cent and is likely to remain that way for at least the next two years. Though China is experiencing a decline in its economic expansion, opportunities are still there, and youth know that things are better for women than they were a decade ago. How long the process will take and where it will lead are yet to be seen, but some women remain hopeful. “I think things will get better,” says Fang, the young student. “They have to.”

“It is very difficult for women, particularly in private companies. They don’t really want to hire women for important jobs.” - Minnie Fa ficult . . . As women age, they are worth less and less, so by the time they get their MA or PhD they are already old, like yellowed pearls.” Sexism and paternalism are hardly unique to China. However, in a growing economy, it is not without cost. A cultural tendency towards male home

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features

THE RIGHT TO

KNOW

should doctors inform patients of dense breast tissue found in mammograms?

Jordanna Tennebaum investigates the new policies behind these procedures

B

reast cancer survivor Nancy Cappello is changing doctor-patient relations throughout America. Cappello, Connecticut’s former state chief of special education, has helped introduce new mammogram laws in a number of states, including Connecticut, Texas, Virginia, New York and California. Thanks to her legislative progress, medical practitioners are now obliged to inform patients of dense breast tissue found in mammograms—information that was once questioned for its significance. It was dense breast tissue that allowed Cappello’s cancer to advance. The tissue is highly glandular, preventing X-rays from picking up on tumours during mammograms. The Connecticut native was not informed of her own dense breasts, an omission that she be-

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lieved prevented doctors from detecting the disease during its formative stages. But the legal system sided with Cappello in 2009, when the state became the first to demand full dense breast disclosure upon detection of the tissue. Approximately 40 per cent of women who opt for mammograms have dense breasts, but only mammograms have the capacity to identify it. This places a great deal of responsibility upon the doctors, many of whom have expressed their disapproval of the legislation. Some medical professionals believe that informing patients about dense breast tissue will cause unnecessary worry and testing. While women with dense breast tissue are two to six times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than those without, a flurry of follow-up ultrasounds and MRIs may put excessive stress on medical communities, especially since dense breast tissue does

not necessarily indicate a disease. As resources and time are already short in hospitals and clinics, the facilities worry about a sudden influx of phone calls and medical requests. This has created a rift between women and the medical field. Su-Ting Teo, the director of student health and wellness at Ryerson University, is one of the many who oppose the new policies. “The laws tie the hands of physicians,” Teo says. “Now they automatically have to treat patients in a certain way. They should actually be taking in factors that are specific to individual patients.” Like many in her profession, Teo is also concerned with post-mammogram testing. Patients with dense breasts will likely seek out subsequent examinations, many of which will not reveal breast cancer, but will strain the medical sector. “When you do a test, you sometimes find something that wouldn’t have


features been harmful to you,” Teo says. “But what you end up doing is something that harms you in the end.” The Journal of Radiology found that when ultrasounds were added to 1,000 mammogram screenings, three to five cases of cancer were identified. The new legislation would implement ultrasounds in mammograms in addition to the disclosure of dense breast tissue, allowing a number of women to spot the early development of cancer. While this helped the women with cancer, critics question the relevance of the entire discussion because of the low numbers of patients diagnosed from this procedure. However, this issue is about more than just medical relevance. While severe health concerns have been presented, the issue is also critical to the advancement of women’s rights. Many believe that women should have access to full medical disclosure. Although doctors outside of the legislation have the personal choice to notify patients of dense breast tissue, Cappello’s situation reveals that many choose not to, which can compromise the health of American women. This debate is largely dictated by its targeted female demographic. Women are at a greater risk of cancer if they are

“The laws tie the hands of physicians. Now they automatically have to treat patients in a certain way. They should actually be taking in factors that are specific to individual patients.” - Su-Ting Teo

ity here over any inconvenience that may be caused.” With discussion on anxiety and a strained medical industry, it is still unknown whether these factors will outweigh the importance of mammogram disclosure. But in either case, the need for an educated and empowered female patient is obvious. Thanks to the work of Cappello and female lobbyists, women’s medical rights may change for the better.

Professor Eva Karpinski, a faculty member of York University’s gender, sexuality and women’s studies department, is among a community of specialists who view the conflict in patriarchal terms. “Women are grown-ups. They can handle the stress,” Karpinski says. “This will allow them to question their doctors. They can have a conversation based on the information at hand.” The concern throughout the medical community to protect patients’ emotions and mental health certainly seems unique to women. In a health-minded assessment of the issue, it was revealed that this peculiar preoccupation with panic and anxiety is largely irrelevant to the talk on dense breast tissue. And Karpinski could not agree more. “I think we should have full disclosure. Concern about panic is moot be-

“A woman’s right to know takes priority here over any inconvenience that may be caused.” - Eva Karpinski not informed about dense breast tissue, which creates ongoing debates between women’s studies experts whether or not the information should be released.

cause it should become part of standard information that you know what kind of breasts you have,” Karpinski says. “A woman’s right to know takes priorMcClungs Spring 2013

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Reviving a

Revolution

Countless women were protesting on the streets of egypt and rallying supporters when the Arab Spring began. But after Egypt’s momentous revolution, many women feel as though their rights are no better than before. Benjamin Dooley delivers a special report from Egypt

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he mood within the city of Luxor, Egypt is tense. The country’s soaring gas prices have led to massive lineups at the pump. Pushing a rented bicycle on my way back from a day trip, I notice two women in their late teens or early twenties dressed in colourful burkas. As they are about to pass me, two young men walking in the opposite direction hiss at them and grab at their clothes, laughing. I stop my bike to reprimand them, and after a few tense moments, the men leave. The women never looked at me. I continue down toward the pier on the shores of the Nile, take the ferry across to the other side of town, and head back to my hotel, dodging traffic and over-eager merchants who are relieved at the sight of a tourist. Later that evening, I recount the incident to Khalid, one of the young men working at the hotel. “You shouldn’t have bothered,” he says to me. “That sort of thing happens a lot.” Cairo faces similar problems. Work has been scarce since the revolution whipped through Tahrir Square, and the city has experienced a sharp decline in tourism, an industry that many Egyptian jobs depend on. A currency devalued by inflation hasn’t helped the situation either. In fact, the new Egyptian government has been forced to dip into its foreign currency reserves just to keep afloat. As the new government struggles to moderate the interests of conservative elements in both the Egyptian parliament and judiciary, check the interests of a powerful military, and overcome rampant graft and nepotism, the people of Egypt grow wary. What dynamics this revolution will take as it unfolds further remains a subject of much speculation, but there are worrisome signs that women may not be accommodated within Egypt’s new political permutations. Women have been a critical part of the revolution since its inception. They were among the first organizers to utilize social media as a mobilizing tool, and they were always on the front lines of the revolution. After a massacre at a soccer stadium in February 2012

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that claimed 74 lives in Port Said, Egypt, women were chiefly involved in the demonstrations that ripped through the country’s major cities. Not three blocks from Tahrir Square, rows of women locked arms to juxtapose the military formations choking off the street. A harsh military crackdown including bullets and snipers followed. Tanks were deployed to safeguard the country’s official television station. Throughout the demonstrations, women were out in the streets shouting, rallying after the military volleys, clearing paths for motorbikes to transport the wounded and even organizing midday prayer sessions. Perusing the scene with water spray to assist those affected by tear gas, a young woman who would not give her name told me: “It’s important for me, for us, that we have rights. Not just for Egyptians, but for women.” But after having played such a significant role in the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak—and in demonstrations—women have become marginalized from the political process. During the first round of parliamentary elections early last year, women made up 30 per cent of candidates, yet failed to gain a single seat in parliament (though the results of that particular election, as well as the first agreed-upon draft of Egypt’s constitution, were later thrown out by the military). Today, eight women sit on Egypt’s 508-member parliament. Each new round of elections brings new promises and expectations. Women are a valuable demographic, as they make up 52 per cent of voters, and there has been a concerted effort to appeal to them. Some candidates have held rallies solely for women and appear as the only men on the daises. During last year’s presidential elections, retired general and former prime minister under Mubarak, Ahmed Shafiq, promised that, if elected, he would appoint a female vice-president. But women haven’t seen any progress since the ballots were counted. Egyptian law requires that each party have at least one woman on its roster, but some parties put their women last on their lists or hide their faces on campaign posters with pictures of flowers. In the last bout of elections, most female candidates were independents.


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The result has been a poor showing at the polls. What’s more, the new draft constitution, which passed last December with about 64 per cent of the vote, has been met with sharp criticism by observers who say that it is far too vague and does not do enough to protect the rights of women and minorities. Nihad Abu El Konsam, a women’s rights activist and one of the few women in Egypt’s parliament, believes that it leaves the door open for an extremist interpretation of the law. She has called the constitution a “slap in the face for Egypt’s women” in an article in Deutsche Welle. “We don’t even have a law against abuse in the household,” Abu El Konsam says. “When we do go to court, the offender is acquitted.” The problems don’t end in the household. Recent reports have indicated that women held in military custody have been subjected to frequent physical and sexual abuse, including the performance of virginity tests. Samira Ibrahim and seven other female protesters were subjected to such an ordeal after being detained by the military during a demonstration in March 2011. The following December, an administrative court deemed such practices illegal. The doctor responsible was charged with public indecency and disobeying military

orders, but not sexual assault. He was acquitted the following March by a military tribunal that denied the tests ever took place, despite the previous court decision and the eye witness testimony of several generals. According to a 2008 survey by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, more than 80 per cent of women have reported being harassed and 60 per cent of men have admitted harassing a woman at some point. Even among their brother revolutionaries, women must be cautious. According to Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy, who was a victim of groping in Tahrir Square, sexism is a significant obstacle that women face in Egypt’s transitional maelstrom. “It’s a revolution in which women have died, been beaten, shot at, and sexually assaulted fighting alongside men to rid our country of that uppercase Patriarch—Mubarak—yet so many lowercase patriarchs still oppress us,” wrote Eltahawy in Foreign Policy last June. Women are still out in full force in Tahrir Square, and their struggle for equality shows no signs of letting up as the revolution continues to permeate the country.

“It’s a revolution in which women have died, been beaten, shot at, and sexually assaulted fighting alongside men to rid our country of that uppercase Patriarch— Mubarak—yet so many lowercase patriarchs still oppress us.” - Mona Eltahawy

Photograph by Benjamin Dooley

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Women Adjourned

I

Why are so many women leaving the legal profession? Former lawyer Siobhan McClelland investigates the reasons behind this change of heart through the accounts of several successful women, including herself

remember sitting in my small downtown Toronto office one night a few years ago, when I was still working as a lawyer. It was around 10 p.m. and I was reviewing documents in a disturbing civil sexual assault file, as only one of a few female lawyers at the firm doing this type of work. Page after page told tales of sexual assaults, mostly of children. My breaking point came when I read of one child who had started mutilating animals. Tears began streaming down my cheeks. I got up and closed my office door, even though no one else was on the floor. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought of that night. But as I read personal and career counsellor Ellen Schlesinger’s psychology thesis on why women are leaving law, the memories of those late nights came back. In her thesis, Schlesinger recounts a similar experience of one of the female lawyers who was involved in a study she conducted. “I didn’t feel particularly valued or cared about as a person in the firm,” the participant said. “I was sitting in my office crying one day, and the door was closed, and a partner in the firm just opened my office door, walked in, saw me crying, dumped a stack of work on my desk and left. I didn’t see that as particularly atypical.” No doubt, there has been some pro-

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gress for women in law. In 1971, women only made up five per cent of Ontario’s legal profession; by 2009, women made up 38 per cent. The number of women in the industry has grown, particularly in the early stages of legal careers. Nowadays, at least half of Ontario law school graduates are women. But as quickly as women enter the profession, they are leaving private practices and going into government, in-house positions, or leaving law all together. A 2009 survey conducted by the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), examining why people were leaving law, revealed that approximately 61 per cent of those changing status were women. For those who had been called to the bar in less than five years, 44 per cent of women reported changing jobs but staying within private practice. However, of women practising law for 20 years or more, only 15 per cent who changed jobs remained in private practice. Clearly, the legal profession has a problem with retaining women, particularly in private practice. Despite more women now being before and behind the bench, the old boys’ network still dominates the culture. The LSUC acknowledges that female brain drain is a problem, with women far more likely to change jobs or leave the practice than men. While both men and women are leaving to find more enjoyment in their work and better work-life balance, the results of the LSUC report

revealed that women differ from men in that they are also looking for greater flexibility in scheduling, more balance between their career and family responsibilities, and less stress in their work environment. In 2008, the Justicia Project was launched to address the challenge of retaining women in private practices. The first of its kind in Canada, it was a three-year project for law firms with 25 lawyers or more, as well as the two largest firms in each region. The firms had to commit to implementing policies and programs to retain women, including addressing parental leave, tracking gender data, examining flexible work arrangements, networking and mentoring. A June 2011 status report noted 57 firms were participating in the project, which was extended another two years. Despite recognizing female attrition as an important issue, not much has come from the Justicia Project. As in many professions, women in law do not receive the same earnings as their male counterparts for the same work, with female lawyers earning 20 to 30 per cent less. They are also less likely to advance to partnership in private practice. “When I started in law school, I remember women were paid about 60 per cent of [what men were paid] for the same job. And those stats haven’t changed very much over the years,” says Judith Huddart, who attended law school from 1977 to 1980. She adds that female lawyers have an


features obligation to do something about this. “Even if we’re just a squeaky wheel, I think it is important to make sure that those things are brought to the attention of the public or the people that can do something about it,” Huddart says. Law firms are typically structured around the billable hour system, with the number of hours a lawyer puts in having a direct effect on their compensation. Billable hours also play a part in whether a lawyer is offered partnership in law firms. In addition to putting in long hours, lawyers are expected to network with clients and bring in work to increase profits. But many female lawyers notice that the culture in law firms works against them. “In terms of networking, I think that men are put in situations where their intellectual opinions are valued, as opposed to their social company,” says Jacqueline Tsai, a 32-year-old lawyer currently working at an in-house position, who used to work in private practice. “A male lawyer, for example, would be approached about ideas on how to strategize on a particular file or particular legal issues, whereas a female lawyer would be flirted with or spoken to about very social topics, rather than having a legal discussion.” Tsai also says that a lot of networking and marketing events are geared towards typically male interests, such as sports. She adds that this is especially problematic in private practice, where achieving partnership depends on billable hours and expanding a lawyer’s client base. “It puts [women] at a disadvantage,” she says.

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hile leaving the legal profession behind is not easy, many women feel they have no choice. In Schlesinger’s psychology thesis, which involved interviewing nine female lawyers who had changed jobs or left the legal profession, she noticed a large portion of her participants experienced anxiety, depression or burnout before they switched jobs. One participant told her that she either had to leave the

practice of law or kill herself. Schlesinger, 35, also found leaving to be an isolating experience. “You leave after so much time investment in it and you’re so well-regarded by society for the choice of going into it, and when you experience that it’s not healthy for your psychological well-being and you leave, you’re kind of ostracized,” Schlesinger says. “That was very difficult.” Schlesinger says that some of the participants in her study also experienced disrespect, as well as a lack of recognition for the time they put into their work, and wondered if a male associate would be treated the same way. “The participants stayed late at the office to do some work because a deal was closing and it’s after midnight. They stayed until the wee hours of the morning only to find that they made a small typo in a document, and they’re called

Services, says that people need to learn to address problems before they escalate past the point of no return. Austin recalls one experience where she was travelling a lot for a law firm and was on the road for months. But instead of ignoring the issue or leaving her firm, she went to her principals and asked to remain in her home city for a few weeks. Within two days, she was back in the city. She notes that other people would have just quit. “I did learn that you do have to take responsibility and look out for yourself in that environment,” Austin says. Although she left to start her own firm, she says she was lucky to have a good experience in private practice.

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he legal work itself can also be difficult for women. While television dramas make

“If you told a lot of people things that happened in your day-to-day life at the office ... Most people wouldn’t believe it.” - Ellen Schlesinger in and just chastised and ridiculed for making that small typo, when in the larger scheme, they’d sacrificed their sleep, they’d sacrificed their life just to be there,” says Schlesinger. “If you told a lot of people things that happened in your day-to-day life at the office … Most people wouldn’t believe it.” But not everyone thinks women should simply throw in the towel and leave the profession. Shelby Austin, president and founder of ATD Legal

courtrooms look like exciting places, civil litigation is the area with the largest number of lawyers changing jobs or leaving law. It is also a practice area where male-dominant culture tends to fester. Huddart remembers being in judge’s chambers for family law cases, and many times a male judge would talk to another male judge on the opposite side of her file, asking about his golf game or talking about cars. McClungs Spring 2013

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“Women don’t want to practise litigation because they don’t want to have to put up with that kind of crap, that’s just part of the game.” - Shelly Quinn “And I’d be sitting there like, ‘What am I? Chopped liver?’ It really was that kind of environment—not in every case—but in a lot of experiences in that game,” she says. Huddart, who was called to the bar in 1982, adds that a number of female family lawyers have been appointed as judges in recent years. She says that having a woman on the bench can make it feel like female lawyers have a more level playing field in terms of the old boys’ network. Shelly Quinn, who works as a lawyer for the government, has also experienced unequal treatment as a female litigator. She says she was at a Kingston courthouse and wanted to look something up in the Rules of Civil Procedure (a book that litigators often refer to). She approached a group of male lawyers, and asked if anyone had a copy of the Rules. “A lawyer turned to me and said, ‘Oh, little lady. Here in Kingston, we don’t use the Rules.’ And they all laughed,” Quinn says. A female lawyer sitting on a bench nearby came over and showed her where the Rules were. Quinn also identifies problems with male lawyers at discoveries. She describes how some older male lawyers will shout at her and witnesses, or lean over the table and be in her face. She says the lawyer may be using these typical kinds of male forms of aggression,

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but she calls it harassing and threatening. “Women don’t want to practise litigation because they don’t want to have to put up with that kind of crap that’s just part of the game,” Quinn says. It isn’t just older male lawyers who are treating women differently. Sometimes, more senior female lawyers can be the problem. As an articling student, Schlesinger remembers going to see a male partner about a verbally abusive client who she felt didn’t respect her. She believed the client’s problems with her were because of her gender and asked that the partner transfer the file. The male partner responded by telling her: “No one should treat you this way. No one should speak to you this way. This is not acceptable.” Later, Schlesinger was called into a female partner’s office. “I thought this would be the moment of sisterhood solidarity,” she says, adding that she thought the female partner would tell her how to get through this. But instead, the partner said: “I find the best way to deal with these situations is just to apologize.” Schlesinger didn’t feel she did anything wrong, and that it was the client who was abusing her. She says the experience gave her insight into how the female partner got to where she was. “But the cost is your values, your selfesteem, your boundaries, your soul,” Schlesinger says. “All I could do in that

moment in that senior woman partner’s office is cry.” There are a few senior women who have started their own small firms, providing a sanctuary for women and allowing more flexible environments for those who want to have children or a better work-life balance. But there are exceptions. More often, the trailblazers—the women who had to fight in the trenches to make their way in their earlier years in the profession—are now putting younger women through the same battles. “There’s a sort of machismo about not letting motherhood get in your way or becoming one of the boys and smoking cigars and those things like that,” says lawyer Rebecca Bromwich, adding that those are survival strategies for some women. “I think that it is true, in my experience and hearing what other people say, that the people who made it through that hard way aren’t always that sympathetic to the newer generation of women lawyers where there’s far more of us and we may not be prepared to take on a sort of macho role in the same way.” Huddart says that what needs to happen is more mentorship, not hurdles, from senior women in the profession. “They have to reach down and help other women and mentor other women and I don’t think that happens enough,” Huddart says. “I think we need to see more of that.”


features

Today, more women are opting to leave the legal industry because of gender limitations.

Photograph of Vanessa Pasquarelli by Katherine Iles

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features

Revisiting Abortion It’s still a hot-button issue in Canadian society. And with gender selection on the rise, it’s an even bigger debate than before. Chriselle D’Souza examines the current dilemmas behind the procedure

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t 11 a.m. on a fall morning, Emily Cavan sat alone in the waiting room of the Mississauga Women’s Clinic nervously playing with the cuffs of her sweater. “Emily Cavan,” the nurse called out. It was her turn to see the doctor. She was terrified. Three days earlier, Cavan found out she was three weeks pregnant. Instantly, her world crumbled. She wondered how she would support herself and knew that she’d have to put her life on hold. After deciding on abortion, Cavan researched the available clinics and procedures. She was raised pro-life, so Cavan decided not to talk to anyone about the procedure to avoid being judged. She didn’t even tell her boyfriend, Mark, in case he wanted her to keep the baby. Cavan isn’t alone. In Ontario, there is one abortion performed for every three to four live births. Despite these staggering numbers, many Canadians don’t look into abortion, according to an opinion piece by Anastasia Bowles for the National Post. Abortion is not a black-and-white issue based around the rights of women versus the rights of children. Instead, it relies heavily on the different values, health and lifestyle of a woman, and can only be truly evaluated by taking these considerations into account. The issue was pushed into the spotlight after the precedent-setting case of Dr. Henry Morgentaler was re-evaluated by the Supreme

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Court of Canada in 1988. And presently, 52 per cent of Canadians agree that abortion is a woman’s choice, according to Abacus, a market research firm. On September 27, 2012, Parliament voted against Motion 312, which requested a committee to examine when a fetus becomes a human being. The motion, which aimed to re-evaluate Canada’s abortion regulations, raised public outcry from pro-choice advocates who believed that it infringed on a woman’s free will. They were also appalled at Rona Ambrose, Minister for Status of Women, for voting in favour of the motion. Ambrose claimed her decision was inspired by a greater problem: gender selection. “I have repeatedly raised concerns about discrimination of girls by sex-selection abortion,” she posted on her Twitter account and later added: “No law needed, but we need awareness!” Ambrose is convinced that in order to

and prevented discriminatory gender selection. “Deciding to have an abortion solely on the basis of gender is an obvious social justice problem,” says Jack Fonseca, project manager at Campaign Life Coalition. But this issue isn’t new. According to the Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics Canada, a ratio of 109:100 (male to female children) was noted in areas with large immigrant populations. This figure, said to have been higher in previous years, makes gender-selective abortions a recurring issue in Canada. The issue of sex-selective abortion has faced wide-scale media attention after an article published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal in January 2012 concluded that certain ethnic communities, specifically Indian communities, had an uneven ratio of girls to boys, with roughly 100 girls to every 136 males.

“The right to reproductive justice is a key part of the women’s movement.” - Carolyn Egan prevent gender selection, abortion regulations need to be re-examined. Pro-life advocates applauded the motion, believing that it protected female fetuses,

Months later, after the controversial September motion, the abortion debate grew more complex, as pro-choice and pro-life advocates not only battled for


features women’s rights, but also the questionable legitimization of gender selection. For Joyce Arthur, executive director at Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, the ongoing abortion debate “shouldn’t be allowed anymore.” But the debate continues. Recently, Canadian medical institutions added themselves to the conversation when the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC), and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia and Ontario publicly condemned sex-selective abortions. However, some don’t believe that sexselective abortions are an issue that relates to all Canadian citizens. For Debby Copes, a medical practitioner at Choice in Health Clinic, sex-selective abortions do not pertain to the majority of Canadian women who opt for an abortion. “While there might be a concern in certain ethnic groups, it is still the choice of that family if they want to have a child,” Copes says. “If a family already has three girls and is trying for a boy, they should be allowed to do so. Even if it is in the new immigrant communities, this effect will filter out with later generations.” For a majority of pro-choice advocates, the issue isn’t about restricting abortions, but bringing more awareness to female equality. “We need to change the mindset that girl children are not as good as, or unequal to boys. We need to change this mindset in every culture because here in Canada it exists at the professional levels,” says Carolyn Egan, a women’s rights activist. For Egan, the argument of sex-selective abortions is raised to chip away at a woman’s right to an abortion by those opposed to the procedure.

ries. SOGC regulates the criteria for the procedure and the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Canadian Medical Association overlook it. Presently in Canada, a woman cannot choose to have an elective abortion past 20 weeks gestation, as doctors and facilities that allow for an elective termination at that point are rare. Statistics show most women who have an abortion do so before 12 weeks of pregnancy, and 94 per cent were performed before 16 weeks. If Motion 312 had passed, it would have resurrected discussions on creating laws against the procedure, something that pro-choice advocates believe shouldn’t happen. According to Egan, a ban on abortion “forces” women to have a child that they are not ready for. She believes that even when abortion is occasionally used as a backup form of birth control, the decision rests with the individual. “It’s a right to equality for a woman to make a conscious choice about her pregnancy and the vast ma-

jority of people in this country support that,” Egan says. “The right to reproductive justice is a key part of the women’s movement.” In Canada, abortion is a quality-assured procedure and part of the medical services paid for by public taxes. The Defund Abortion Campaign was started by Campaign Life Coalition to stop the use of taxpayers money to fund abortions, “which intentionally kill the unborn child and act as back-up birth control,” Fonseca says. Proponents of this campaign feel the millions of dollars given to abortion services could be better used “for legitimate medical needs like autism and doctor [and] nurse shortages.” Meanwhile, pro-choice activists focus on creating equal access to abortion services for Canadian women. Presently, induced abortions are not widely performed in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut.

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urrently, Canada’s legislation on abortion is a bit confusing. In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada abolished the former abortion law and claimed the issues of a woman’s body were a private matter and solely a woman’s responsibility. Since then, abortion has been considered a medical procedure governed by provinces and territoImage by Christopher Rosier

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or Egan, defunding abortion would mean that women who are wealthy have access to private resources, while low-income women would have to resort to back-alley abortions. “That is absolutely disgusting that people would put the most vulnerable women in our society in that circumstance,” she says. If banned, women will not have access to quality health care services that allow them to end an unintended pregnancy. However, Blaise Alleyne, president at Toronto Right to Life, believes that every fetus has a right to life and the lack of legislation in Canada is “in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child” if we do not have a law offering protections to the unborn child. Joyce Arthur rebuts the above, stating, “A law prohibiting abortion is politically-driven rather than concerned about the health care of the woman and fetus, and the inconsistency of laws proves this.” She suggests a positive law would allow better access to the services and remove the stigma associated with abortion. While such a law would not reduce the number of abortions or stop them all together, increasing access to contraception and making child-rearing more economically feasible would significantly reduce the occurrences of the procedure. But Fonseca claims that a pro-abortion law based on the health of the woman is too broad and can therefore be interpreted to include medical, financial, mental and emotional health, which would

make any abortion justifiable. Instead, a ban on abortion would prevent women from opting for the procedure, unless the pregnancy was to endanger the life, not just the health, of the woman. Ultimately, for pro-life contenders, the best alternative would be a complete ban on elective abortions, even in the case of rape. Alissa Golob, youth co-ordinator at Campaign Life Coalition, believes “a child conceived in an act of violence is no less human than a child conceived in an act of love,” and advocates for a complete ban on abortions unless the life of the fetus is in danger. “Through a combination of crisis centres and childcare facilities, women can receive support to care for a child that they might not be ready for,” Golob says.

shaking and her feet tapping the white tiles on the floor. “You never think that it’s going to happen to you,” Cavan says. “And then it does.” Like Cavan, Debby Copes couldn’t believe that she was pregnant. At the age of 25, she had two abortions due to an ineffective contraception, Dalkon Shield. “I was devastated,” Copes says. “I had gone through such lengths to prevent this.” During both pregnancies she was confident that she wanted an abortion. “I wasn’t ready for a child,” Copes says. “The relationship was shaky and neither my husband nor I agreed on if we wanted a kid.” Copes doesn’t regret either procedure, and clearly remembers the negative feelings associated with her pregnancies. “I felt invaded and hostile to the pregnancy and I compare it to how I felt about my wanted kids that I had in my late 30s,” Copes says. “Right from the start of missing a period, I started talking to the little thing inside of me and feeling warm and fuzzy about it.” But getting an abortion wasn’t as easy in 1973, and Copes had to drive to Buffalo for the procedure. She experienced a difference in patient treatment in the United States versus Canada. The procedure in Buffalo “felt like coarse bubbles and some vibration,” Copes says, while the procedure in Toronto was “quick and painful,” and women at the clinic were treated like “idiots and sluts.” Copes, now a quality advisor at a medical clinic, says that every woman who comes into her office is sure of her decision to have an abortion. “If you are using contraception and the condom breaks, abortion is a backup birth control,” she says “What’s wrong with that?” Instead of banning abortion all together, some believe that the solution to decrease abortion rates revolve around

“[People] need to understand that once you make the decision to engage in sexual activity, babies are a natural product of sex.” -Alissa Golob

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ack in the doctor’s office, Cavan signs some paperwork and enters a private room. The doctor explains the procedure and asks her if she has any questions. Cavan shakes her head, her hands tucked into the pockets of her sweater. She receives a pill and some water, and is told to stay hydrated and expect frequent urination and possible spotting. She stays seated with her knees


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increasing contraception awareness. However, “many opposed to abortion are also [often] seen as opposed to birth control,” Egan says. Pro-life supporter Golob is against contraceptives, such as the birth control pill, due to their “abortification” features that end pregnancies. She claims that “[people] need to understand that once you make the decision to engage in sexual activity, babies are a natural product of sex.” As an alternative, pro-life supporters believe that instead of abortions, women should opt for child-rearing or adoption. Fonseca claims that the number of babies that would have otherwise been aborted could be a “source of joy” instead of causing “psychological trauma associated with having an abortion or alternatively the baby could be put up for adoption.”

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he Silent No More Awareness Campaign encourages women who have had an abortion to speak about why they regret the procedure. Pro-life advocates use this campaign to highlight the psychological traumas associated with abortion. For Angelina Steenstra, the campaign co-ordinator, abortion was a procedure that she regretted. She had an abortion at the age of 15 due to a pregnancy caused by date rape. “The trauma of the abortion added to the trauma of the date rape,” says Steenstra, who remembers having no outlets to speak about her

A

post-abortion grief. Steenstra says she still remembers having a graphic abortion involving a vacuum-like sound and watching a glass container fill up with the contents of her uterus. She advocates for women to have access to post-abortion psychological help, and feels that this part of the population is frequently forgotten about. She believes that women who are pregnant, and considering abortion, need to know that there is help. By educating women and the general public, Steenstra hopes that more women will be deterred from getting the procedure. Today, she believes she would have overcome the trauma of the date rape and learned to love the child that came from it. For Steenstra, choosing to have an abortion was a decision “made by my mind and not my heart.” For pro-life advocates, women should be encouraged to give a child for adoption instead of having an abortion. When questioned about the psychological costs of having to give up a child for adoption, Golob claims that “the invasive killing of your child is far more traumatic than giving your baby away.” She also mentions Canada’s “thousands of families on adoption waiting lists” and a “low population replacement rate of 1.2.” But while adoption may seem like a suitable alternative for some, to others it’s not as easy. Caitlyn Guinto, 17, chose to continue her pregnancy, but giving up her child for adoption was unthinkable. She contemplated abortion briefly when she questioned her readiness to have her baby, but decided against it. “I didn’t want someone else to raise

my kid,” Guinto says. “I would have been attached to my child for the whole nine months and then he’s not mine anymore.” Even though her family encouraged an abortion, Guinto decided to keep the baby. Today, the single mom has no regrets, claiming that her first ultrasound confirmed her decision. “You can’t tell teenagers not to have sex these days,” Guinto says. “Sex is just going to happen.”

I

n the doctor’s office, Cavan swallows the pill with a glass of water. Though the abortion was simple, she still wonders if her body will be affected in the future. Nonetheless, she is glad that the procedure was not invasive. “It felt like a regular doctor’s appointment,” Cavan says. “Where I was going to get some medicine.” But even though the medication was easy to obtain, the emotional process for Cavan was not easy to overcome. She blocks out the date as a way to help herself get over what happened, but she remembers the pregnancy when her and her boyfriend are together and talk about kids. Cavan told her boyfriend about the procedure after the fact, and believes that their bond is now stronger because of the shared intimate experience. “You never know if it’s the right thing,” Cavan says. “I wouldn’t say that I’m glad I did it, but I am relieved.” *Some names have been changed, as requested

pproximately 42 million abortions occur per year around the world. The estimated is due to the use of Canada has an abortion rate of 14.1 per 1,000, while Western Europe has a rate of 12 and the United States has a rate of 20. The global average of abortion procedures is 29. and Western Europe have some of the

declining

global rate of abortions contraceptives.

Canada lowest abortion rates in the world.

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she said

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Photographs by Saghi Malekanian


she said

SHE SAID/SHE SAID: WORKING MOM Is the stay-at-home mom a thing of the past? Jenna Campbell and Laura Calabrese have two different answers

Pro-Working Mom

W

hen I think of raising a family, my mother comes to mind. I remember her description of being pregnant. “It’s sort of like knowing that in nine months, you’re going to break your arm,” she says. “You’re bloated and in nine months you’re expecting a great joy, but are also facing an impending doom.” It also makes me think of my experience as a hostess when I was working at a popular family restaurant. The memory of this experience remains as a successful form of birth control. The job consisted of greeting and seating customers. Sometimes after seating a young family at their designated table, I would try to repeat the daily specials. The father would already be strapping a child into a booster seat while the mother was picking up a pacifier that their baby had dropped on the carpet. Once I realized no one was listening to my rehearsed spiel, I would quietly place crayons and menus on the table and excuse myself. I have watched many parents silently eat dinner, apparently oblivious to their children running loose throughout the restaurant. Whenever I saw these parents—most of them young—I could sense stress, unpreparedness and an incredible workload weighted upon their shoulders. Occasionally, I found myself imagining a reversed scenario. First, would my university education be in jeopardy? Would I have the time and finances, which, as of right now, I’m barely scraping together, to complete my education, and support my child and myself? Would the energy I need to pursue a career instead be poured into my child, leaving my ambitions unfulfilled? Would the hypothetical father be in the picture and would I rely on him as my main source of income? Would that make me as dependent as my child? Although unexpected pregnancies are a reality, I think actively pursuing parenthood before obtaining an education and financial stability is irresponsible. I’m not the only one putting ambition before childbearing. The trend for more Canadian women is putting their aspirations first. The dominating reason: education. More and more women are earning degrees, diplomas and certificates in postsecondary studies, and are using these opportunities to follow their career goals. Educated women are more likely to have children later in life, and the number of women in their early 40s with young children has doubled in the last 20 years, according to Statistics Canada. Overall, it is my belief that just because you can have children, doesn’t mean you should. - Jenna Campbell

Pro-Choice Mom

L

et’s face it: there’s pressure for every mother to be a supermom. For years there has been the debate over who is the better parent—the working mom or the stay-at-home mom—when in reality, they both make decisions to benefit their families. For a stay-at-home mom, the work is never done. She is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and personally, I believe it is a career in itself. These mothers cook, clean, buy groceries and nurse their kids back to health, all without a weekly paycheque. She may not be in an office, but life is still busy. The stay-at-home mom can be there for her kids when she is needed, not when she is scheduled. I think there’s an advantage to the job: she can develop a bond with her child and, most importantly, be there for all of the firsts. Some women choose to stay at home because the cost of daycare isn’t feasible, while others choose to stay home temporarily and return to work when their children are older. Regardless of their reasons for doing so, all women face lifestyle changes when they make the decision to stay home. Living off of one income may mean a tighter budget, and the dynamics of a couple’s relationship can also shift. But that doesn’t mean a woman has to take on the role of a housewife. I believe society has evolved, enabling men and women to break free of stereotypical family roles in a variety of ways. Yes, a mother may stay at home, but the father still has household responsibilities and chores. However, women who opt for a career aren’t any less family-oriented. Many women typically choose to have a career while raising a family. But they shouldn’t be slammed for not staying home with their children. According to Statistics Canada, the employment rate among women with children has risen over the past three decades. In 2011, about 73 per cent of women with children younger than 16 were employed, nearly twice the rate recorded in 1976. For many families, one income is just not sufficient, which, in my opinion, makes the working mother dynamic crucial. Overall, I believe that whether a woman chooses to work or stay at home, she shouldn’t be criticized. In the 1950s, many people agreed with the typical nuclear family structure that existed, but not everyone agrees on what the ideal family structure is today. Women are now given the choice to either stay at home with their children or pursue a career. I believe the decision should remain a woman’s personal choice. Rather than obsessing about being the perfect mom, women should decide what they believe is best for their family: to have a career while raising her children or to be a stay-at-home mother. As long as she provides her child with unconditional love, I believe that each mother is a supermom. - Laura Calabrese McClungs Spring 2013

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her story

After she found out her grandmother privately endured a medical illness, Kathryn-Lynn Raskina wanted answers. Through her story, Raskina exposes the hush-hush medical

W

hen it comes to reproductive health in Canada, we have it pretty good. I’m a Canadian woman who grew up openly speaking to my family, friends and doctors about my reproductive health issues. My mother accompanied me to our family doctor when I got my first prescription for birth control, and at family gettogethers, I can expect to moan and groan with my cousins about our periods while our mothers trade stories of hot flashes. Breast cancer is prevalent in my family—my grandmother, great-grandmother and great aunt were all diagnosed with the disease. As a result, my mother and I have had an ongoing conversation about breast health. But I’ve realized that this environment,

where women talk comfortably about their reproductive health, does not exist in India. My grandmother has lived in Mangalore, a port city in the state of Karnataka on the southwest coast of India, her entire life. I recently found out that she lived with her uterus hanging out of her body for months. She did this—in pain and in silence—because she was ashamed of the situation and felt that she had no one to turn to. Instead of seeking medical help, my grandmother called out in the only way that she knew how: by becoming impatient with her loved ones and lashing out at them. Instead of recognizing the problem for what it was, my grandmother’s friends and family assumed she

was just an old woman growing miserable with age. My grandmother finally received medical attention after my aunt changed the sheets on her bed and found them covered with bloodstains. My mother told me this story during our family trip to India in March 2012. However, she couldn’t tell me this on my family’s property, within earshot of neighbours and my extended family. Instead, she told me my grandmother’s story in secret, when the two of us were alone on a walk far away from my family’s compound. I began to ask my mother questions about how my grandmother concealed her dropped uterus and just how far it had dropped. Most importantly though, I

Suffering in silence

Photo courtesy of Rameses D’Souza

28 | McClungs Spring 2013

Left: Kathryn-Lynn, her cousin Mangal and her cousin Sarah Bottom: Kathryn’s grandmother


her story wanted to know why my grandmother felt that she had to suffer alone. I wanted to go ask her myself. But instead, my mother gave me a hug and told me to pretend that I knew nothing, and for the rest of our time in India, I did exactly that. But the moment I returned to Canada, I starting looking for answers. After careful research, I discovered that my grandmother suffered from a uterine prolapse. This is when the muscles inside of the pelvis weaken, causing the uterus to sag or completely fall out of the vagina. Women who have this condition can experience lower back pain, frequent bladder infections, difficulty walking, vaginal bleeding and a heavy feeling in the pelvis. Elderly women who have had multiple natural childbirths are especially susceptible to this condition. As a 90-year-old mother of seven, my grandmother fit the bill. I dug further and found that conversations regarding women’s health issues are often avoided in developing countries. As a result of this hush-hush culture, many women in the developing world find themselves in dangerous, unsanitary and scary situations similar to the one my grandmother faced. According to a study by the World Bank, one in three women aged 15 to 44 living in developing countries suffer from an illness related to their reproductive system. Knowing that the majority of our world’s population lives in the developing world, I realized that too many women are suffering in silence. I wanted to know why these cultures existed, and discovered that peoples’ interpretation of Islam, Hinduism and Catholicism—all religions that consider sex before marriage a sin—contribute to this culture of silence. In my opinion, these cultures are unintentionally harming women instead of protecting them. The perception of religion definitely played a part in my Roman Catholic grandmother’s shame, because she was taught from a young age the importance of keeping her body sacred. In an attempt to preserve female virginity, these religions avoid discussions about female reproductive issues, causing women to deal with their health issues on their own. “In India, modesty is considered a virtue and, as a result, there is a lot of shame around a woman bringing any attention to

her body,” says Leny Prabhu, an Indian social work professor at the University of Toronto who has experience counseling South Asian women. In many developing countries, when a young girl gets her period, nobody talks about it. For some women, their first period is a scary experience, even when they know what is happening to their bodies. It must be terrifying when someone has no idea why they are bleeding. In the Hindu religion, a woman is forbidden from entering the kitchen when she is on her period because she is considered unclean and contaminated. This is different from the practices of several Native American tribes, such as the Navajo and the Apache, that celebrate a woman’s first period through a four-day celebration full of singing, dancing and praying. Because menstruation is an unfavourable topic, advancements in sanitary products have yet to occur. Consequently, women still use rags, leaves, newspapers, ashes and sand in place of the tampons and pads that are commonplace in North America. Unfortunately, a lot of women who use rags do not have access to clean water to wash them. Even when women clean their rags, the stigma that surrounds menstruation prevents many from hanging their rags out to dry, putting many women at risk of infection. Last year, the Globe and Mail published an article about a man named Arunachalam Muruganantham. While on a mission to create an affordable and practical sanitary napkin, Muruganantham was abandoned by his wife and mother, and exiled

from his hometown. If women in India were able to openly talk about their bodies, Muruganantham would be seen as a hero in his country, instead of a madman. Along with menstruation, contraceptives often aren’t discussed in developing countries, so it’s not surprising that women don’t have easy access to them. As a result, about 22,000 African women die annually because of unsafe abortions, according to the United Nations Population Fund. Because female health issues in developing countries are not discussed in the open, the governments of these countries (which are predominately led by men) have no inclination to put money towards the creation of effective programs that screen against cancer that affects women. From these facts, it’s not a surprise that the World Cancer Research Fund International reported that 86 per cent of the world’s cervical cancer cases are found in developing countries. The belief that women should not bring attention to their bodies can be detrimental to their health in developing countries, such as India. Women should be able to talk openly about any and all health issues that they are experiencing, instead of suffering alone in shame. This cultural stigma around women’s bodies needs to be broken. By sharing my grandmother’s story, I hope that I can inspire other women to share the health stories about their aunts, mother and sisters, or even themselves. So ladies, start taking action and let the conversation begin.

“Knowing that the majority of our world’s population lives in the developing world, I realized that too many women are suffering in silence.” - Kathryn-Lynn Raskina McClungs Spring 2013

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Q&A

? !

Faisal Ahmad

Director of Education & Development for the Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation The Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation provides healthcare, food and shelter to Somalis fleeing the violence of the civil war. It has helped Somalis for over 20 years. Known as “Mama Hawa,” Dr. Abdi has been recognized as a symbol of motherly hope for Somalia

OLIVIA: How did you start working with this foundation?

FAISAL: The foundation has a school in the camp and I’m a

teacher. They were basically looking for a consultant to advise them on how to go about training teachers and how to go about increasing their educational capacity. So I entered the equation through that end. And as time went on, I found that I really liked doing this kind of work. They asked me to write some grant proposals for them and I did and got the funding, and it steadily escalated from that point.

also trying to set up a mentorship program. Just to give you some background: our teachers at the school are high school graduates. It’s an elementary school being taught by high school graduates because that’s what we have available. So we’re all constantly trying to increase their ability to teach and their pedagogy and all that stuff. My task is basically to improve the school as much as I can from this side of the ocean. Then there’s the development side. One aspect of it is grant writing. We have a hospital right now. I’ll identify the needs of the hospital, put together a grant proposal and then we can take it to sponsors to help fund our hospital or help fund our agriculture projects, help fund anything like that. So that’s the other half of my job. And I’m also doing day-to-day administration, I’m doing the website, it’s a wide variety of things that I do on a daily basis.

OLIVIA: How do you feel being the only male working in this foundation?

OLIVIA: What challenges does your foundation face working in Somalia?

FAISAL: I don’t think I feel a particular way. The work is very

challenging. The work is also very fulfilling and it’s my privilege to work with so many amazing women.

FAISAL: When you’re working in an environment, like SomaOLIVIA: What are your tasks? FAISAL: I don’t think I ever do the same thing on a daily basis.

Generally speaking, my job is varied. I have two jobs: Director of Education, and for that I provide resources to the school we have in our camp, the Waqaf-Dhiblawe Primary School. So I give them textbooks, I get funding and school supplies. Right now I am in the process of getting them an antenna so they can have the internet. So I’m basically just trying to see to their needs. The only thing I don’t do for the school is curriculum development and that is because I believe that should be done locally. But I’m trying to arrange training programs at Mogadishu University for our teachers and I’m

30 | McClungs Spring 2013

lia, there is pretty much no end to the challenges you face. You might have a problem because a generator is broken down and our generators power our wells, so if it breaks down that threatens the water supply for the entire village. But then we had an incident last February [2012] where the terrorist organization, Al-Shabab, came to our school and took all the kids. They gave them back afterwards, but that kind of event can occur as well. There is no end to the challenges that we face. It’s a wide variety. Right now, our biggest challenge is probably just keeping our hospital open because after what happened last February [2012], there was an evacuation of the camp because (of the) Al-Shabab and the transitional federal government. So we evacuated the camp and kept everyone safe, but that took a huge bite out of our budget having to move 80,000 people. Right now, we are just raising funds to try to keep the hospital open. That’s sort of our main challenge right now. Image courtesy of Faisal Ahmad


Q&A

OLIVIA: How does your foundation help women?

FAISAL: Most of the residents from the Hawa Abdi village are

women and their children. So when we talk about anything that the foundation is doing, we’re quite literally talking about things that are benefiting women. Dr. Hawa herself was Somalia’s first gynecologist. Our main focus of our hospital is maternal health and pediatric care. Our maternal mortality rate is at one per cent, our infant mortality rate is at less than five per cent, and so we’re well below Somali averages. That’s the focus of our organization. Within the village itself, violence against women is not tolerated and we’ll actually toss men in jail who abuse their wives. We will serve anyone who comes to our hospital or school or anything, regardless of their gender, their religious affiliation, anything like that. We’ll serve them, but our main demographic is women.

OLIVIA: What are the biggest problems facing

social support for our women. And beyond that, our foundation’s main goal is to empower Somalis, particularly Somali women. And we don’t want our villagers to live lives as victims, but to live on their own terms, in spite of the acts of violence. So that’s why we also take action to train local women as nurses and teachers and professionals in our camps so they can become empowered to take control of their lives.

OLIVIA: What are the reasons behind the educational gender gap in Somalia?

FAISAL: In Somalia as a nation, only 42 per cent of Somali

kids will be in school and of that 42 per cent, 36 per cent will be girls. That’s definitely a problem in Somalia. At Waqaf-Dhiblawe, we make sure that at least 50 per cent of the student body at any given time is girls. So we maintain a 50/50 boy-girl student body at any time. We’re just one school obviously, but it’s important for us to do that. And they go to the same classes with the same teachers for boys. We don’t segregate our classes.

women in Somalia right now?

FAISAL: Violence, especially active rape and sexual assault,

are not at all uncommon, unfortunately. Our camp was taken refuge because of strands of crime. Two decades of civil war have produced a staggering amount of victims and we’re living with that reality. In addition to that problem of physical violence, and this may be my bias because I am a teacher, but I think that the main problem is that Somali women often lack access to education and opportunities. Dr. Hawa was a trailblazer. Her father let her go to school, let her pursue her dream of becoming a doctor, but that’s too rare. A new generation of female voices and female leaders is what I think Somalia really needs right now.

OLIVIA: What is your foundation doing to help victims of sexual assault?

FAISAL: First and foremost, our hospital offers first response

OLIVIA: Can you tell me about your foundation’s health care project?

FAISAL: We’re a 300-bed hospital and we have the capacity to

offer maternal care, pediatric care. In 2012, we had maternal infant mortality rates of one per cent and our infant mortality rates were 4.3 per cent. That’s well below the Somali averages, so we’re really proud of that. We also provide vaccinations for the community. And we can treat cholera and severe malnutrition. That’s our capacity, but right now our hospital is pretty much stripped down to basically emergency care only because of the evacuation last summer. We just don’t have the funding to continue to operate our full range of services. We’ve had to cut nurses. At this point we’re in the midst of a fundraiser for the hospital. This is the only source of free health care in the region, so if it closes then that’s just an absolute tragedy. We’re doing absolutely everything we can to raise these funds and find the means necessary.

care in instances of rape, as well as counselling. The physical and mental safety of the women involved is our top priority. We have doctors on site who are trained to deal with violence of that nature, and we do our best to enforce the law in our camp. We do actually imprison males who abuse women, including husbands who mistreat their wives. And I think that’s very important that we are not just cracking down on soldiers who are doing it, but also domestic acts of rape. Beyond that, the camp itself offers this sort of social safety net for women. Again, very unfortunately, this is an uncommon experience in Somalia. So the elders of the camp provide McClungs Spring 2013

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DIY

Reveal A New, Brighter You By Breanne Nicholson With the warm summer months right around the corner, this is a perfect time to update your skincare routine. Here’s a quick natural recipe that can be used morning and night Try this easy do-it-yourself skincare treatment to reveal a brighter complexion. In just four simple steps, we’ll show you how to achieve radiant, smooth and clear skin in a matter of seconds. All you’ll need to complete this simple skincare treat is half a cup of raw oatmeal and a cup of whole milk. Not only are these products affordable and easy to find, but they’re healthy too! So stop using chemical-filled beauty products and try this simple treatment today. We promise you’ll love it!

3

Massage into skin for 10 to 15 seconds, ensuring that you avoid the eye area.

4

Rinse away and follow with your favourite cleanser. By now you’ll see brighter skin!

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1 2

Fill a bowl with half a cup of oatmeal.

Fill the bowl with warm whole milk and mix together until the ingredients form a paste.


reviews

Lopsided: How Having Breast Cancer Can Be Really Distracting By Shannon Clarke

M

eredith Norton isn’t trying to inspire people with her strength or courage. In fact, when asked what she was doing to deal with the debilitating side effects of aggressive chemotherapy, she replied: “Complaining.” In many ways Lopsided: How Having Breast Cancer Can Be Really Distracting is a surprising memoir. Norton breaks many of the conventions of writing about cancer and death. Despite the gravity of her diagnosis, she delivers a funny and entertaining account of her experience. Lopsided begins with a wry description of the French health care system. As an American living aimlessly in Paris, Norton finds herself in and out of waiting rooms, trying her best to convince her physicians that the whistling in her nose or her sore toes, are serious and not the psychosomatic symptoms of boredom. But following the birth of her son, she has a legitimate reason to be concerned. One of her breasts is large, sore, irritated and unusually hot. “Even in the kooky world of milk-making tits, this one worried me,” she writes. After being dismissed by doctors in France, she’s urged

to see a doctor in California who later informs her that she has inflammatory breast cancer. Norton is immediately thrown into treatment, and begins to miss her days as a new mother in Paris with her befuddled Frenchman. But Norton doesn’t dwell on her illness for too long. “Nothing is less tolerable, more mock-worthy or insulting, than self-indulgent hopelessness,” she writes. Readers may at times feel uneasy with her candour, but it’s because of Norton’s comfort with being perceived as a disappointing hero that Lopsided succeeds as a story about finding strength in humour for anyone dealing with a potentially fatal illness. The anecdotes come while Norton goes through chemotherapy, studies her post-surgery chest, and fields sympathetic phone calls and emails from former roommates and childhood friends. They are the fleeting thoughts of a person going about their life though hers are motivated by the prospect of premature death. The thought of leaving her biracial son without a mother and a connection to his African-American roots leads to a heartfelt acknowledgement that she has married a good man. When Norton does explore the dejection and anger she decries in fellow cancer patients, her observations are sharp and painfully honest. No one is spared of Norton’s critical eye, so names had to be changed. She is a storyteller, after all, and her story is much bigger than cancer.

Rookie: Yearbook One

By Vjosa Isai

S

tep one: Relax facial muscles into a flat stare. Step two: Furrow brow slightly while doing the Tyra Banks eye smile. Step three: Crinkle nose and tuck back corners of mouth in disgust ... And voilà! The bitchface, “The kind of accessory that says, ‘You are a fucking idiot, why am I still talking to you.’” “How to Bitchface” is among many other handy tips and DIYs in Rookie: Yearbook One. Edited by 17-year-old fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson, Rookie is a compilation of the best artwork, role models, celebrity interviews and stories from Gevinson’s online magazine from its first year. Gevinson launched the site, rookiemag.com, upon observing that few magazines respected the intelligence of their female audience. For this reason, Gevinson’s team doesn’t go the Cosmopolitan route by portraying women as two-dimensional characters who play up their sexuality to become the stars of their own stories. And because Rookie stays true to every facet of female character, from the beautiful to the awkward, it could very well replace Cosmopolitan as the female Bible. For this reason, it is

impossible not to preach Rookie to sisters or your friends over a late night Ryan-Gosling-and-ice-cream therapy session. Rookie’s content is organized into chapters that fit the monthly themes from the website. If you approach Rookie’s stories on breakups, sexual harassment, drug addictions and depression with the expectation of getting one-size-fits-all advice on how to overcome similar conflicts, you will definitely be disappointed. In exploring their own feelings and confusion, many writers manage to articulate elusive female emotions in a way that will have you yelling “Amen!” and calling a friend to solve all her problems with the cool confidence of Dr. Phil. When a girl needs a break from reading, she can flip through Rookie fashion tips, collages and incredible photo shoots styled to vintage perfection. If female adolescence was a busy hallway, Rookie doesn’t try to inspire young women by navigating it gracefully with 10-inch strutting heels. Instead, Gevinson’s team has strapped on a pair of mom’s well-kept saddle shoes from sophomore year and laughed, cried or rolled their eyes through all the quirks of being a girl. As Gevinson says, “Feminism isn’t about pretending we all feel like Wonder Woman, it’s about being honest when we don’t, and having the conversation on why that is.”

McClungs Spring 2013

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comic

A New Boss in Town

34 | McClungs Spring 2013

By Christopher Rosier


McClungs Spring 2013

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McClung's Magazine Spring 2013