McClungâ€™s Winter 2016
McClung’s Winter 2016
As the definition of feminism evolves throughout the years, so do the faces of feminists.
A personal account of surviving domestic abuse and thriving in the aftermath.
Through four unique women, we are taking an inside look at what it means to be the modern career woman.
6 Men Can Be Feminists Too by Marianne Iannaci 17 Table Talks to Freedom by Natalia Balcerzak
Finding that sweet life as a Sugar Baby. Zoe Melnyk: It’s her choice Victoria Shariati: It’s none of your business
From androgynous designs to redefining the image of the quintessential supermodel, today’s fashion industry is taking on a new image, slowly but surely.
8 The Right to Security by Rebecca Lacroix
Learning empowerment through self-defence, but also that it’s not the only solution to stopping assault.
10 Love Comes Arranged by Rabiya Mateen
Exploring how today’s arranged marriages in South Asian cultures are blending tradition with today’s generation of young women.
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31 Rose Face Mask by Victoria Shariati
26 SHE SAID SHE SAID: Sugar Babies
7 Mirror, mirror… by Deborah Lopez-Delgado
18 Nine to Five by Michelle McNally
12 FemMeninism by Maddie Binning
The term meninism teeters on the thin line between satire and mockery.
14 Speaking Through the Walls by Krista Hessey
How Decolonizing Street Art is connecting Indigenous artists in a creative and artistic fight against colonialist oppression.
28 Dearest Mother by Blair Mlotek 29 Nani by Faria Jafri
30 Scream Queens by Natalia Balcerzak Supergirl by Blair Mlotek Why Not Me by Blair Mlotek
McClung’s Editor in Chief
Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai Managing Editor
Melissa Meyers Head of Copy
Head of Research
Lisa Cumming Photo Director
Natalia Balcerzak Assistant Photo Director
s I sat trying to decide what theme this year’s magazine would take, I found myself admittedly overwhelmed. It’s 2016 and feminism still can’t be pinned down. It’s evolved through various sizes, shapes and definitions over the years and continues to do so. It still falls prey to the same stereotypical attacks, but it has also spread its wings into other categories of discussion such as racism or men’s rights. Really, feminism is everywhere and it can be for everyone. The important part comes down to finding its roots and renewing that essence in the years to come. After a season hiatus, McClung’s is back. We faced several obstacles in making this issue happen, but that only strengthened our masthead’s resolve to add colour to our pages. So in this issue of McClung’s, we celebrate women in solidarity. Krista Hessey explores how Decolonizing Street Art is creating a network of Indigenous artists who use street art as a platform for anti-colonialism (“Speaking Through The Walls,” p.14). While women should never solely bear the responsibility of stopping assault, Rebecca Lacroix writes about young women finding strength and empowerment together at the “Humble Warriors” kickboxing club at Ryerson University (“The Right to Security,” p.8). Photo Director Natalia Balcerzak shares a deeply personal story about how her mother single-handedly pulled her family out of a domestic abuse situation, and began to help other women through chats over coffee (“Table Talks to Freedom,” p.17). We also speak about “meninism,” and how discussions around it are blurring the lines between satire and mockery (“Meninism,” p.13), changing beauty ideals in today’s fashion industry (“Mirror, Mirror,” p.6) and how stereotypes around arranged marriages don’t hold all the truth (“Love Comes Arranged,” p.10). For those looking for the ultimate sources of inspiration, check out our photo essay looking into the lives of four modern career women (“Nine to Five,” p.18). At the end of the day, it’s important to stand together. In a society where we like to differentiate and categorize, sometimes the simple solution to all the confusion in between is to get back to the roots and focus on what the bigger picture is. Thank you for reading,
Shannon Mishimagi Art Directors
Hannah Stinson & Sarah McLean Illustrators
Julia Tincombe, Annabelle Loi, Toni Kelly, Rebecca Lacroix, Shannon Mishimagi Photographers
Maddie Binning, Annabelle Loi, Minzi Wataoka, Premilla D’sa, Alexandra Heck, Shannon Mishimagi Copy Editors
Hannah Lee, Kiki Cekota, Melissa Tobin, Victoria Shariati Handling Editors
Robyn Fiorda, Krista Hessey, Carine Abouseif, Maya Wilson-Sanchez Fact Checkers
Zoe Melnyk, Mitchell Thompson, Michelle McNally, Victoria Shariati, Celina Torrijos, Melissa Tobin, Christina Botticchio, Rabiya Mateen Writers
Rabiya Mateen, Rebecca Lacroix, Deborah Lopez-Delgado, Maddie Binning, Krista Hessey, Victoria Shariati, Zoe Melnyk, Michelle McNally, Blair Mlotek Natalia Balcerzak, Faria Jafri Online Editor
Julianne San Antonio Bloggers
Bianca Bharti, Kiki Cekota, Mitchell Thompson, Zoe Melnyk Contributors
Dan Darrah, Emily Theodore, Melissa Tobin, Marianne Iannaci Advertising and Circulation
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Tim Falconer, Jaclyn Mika, Ivor Shapiro, PointOne Graphics, Miri Makin, Michael Thessel, Jennifer Stacey
Mirror Mirror... From androgynous designs to redefining the image of the quintessential supermodel, today’s fashion industry is taking on a new image, slowly but surely. by Deborah Lopez-Delgado
Men CAN Be Feminists Too
As the definition of feminism evolves throughout the years, so do the faces of feminists. by Marianne Iannaci
eminism is an advocacy. It is to be in favour of an argument, in this case, to promote equal rights between men and women. Feminism is a plea. An uprising to defend the poor treatment, degradation and undermining that women have faced and continue to face. Nowhere within the definition of feminism, does it state that you must be born a woman to enforce gender equality. If men aren’t qualified to be feminists, does that mean Caucasians aren’t qualified to be against racism? Just because an individual may not be a member of a ‘targeted’ group, does not mean that they should be exempt from participating in the liberation for all people. A movement towards equality would merely defeat itself if it marginalized which social groups were allowed to partake. This assumes that only women are capable of holding the power and dignity of feminism, which lessens the chances of gender equality even more. In fact, feminism can only progress if men themselves are speaking out in unanimity. This type of activism involves both parties raising awareness. Equality is had when both sides are on board and at a level standing. In order to develop a change, the leadership roles must be shared and cooperation is a must. Without everyone wanting equality, equality can’t happen! Thus, men who support feministic ideas and concepts by being an active advocate for women’s rights is a fundamental component of feminism. How else
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Illustration by Hannah Stinson
can both sides start to collaborate? If men cannot be called feminists, the pre-existing divisions will widen. This has nothing to do with feeling “feminine.” Honestly, that seems ludicrous. It’s 2016 and time we broadened our horizons in terms of how we define both feminism and being a feminist. By lacking the incorporation of different gender identities and various social groups, it works against the point at hand. One of the main arguments that feminists make is the right for women to have equal opportunities as men. Today’s feminism stretches into so many different disciplines from race to environmentalism. So feminists should practice what they preach if they truly want equal rights. Giving men the right join in a feminist movement will actually help to develop a sense of fairness. Development can be at various stages and come in various forms. Whether it’s teaching sons how to respect and treat a woman or stopping another man from catcalling a female walking down the street, men can ultimately shape the way future boys and girls will view each other. They too, raise the next generation. Let’s stop undermining the power of all people and take a step to bridge this gap, together.
ost people see the fashion industry as a hub for social critiques of beauty. Nothing says that more than a Victoria Secret runway making some of us green in the face as we look at the “ideal” female form. Known for its exclusivity of “normal people” and a focus on leggy divas too gorgeous to be realistic, the industry is known for giving women an impractical view of what their bodies should look like. But contrary to popular belief, the fashion industry is slowly taking these preconceived notions of beauty and turning them on their head. Gone are the days of homogenous beauty in magazines. Say hello to the new era of diversity, because even Cindy Crawford confesses that she didn’t #WakeUpLikeThis . During a 2009 interview with Women’s Wear Daily Kate Moss said “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” , which highlighted how negative body issues have been promoted in fashion throughout the years. Its backlash made people take a closer look at fashion and call out the body shaming tendencies in the industry. In Toronto, Three Fates shop owner and style connoisseur Robin Vengroff strategically buys and advertises to this aforementioned target clientele. “I shop for real women and I try to dress real women,” she says. “My market is me.” Vengroff likes to shop for people that she has “something in common with,” believing that women should be dressing for themselves. This is a strong influence in her business belief. “I think that by using real people and not models as my standard for buying and for photos, we’re encouraging women to wear what they want and to see other women who aren’t models.” Select websites and magazines have also taken up the fight against the “skinny model” norm in fashion. For example, Runway Riot is targeted to women who wear larger sizes but it doesn’t want to be marginalized in the plus size label. Websites like Runway Riot show how women are learning to show off their curves and love themselves, and by extension, acknowledging what needs to change to make fashion more representational of real women. Ageism and ableism are being addressed too. Céline featured 80-year-old writer, Joan Didion as the face of their 2015 ad campaign and Diesel ran a campaign showcasing Jillian Mercado, a fashion-blogger-turned-model who has
Photography by Minzi Wataoka
muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair. In an interview with Elle, Mercado said she answered Diesel’s open call for models with saying, “I wanna change the world.” Furthermore, the male/ female gender binary is being addressed too. With the upcoming popularity of androgynous fashion, it’s hard not to take notice that what was considered masculine isn’t exclusive to just men and vice versa. Take Public School for example. Even before fully introducing a women’s collection in at fall 2015 New York Fashion Week, their collections (think boxy, long tunics and flowing coats for men) had a gender-neutral aesthetic. When their full ready-to-wear women’s collection debuted on the runways, that same look continued, blurring the lines that separate the female and male form. Even Canada’s own Sid Neigum is addressing this. While he is a women’s wear designer, his F/W 2012 collection sported male models in knee-length tunics and leggings. Men may be hesitant to try “feminine” trends, but the definition of what femininity looks like it’s starting to be re-written. We’ve come a long way in fashion, from wearing bonecrushing corsets to boyfriend jeans and combat boots. Only time will tell if these changes are here to stay. However, as long as we have gender non-conformists and diversity champions, there’s always a promise for a better, brighter and more inclusive future.
he instructor counts down from eight as the young woman in a Deadpool T-shirt punches the air. Her dark hair is tied up in a ponytail, her hands are wrapped up like a boxer’s and her face is stern with concentration. “I had spent so many years exercising my mind, writing and reading but I knew very little about how I’d protect myself. I realized one day walking home late at night in a less-than-favourable neighborhood that I can’t throw an essay at someone,” says 24-year-old Samaoor Albazz, referring to how her success in academics has little to offer when it comes to unsafe situations. Albazz, a graphic communications management alumni, has been attending kickboxing classes with the “Humble Warriors” group at the Ryerson Athletic Centre for the last two years. “Doing something like this is completely out of my comfort zone of what I even thought I could do.” When Albazz partners up with another student to practice their roundhouse kicks, she doesn’t hesitate to push them so that they land hard into the foam shield. She joined the club at the insistence of a former classmate after dropping in for a free demo class. Since then, Albazz has learned to kick, knee, elbow and punch her way out of multiple scenarios, all while encouraging several of her female friends to join the class.
thinking has been played out too often. This occurs especially in the media, where ending sexual violence is often left to women, who are told to dress or behave a certain way so as not to elicit unwanted attention. “The onus shouldn’t be on survivors to stop sexual assault, but for perpetrators not to commit acts of sexual violence,” Yanchev says. Femifesto co-founder Sasha Elford says there’s another problem to relying on self-defence to prevent assault. “We know a vast majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone you know. So you might not resort to using martial arts on a friend’s boyfriend, or an uncle or a romantic partner because of your relationship with them.” The greater issue is ending sexual violence on campuses countrywide. It was just March of 2015 that the Ontario government implemented their plan to put forward legislation that obliges its universities and colleges to have comprehensive policies on sexual assault. Until then, none of the 24 colleges in Ontario had a policy in place, while only nine universities in the entire country had some form of separate policy. Jennie Pearson, a co-ordinator at the Ryerson Students’ Union and the CESAR Centre for Women and Trans People, says there is a shocking lack of sexual assault polices in public institutions such as Ryerson University. “When the
“Doing something like this is completely out of my comfort zone of what I even thought I could do.”
The Right to Security Learning empowerment through self-defence, but also that it’s not the only solution to stopping assault. by Rebecca Lacroix
Photography by Alexandra Heck
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The notion that young women must learn self-defence in order to protect themselves is not new. Women face a 20 to 25 per cent increased risk of sexual assault within their first two years of university, according to a 2014 study published in conjunction with the Universities of Windsor, Guelph and Calgary. Various programs involving self-defence classes and assault preventions workshops have been implemented over the years with mixed results, according to The Efficacy of a Sexual Resistance Program for University Women. This 2015 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded that teaching female university students self-defence remains the most effective method of preventing sexual assault. Just under 900 first-year female university students from three different Canadian universities participated in the year-long study. Half of the young women attended a rigorously designed assault resistance program and the other half received the typical university practice of handing out assault prevention brochures. Researchers found that participants in the resistance group reported a significantly lower account of rape, attempted rape and other forms of victimization than the control group. “Self-defence classes can absolutely be empowering for some people,” says Shannon Yanchev, a co-founder of Femifesto, a Toronto based grassroots feminist collective. Yanchev says it’s not necessarily going to be a touch-all solution for ending sexual violence. She adds that such
first draft of the policy was released in the summer, we did a lot of campaigning to get the word out around it because the University made it pretty hard for students to access.” The Council of Ontario Universities, as well as College Ontario have quickly responded by drafting policies and setting up new methods for students to access support and services. For example, Ryerson has created a new office of Sexual Violence Support and Education, while continuing to run survivors workshops and the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Support Line. The effectiveness of these new policies will remain largely up to how they are enforced by each individual institution. Still Pearson is hopeful. “For decades, students have, and continue to be the leaders in anti-sexual violence campaigns on campus. I think just now, our voices are being heard. If you are or know someone who is a survivor of sexual assault, do not hesitate to reach out and call the 24hour Crisis line (416-579-8808) offered by the Toronto Rape and Crisis Centre and utilise their resources which include counselling, support groups and yoga classes. For Ryerson students the RSU Sexual Assault Support Line (416-260-0100) also offers free, confidential peer-to-peer support. For more information on Femifesto and their efforts to change how sexual assault is portrayed in the media you can visit them at their website: femifesto.ca
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Exploring how today’s arranged marriages in South Asian cultures are blending tradition with today’s generation of young women. by Rabiya Mateen Photography by Annabelle Loi
t five o’ clock in the morning she received a call from her father asking her to come home. “What’s his name, what does he do and do you have a photograph?” Pooja Gupta asked as soon as she reached her home in Ludhiana Punjab, India. Her father had no photograph to show. Outside her door waited a six-car parade, which signified that someone of importance was there to see her. Just one day earlier her father had spotted a matrimonial advertisement in the local newspaper and felt he had found a potential suitor for his daughter. Gupta, who was 21-years-old at the time and finishing her masters of home management at the Punjab Agricultural University, was uninterested at the prospects of marriage. Though coming from a traditional Hindu family, Gupta always knew that she would enter an arranged marriage when the time came. As she entered the room, she felt confident that she would be supported in whatever decision she made. They married four days later. Gupta, 45, has been happily married for 25 years as of October 2015 and now lives in Brampton, Ontario. When faced with the question of whether she would like her 23-year-old daughter, Sara, to be in an arranged alliance, Gupta said she has left the decision up to her daughter, encouraging her to find love on her own time and terms. “We didn’t give our children the choice to move here, we brought them with us. The least we can do is give them the choice to marry who and when they want.” T he custom of arranged marriages is still largely practiced in South Asia where the practice dates back several hundred years. Historically, arranged marriages emerged as a system to overcome the nature of segregation that widely existed within South Asia. As women and men were socially and culturally forbidden from socializing, arranged marriages became a way to overcome the challenges of finding a mate, and allow males and females to connect. However, with the economic and social progression of women in South Asian society, traditional gender roles within arranged marriages have evolved. In Canada there is a significant stigma surrounding arranged marriages. Often, arranged marriages are confused with forced alliances and are thought of as being oppressive to women. Arranged and forced are terms that individuals often use interchangeably. For example, a young woman may openly agree to an alliance put forward by her parents. In such a situation both involved parties display consent. However, simply because the woman did not choose her own partner, the situation is mislabelled by others as a forced marriage. The South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario has put forward efforts to make the distinction between forced and arranged marriages clearer to Canadians. The organization defines arranged marriages as having “the full, free, and informed consent of both parties who are getting married.” Forced marriages are characterized by a lack of consent. The notion of what constitutes an arranged marriage is quickly changing among South Asian youth in Canada. However, there is a lack of awareness and education among the
average Canadian to be able to recognize such change. Manaal Farooqi, project coordinator at the South Asian Women’s Centre, has observed that for some Canadian immigrants, retaining South Asian identity and cultural practices has brought them comfort. “Arranged marriages can be a way for the community to stay connected to their practices, tradition and culture. It can be a way to preserve their cultural roots.” “It’s like online dating but offline,” says Safia Naz, a 20-year-old university student, from Toronto. Safia is one of the many second generation Canadians that believes in the success of arranged marriages. Instead of having an online system that matches you up with potential suitors, parents adopt that role. Safia recently began the process of looking for a suitable partner. “I’m nervous, but excited,” says Safia. The first step in Safia’s search involves hiring a marriage broker that can find and match her to potential candidates that fit her specified criteria. Women in particular play a crucial role in moving the arranged marriage process forward. There are networks of older South Asian women, also known as “aunties,” that play the role of matchmakers, who draw on their connections not only within the South Asian community in Canada, but also throughout the world to put families in touch. By and large, the arranged marriage process can be considered a female-led initiative that begins and ends with the network of aunties. “There is a misconception about what arranged marriages are. Many women that enter arranged marriages are highly educated, earn a ton of money and are generally happy,” says Amina Jamal, a sociology professor who teaches a course called “Women and Islam” at Ryerson University. In regards to South Asian culture, marriage has transitioned from being seen as a reproduction process to a companionate relationship based on equality. In light of such change, expectations that were traditionally held for women entering arranged marriages are no longer applicable. Women are taking on more progressive roles outside of the household, and in turn are demanding to be matched with partners that meet their standards and expectations. Gupta’s daughter reaffirms her mother’s sentiments when it comes to her choosing her own partner. Although Sara sees her parents’ arranged marriage as direct proof of the process being part of an effective and successful system, she does not feel that the practice is for her. “I can’t wrap my head around the process,” she says. “I want to be certain about the person I am going to be with, and I need time to be able to do just that.” Arranged marriages can often be seen as risky endeavours, as there may be a small time frame between meeting a potential suitor, becoming familiar with them and the actual wedding. Hearing her daughter’s sentiments, Gupta says “times have changed.” Traditional practices are evolving to meet the demands and needs of the new generation of South Asian youth in Canada who are finding their own partners and then asking their parents to arrange the alliance. As Gupta puts it, it’s the idea of “love comes arranged.”
Fem Meninism Teetering on the thin line between satire and mockery. by Maddie Binning
zombie looking for brains stumbles across the panels of a comic strip when he comes across a woman with a feminist symbol on her shirt. The zombie considers the woman, but moves along, deciding that the feminist lacks the brains to satisfy his hunger. In 2001, Feminist.com created a page for men who supported feminism to voice that support and called them meninists, which they state is “the original use of the term.” The term was referenced in books such as Men Who Believe in Feminism by Amanda Goldrick-Jones and began to find its way into everyday use. However, in 2013, Twitter user Ti Balogun created the hashtag #MeninistTweet to show the issues he had with “the way feminists express themselves, which is a turn-off,” he told the Huffington Post. The hashtag allegedly started the online movement that has changed the meaning behind meninism, which is now considered a satirical response to feminism by many. The trend has grown in popularity on the Internet changing the definition of meninist for many people to mean a supporter of the online trend. Most notably, meninism has popped up in the form of Twitter accounts, such as @MeninistTweet, which share content like the zombie comic described above. Requests to speak with those who run these accounts have gone unanswered. But confusion about the term still exists as some view meninism as a serious movement to highlight men’s issues while others see it just as humour. “People who brand themselves as feminists face so much harassment and threats just from [being feminists],” says Jackie Mlotek, cofounder of the Ryerson Feminist Collective. “When we get to a point where feminism isn’t a dirty word, then maybe we can talk about this being satirical.” Mlotek’s cofounder Alyson Rogers agrees. “When your satire account starts arguing with women and feminists online and starts harassing them and starts insulting them, you’re not doing satire anymore,” says Rogers. “Some of those accounts flirt with a very thin line around that.” The accounts themselves still say that their content is a parody, with @MeninistTweet stating in their Twitter biography that the account is “obviously sarcasm.” Despite claims of mere online sarcasm, these statements shared by these accounts could still have the power perpetuate negative feminist stereotypes by trivializing the bigger picture, both online and in person.
“We forget that the people who have an account online are people walking around in the real world,” said Rogers. Confusion over whether meninism is sarcastic or genuine has created issues for groups other than feminists as well. Kevin Arriola, founder of the Ryerson Men’s Issues Awareness Society, said he believes opposition to their group has been at least in part due to the assumption that they are meninists. Arriola says that his group is not a meninist or men’s rights group. “We have it in our constitution that we’re an egalitarian society and that we believe in equal rights for all,” says Arriola. “We’re just trying to raise awareness about issues that disproportionately affect men and boys and this includes high risks of suicide, depression, high rates of incarceration [and] the fact that boys are failing more and more in education.” In early 2014, freelance journalist George Gillett used the term meninism in a Huffington Post article “to communicate that gendered expectations can harm men in many ways which weren’t being discussed in mainstream feminism.” Gillett hadn’t heard the term used before and included it to describe the need for a “complementary movement” to feminism that would allow for the discussion of how gender inequality affects men in specific ways. He believes that men face narrow expectations of their own. For example, he writes, men are expected to be ambitious, to provide for a family and to hide their emotions. “More recently, it’s been used, very immaturely I think, to imply that men are being oppressed by feminism,” said Gillett. “The common understanding of the word meninism is now associated with idiotic men’s rights activists and online trolls who have no real interest in discussions about gender beyond trying to restrict women’s liberation.” Sociology Professor Jean Golden, who focuses on feminism, also sees danger in using humour to diminish the impact of gender inequality. “They’re putting pins into feminism,” said Ryerson sociology professor and feminism expert Jean Golden. “They’re jabbing at it like it shouldn’t be taken seriously. There’s nothing funny about gender inequality.” To Golden, it’s not in the interest of anyone to trivialize feminism and the movement of meninism is not simply a nuisance. In essence, she feels that making fun of a serious social movement raises serious issues only does a disservice to men and women alike. Photography by Shannon Mishimagi
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Speaking Through the Walls
How Decolonizing Street Art is connecting Indigenous artists in a creative and artistic fight against colonialist oppression. By Krista Hessey Photography by Michael Thessel
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tacked concrete bricks form tall, imperious walls that make up the urban landscape of Montreal. The buildings’ old winding staircases and arched doorways are reminiscent of the city’s French history. Their rough surfaces provide the canvas for an Indigenous anti-colonial resurgence. At the helm of this creative resistance is Camille Larivée, a Metis, Innu street artist born and raised in what is known as Tiotia:ke in the language of the Kanien’kehá:ka people, but more commonly called Montreal. From a very young age, Larivée accompanied her mother, an art historian, to art galleries and museums throughout the city. She began creating her own art with her mother and brother at their home in Montreal. Still, during this time Larivée had many questions about her mixed identity. “I was disconnected from my ancestry for a long time,” says Larivée. “I needed to reconnect with myself and my identity and look at how colonization had a big impact on my life.” In 2013, Larivée created Decolonizing Street Art, a network of solidarity and support between Indigenous artists promoting anti-colonial resistance through various forms of street art installations. The collective’s mandate includes opposition to all forms of oppression including, but not limited to racism, patriarchy, heterosexism, ableism and transphobia. Decolonizing Street Art is a grassroots initiative that relies on money raised through crowdfunding and individual donation. “The street for me, is the only way to take back my story and our struggles together,” says Larivée. The idea stemmed from a conversation between Larivée and Tom GreyEyes, an interdisciplinary artist from the Navajo Nation. GreyEyes came across Larivée’s textile street art piece Decolonize Turtle Island on a chain link fence in Montreal. After finding her online, the two began discussing the idea of creating a collective of Indigenous artists to link them across North America and encourage Indigenous visibility in urban streets through murals, wheatpastes (an adhesive that binds paper artwork to walls) and other mediums. “Decolonizing street art is a call to action to be in Indigenous spaces/places differently,” wrote Lianne Charlie, a descendant of the Tagé Cho Hudän (Big River People), Northern Tutchone speaking people of the Yukon, in the DSA zine. “It’s saying to you that you are on Indigenous land, stolen land. Do you have the courage to listen to what the walls are saying to you?” The collective organizes an annual convergence of street artists in Montreal. This year’s event, titled “Unceded Voices,” hosted exclusively women-identified Indigenous street artists and street artists of colour. This focus aimed to create space for marginalized artists in an art scene dominated by white men, says Larivée. “Sometimes we are in neighbourhoods that are more dangerous but also male street artists don’t really take our work seriously,” says Larivée. “As Indigenous street artists it is even more difficult because there are so many stereotypes about Indigenous art and tokenism can come into play.” Now in its second year, the event brought together nine female-identified artists from across North America who took to the street to express their identities and histories,
and to challenge colonial structures. On rue de Varennes in Montreal, a faceless woman stands triumphant raising a trout with her right hand, her long dark hair cascading across her shoulder. Beside her collaged images of nature and words -- ‘violence’ ‘indian’ ‘decolonize’-- merge to share a story of resistance and struggle—it is a story that is shared by many indigenous people who have remained largely invisible in Montreal’s urban landscape. Census data has found that over 26,000 Indigenous people live in the city and that number is growing as increasing numbers of indigenous people relocate to urban centres. Off-reserve Indigenous communities constitute the fastest growing segment of Canadian society, according to 2011 Census data. Fifty-six per cent of Indigenous people in Canada live in urban areas, a seven per cent increase from 1996. “The historical depth of colonialism in Montreal is really apparent in the whole city’s design,” says Charlie. “So to take on a decolonizing project in that context is really bold and really necessary.” The woman in the mural was a recreation of a digital photo of Charlie’s ‘auntie’ taken in the small fishing village in the Yukon where she was born. At the age of six, Charlie and her mother, a second generation Canadian of Danish and Icelandic ancestry, moved to Victoria, British Columbia, also known as the territories of the Lekwungen speaking people. Witnessing her mother create collages growing up, Charlie began experimenting with the medium. “Art has specifically helped me explore and try and depict the feelings of disconnect and fragmentation that I feel,” says Charlie. “Also since it becomes something physical and visual other people can see it and then there are these relationships and conversations you can have after.” Larivée reached out to Charlie through Instagram after seeing her digital Indigenous collage work that she created as a methodology for her PhD in Indigenous Politics at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa.. At the DSA convergence, Charlie used the collaborative aspect of the medium to overcome challenges the mural presented. This was a first time she had engaged in street art and had created a work of this scale. The task was daunting and she was nervous. This was then coupled with a growing tension of creating street art on a land she felt no claim to. When she arrived to the wall on the first day of the event her mind began to race—“you can’t do this, you’re going to fail, you’re not good enough for this, this isn’t your place, you’re a fraud.” But something said it was ok to keep moving forward even though it hurt, even though it was scary, Charlie reflected in the DSA zine. Charlie held a workshop with Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde during the convergence that allowed members of the public to participate in collage making for the mural. The workshop drew a diverse group—there were students, members of the Kahnawake community, other DSA artists and a small group of French tourists. The workshops served as a way to allow the public to participate in discussions surrounding Indigenous culture, resistance, as well as the generational impact of colonization. “We got there in different ways and took different journeys to get to there,” says Charlie. “Collage sort of captured that. When we bring all these different pieces
“I think the majority of Canadians have a really skewed perception [of indigenous people] without knowing the colonial traumatic histories.”
Photography by Michael Thessel
together it creates something new.” Later in the week as people added “a piece of themselves” to the mural, Charlie became more at ease. No longer was the mural about her—it became a symbol of a “deeply personal, shared struggle.” It was through Charlie that Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde, an Iroquois, Mohawk woman born and raised on the Kahnawake reservation just south of Montreal, became involved with DSA. Katsitsakatste Delaronde is an interdisciplinary artist currently living in Victoria, British Columbia. For the convergence she executed a street art performance titled “Aiako’nikonhraién:ta’ne,” a Mohawk word that translates as “to come to understand.” In traditional Iroquois regalia Katsitsakatste Delaronde walked the streets of Montreal with an eagle feather and sweet grass. As she approached people she introduced herself and welcomed them to the territory in her native Mohawk language, and engaged in a discussion aimed “to cultivate a more effective acknowledgement of Mohawk territory.” Over the course of an hour, Katsitsakatste Delaronde spoke to half a dozen people, the majority of which had no knowledge of Kahnawake or the Mohawk territory on which they stood. “We are isolated. We live next to one of the biggest cities in Canada, surrounded by francophone communities. We’re sort of like a lonely island,” says Katsitsakatste Delaronde. The interactions were well received, something that she had had reservations about earlier on in the day. People were genuinely engaged and interested in learning about Mohawk people, spirituality and decolonization. Following the performance art piece she felt exhausted but proud. Her exhaustion, she says, comments on the huge responsibility put on indigenous people to educate people. “It is going to take a lot of [Indigenous] educators and a lot of willing people to be receptive to that information and then have courage to process that it.” In addition to her artistic work, Katsitsakatste Delaronde is a sessional instructor at the University of Victoria teaching indigenous education to students pursuing teaching degrees.
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She says that ignorance is not intentional arrogance, but rather a result of Euro-centric texts used in schools where the colonization of indigenous peoples is presented as a history that discredits the lasting effects it has had on indigenous communities today. “People don’t know their own origins in terms of migration to this territory that traditionally and still is First Nations peoples’ land,” says Katsitsakatste Delaronde. “I think the majority of Canadians have a really skewed perception [of indigenous people] without knowing the colonial traumatic histories.” For this year’s convergence, a multidisciplinary artist who works under the pseudonym Swarm, chose to focus on her own story as a mixed person of colour who is disconnected with her ancestry. She created two wheatpastes that reflect on themes of ethnic ambiguity and identity erasure. She chose to paste her ‘starbeings’–genderless, featureless ‘space people’–on the streets of Montreal. “I chose ethnic ambiguity/identity erasure because these are themes in life that have made me suffer a great deal,” says Swarm. “I have a lot of mental health issues. I often feel invisible, like people don’t actually see me.” Swarm, who started doing street art in 2011, says she has experienced harassment while working on projects. “I’m always told my stuff is too small, that I paint too slow, and when men see me painting a giant wall they get really patronizing,” says Swarm. “...This is why Decolonizing Street Art is so important. It gives space for women-identified, indigenous, and POC street artists space to take the stage... which is a rare thing.” While each artist comes from a different background and assumes a different identity, art has been a vessel for healing and rediscovery. Decolonizing Street Art goes one step further by collectively reclaiming space on the street, instigating an anti-colonial dialogue during a shift in indigenous urban migration. And while the industrial walls of the city that have historically been the source of oppression, they now transform into the source of creative resistance. What are the walls saying to you?
Table Talks to Freedom W
A personal account of what happens behind closed doors. by Natalia Balcerzak
hen my mother immigrated to Canada at the age of 25, she was lost. She had escaped Communist Poland in the late seventies. She came without connections and spoke very little English. She lived out of two suitcases, slept on strangers’ couches and worked in factories with minimal contact back home. A few months in, she was threatened with deportation, which almost led her to a suicide attempt at Toronto’s waterfront. Instead, she opted for an alternative. She met my father, who had also fled Poland, and asked if he could provide her with shelter. For almost two decades after, that shelter became a prison. My parents didn’t marry, weren’t in love and didn’t care much for one another. Their relationship stemmed from convenience, two immigrants struggling to get by in a place that promised a better future. A traditional and religious Polish household requires the woman to be submissive—the man makes the rules and no one can challenge him. A lot of our family friends had the same story. The men became truck-drivers who loved their alcohol, the women were ordered to stay home. I have memories of my mom and her friends gathering over coffee to talk about their most recent incidents. One was pushed down the stairs. Another’s spouse pulled a knife up to her son’s neck. My mom had her head repeatedly banged against the bed board until she had blood streaming down her face. Still, no one did anything about it. They finished their coffees and returned to their household life, believing that endurance was their only salvation. Sunday was always reserved for church. It was sickening to watch these men praise the Lord when just the night before, they were drunk and destructive. They’d sing their hymns, chant their prayers and cleanse themselves of their weekly sins. It only took a few steps outside before they were back to cursing with a beer in their hands. What’s worse is that no one saw this as wrong. It was assumed that this was life and the role of a female. As a teenager, my books were ripped away by my father because he demanded I “learn how to clean to please my future husband instead.” Back at these talks over coffee, my mom and her friends would go over what went wrong, blaming themselves. They then decided to go out and take back their careers. It took a while for my mother to realize how her lack of confidence was also hurting me and my two sisters. She wanted to be a nurse again and signed up for school to renew her degree. Spending so many hours out of the house was new to her. She met different types of people and gained a worldly perspective. She discovered her talents and self-worth. She said her revelation happened when
she caught herself smiling and laughing—something that she hadn’t been able to do freely for so long. When she returned to work, she was no longer financially reliant on my father and became more outspoken. My father was not happy about this and became worse. He’d unplug the landline, strike matches to burn the house down and even tried to drown our dog in the bathtub to force us to obey. It would get so bad at times that the police would get called in or we’d have to flee the house for a few days until his nerves cooled. There came a point where we realized that if nothing changed, tragedy would be in the cards. One night in particular got extremely violent and ended up with my father’s arrest. He left in handcuffs, screaming. A restraining order followed. When my mom turned to her friends for support, many had disappeared. She was the first woman in their social circle to stand up against the abuse. It wasn’t long before twisted words circulated the Polish community that my mother was ungrateful and ruthless—the work of the devil—and so the man was to be pitied. She was isolated and her presence became a plague. My mother disconnected herself from the judgement. Sometimes she was super optimistic about everything, other times she wouldn’t get out of bed for days. With no child support, she felt the weight of being alone but made it clear she would never relive the past. A lot of people denied our stories and my father was portrayed as charismatic and generous. It was frustrating. My mom’s response was that only the walls of our home and we were witnesses to the truth. Time eventually did its healing. My mother began to thrive, managing everything on her own. Her phone started to ring again, asking if she wanted to meet for coffee. These women began to see my mom as an inspiration and were eager for advice. Within a year’s time, they were back to their table talks but this time they celebrated their independence. This time, I listened to them converse about how they let themselves fall victim and how they vowed to never let anyone else go through what they did. I like to think we’ve all forgotten about this part of our lives by now but a chord is struck when we hear similar stories on the news. Their stories echo our own. Recently, a few women at my mom’s workplace showed signs of abuse and she immediately approached them. It took a few chats over coffee, the act of solidarity and courage from them to make those bruises disappear, but it takes a lot more than that to keep them from happening in the first place. Illustration by Toni Kelly
Through four unique women, we are taking an inside look at what it means to be the modern career woman. by Michelle McNally
Ilene Sova, 40
Founder of the Toronto Feminist Art Conference, figurative painter and OCADU studio instructor Where did the influence of art in your life come from?
My mum was a painter and so was my grandfather, and then all of my cousins and aunts are very artistic, so people are writing poems or drawing. It’s a very culture focused family. I definitely remember seeing my mum’s paintings around the house. It’s not something she pursued, she did it as a hobby, and so inspiration came from wanting to paint like that and be a painter like my mum.
What inspired you to create the Toronto Feminist Art Conference?
Sova Photographed by Shannon Mishimagi
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At the time I was painting the Missing Women’s project. It took me four years, so imagine I’m in the studio, painting these paintings and researching these cases, and it was very depressing. Learning about why these women went missing, and what are the patriarchal systems at play that allow this violence to occur, to allow them not to be found, for the person who committed the crime not to be charged. It becomes really, really clear and you can see the patterns. Essentially the system allows people to get away with it. So, I didn’t have a fellow feminist art community to talk about these issues with; I was feeling kind of isolated in that sense. I’m in the studio with 45 other artists, but none of them are working with feminist issues like I am. I didn’t just want to have an exhibition of this work, I wanted there to be a discussion of feminist issues, so I found a location where I could have an event around the exhibition.
You have a great relationship with your students, but have you ever experienced sexism in the workplace?
In terms of sexism, the workplace is where I experience it the most. Not at OCADU or at this level of post-secondary education, but definitely at other schools and private schools that I had worked at before. I had a few incidents where men ran at me, physically, because they didn’t want to do what they were supposed to do or they wanted to do things differently and I didn’t want to do things the way that they wanted me to do them. They got angry, like very visibly angry, and were yelling and shouting. I kept calm and dealt with it in a professional way. But it really surprized me that we haven’t come that far. That intimidation in the workplace was really shocking to me and I said, “Wow, this is real, this is
real sexism. This person is upset because I’m his supervisor and he wants things to be done this way.” In that incident, he went right to the owners of the school wanting to go over my head and change the curriculum. My own bosses backed me up, and they were both men, and they were wonderful.
What then are the advantages to having more women in higher-level positions?
I really don’t think that there is a difference between a man’s brain and a women’s brain. Biology doesn’t determine how we behave in the workplace. I think that women are just as capable as men, but I think because of women’s social experience we bring a different discussion to the table. There’s been a lot of talk about this around Justin Trudeau’s cabinet. For instance, working collaboratively or working collectively seems to come more naturally for women. A less competitive and a more success-focused outcome, instead of an individual-focused outcome, might be something that women can bring to the top.
How did you go about choosing your subjects for the Missing Women’s Project?
For the Missing Women’s project, I wanted to show that violence against women happens across classes, across races and across lifestyles, because I think there’s a myth in people’s minds that a certain type of woman experiences violence, like “she lives a certain way” or “she lives with risk.” There are a lot of different excuses as to why this person experienced this. So I was consciously looking for a variety of lifestyles and women from all different backgrounds to show that. I wanted the show to be an installation where it could happen to anyone, basically. It’s very easy to say to others “well, that happened to them because they lived like that,” but it can happen to anyone.
What is your definition of a feminist?
Just someone who wants equality for all sexes and genders.
Portions of these interviews have been shortened and/or edited for grammatical purposes.
9-5 Christine Thompson, 29 Pharmaceutical chemical engineer What Is Your Job Description?
I work in pharmaceuticals. I’ve only been in my job right now for a month; I’m really new to it. But I was in a previous job in the same field for a year and a half.
Where did the idea to pursue chemical engineering come from?
I was the first one in my family to do this. In high school I had two teachers who were engineers; they weren’t chemical, maybe electrical. In grade 11 and grade 12, I was really good at math, physics and chemistry. When we were planning for university, they mentored me and said, “You have the brains for this. You should consider it.” I didn’t really know about it at all. They were the best teachers I’ve ever had. If it weren’t for those two teachers at the beginning, I would have never known about it.
Have you ever encountered discrimination or harassment in the workplace?
To be honest, no, I haven’t. I work with really good people. I don’t know whether it stems from the fact that I work with highly educated people who don’t think that way. There could definitely be people who aren’t that educated but who aren’t sexist at all. A lot of the time that problem comes from a lack of exposure to the world and education. I’ve never once been in a position where they didn’t want me or they didn’t think I could do the job because I was a woman. Never.
What are the biggest challenges in your job?
Christine Thompson Photographed by Shannon Mishimagi
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I think the biggest challenge in my job is the amount of pressure and not making mistakes. That for me was something that took me a little while to get used to. It would give me anxiety because I would get home and I’d be thinking, “Did I make a mistake?” and I would worry. All of these drugs are going into people, so there’s a responsibility there to make sure that everything is the way it should be. That’s the responsibility of being an engineer. What you’re doing could potentially kill someone. You really have to be on the ball all the time.
Why do you believe that the number of female engineers is lower than male engineers in the workplace?
I think it starts from a young age; they’re being discouraged from wanting to do it. It’s funny, because when I was in grade five, I would get math homework and I would sit with my dad and try to complete it and I didn’t like the homework. I would get so mad and so frustrated and I hated it; he would help me work through them, but I could not understand it. Then, it seems as I got older I somehow started being good at that. I had a lot of support growing up and I had strong upbringing of doing what you want and working hard and excelling and not really caring if you were cool or not. I played ringette growing up, so I was always surrounded by competition and other women who were encouraging you. Maybe I wanted to be good at math because I was competitive. I was mad at myself that I could never get it. My parents were very supportive. I was very lucky in school because in my undergrad, a lot of the kids around me were pressured by their parents to get amazing grades and my parents always said, “Just do your best. As long as you’re doing your best, that’s good enough.”
What does it mean to be a feminist to you?
What it means is that men and women are equal. That’s the whole point of feminism, to be equal, right? I think people are scared of the label. I hope no girl is discouraged from the engineering field or scared of having a bad experience. We’re not there yet, but I really think we’ve progressed a long way. It’s not an all-boys club. There’s a lot of opportunity for women.
Portions of these interviews have been shortened and/or edited for grammatical purposes.
9-5 Jessica Mustachi, 32
Safety Program Coordinator for METRAC, under the Ontario Professional Planners Institute
Students wishing to pursue post-secondary school usually have influences that make them choose the program they pursue. What was yours?
I think being able to do and study a wide variety of topics. The program I was in at in the University of Toronto in Scarborough was a unique program at that point in time because it had a co-op program in conjunction with it. They also focused on the social science as well as environmental science aspect of development work, so it was more so that I was able to pick a variety of topics, and then focus on a specific later on.
You’ve also traveled to India. How did that affect you?
Going and working there was part of my co-op for my undergraduate degree. I was there for about nine to ten weeks and I was working on projects that were related to HIV/AIDS, prevention assisting those who are living with HIV and AIDS, and so that was what my undergraduate thesis was on. That really helped to understand more about my interests in health programming, so that was what my masters was in, international health and health programming. I’ve been really privileged to travel a lot and that’s one of my interests. Every place that I’ve been to has just been a great experience. I’m interested in people’s stories and how they live their lives. I’ve been to Mexico, I’ve been to Brazil, I’ve been to Sri Lanka, places in Europe, Ireland, Slovakia, Italy, I’ve been to Thailand, and Cambodia, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, so I’ve travelled a lot. Mostly I go by myself or with a friend.
What is it like to travel alone as a woman?
I think it just depends on which country you’re going to. You just have to be aware of how things work in different places, like here, you know that there’s a lot of things happening in certain areas, you’re going to be more aware of your surroundings. You just have to kind of go and do it, and also be really aware of your own self, I think that’s the most
Photographed by Michelle McNally
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important think about traveling, understanding about why you’re going there and not expecting what you are used to in the places that you’re going to. Even if you’re going to Europe, in every place the culture is different, so you just have to be aware of that before you go.
What is METRAC? How did you get there?
I had just come back from England and I was applying for jobs, and I found this job, which has changed over the years. Primarily I train community members and youth to do safety audits in their neighbourhoods. Training people to look in their areas of where they live and work and go to school, and assess them for safety issues, so that could be physical, like lighting and maintenance, but it can also be accessibility or social issues. That’s a large part of my work. I also do some policy work, so trying to work with other women’s organizations to get more gender-inclusive policy in the city. One project we’re working on is getting an updated version of the Safe City Guidelines which would help in the design and planning of how things get build in the city and trying to ensure places are built more safely.
What is your personal definition of feminism?
I haven’t read it in a while, so I can’t remember, but Bell Hooks wrote that “feminism is for everybody,” which is a definition that I really like. People just being able to live their lives without discrimination, based on their gender and being inclusive of women, men and trans people and those who don’t define as a specific gender, to be free of discrimination from the way you portray yourself.
Portions of these interviews have been shortened and/ or edited for grammatical purposes.
9-5 Jenna Hay, 28
Senior Operations Assistant to the Minister of Finance, provincial level Did you receive a post-secondary education?
Yes, I did. I went to UofT for my masters, so my degree is in European, Russian and Eurasian studies at the Munk School. What that essentially means is that I studied international security and specialized in Russian security.
Why did you pick that program of study?
In terms of my motivation to study that, I’m the first person in my immediate family to get a masters. I had a lot of encouragement from my parents. I think the motivation was partly the desire to do something interdisciplinary, so I studied history and poli-sci in my undergrad. But I loved Russian history, soviet history, and I was interested into how that played into modern day politics. In terms of that particular field I think I owe a lot of the inspiration to do that to my dad and my mum, but particularly my dad. I think security issues have always been somewhat maledominated. I think there’s a lot more women now that are entering the field, which is really exciting, but growing up, my dad encouraged my brother and I that we could do anything we wanted, it didn’t matter. There wasn’t any kind of sense of “because you’re a girl, you can only do X, Y or Z,” it was more “if you both work hard, and go after what you want, you can get it.” And so, growing up, there were really no limits in terms of what I could do. I realize now how much I was a bit of the anomaly in that sense, that there were no constraints put on me because I was a girl, and I’m really grateful for that.
I think it’s a highly professional environment, given what we do. Our environment has very high energy, and that is something that stood out to me right off the bat when I started working there. That’s refreshing and energizing and it’s exciting to be a part of something that’s bigger than your role as a team member. That’s one thing I appreciate about the office a lot, is that there really is a strong sense of being a member of a team and working towards something as an individual, but also together as a group. That’s what I absolutely love about being in that office.
Are there any draw backs to your job?
Not that I can think of whatsoever. I have to say I am so enthusiastic about my job. It is a great thing. I’m so encouraged and excited about it because it’s possible to have a workplace where there’s gender balance, a workplace where you don’t feel discriminated against, where you do feel like it’s a safe place to bring up ideas, it’s a safe place period. It’s amazing how many women don’t feel like their workplace is a safe place. And so it’s exciting to be working in and office and a government that really emphasizes that. It’s something that I’m very proud of and excited about.
What is feminism to you? Equality and being heard.
Do you need a thick skin in politics?
I think in some ways you do. Politics is amazing; it’s fastpaced. Given now that we’re in an age of social media I think being in politics period you need a thick skin because social media exists, people like to criticize. In some ways it’s a double-edged sword.
Photographed by Shannon Mishimagi
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What is the work environment like at Queen’s Park?
Portions of these interviews have been shortened and/or edited for grammatical purposes.
I think I can safely assume that we’ve all thought about becoming sugar babies at some point in our lives, whether it was a fleeting idea or something we’ve seriously contemplated on our daily commutes. People tend to judge sugar babies based off of movie fantasies. Picture a young, attractive woman with an old, Hugh Hefner-type of ellow. Cue the ridicule. The general discourse surrounding sugar babies can be equated with sex work. The sex worker is called uneducated or trashy, while their client is just “lucky.” However, the relationship between sugar baby and parent can be mutually beneficial for those involved, and the people involved deserve to live their lives free of unfair judgment. I have to ask why this is the case. Maybe sugar baby relationships aren’t what society would call “normal,” but are they necessarily wrong? And why is it that the sugar baby, who is typically a woman, is judged so harshly? My take on sugar babies is that as long as all parties involved are consenting and aware of the nature of their relationship, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Sugar parents are free to spend their time and money any way they want, and a sugar baby is free to live his or her own life free of unfair judgement. People often attempt to “justify” why a woman would become a sugar baby, placing her in the category of a helpless girl in need of direction. This seems to communicate that we love a woman in need, but hate a woman in control. Sugar babies, I’m arguing, are demonstrating that owning your sexuality and being worthy of respect are not mutually exclusive. We may never know every detail as to why someone decides to become a sugar baby, and we don’t have to. At the end of the day, it’s not our business. What we have here is someone exercising their free will and making their own decisions about their life. Don’t we all deserve to do that?
It’s easy for us to look at an older, wealthier man strutting down the street with a younger, attractive woman dangling the latest Louis Vuitton purse on her arm and assume that it’s probably not love that’s holding the two together. While you pass them, your inner feminist cringes. How could she degrade herself like that? However, before you let a bias opinion cloud your judgment, let me ask you one question: is it your decision? For whatever reason, people are quick to judge anything that is out of the norm and women are particularly targeted. However, it’s about time to leave the stingy old traditions behind and allow everyone, man or woman, to make their own choices. Throughout history, women have been expected to stay in the home. Within the past century, however, they have increasingly broken into the workforce. There’s still much more work to be done in other areas. It’s the 21st century, but women are still being limited in the types of choices they can make about their own lives. Whether a woman wants to pursue a career in business or earn extra income from dating a rich significant other, she should be free to do so. BBC writer Emma Kirby did an interesting take on the sugar baby subject in the article, “The women seeking rich older men to pay their university fees.” Kirby found that these women met their sugar daddies on dating websites and although many of them would eventually sleep with their match, it didn’t necessarily lead to that. Kirby’s main subject of the article is Freya, a 22-year-old “sugar baby” dating her way through university. Freya openly admits that dating a sugar daddy is practically prostitution, but she’s not ashamed. She enjoys it, her partner enjoys it, and there’s no harm. The main message is that it’s Freya’s choice, just as much as it’s any other woman’s choice. They specifically chose to see these men knowing what the individual situations entailed. If the women and the men are both fully aware and satisfied with their agreements, outsiders don’t have the right to stop them. The way a woman explores her sexuality is her choice. It’s about time we stop defining a woman’s worth by her sexual preferences and start to respect a woman that knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go against the grain to meet her needs.
Victoria Shariati It’s none of your business
Photography by Maddie Binning
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Zoe Melnyk It’s her choice
s I walk along the street, a shop catches my eye. It looks like a forgotten relic from another time: a small brick storefront among all the tall glass buildings. As I walk through the door I’m assaulted with colour—this whole place is so different from the grey and cold back home. I’m the only one here and catch the eye of the man at the counter. I like the way people look like me here, unlike where I grew up. Why my parents decided on moving to a rural town in the north to raise me, I have no idea. I stand out there no matter where I go. I thought that when I came here there would be some sort of recognition, but nothing happened. I thought that I’d fit in, but they can all tell I’m not from here. I’m a foreigner where I grew up and I’m a foreigner here. As I rifle through the shelves, the scene from last week comes back to me. “Ma, this isn’t about you, I just need to know where I’m from to find out who I am.” “I know who you are,” my mother replies with fire in her eyes—the same fierceness with which she has always defended me. I know fighting with her won’t do any good. Instead I take one of her hands in both of mine, “I know what you’ve done for me; you’ve given me everything,” I look up at her, “but there are some things that I need to do on my own.” Tears start forming in her eyes. “You can’t know what it’s like to be different than everyone else in this town, even in your own house.” We have spent our whole lives tip-toeing around this fact. When it comes up, I have been taught to turn my head away and speak of other things. “I need to do this,” I say and she nods her head almost imperceptibly. “I won’t forget that you took me in when she didn’t want me.” I wonder if they noticed I’m not there. Do they care that no one’s around to input their complicated, boring data? I went over there as an exchange student, left my whole
by Blair Mlotek
world behind against my family’s wishes so that I could come back and do the work I’d always wanted. In the end though, I stayed. I couldn’t bear to return any phone calls after it happened and soon they stopped trying. I got so used to being alone that I didn’t know how to be any other way. I got by just enough at school to keep my scholarship. When it came time for jobs and interviews, I couldn’t find the enthusiasm needed to compete for them. I couldn’t face one more day, so I went to the airport and stood in line. My plan was to see when the next flight to somewhere with a beach would be and just go there—but I saw this flight and was pulled to it. I always wanted her. I wish she knew that. I stop in a spot I know so well, yet don’t know at all anymore. His family’s shop is now shoved between tall, shiny buildings. People walk around me, larger crowds than I could have ever imagined being here. Some bump into me and swear under their breaths, but I can’t move my feet. I thought I would feel at home as soon as I stepped off the plane but I don’t know this place—even though I used to know every brick, every turn. I turn my head to look at the small shop. There is a girl coming out of the door, head down, she looks up and stops, our eyes connecting across the busy street.
I wonder if it was hope or despair she saw in my eyes Nani was at the delicate age of nine when she had to Become a warrior At nine, She started slaying evil with her sacrifices Only nine, And the home that first wrapped her in its warmth Became foreign The ground that kissed her first steps Became treacherous The laughter of the neighbourhood children she yearned to call family Became the enemy August 14, 1947, Pakistan Became independent A new era for Muslims, a new world I wonder if it was hope or blood she saw in my eyes The broken language her foreign granddaughter mispronounces Came from her martyred brothers The national anthem her foreign granddaughter does not acknowledge Came from the death of her childhood The religion that her foreign granddaughter takes for granted Came from her world’s perseverance The country her foreign granddaughter is afraid of calling home Came from the blood soaked flowers who did not wish to bloom, till she, my tiny warrior, planted them on her fathers’ graves So tell me Nani, do you see hope or death in my eyes?
by Faria Jafri
Illustration by Shannon Mishimagi
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Illustration by Julia Tincomb
Reviews Scream Queens by Natalia Balcerzak
Illustration by Hannah Stinson
In Scream Queens, an American horror comedy television series co-created by Ryan Murphy, the culture of sororities is addressed and ridiculed. Under threat of impending closure, the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority led by Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) is forced to change their ‘only-pretty-white-girls-with-money’ image. New pledges include a candle vlogger, a liberal lesbian, a deaf Taylor Swift wannabe and a woman of colour (who plans to become the next president). The show plays on the new pledges desperate attempts to impress their sisters (which often includes a lot of bloodshed, literally). Although the show follows the stereotypes associated with a sorority, there is a new age approach to it. In only one episode, the girls challenge their extreme dieting technique of eating cotton balls to stay skinny and confront (and beat up) male students who cat-call them. As the show progresses, so does female empowerment. Throughout the episodes, the girls start recognizing the wrongs and oppose them. Some get murdered, but they continue to fight. The snarky lines, the gore-cringing scenes and the evolving characters give a lot to think about as Scream Queens seems to reflect a hyper-reality of our world today.
by Blair Mlotek
With the trend of female superheroes finally coming to film and television, CBS has started a new series this fall, Supergirl. Although a male superhero show would never be ingrained with so much cheese, Kara Danvers, cousin of Clark Kent, has a side of her that the audience can relate to. She may not be as badass as Jessica Jones is in the new Netflix series, which centres around the former superhero, but she is someone that has some of the same troubles as the rest of the world: having issues with her boss, a terrible online date, insecurities with doing what she wants to do. The show’s efforts to portray feminist qualities were demonstrated in the first episode; they were too obvious, but well-meant. While fighting the first of her enemies, Hank Henshaw of the Department of Extra-Normal Operations says Danvers isn’t strong enough. Her sister snappily replies, “Why? Because she’s just a girl?” Illustration by Toni Kelly
SE FACE MASK by Victoria Shariati
Steps 1. Soak the almonds in a bowl of water overnight.
The next morning, blend them on the highest setting with a bit of water to make almond pulp. Add the honey and rose water, and then mix the ingredients until a paste begins to form. Put the paste into a bowl and throw in the rose petals.
2. Apply the mask to a cleansed face, wet or dry,
for 10-15 minutes. Rinse off with warm water, and then finish with a splash of cold.
3. This mask will be good for up to five days in a refrigerator, as long as it is kept in a sealed container.
4. The almond pulp serves as a gentle exfoliator,
while the honey is an excellent moisturizer. If you happen to get some of this mask in your mouth, don’t worry—it tastes great!
Sourced from http://rawfoodrecipes.com/recipes/almond-androse-water-face-mask/
Why Not Me?
by Blair Mlotek
In Why Not Me?, Mindy Kaling’s hilarity comes back with a vengeance. In her second book of humorous and thought-provoking essays (not an easy combo but one that Kaling is able to produce every time) she talks about her life now that she is a producer, writer and star of her own show. She fights for feminism while fearlessly stating just how much effort she puts into her looks. Through her example, Kaling lets her readers know that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Her writing effortlessly combines her famous confidence (but don’t ask her about this if you happen to be a white male) along with her wit and honesty. A caution to the reader: do not take this book on your commute if laughing uncontrollably on the subway is something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Illustration by Julia Tincomb
30 McClungs W/16
Illustration by Rebecca Lacroix
What you’ll need ½ cup raw almonds 2 tbsp raw, unprocessed honey 1 tbsp rose water Rose petals (for aesthetic purposes)
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