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News 03 NEWS
Course lecturer files human rights complaint against McGill School of Social Work Student-run café set to open in January
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
McGill School of Social Work accused of perpetuating systemic racism Racialized student files human rights complaint
SSMU Council tries to ban “Blurred Lines”
Hera Chan and Nicolas Quiazua | The McGill Daily
Interfaith Council formed at McGill Vigil mourns victims of police killings Get a handle on the upcoming municipal election Mayoral candidates face off in English-language debate Plateau-Mont-Royal borough candidates debate student issues
Dear Dan Savage: It doesn’t always get better Criticizing Vidéotron’s community TV application Letters The spectrum of sexuality and ‘heteroflexibility’
The intersection of feminisms and witchcraft
Facts and fiction of GMOs Building brains
Showing cancer who’s boss Misconstruing Islamophobia in France and Canada
Dealing with injuries as a varsity athlete
The Redmen’s winning weekend McGill Scoreboard
Concert tickets will leave you broke Reading into porn A different kind of hook up piece
Environmental issues are not just Indigenous issues
The Reanimated Corpse of Roland Barthes, on Facebook McGall construction with no end in sight
course lecturer and doctoral student at the McGill School of Social Work has filed a human rights complaint against McGill University, alleging systemic racism on the part of the School. In his complaint, Woo Jin Edward Lee alleges that the Employment Equity Guidelines of the School of Social Work, and generally across campus, perpetuate practices that discriminate against racialized persons for faculty positions. The complaint was sent to Quebec’s human rights commission, and was officially received on July 4 of this year, on the premise of “discrimination based on race intersecting with gender and sexual orientation in violation of sections 4, 10 and 16 of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.” According to the School of Social Work’s updated list of professors, Lee is the only racialized person and visible minority – not including Indigenous peoples – registered as a lecturer this calendar year. “I don’t think there is any representation of people of colour when it comes to the administrative level,” said social work undergraduate student Sidara Ahmad, adding, “I don’t think there is an understanding of what people of colour – students of colour – go through. I don’t think there is any acknowledgement of the discrimination and racism they face.” Lee, a self-identified member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community, and a visible minority, is currently a course lecturer for SWRK 325: Anti-Oppression Social Work Practice. He is also a doctoral student specializing in the experiences of LGBTQ immigrants and refugees. In April 2013, Lee said, he applied for a part-time faculty lecturer position at the School of Social Work, recognizing the lack of racial diversity at the School. “Out of 22 tenure- and non-tenure-track faculty members, one or two are racialized, and one is LGBTQ,” he told The Daily in an interview. A month after applying, Lee said he was notified that he had not even been short-listed for an interview. The five candidates short-listed for the position
Alice Shen | The McGill Daily were all white women. According to Lee, when meeting the director of the School, Wendy Thomson, he was informed that his application was rejected because he lacked clinical experience. The job posting never mentioned the necessity of such experience, Lee said, asking only for five years of experience as a social worker in Quebec’s community, health, or social services. The job posting also included the University’s statement committed to diversity and equity in employment, “[welcoming] applications from indigenous peoples, visible minorities, ethnic minorities, persons of disabilities, women, persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities and others who may contribute to further diversification.” “The hiring committee’s internal and unwritten requirement regarding clinical experience produces a recurring, adverse impact on racialized persons who are underrepresented in clinical institutional settings in Quebec,” said Lee about his application rejection. Ahmad told The Daily about the very real implications of being a racialized person in the School. “I am one of the very few students who is racialized in the School of Social Work, and as soon as I started the program, I had a situation where there was discrimination and racism involved. [Lee] was one of the few faculty members who provided the support and the space to talk about it.” Lee has been studying at the McGill School of Social Work since 2007, and is the recipient of numerous fellowships and scholarships for his studies. More recently, Lee was one of only four recipients in McGill history to receive the Award for Equity and Community Building, in the academic staff category. He was nominated by 16 students and community members. According to an article published in the McGill Reporter, this award “recognizes the work of students, faculty and staff committed to advancing equity and diversity at McGill.” “For me, just seeing where the students are before they take [Lee’s Anti-Oppression Social Work Practice course] and where they are after, it’s essential,” said undergraduate
social work student Katrina Topping, who had previously taken Lee’s Anti-Oppression course, adding, “It challenges students to question who they are, both as people and as social workers.” Lee has been teaching at the School for six years – as a course lecturer for five years in addition to being a teaching assistant for one year. He has also worked in the Montreal community sector for another six years and spent five years practicing social work with marginalized children and youth in Calgary. “I think that there does seem to be some type of resistance to incorporate AOP – antioppressive practice – in a really big way,” said Topping. Another current social work undergraduate, Annie Preston, added, “I think there is a structural change in the School that needs to be happening to push for this.” On his part, Lee has been pushing for change. “There has been a lack of racial diversity that was apparent from the very beginning, it was something that I noticed when I served as Equity Commissioner for PGSS,” said Lee, who also co-created the Racialized Students Network (RSN). In addition to the RSN, Lee is also the co-founder of AGIR, a community organization that advocates for LGBTQ immigrants, refugees, and non-status migrants in the Montreal area. He is also a member of the Social Work Association of Graduate Students (SWAGS), and was the co-coordinator of Ethnoculture, an annual event that raises awareness about LGBTQ racialized and ethnic minority communities in Montreal. In the fall of 2009, the Principal’s Task Force on Student Life and Learning launched the McGill University Student Demographic Survey to “foster sensitivity to cultural and personal differences in the delivery of academic and other administrative supports to our students.” The survey was completed by 2,070 McGill students. According to the survey, 26 per cent of students from any ethnic group – excluding students who identified solely as white – reported discrimination by fellow (Continued on page 5)
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The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
SSMU student-run café to open in January 2014 Café to be in second-floor cafeteria of Shatner building
Dana Wray | The McGill Daily
fter close to three years of demands from students, SSMU will open the student-run café (SRC) on January 6, 2014. The SRC will take the former place of Lola Rosa Xpress and Tiki Ming in the secondfloor cafeteria in the Shatner Building. A press release from SSMU stated that the SRC’s mission “is to be the student-designed, student-driven, and student-operated hub for sustainable food service on campus. The café will be driven by student needs from the core and will additionally serve as a cooperative framework for student-led sustainable food projects and initiatives.” Former SSMU President Josh Redel will serve as the manager of the new SRC, while Kathleen Bradley, the Finance Coordinator for McGill Farmers’ Market and a member of the Second Servings team, will be the head chef. “There have been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in this project for a lot of years, from a lot of people,” Bradley said. “So it’s really nice to see that it’s finally coming to fruition.” Due in part to the SSMU cafeteria’s limited hours, for the time being, the new SRC will only be open for breakfast and lunch. Bradley also added that the SRC is not designed to compete against other student-run initiatives, such as SNAX or Gerts. Additionally, due to an exclusivity clause in SSMU’s contract with La Prep, the SRC cannot serve specialty coffees such as cappuccinos or lattes. Menu options will include sustainable breakfast, lunch, and snack fares, with prices set at around $7 to $8 for a soup and sandwich combo, and around $1 for coffee. Affordable catering will also be a potential option for student groups, according to organizers. According to Bradley, the SRC is also a collaborative venture, with help from sustainable organizations such as McGill Food and Dining Services, the McGill Food Systems Project, Plate Club, and even CKUT. “SSMU is here to provide a really solid framework [...] Part of that isn’t just serving food, but allowing groups to build onto it, and students at-large to piece it into something bigger,” said Redel at a press conference with
campus media. Before January, the finishing touches must be put on the physical space, and awareness and engagement campaigns will be rolled out. A campaign to name the restaurant is already underway, and Redel said that there will be additional events targeted toward gathering feedback on the plans. However, not all students are entirely happy with the announcement; some are more in favour of the past idea of a studentrun ‘space,’ as opposed to a lunch counter, as the current plan stands. Jane Zhang, a participant in a competition held in 2012 to design a model of the café, told The Daily, “[Many people] were expecting more of a sustainable space [...] for students to gather and talk about sustainability. So the fact they are just taking over this counter in the SSMU cafeteria wipes away that whole idea.” “It’s a complex issue,” Redel admitted. “More or less, [the current space was] in really good shape for opening up a simple food service, to the point where we can save money that was put aside for something bigger. [That way when] we know for sure what we want, and we have a really good, concrete idea, we can say, ‘now let’s really put a big investment.’” A long, winding road to a new café In 2010, the closing of the 17-year-old student-run Architecture Cafe prompted campus-wide mobilization, with over 300 students protesting its closure at one event. The McGill administration, which had taken over the café three years prior, cited financial mismanagement as the primary reason for the closure. In response to student demand, the 201112 SSMU Executive spearheaded a plan that proposed the grand opening of a new studentrun café in Fall 2013. At the Winter 2012 General Assembly, then-VP Finance and Operations Shyam Patel put forward a motion that set aside $200,000 for the café. According to Redel, the start-up costs of the new café will not reach that amount.
Robert Smith | The McGill Daily SSMU held a Sustainability Case Competition for a new café design in the winter semester of 2012, with plans to open the winning design in September 2013. Although the winning team was awarded a $4,000 prize, as well as a promise that their business plan would be adopted by SSMU, nothing ever materialized. Zhang was one of the members of the winning team in the competition, and said that she was “under the impression that what we were producing would be the model for the café.” The team designed multiple models, including business, organizational, and promotional, and networked with local businesses in order to create its design. According to current SSMU President Katie Larson, that year’s executive “had the case competition without really having a concrete way to implement it.” “There was a lot of miscommunication,” she added. However, Redel said that the ideas from the competition served as a foundation and inspiration for the current SRC. The 2013 SSMU Executive began a sixweek long consultation process entitled the “Summit on Space in the Shatner Building” after an announcement that Travel CUTS/ Voyages Campus was leaving its location on the first floor of the Shatner building.
However, Redel told The Daily that the former Travel CUTS/Voyages Campus space wasn’t as big as originally imagined for the café, and would complicate the design. Additionally, the people behind SRC decided that using the kitchen equipment available upstairs would be more economically feasible than spending money on renovations of the travel office. The ongoing lease negotiations with McGill, which now continue into their fourth year, constituted another complicating factor cited by last year’s SSMU executives. SSMU will have to begin paying utilities, as well as increased rent, for the entire Shatner building – creating an uncertain financial situation. Although SSMU is still in the midst of lease negotiations – which, according to Larson, are going “really well” – McGill has given SSMU the green-light on the café project. The entire process leading up to the announcement has left much to be desired for some students. “I think everyone sort of agrees that it has been very secretive and we didn’t know very much about it,” Zhang said, “which is ironic because the whole thing was supposed to be this student-led, transparent thing, and it seems very opposite to what Arch Café was and represented.”
McGill School of Social Work accused of perpetuating systemic racism (continued) (Continued from page 3) students, and 18 per cent reported some level of discrimination by McGill employees. Section 2.6 of McGill’s Handbook on Student Rights and Responsibilities describes discrimination as “any action, behaviour, or decision based on race, colour, sex [...] which results in the exclusion or preference of an individual or group within the University community. This includes both the actions of individual members of the University and systemic institutional practices and policies of the University.” According to Fo Niemi, co-founder and
executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), his organization does not receive many complaints from universities. However, Niemi argues that this is more of a reflection of an unsafe environment for disclosure of discrimination rather than an absence of discriminatory experiences themselves. “In universities and corporations, the many professional and managerial positions produce a professional stigma when someone raises a claim of discrimination.” Another explanation for the rarity of complaints arising from university staff lies in a Supreme Court of Canada decision, un-
der which unionized people cannot independently appeal to the human rights commission unless the union has found a specific reason to file a grievance in the place of the employee. “That might explain why in many unionized workplaces, such as universities, we do not see very often claims of discrimination going forward,” said Niemi. As a part-time course lecturer, Lee is a member of the newly-formed McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union (MCLIU). However, the union is currently in negotiations with the University for its first collective agreement, and Lee believes he would not have been able to go through the usual
grievance procedure in place. Among the remedies sought, Lee’s complaint asks the Commission to require changes to the hiring policies of the University in general and the McGill School of Social Work in particular, and to order the School to adopt a mandatory employment equity action plan to increase the number of racialized individuals among the School’s faculty and course lecturers. Lee also seeks material and moral damages. Ahmad added, “There are many other students that have been in situations where they have been discriminated against [...] and found support with [Lee].”
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
McGill Interfaith Students’ Council formed Religious student associations and students gather to create unified voice
Cem Ertekin | The McGill Daily
s the debate over the proposed Quebec Charter of Values continues, students at McGill are finalizing the creation of the McGill Interfaith Students’ Council, in order to address the demand for interfaith interaction, and the need for a forum through which religious understanding can grow. The first large-scale Council meeting on October 20 included selected representatives from 9 of the 13 religious student groups at McGill, several independent representatives, and Reverend Neil John Whitehouse, Associate Director of McGill Chaplaincy Services. According to Anita Sivabalan, one of the organizers of the Council and the VP Social Justice of the Newman Students’ Society – a Catholic social and charity club – the councillors wanted to focus on peacebuilding, advocacy, and creating dialogue. “Dialogue is not only questioning each other but also questioning ourselves and what we believe in; trying to, through those questions, further our understanding of who we are, what it means to be our religion; as well as trying to understand others,” Sivabalan explained in an interview with The Daily. The Council has also decided to form a sub-committee, as of yet unnamed, which
has already started planning an event that aims to reach out to students and raise awareness on the Quebec Charter of Values. “All the events that have happened before were more directed to just academics in general. But this event, we want to focus specifically on a student audience [and] have an event at McGill, for McGill students. But this is not to say that it’s not open to other students, or other campuses, or scholars, or academics,” Sivabalan said. According to the lead organizers of the Council, there is currently no student organization at McGill that can claim to have a collective voice that represents the point of view of the religious student body on contemporary issues, such as the Quebec Charter of Values. Elizabeth Carnogursky, VP Publicity of the Newman Students’ Society, said in an email to The Daily that the Council would aim “to be a unified voice of religious students and faith clubs on campus in response to specific issues that arise.” “Despite its history, I would say that Quebec social and political culture is not one that understands and respects religions or gives them due consideration, as exemplified by the Quebec Charter of Values lately,” Carnogursky continued. According to Trisha Islam, one of the
Robert Smith | The McGill Daily lead organizers of the Council, the Quebec Charter of Values is definitely one of the reasons why the Council is necessary, but it is not the only reason. Islam, speaking to The Daily in an interview, said, “We want [the Council] to be organizational, sustainable. We want this to last year after year. We want this to be relevant at the same time. Who knows what’s going to happen to the Charter? [...] [The Council is] supposed to be ‘on the
wave.’ It’s current, it’s relevant – always thinking ahead.” Sivabalan later said, “We recognize our differences, but we celebrate that diversity. This can really show campus how different religious groups can come together and collaborate, and be peaceful, and have dialogue with each other. It’s powerful, and it can undermine that assumption that religion can bring violence, or people of faith cannot cooperate.”
SSMU Council tries to ban song “Blurred Lines” from Shatner building Motion fails amid protests of “censorship”
Lauria Galbraith and Hannah Reardon | The McGill Daily
t their bi-weekly Legislative Council meeting on Thursday, Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) councillors got into a heated debate over the only motion of the night, one that proposed banning the song “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke from the Shatner building, including Gerts. The popular song has been widely banned for promoting rape and propagating misogyny, especially through the repetition of lines such as “I know you want it” and others more explicit. The motion is not without precedent, either – several universities across the UK have banned the song from their own student union buildings. “[This song] violates the whole idea of safe space. It’s an example of exactly what we should not accept at McGill,” said Sarah Southey, Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) Representative and one of the movers. She continued, “It’s being played five times a night at Gerts.”
VP University Affairs Joey Shea brought up concerns that the song may act as a trigger for sexual assault survivors, especially given the proximity of Gerts to the Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society in the Shatner building basement. Opponents of the motion protested that a ban on the song would be a direct violation of free speech standards. “This is as close to censorship as we can get,” claimed VP Internal Brian Farnan, a fervent opponent of the motion. President Katie Larson also cautioned councillors against the dangers of embarking on the path of censorship, and the difficulties of drawing the line between banning the song “Blurred Lines” and banning all other popular songs with a misogynistic message, stating, “Do you really want to open this Pandora’s box of music banning?” Farnan motioned to add a sarcastic amendment to the motion, which read, “Be it resolved that SSMU ban all songs that
suggest rape culture, misogyny or sexual assault and/or abuse.” “I just wanted to speak to the fact that I think the intention of this amendment is to prove a point, which I’m not sure is a valid reason to propose an amendment,” Southey responded, adding that the motion wasn’t censorship, but instead, “It’s the fact that SSMU has an obligation and a responsibility to its members to provide a space where everyone feels comfortable.” After an hour and a half of fierce debate, the motion failed, with 7 votes in favour, 8 against, and 11 abstentions. “I fully supported the content of the motion,” Farnan said after the vote. “[My arguments] were purely theoretical, surrounding the ability of a student society to ban a song in a building. I think it’s a slippery slope.” Shea, however, was very disappointed by the motion’s failure. “[This motion] was an opportunity for the SSMU to take a
strong stance against songs [that are apologetic for rape] and to educate those members who might not have thought twice about its content.” Sustainability and Vision 2020 discussed SSMU Sustainability Coordinator David Gray-Donald was present as a guest speaker to give a review of sustainability practices at SSMU. Gray-Donald highlighted the old heating and ventilation systems in Shatner, and sustainability training for executives, as problem areas to focus on this year. Gray-Donald also presented on Vision 2020, a sustainability group on campus. He suggested several initiatives, such as holding periodic networking events to foster collaboration and raise the group’s profile, as well as offering more educational content on sustainability within and outside of classes. Council resolved to go through the proposed initiatives at a further date.
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
Vigil mourns victims of police brutality Attendees criticize Bill 12, system of internal police investigations 9 Emmet Livingstone | News Writer
Hera Chan | The McGill Daily
n October 22, around 100 people gathered at the fourth annual candlelit vigil organized by the Justice for the Victims of Police Killings Coalition, to commemorate those who have died at the hands of Montreal and Quebec police. The Coalition is composed of the friends, families, and allies of people who lost their lives to the police. “What people in power count on is people’s ability to forget,” said Jaggi Singh, a social justice activist. “What this vigil is about is memory. Remembering who those folks were, that they have stories to share, and that they
had loved ones and interests in life.” In emotion-filled speeches, members of the Coalition and survivors of police abuse spoke about their encounters with police brutality, and stressed the importance of solidarity with the victims, in front of the Fraternité des policiers et policières de Montréal headquarters. The Coalition contre la Répression et les Abus Policiers reports that there have been 51 deaths after police intervention since 1987. One of the speakers, Bridget Tolley, is the daughter of Gladys Tolley, who was struck and killed by a Sûreté du Québec po-
Hera Chan | The McGill Daily
Hera Chan | The McGill Daily
lice cruiser near her home in 2001. “This is my fourth year demanding justice and a public inquiry into my mother’s death,” she told the crowd, and explained that the government had denied her request for an independent inquiry. Many at the vigil criticized the internal investigations of police actions. Although a bill was put forward to create an independent police investigation procedure, detractors criticized that police could still potentially be involved, calling it a conflict of interest. Others were there in solidarity with the
Hera Chan | The McGill Daily
victims and their families. “We’re highlighting the fact that the police can act with impunity. The police killings and police brutality show that,” said Singh. Speakers and attendees at the vigil also said that viewing these acts of police violence in isolation is dangerous. A young woman, who asked to remain anonymous because she herself is under police investigation, told The Daily in French, “We think these are isolated incidents but they’re not at all. [...] This is the kind of thing you see every day.”
Robert Smith | The McGill Daily
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
A primer on this year’s mayoral candidates and student-centric issues 9
Molly Korab and Jordan Venton-Rublee | The McGill Daily Illustrations by Alice Shen | The McGill Daily Out of the 12 mayoral candidates for the upcoming November 3 municipal elections, four are considered the front-runners: Richard Bergeron, Denis Coderre, Marcel Côté, and Mélanie Joly. All are running on anti-corruption platforms, a practical move considering the tenures of the past three mayors. The current interim mayor, Laurent Blanchard, was elected to replace the former interim mayor, Michael Applebaum, who resigned due to corruption charges. Applebaum had been
serving as a replacement for former mayor Gérald Tremblay, who also resigned on corruption charges. This year, transit and housing have been some of the more student-centric issues addressed in multiple debates. For coverage of the debate between mayoral candidates, see page 9. For coverage of the debate on student issues between candidates of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, see page 10.
Richard Bergeron – Projet Montréal
ichard Bergeron of Projet Montréal focuses largely on transit issues in the city. Bergeron has a master’s in urban planning, as well as a PhD in regional planning. His transit plan’s most notable aspects include a Montreal tramway, encompassing 37.5 kilometres, that would extend from Côtedes-Neiges to Pie-IX. The tramway, according to Bergeron, is intended to complement the city’s current public transportation system, which he has noted is at full capacity, as well
as move the city’s dependence away from automobiles. His transit plan also includes funding through measures such as changing tolls and imposing steeper city parking fees on suburban commuters. Bergeron’s housing plan includes projects designed to transform vacant space into affordable housing, with the ultimate goal of creating a total of 50,000 homes that will house 100,000 to 125,000 inhabitants. Additionally, Projet Montréal has promised that housing de-
velopments would include access to local services within walking distance and a “reasonable level” of green space. New development projects would also be mandated to include 15 to 20 per cent social and affordable housing. Bergeron recently made headlines for alleging that the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center were possibly the work of the Bush administration, though he later distanced himself from the comments.
Denis Coderre – Équipe Denis Coderre
s the leader of Équipe Denis Coderre, Denis Coderre is posed as the current front-runner in the race. Plateau Borough Mayor Luc Ferrandez once called Coderre a “Rob Ford-style politician” – after the embattled mayor of Toronto – with little interest in actually effecting change. Insults aside, Coderre has gained populist support since announcing his candidacy in June 2013. In the past, Coderre has worked for six terms as a federal Member of Parliament (MP) in Ottawa, filling a number of positions
including Minister for Citizenship and Immigration, before he resigned in May 2013 to join the race for mayor. A large number of Coderre’s councillors come from the defunct Union Montréal party, which ended following the resignation of Gérald Tremblay in 2012 following a massive – and still ongoing – corruption scandal. Other opponents have used the large number of former Union Montreal candidates in Coderre’s party to question his commitment to change. If elected, Coderre has promised to install
an inspector general in City Hall in order to combat corruption, something modelled on the New York City system. The proposed position of the inspector general will, according to Coderre, have the power to launch inquiries and take people to court, and is his answer to the insidious corruption within City Hall. Like many of his other contenders, Coderre is standing behind the creation of bus rapid transit in the city, an extension of the orange metro line, as well as amenities like wi-fi on buses and cellphone service in the metro.
Marcel Côté – Coalition Montréal
arcel Côté, an economist, is the leader of Coalition Montréal. He has a background in politics at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels, and also served under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa. Côté received a large boost of support when Louise Harel, leader of the Vision Montreal party, stepped down and instead placed her support behind the Coalition. While Côté is currently trailing in the municipal polls, he has a historical presence in the
city as he was one of the founding partners of SECOR, one of the largest management consulting firms in the country. Côté stated in a Radio-Canada interview this year that “the Mafia is more democratic than the student associations,” something that came up when candidates debated the P-6 by law during the Plateau-Mont-Royal debates. Côté is a staunch federalist – in 1995, he co-wrote a book on the costs of federalism with the current Governor General David Johnston. Côté is running on the implemen-
tation of what he calls a “Quiet Revolution” at City Hall to combat issues like language watchdogs and city hall corruption. On transit, Côté is more conservative: he believes in utilizing the structures already in place, implementing bus rapid transit (BRT), and creating more reserved lanes for bikes. In regards to housing, Côté has promised that he will create 2,000 more affordable three-bedroom housing units per year in the hopes of keeping people in the city instead of leaving for the suburbs.
Mélanie Joly – Le Vrai changement pour Montréal
he youngest candidate of the frontrunners, and the only woman, Mélanie Joly’s campaign slogan and party name is “Le vrai changement pour Montréal,” or “Real change for Montreal.” Joly is also the founder of a group called “Génération d’idées,” a political reflection group targeted toward people aged 20 to 35. Joly is a strong advocate of implementing a bus rapid transit system (BRT) in order to improve public transit and reduce
congestion in Montreal’s busy streets. The BRT would involve around 130 kilometres of rapid bus service, with specially designated bus lanes. In focusing on the BRT, Joly has spoken less directly to other transit initiatives like bike lanes. Joly’s plans for the city are focused on preventing urban sprawl and keeping families in the city through affordable housing and zoning measures, such as promoting the construction of family units. Housing
plans more specifically applicable to students include the promotion of affordable housing and the revitalization of central and downtown Montreal. Joly also made headlines for coming to the defense of one of her candidates, Bibianne Bovet, a trans woman who came under public scrutiny for her past as a sex worker. However, Bovet was later removed from Joly’s campaign, though Joly claimed that it was because of an ongoing financial investigation.
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
Corruption, transit hot topics for Montreal mayoral candidates McGill hosts English-language debate for upcoming municipal elections
Lola Duffort | The McGill Daily
Left to right: Richard Bergeron, Mélanie Joly, Marcel Côté, and Denis Coderre
he top four mayoral candidates faced off in an English-language debate on Tuesday night at McGill’s Tanna Schulich Hall about the now-familiar topics of Montreal’s crumbling infrastructure, the threat of construction-aggravated traffic, and the recent spectacle of municipal corruption scandals. Corruption With corruption front and centre at the start of the debate, both Denis Coderre, currently polling as the front-runner, and Marcel Côté, who is polling dead last, were on the defensive. Coderre’s party, Équipe Denis Coderre, includes 25 ex-members of Union Montréal, the now-defunct former ruling party that saw two mayors go down in corruption scandals. Côté’s Coalition Montréal includes eight ex-Union members. “Who was the leader of the caucus of Union Montréal? It was Bernard Blanchet. He is with you. Who was the leader of the majority on the floor of the city council? It was Marvin Rotrand. […] How can you change the situation with the same people?” Projet Montréal’s Richard Bergeron asked
Côté, before adding slyly, “Though it’s not as worse with you as it is with Mr. Coderre.” Côté insisted that an “unresponsive bureaucracy” rather than party-wide complicity allowed corruption go on. “It’s a question of good management,” he said. “The reality is that [corruption] is not that deep – we had the inquiry, we had UPAC,” or Quebec’s anti-corruption squad, claimed Coderre. His platform includes the creation of a City Hall-appointed independent inspector general. “You know, if the roof is leaking, you don’t throw the house down.” Le Vrai changement pour Montréal’s Mélanie Joly, who plans to combat corruption by making all of the city’s documents available online to the public, earned laughs from the audience when she retorted, “It’s not only the roof, but also the foundation of Montreal that is leaking.” Transit Vastly diverging views about the city’s transportation goals emerged as the discussion turned to the economy and transit system, with Joly and Bergeron presenting ambitious plans for public transit
Robert Smith | The McGill Daily
while Côté and Coderre cautioned against “politician[s’] promises.” For Bergeron, an urban planner, combatting the urban sprawl that is sending 22,000 Montrealers into the suburbs each year will be key to revitalizing the economy. His plan is to invest heavily in new housing and modern public transit. His program’s hallmark is an electric tramway network for the city, with between 10 and 15 kilometres (km) operational by 2017. Joly, for her part, wants to create a fully operational 130 km bus rapid transit (BRT) network by 2020, with 62 km, including a loop between McGill and Griffintown, operational within her first term. BRTs are bus-based mass transit systems that mitigate sources of bus delays by providing dedicated lanes and pre-pay stations. A BRT would cost “eight times less than the tramway of Mr. Bergeron, or 40 times less than a metro,” Joly said, “and it would have the same impact in densifying the territory.” Coderre, on the other hand, plans to update existing structures in more conservative ways. “Instead of expending a lot of money, there’s already a plan from STM
that we should put forward,” he said. According to Bergeron, the number of cars in the Montreal region jumps by about 35,000 each year – an unsustainable pattern, he said. He insisted that keeping traffic flowing would be “impossible” when taking into account the massive rehabilitation projects needed on major thoroughfares such as the Turcot interchange, and required substantial investments in transit encouraging Montrealers to choose public transport. Côté retorted that “bashing the automobile” wouldn’t solve congestion, and that “the cheapest and fastest” way of improving transit would be to create dedicated bus lanes – a project for which the provincial government has already set aside $75 million. Tapping into commuter frustration at lingering, empty construction sites, he quipped, “Montreal is the orange cone capital of the world,” and promised several times to expedite public construction by making workers come in on weekends. This article orignally appeared online on October 24.
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
Plateau-Mont-Royal candidates tackle public transit solutions Bylaw P-6, local business, housing also debated
Hannah Besseau | The McGill Daily Photographs by Tamim Sujat | The McGill Daily
rban planning and housing Candidates were asked how they would create and protect green spaces in the borough, and how they would ensure landlords adhere to existing laws and codes. David Côté (Vrai Changement pour Montréal): Côté emphasized the need for more green spaces in the borough. “We intend to put 20 more urban gardens in the city. There are 97 right now, so that’s 20 per cent more.” In addition, Côté said his group plans to put a law in place to make it mandatory for new buildings to have green roofs. As for housing, Côté said there needs to be more accountability to ensure that regulations are being met. Luc Ferrandez (Projet Montréal): Ferrandez said the upcoming closure of the Royal Victoria and Hotel Dieu was an opportunity to create more green space. “All along Mont Royal there are parking lots that [were] given to the hospital more than eight years ago. Now we have the [... chance] to create more green paths that go downtown.” According to Ferrandez, he intended to increase social housing using the space of the hospitals as well. Additionally, he said he intends to create a registry of leases to ensure stability for renters, explaining that “there are 600 people excluded from their apartment every year.” Piper Huggins (Coalition Montréal): Huggins recently cut ties with Projet Mon-
Ferrandez is the incumbent candidate for the position of Borough Mayor of Plateau-Mont-Royal. He was elected as a Projet Montréal candidate for the borough four years ago.
Huggins is currently the borough councillor for the Jeanne-Mance district of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, and is running for the same position. Huggins abruptly left Projet Montréal in September, and is now is a part of Coalition Montréal’s team. Huggins worked in the federal New Democratic Party for ten years prior to being elected as borough councillor four years ago.
Fakatakis, a part of Équipe Denis Coderre, is running to become borough councillor for the JeanneMance district in the Plateau-MontRoyal borough. She previously held the position of borough councillor in the Mile-End district from 2005-09.
Côté is a borough councillor candidate for Le Vrai changement pour Montréal – the team led by Mélanie Joly – for the Mile-End district in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough.
tréal due to “their refusal to stand up to [environmental] threats,” and emphasized that she wanted to protect vulnerable spaces. In regards to housing, Huggins felt that the number of housing inspectors should increase to reduce common issues like pests, and that the “delinquent homeowner” should pay the bill. She is also in favour of additional student housing, and informing students of their rights in a landlord-tenant situation. Eleni Fakotakis (Équipe Denis Coderre): Fakotakis argued for the need to plant more greenery such as “trees and bushes,” adding that “green roofs [could] be constructed in new buildings.” Fakatakis agreed with Huggins that there needed to be an increased number of inspectors, and more affordable housing. Public transit solutions Candidates were asked if they would change or maintain the current student transit pricing (currently set at $45 per month), how they would improve the services of the Société de transport de Montreal (STM), and if they intend to extend the bike lanes in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough. All candidates said they would maintain the rate, but Côté and Huggins also stated they would extend the student rate to all students, and not just students between the ages of 18 and 25 as it currently stands. Côté: According to Côté, bus rapid transit
(BRT), a system of transit that reserves a highspeed bus lane to maximize efficiency and capacity of transit users, is the best option for Montreal. Côté stated that the BRT would cost less than extending the metro line, a project he feels is not worth the money. “It’s fast, it’s simple, it’s the future, it’s green,” he said. As for bike lanes, Côté would like to see more bike racks than increased lanes, asserting that lanes are not always the safest way to cycle. Ferrandez: Ferrandez favoured bike paths, promising to create five additional major bike paths – three running north-south and two east-west – and intends to bring the tram back to Montreal, calling it an efficient “business decision.” Huggins: “One of the things that we have to get out of the way is this idea that we hear from the right to be like, this idea of public transit as a cost – it’s actually an investment,” Huggins said. Huggins said that she wanted a fast-track bus lane, reserved bus lanes, and was in favour of extending the blue line. Huggins also plans to ensure bike safety by creating new major bike lanes. Fakotakis: In addition to supporting the extension of the blue metro line, Fakotakis said she aimed to improve bus hours, and extend metro times by one hour to 3 a.m. on weekends. “Our party is committed to 370 kilometres of reserved bus lanes,” she said. Additionally, she said that her party is committed to 50 kilometres of new bike lanes.
P-6 and saving local businesses Candidates were asked if they would repeal P-6 and how they would improve local businesses. All candidates with the exception of Fakotakis were in favour of repealing the bylaw. Côté: Though Côté stated he was in favour of repealing P-6, he also felt that something needed to be put in place to ensure protests remain organized, stating, “It’s for the benefit [for the] protesters [as much as] the police.” Ferrandez: Ferrandez intends to repeal P-6 and views it as a violation of the right to expression and the right to security. As for local businesses, Ferrandez focused on the potential to remove parking. Huggins: “P-6 was probably making the situation worse than better, that was my personal observation,” said Huggins. ”We have two sets of rights in contest: the right to expression and the right to security. Courts are deciding whether this bylaw has gone too far.” Fakotakis: Fakotakis was the only candidate at the debates who was against repealing the bylaw. “The right of freedom and the right of expression is not inhibited by P-6 necessarily. The courts should decide. I think it’s paramount to protect the public.” Fakatakis intends to install parking meter modulation and advocates for public consultation for further decisions on how to improve local businesses.
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PUBLIC PRESENTATION Sisawo Konteh Director of Outreach Services for Aga Khan Health Services, Tanzania Umaira Ansari Communications Coordinator for the Nigeria Evidence-based Health System Initiative
What does it take to save a generation? Join us to hear about the challenges and successes of maternal, newborn, and child health in the developing world.
International Development Research Centre Centre de recherches pour le développement international
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 Noon to 2:00 p.m. McGill University Education Building, Room 624 3700 McTavish Street, Montreal
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Organized by Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), in collaboration with McGill University. PHOTO: AKFC/LUCAS CUERVO MOURA
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
It didn’t get better But I got bitter (and stronger) Kai Cheng Thom From Gaysia With Love Trigger warning: This article contains discussion of rape and suicide.
o: Dan Savage Writer of the “Savage Love” column Founder of It Gets Better Project An Open Letter
Re: It didn’t get better Dear Dan Savage, I think I need to begin this open letter by thanking you for any lives the It Gets Better Project has saved. This past summer, I spent some time as a youth worker at a community and resource centre for LGBTQ youth. During one evening drop-in session, one of the young people present started talking about how much he loved your videos, about the power and connection that your project can inspire. You, Dan Savage, are a powerful man. Yet as he spoke, I could not help feeling a sinking sensation of disconnection, alienation, even anger with this youth whom I served as a resource provider and confidant. For weeks, I struggled to decipher that moment – what was this feeling? Why was this feeling? Then I realized: it was jealousy, Dan, and bitterness. Jealousy of the hope he felt, which I did not. Bitterness, because I don’t believe that it gets better – not for everyone, anyway. Three years ago, I was a confused, eighteen-year-old, Asian trans* kid in my second year of college when the original video you and your husband, Terry, made hit YouTube. It subsequently swept across Western media like the words of some gay prophet of the promised land: a paradise where gays can get married, adopt pretty children, and go on vacations skiing across mountains and strolling the starlit streets of Paris. We, queer children, can get to this heaven, you and Terry told us, if we “tough this period of it out” – if we don’t “let the bullies win” by committing suicide. If LGBTQ youth can just get through high school, you told us, things would get better. At that time, the suicide attempt of my last year of high school was still a fresh scar. I only barely survived, mostly because I was too afraid of failure to complete it. Somehow, I won a scholarship to a university in a city across the country, clinging to the hope that things would get better – that I could find the promised land of a husband, a white-collar job. A year after your video was released I attempted suicide again, having been raped by white gay men several times over the course of my university experience. I came much closer to success that second time: alone in my room, I swallowed a bottle of psychotropic medication, poisoning myself and triggering a chemically-induced bout of panic attacks, spasms, dehydration, and hallucinations. I spent some 48 hours writhing on the floor, terrified and literally out of my mind. At some point, I might have tried to go
to the hospital, but I could not stand because my body was shaking too badly. No one came to help me. No one called when I didn’t show up for school or work. I remember lying there, still trembling slightly from the effects of the poison, dry-mouthed and delirious, as the sun came up, and thinking, well, it’s got to get better from here. It couldn’t possibly be worse, could it? That summer, I was raped by a white gay man yet again, this time by a friend of a friend who demanded that I serve him orange juice after penetrating me so roughly without a condom that he tore fissures in the surface of my anus, causing me to bleed for days. So why am I telling you this, Dan? Why does my story, which admittedly is something of a killjoy, matter to the It Gets Better Project? I think it matters because I am not alone. As a community worker, for every young LGBTQ person I meet whose life will ‘get better’ like yours and Terry’s did, I see a dozen whose lives simply won’t. Toughing it out through the bullies doesn’t make poverty go away, or the foster care system less abusive, or medical services more accessible for trans* people. Getting through high school doesn’t change the fact that racism and transphobia mean trans women of colour are disproportionately sexually assaulted and forced into sex work and homelessness. Telling young people to dream big doesn’t always make it possible for them to get there. It matters because, Dan, we really have to think about whom we are talking to and about when we spread the message that “it gets better.” Does it? For young, white and/ or wealthy gay men and lesbians, surviving high school may indeed (though definitely not always) mean that the bullying ends, that fulfilling sexual lives may begin, that university and well-paying jobs can be found. For pretty much everyone else, this just isn’t true. For many of us, not only does the systemic discrimination and violence not end, but the elite few gays, lesbians, and bisexuals who do achieve wealth and power ignore and silence us – and in some cases, actively contribute to discrimination and sexual violence. It matters because I’m not sure that the message that “it gets better” really means anything to the heterosexual, cisgender world other than that it’s up to LGBTQ folks to fend for ourselves, and they should maybe avoid actively beating us up or calling us dykes and fags. I think that we need to make it better – we need to challenge this transphobic, homophobic, racist, ableist, classist world to wake up. We need more support and funding for queer youth centres and shelters, we need more research into the challenges of impoverished LGBTQ seniors, we need more media about queer people of colour, we need to get rid of prisons and cops who kill trans* people, and we need mental health services that understand and affirm us. We need to end street
Catherine Polcz | The McGill Daily violence and gay rape culture that result in trans* femmes of colour like myself being harassed and assaulted every day. I’m not telling you this because I want to shame you, or because I think your way of life is wrong, or because I think your work isn’t valuable to some. I’m telling you this because I survived – and while it didn’t get better, I did get stronger. But not everyone survives, and not everyone is strong in the same way. I’m telling you because I want to honour those of us who didn’t live, and because I want you to do that with me. I’m telling you because, like I
said, you are a powerful man, and I am willing to bet that you don’t just want to tell young queer people to live – you want to give them something to live for. I want that too. Help me get there? In solidarity, Kai Cheng Thom From Gaysia With Love is an epistolary exploration of intersectionality by Kai Cheng Thom. They can be reached at fromgaysia@ mcgilldaily.com.
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
Taking the corporation out of community TV
Gretchen King | Commentary Writer
n October 8, the comment period closed on a licence application by Vidéotron (Quebec’s largest cable provider) for a new community television channel serving Montreal’s anglophone population. Many of the respondents raised alarm at Vidéotron’s move to fund a second community TV station using money that would otherwise flow to the Community Media Fund (CMF), a fund that independent producers across Canada tap into to create shows like Murdoch Mysteries and Rookie Blue. Groups including the Association québécoise de la production médiatique, the Directors Guild of Canada, and ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, a union for industry workers) oppose Vidéotron’s plan to draw an additional $6 million to $10 million earmarked for the CMF to fund MYtv. MYtv is a proposed English clone of MAtv, the already-existing network of francophone community channels operated by Vidéotron across Quebec. One letter on file at the Communication Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) not only rejects Vidéotron’s proposal for a new anglophone channel, but challenges Vidéotron’s right to manage any community channel in Montreal, on the grounds that Vidéotron does not live up to the CRTC’s expectations for community channels. The Independent Community TV (ICTV) Steering Committee announced its intention to file an application to offer bilingual community-access television for the region of Montreal coordinated by a non-profit com-
munity media organization, and volunteeroperated well within Vidéotron’s existing MAtv budget. As anyone who watches MAtv (formerly Vox) knows, there are few volunteers or ordinary citizens behind or in front of the camera. Vidéotron’s 2012 report to the CRTC revealed that its 36 MAtv community channels engaged 535 volunteers – fewer than 15 volunteers per station, per year. The Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS) questions whether Vidéotron has met the CRTC’s expectation that at least 45 per cent of air time and the programming budget be directed toward “access” programming, meaning it must be made by citizens, community members, and volunteers. There is also an absence of content representing Indigenous or ethnic communities on MAtv – specific requirements of Vidéotron’s licence. CACTUS has recommended that the CRTC audit MAtv to confirm whether Vidéotron is in compliance with its license. Montrealers and McGill students are familiar with the community radio powerhouse CKUT 90.3FM, a non-profit, campus-based community broadcaster. For over 25 years, CKUT has offered the kind of communityaccess programming that Vidéotron has yet to achieve on MAtv. Broadcasting 24 hours a day, over 300 CKUT volunteers produce 100 per cent of the content and participate in the collective management of the station. CKUT represents news and views from the disability, Indigenous, queer, and ethnic communities, al-
Vidéotron has yet to demonstrate that a for-profit media corporation can facilitate community access. Montrealers may also remember the television coverage offered by Concordia University Television (CUTV) nightly, livestreamed during the 2012 student strike. As many as 100,000 viewers per night followed CUTV’s community news team and the movement in the streets, with live in-depth interviews and unfiltered commentary. Volunteers and staff provided bilingual coverage on a shoestring budget of about $250,000, raised from student fee levies and viewer donations. Vidéotron has yet to demonstrate that a for-profit media corporation can facilitate community access. Over the years, Vidéotron has ignored repeated requests by groups like CUTV and the English Language
Arts Network to broadcast English content under its community TV license for MAtv or Vox. Approving Vidéotron’s application for a second community TV licence would effectively reward MAtv for failing to serve Montreal’s diverse communities to date, and leave those communities without a common platform for exchange. The Steering Committee of ICTV believes that platform should engage the diverse groups of the Montreal area by providing bilingual community access. Vidéotron’s current application and follow-up correspondence with the CRTC is available only in French, even though Vidéotron is applying for a licence to serve the English community. It would seem Vidéotron has little interest in truly involving the anglophone community at this stage, or in creating a common space for the coexistence of Montreal’s English and French communities. The current debate around Quebec’s proposed Charter of Values reinforces the need to provide outlets for diverse viewpoints, and corporate media coverage simply is not providing it. Giant media conglomerates like Quebecor, Vidéotron’s parent company, already have wellestablished outlets. We all lose if they dominate so-called community media as well. For more information on supporting Independent Community TV’s licence application, email email@example.com. Gretchen King is a PhD candidate in Communication Studies and is a member of the ICTV Steering Committee.
Submit your own: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where is the real debate? Dear Daily, I write in response to the article on the Senate, “Senate criticized as ‘rubber-stamping body’” (News, October 21, Page 4). As a 43-year employee who has spent some time ‘watching’ (and to an extent, participating in) the administrative complexities of McGill, it seems clear that the role of the Senate as the highest decision-making body in academic matters has been eroding over many years. And as was astutely noted in the article, the ‘presentation’ is being used as an effective time-wasting tactic. Used on Senate (and the Board of Governors), debate in this University is a tightly controlled affair. Take for example the recent radical changes in the libraries that will surely affect the future of research in medicine. During the past summer months, when the Senate, the student newspapers, and most of the professors and students were not around, the University announced the closing of two libraries: Life Sciences and Education.
ternative music and arts groups, and many others. It provides access to a mass media platform for marginalized groups and voices, which is supposed to be the point of community media.
The administration declared a ‘financial crisis’ and closed the two libraries. No debate. When this was reported in the local media, along with some protests, the administration quickly put this discussion in ‘cruise control’ and just weeks later, the final reports matched each of the administration’s decisions. Debate over. Quite frankly, it seems that to our administrators, in these ‘corporate’ times with ‘big’ decisions to make, Senate debate just slows things down. One question that has been overlooked is, with the Senate, the Board, and most University committees not meeting during the summer, where did the conversation to close these libraries take place and who participated in that conversation? If you find the answer to that, you may find out where the power lies. —Allan Youster Coordinator, Birks Reading Room
Dear Daily, Nathaniel Hanula-James’ article “‘Collage and Conflict: Manifestos on the Politics of Visual Art’” (Culture, October 21, Page 20) somehow manages to miss the mark on both politics and visuality. Hanula-James opens his article by quoting the ‘purple introductory blurb’ that accompanies Theodore Harris’ collages, which were on display last week at Cafe Artère as part of QPIRG’s Culture Shock event series. Hanula-James cites the blurb and insufficient effort in drawing attention to the collages as the exhibition’s pitfalls. Had Hanula-James bothered to read the introduction in its entirety, he would have realized that the author of the ‘purple prose’ is Amiri Baraka. For those not familiar, Baraka is one of the most important black American intellectuals of the last 50 years: from founding a publishing house that represented Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, to writing seminal prose, poetry, and non-fiction texts on black identity and politics throughout the civil rights movement, to holding teaching posts at San Francisco State, Rutgers, and Columbia. He is now professor emeritus in African Studies at Stony Brook University. Baraka’s prolific career has not been without controversy. His shifting positions on feminism, queer poli-
tics, marxism, nationalism, anti-semitism, and violence have been divisive for as long as he has been writing. In the context of the exhibition, Baraka’s contributions add depth to the art and its presentation: Why did Harris choose this introduction? What relationship does Harris see between his work and Baraka’s? Given that Harris and Baraka are a generation apart, to what extent and how are politics being passed between the artists? Hanula-James would have done well to ask himself about the identity and relevance of the person writing the introduction. Perhaps, had he been less immobilized by intellectual laziness, he would have been rewarded with a greater appreciation for the exhibition as counter-histories, forgotten events, and under-represented debates would have become legible through Baraka’s legacy and framing. To say nothing of the self-righteousness necessary for the McGill rank and file to cast uninformed judgment on Professor Baraka’s work, hopefully, the next time The Daily decides to mock and belittle his writing, they will have the decency to call him by name. —Liam Mayes M.A. student in Communication Studies
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
Falling on the spectrum between straight and queer Eric White White Noise
Midori Nishioka | Illustrator
watched The OC for the first time since my early adolescence at a friend’s place, about a week ago. In the episode, iconic popular girl Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) was in the midst of a fling with a character played by the luscious Olivia Wilde, simultaneously questioning her sexuality and enjoying the novelty of her first same-sex experiences. I’m a big believer that one’s sexuality falls on a spectrum and that understanding one’s sexuality is a dynamic and fluid process. A growing number of people seem to think this way nowadays, particularly in the queer community and especially in the context of liberal North America. Although I’m comfortable with my identity as a gay male, and am attracted primarily to men, I never rule out attraction to people of all genders. A friend told me recently that despite being in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend, she doesn’t label her sexuality and doesn’t feel attracted to specific genders, but just to individual people. But when does that ambivalence about defining sexuality, especially when someone is primarily ‘straight,’ cross into the realm of ‘queerness?’ Although it can be easier to ignore or stay away from attaching labels, the term ‘heteroflexibility’ provides a middle ground for people looking to potentially
branch out and experiment with people of the same sex. I’ve noticed that most of the people I discuss heteroflexible attractions or tendencies with are young women. As a gay guy who often finds himself attracted to straight guys — friends have told me I need more gay friends, and they’re probably right — I often wonder where all the heteroflexible dudes are. Would one of The OC’s main male characters, say the cute, charming, and sensitive dweeb Seth Cohen, ever have experimented with their sexuality? Probably not. I wonder if there are just as many heteroflexible guys as girls, but young women are disproportionately encouraged to experiment with their sexualities. That encouragement can be in a fetishized and demeaning manner by straight men, such as on Girls Gone Wild, or in the more liberating sense of women claiming and embracing their sexualities, which I’ve witnessed and discussed with female friends. One friend said this divide might exist because society takes women’s sexuality less seriously than men’s sexuality. While for women, experimentation is more accepted and can be nonchalant, if a guy experiments, he must be gay, and in our often macho-dominated culture, that just wouldn’t fly. Men’s sexuality is often viewed as completely black and white.
It’s tough to imagine a group of straight guys sitting around and talking about same-sex attractions. If they had any such attractions, I imagine most straight guys would try pretty hard to suppress and ignore them (having used to think I was straight, I can speak from first hand experience). As compared to the fetishization of female sexual experimentation, a straight guy experimenting with another guy is less common, less socially acceptable, and consistently looked down upon. Orange is the New Black, the hit Netflix show about an all-female prison, effectively portrays sexuality’s fluidness and heteroflexibility. The main character, Piper, has had both same-sex relationships and a male fiancé. Something I really admire about the show is that it refrains from labelling Piper’s sexuality. She may be bisexual, and seems to be beyond an experimental phase with women, yet her particular commitment to her fiancé implies something closer to heteroflexibility. Despite this interesting and thought provoking portrayal, it’s difficult to imagine a TV show or movie having a male lead role in a similar situation. Numerous gay friends say they’ve had sexual encounters with ‘straight’ guys. One claims to have slept with a married National Hockey League player whom he met on Grindr. The only serious relationship I’ve
been in was with someone who was ‘straight’ when we first met (although he also told me he was bi-curious). Coming out can be a slow process, and one that might involve long periods of secretive sexual experimentation before actually admitting to friends and family that they’re not straight. When I have my straight guy crushes, I often wonder if they’ve ever been attracted to guys or ever considered sexual experimentation with another guy. At this point, I often assume they haven’t, and thus revert my gaze to the many beautiful members of McGill’s and Montreal’s queer communities. Although it’s disheartening that women’s sexuality is taken less seriously than men’s, an increased acceptance offers women opportunities to fantasize and to explore their identities. As society’s ideas about sexuality slowly change, people will gain a better understanding of it as a spectrum, rather than a binary. I’m optimistic that concepts and perceptions of men’s sexuality will change as well and that with greater acceptance, more guys will feel comfortable admitting to and acting upon any secret same-sex attractions. White Noise is a column exploring what it means to identify as gay or queer in McGill and Montreal communities. Eric can be reached at email@example.com.
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
Ding-dong! The witch is not dead A spell to end patriarchy’s witch-hunt Grace Harris and Samantha Shier | Features Writers Illustration by Alice Shen Photograph by Samantha Shier
nder the guise of a witch, it seemed to us, laid a world where the occult reigned supreme. This mythical figure was the universal scapegoat and the eternal outcast. For most of our lives, the word ‘witch’ only conjured memories of dressing up as a fantasy character for Halloween, or images of a personality that was historically ridiculed and tortured. Growing up with a stream of films, books, and songs devoted to carefully crafting a handful of particular personas, the practice of witchcraft never seemed like a legitimate practice at all. The big-nosed, black-caped, elderly hag – accompanied by a boiling cauldron – dominated our perception of what a witch looked like, doused with problematic conceptions of female beauty. Our ideas began to change as we got older, particularly after reading feminist analyses of witchcraft, which primarily erupted during second wave feminism, prominent in the mid-to-late 20th century. Historically, both men and women were accused of being witches, but females were most prominently executed, hunted, burned, and exterminated. Most people were hanged and then burned, without a burial of any kind. The majority of these witches were part of lower socio-economic classes, elderly, and often transgressed societal norms. They were frequently accused of necromancy and prop-
erty damage. Many sonless women were accused of witchcraft, as their situation implied the possibility of land inheritance. Witches have not only been historically ‘othered,’ but also essentially dehumanized, and often assigned the role of victim. The word ‘witch’ has adopted multiple meanings and has been appropriated by a variety of people, most of whom do not identify as witches. In one of their “spellcasts,” Robyn and Selene – owners and operators of the Melange Magique online store and informational website and blog – speak about the disparities between male and female witches. “Guys could do magic without necessarily being evil […] whereas women were automatically witches, and therefore evil. That’s a very interesting difference which only really changed very recently, and by recently I mean in the last century or so.” After accessing works of modern day witches in the form of blog posts, spellcasts, journals, and comics, we began to draw parallels between the mockery society places on both witchcraft and feminism. Just like ‘witch,’ the word ‘feminism’ has many connotations that are completely antithetical to its actual values. Feminists are often portrayed as emotional, thus inherently irrational and un (Continued on pg 16)
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
(Continued from pg 15) necessarily aggressive or even ‘man-hating.’ When pushed to the extreme, the two seem to merge and nearly become one, as the image of the ‘angry feminist’ blends with the depiction of the bitter, evil witch. To untangle the connection between feminism and witchcraft and to understand what it means to be a contemporary witch, we must look at traditional portrayals of witches. Taking on a wide range of forms, fairy tale witches appear consistently in mainstream cinema and television. As an illusory character that has dominated pop culture and Halloweenbased fantasy, the witch is described as a seductive sorcerer and/or domestic virtuoso on one end of the spectrum, or an undesirable, Satan-worshipper on the other.
The domestic protagonist, like Mary Poppins, uses her powers to perform the traditional female role of a caretaker. She can clean, cure illness, and cook under pressure with little time put aside for herself. In this case, witchcraft allows women to perform their designated role without obstacle. In essence, she is the patriarchy’s perfect woman. On the other extreme, witches in children’s Disney films, such as Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, are portrayed as the epitome of malevolence. Known as the “Mistress of all Evil,” she has horns that resemble Satan’s and is able to cast dangerous spells on people. The evil witch usually lives alone, presumably rejected from society, fulfilling none of patriarchy’s expectations of how a woman should behave. Because of this she is miserable and takes that misery out on others using magic.
She is fundamentally a warning to young girls of what not to be. With these incredibly mixed messages and stereotyped portrayals, it is not surprising that the term ‘witch’, as it is commonly used, does little to represent those who actually practice witchcraft. *** It wasn’t until we sat down with Robyn in her home that we got a glimpse into the life of a contemporary witch. “I am very comfortable calling myself a witch. I don’t have any negative connotations to it. But there is a way that the media portrays [witches] on TV and in movies. Don’t get me wrong. I’m watching American Horror Story like everybody else [...] but I spent the last episode laughing my ass off.”
Robyn has been a member of the Montreal witchcraft community for over 20 years, and has spent the majority of that time working with Melange Magique. When the physical shop – which was also the site of the Montreal Pagan Resource Centre – was forced to close its doors in June 2013, the Montreal witchcraft community had to reexamine how to keep its network alive and thriving. “We used to have a lot of public rituals and in-store workshops. We’re [now aiming to have] online workshops about protection magic, how to craft things, some free content as well on [...] stone lore, herb lore and all about the chakras.” When asked about her own personal Wiccan practice, Robyn stressed the importance of keeping the sacred relatively secret: “Part of the reason behind [keeping it secret] is that [...] the idea of witches has become so skewed
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Features and ridiculous that when you put something so sacred out there people will happily take that and change it into something else. However, that being said, [as for] my personal practices, I don’t eat children, I don’t burn babies (I have a baby, thank you) [and] I don’t fly on a broom, but that would be cool.” Witchcraft traditions have also been misunderstood since many texts were burned and destroyed, and this is partly the reason why many modern day witches feel protective over their practices and tools. As we spent more time with Robyn, we began to ask questions about spells and rituals. “A spell is just a fancy word for a prayer. Sometimes you’ll do something more elaborate and that’s a ritual. What’s the difference between a ritual done by a witch and one done in a church? It’s toward specific [different] ends perhaps, or to celebrate a specific holiday. But it’s still a religious practice.” In an effort to fully illustrate what she means by spells and rituals, Robyn used a practical example that we could easily digest (no pun intended). “[Take] chicken soup, the most commonly made thing. Well you know why chicken soup works, [it’s] because [a loved one] makes it for you with love and she wants you to get better. To me, that’s a spell. Cooking for someone with the intention of making them feel better. Medically, there is no reason why that should work, but it does.” In contrast to these benevolent uses, darker practices, associated with black magic, are by no means fantastical. Melange Magique has discontinued selling anything associated with the practice: “You’ll notice that we’ve actually removed all black magic from the site. There is no more commanding on the site, no more compelling on the site, no more binding on the site, no more cursing on the site. I would neither sell you a gun. I’m just not comfortable in selling people things to hurt other people and to ultimately hurt yourself as well.” Robyn does include love spells in this category, but exclusively love spells that are directed at a certain individual. Love spells to find romance and compassion in general are quite different, as the intention is not rooted towards manipulating another person’s feelings, thoughts, and emotions against their free will. Like many other stereotyped aspects of witchcraft, manipulation of others, Robyn says, is far easier to accomplish without magic. From our conversation with her, it becomes clear that to most witches, magic is not a tool to control one’s surroundings, but rather a means to personal fulfillment. Robyn illustrated the fluid and personalized nature of practicing witchcraft, and emphasized that people interpret and observe witchcraft in a large variety of ways. “Witchcraft covers a lot of things. Paganism covers an even broader amount of things. But most people think all Pagans are witches and that’s also not true. There is no governing body within Montreal. There is no Wiccan pope. There isn’t a governing body behind this,” Robyn said. The fact that there are no rules to witchcraft, and perhaps more importantly, no one to enforce rules, means that individuals can decide how they choose to worship. This strengthens the idea of individual autonomy and the personal essence of the practice. This is clear in the theological characterization of witchcraft, which Robyn describes as “a henotheistic faith, which means that, I acknowledge there are other gods, but I’m worshiping these ones.” There are no singular or correct deities, but rather a wide range to choose from. Robyn makes clear that a crucial component of witchcraft is choice,
Monday, October 28, 2013
whether one wants to practice individually, as she does currently, or in a coven, as she has done in the past. One’s witchcraft can change and evolve as one does the same. *** Essential to our interest in this topic is the culture of inclusivity of some witchcraft groups. Montreal Reclaiming, a community branched from the San Francisco-based group Reclaiming Witchcraft, reflects values that are difficult to find in other organizations. They self-describe as “welcom[ing] all genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, languages, ages, and differences in ability.” This may seem like an unexceptional statement, but to many who experience oppression, this is crucial. For a group to take such an inclusive stance and to include these words in a short paragraph illustrates the importance of anti-oppression within the community. To understand why some people identify with these communities and choose to practice witchcraft, we ought to look at the aspects that render some witch groups so welcoming. When we think about spaces that embody such anti-oppressive attitudes, make the effort to explicitly state their inclusivity, and do not take for granted the necessity of these values, we come up pretty short. In the article “A Brief History of Reclaiming,” Vibra Willow writes that, “Fundamental value is placed on reverence for the Earth, the natural cycles of life and death, individual autonomy, non-violence, feminism, and responsible activism.” Specific groups like Reclaiming bring more to the practice than just tangible witchcraft. Rather, they strive to provide a safer space for spiritual exploration. While Reclaiming is notably explicit in their political commitment to inclusivity, Robyn too expressed ways in which witchcraft fulfills many of these needs, without necessarily attempting to incorporate the same ideals. “It’s a very open religion because we are so used to […] having been persecuted. We don’t judge. So you’ll find that a lot of people do identify with paganism, with Wicca, because it welcomes them. You can love and be however you want within that. A very beautiful part of the Montreal Pagan community is how comforting it is and how welcoming and empowering to a lot of people,” Robyn said. It is no wonder, then, that some people find solace in witchcraft and Wiccan-based communities. Within witchcraft, people have the opportunity to engage with spirituality without having to negotiate the problematic ways in
which many established religious texts depict women and homosexuality. A significant issue in many groups that claim to be inclusive and anti-oppressive is their hesitation to engage in self-reflection. It is far easier to see oppression in the world at large than to see it in one’s own community. Reclaiming, however, seems aware of these issues and has taken steps in the past to create an open dialogue. A special gender-focused issue of their publication, Reclaiming Quarterly, featured an article that examined “gender dynamics in Reclaiming and other progressive communities,” recognizing the way in which these power relations can affect all spaces. In the piece, “Undoing Sexism,” Lynx Adamah, a self described “co-counselling crusader for women’s liberation” and Reclaiming Quarterly contributor based in California, acknowledges the ways in which societal prejudices influence all people’s interactions with one another, writing, “It would be nearly impossible for us as individuals raised in this very oppressive and dehumanizing culture to not have recorded at least some of these messages, somewhere within us.” While this is an important aspect of Reclaiming’s practices, this type of internal critique is not necessarily present in all Wiccan communities. All groups and covens are quite different, Robyn explained to us, and certain covens have different requirements that members are expected to abide by. Robyn told us about a Montreal group based in the West Island in the 1990s that partook in sex slavery. She stressed the importance of asking questions and making sure you are comfortable with the morals and values that each group represents. Wicca is not free from sexist and heterosexist folklore and rituals. Jonathan Furst, who also writes in Reclaiming Quarterly, touched upon his experience with rituals that perpetuate certain stereotypes: “[…] when the men drum and the women dance. Or when it’s assumed we’ll call in the God and the Goddess. Are we redefining male and female divinity or institutionalizing gender roles? What about queer ones [...]?” Much of what is understood as feminist witchcraft emerged as a recognition of second wave feminism and is highly concerned with elevating the role of women. Robyn explains the focus on women and the goddess as a function of the fact that, “we’re still kind of recovering from the 1980s in that sense. Because Starhawk [a prominent theorist of Pagan feminism] was a very powerful figure and she really launched something that spoke to a lot of people who were so used to being under the thumb of
THE ALTAR: The altar represents many different things, including a literal representation of the elements (with the incense, fire from candles, water and salt) as well as different representations of the divine. The above image is Robyn’s undecorated altar, which holds the wine-filled chalice as the most important element as it represents the body of the Goddess. Many people may choose to do different things for various holidays or seasons, ranging from placing fall leaves and pine cones on the altar, to a skull. This altar, however, is not a representation of all altars, as many witches practice differently and may or may not use the tools described above.
very chauvinist religion for a long time.” While this perspective is entirely logical, it can easily fall into the traps left by second wave feminism – embracing a divisive and exclusive gender binary. The goddess-god dichotomy leaves room for much critique, ignoring those who do not identify fully with either masculinity or femininity. It is one thing to be inclusive in practice, but another to be so in ideology. Robyn depicts a more spectrum-based, fluid sense of gender in the way she sees the god and goddesses that witches worship. “The focus of real Wicca, Wicca at its core, is that there is a balance between masculine and feminine. Feminist Wicca says no, it’s about the Goddess. Personally, I believe very strongly that it’s a healthier thing to have a balance between the masculine and feminine,” Robyn said. In this way, what is understood as feminist Wicca is perhaps less feminist than more traditional forms. Witchcraft, we discovered, is most notable in its fluidity. The individualized nature of the practice, that allows for anyone to shape it to be whatever they want it to be, combined with the inclusive nature of Wiccan communities, allows witchcraft to avoid the pitfalls of many institutionalized forms of worship. Like any religion, Wicca provides a pathway to personal growth and internal actualization, but also requires substantial faith in the intangible. Witchcraft, moreover, can be incredibly anti-oppressive, but in ways different than the ones we imagined. Whether you are enticed by the idea of witchcraft or not, what is important is to critically think about how we see stigmatized practices and lifestyles, and perhaps work toward transcending the notion of normativity.
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
How do we feed the world? The myths and realities of GMOs 9 Zapaer Alip | Sci+Tech Writer
eeding the world is becoming increasingly difficult. Population levels keep rising, economic growth increases demand for food, and climate change and devastating natural disasters strain the global food supply. The more resilient crops with higher yields provided by genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are one suggested solution to hungry mouths around the world. “How do we feed the world?” was the question asked at the inaugural A. Jean de Grandpré Seminar hosted by Paul Simard, the Director of Development at Macdonald Campus, on October 16. Three panelists representing both GMO and environmental organizations discussed the potential consequences of biotechnology, and specifically GMOs, on the looming food crisis. Panelists included Jay Bradshaw (president of Syngenta Canada, an agricultural business that uses GMOs), Mark Lynas (an environmentalist author known for Six Degrees and The God Species) and Morven McLean (a McGill alumnus and the director of the non-profit Center for Environmental Risk Assessment). All the panelists agreed on the existence of a negative connotation around GMO foods. This impression is due to various factors such as the lack of transparency of GMO use in food, media-generated fear about the health risks of consuming GMO food, the misuse of outlier scientific papers, and belief in the existence of malicious corporate interests. One of the most prominent examples is the infamous anti-GMO Seralini study linking GMO to the production of cancerous tumours in mice. This study was deemed scientifically weak by independent scientists due to its methodology. After being reviewed by the scientific community, the study faced international academic condemnation from various institutions such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB), and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). Outlier studies usually deviate from the existing scientific agreement based on credible literature. McLean commented on the effect of outlier studies such as the Seralini study, saying, “It’s always outlier studies that get media attention […] [The studies] have led to [GMO] bans in Europe that translates very quickly to developing countries.” These outlier studies have had strong impacts on countries’ attitudes toward GMOs and are responsible in part for the absence of GMO crops in many parts of Africa. Lynas gave an example: “In Kenya the public health minister had recently recovered from a type of cancer. She was approached by environmentalists who told her [the] cancer was caused by GMOs. She […] urged the president to have an immedi-
Kristian Picon | Illustrator ate ban on the imports of GMO products – the ban is still in effect.” Anti-GMO organizations have been criticized for citing unsubstantiated correlations between GMO use and cancer or autism. The panelists recommended several changes to address the misconception of GMOs. Lynas emphasized the need for labelling of GMO food to encourage transparency. Currently, corporations do not explicitly mention use of GMOs in their products, causing suspicion and distrust. Labelling would allow the consumer to make informed decisions. Labelling remains a controversial topic, however, as the specifics of the biotechnical processes and the technicalities of what constitutes a GMO product are oft-debated topics. McLean said, “Regulatory systems [are required] to ensure human health and environmental protection goals are being met and promote public confidence.” The panelists were keen to highlight the vast amount of literature being published in biotechnology and how the field has progressed since the 1990s. Today there are 28 countries using GMO crops, with 20 of them being developing coun-
tries where GMO crops can arguably have the biggest impact, as they allow countries to gain self-sustenance through increased yield and pest resistance. Bradshaw also commented on the 100-fold increase in the use of biotechnology in agribusiness (agricultural business) between 1996 and 2012. McLean and Lynas both suggested that there should be more public research done, as most patents and advances are currently being made by private firms such as Monsanto and Syngenta. Public research would provide more impartiality by representing the needs of the people without having the economic goals of corporations. An example of a GMO crop success story given at the panel was the development of ‘Golden Rice’ for developing countries to provide much needed vitamin A to children. White rice lacks essential vitamins, and because it is a staple food in Asia, vitamin deficiencies are common among the impoverished. The project headed by Professors Ingo Potrykus (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) and Peter Beyer (University of Freiburg) generated a rice seed that contains the vitamin A necessary to prevent a deficiency that could cause blindness and death
from a weakened immune system. The seed was released for public use instead of being patented by a corporation, and having strict contract conditions applied. By no means are GMOs the sole solution for solving the global food crisis. The World Health Organization describes some potentially negative effects on human health such as increased allergenicity (allergic reactions), gene transfers (from GM foods to cells or bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract), and outcrossing (GMOs contaminating natural crops). The Union of Concerned Scientists mentions the risk of creating “super weeds” through the use of GMOs that could result in the increased use of pesticides in the long run. However, at this point there are no confirmed detrimental health effects from consuming GMO foods. There are definite arguments for and against the use of GMO crops. This highlights the need for more impartial public research in the field to get a comprehensive picture of the potential negative impacts on the environment and human health. What is needed is broader discourse and better communication between the scientists, policy makers, and the general public.
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
Connecting the dots
Building brains from the bottom up
Diana Kwon | The McGill Daily
he human brain, with over 100 billion connections, is a truly remarkable organ that has piqued the interest of researchers worldwide. Huge amounts of funding and resources go into studying the brain. Projects such as the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) initiative in the U.S., and McGill’s Big Brain project are aimed at developing further understanding of the underlying structure and function of the brain. The scientists in the Neural Circuit Formation Lab at McGill are among those studying the mysteries of the brain. Brian Chen and his lab work to decipher the ‘instructions’ underlying the formation of neural circuits by uncovering different molecules and strategies used by the brain to build neural connections. Through developing an understanding of how these elements work, these researchers hope to offer insights into how genes can malfunction and disrupt the brain’s wiring – with the ultimate goal of ‘building a brain.’ The lab uses the fruit fly as the model of choice due to the fact that many of its behaviours have been hard-wired through years of evolution. Research is done under the assumption that a hard-wired behaviour is likely to be ‘predestined,’ meaning that it has been written into the genome. By manipulating genetics and observing subsequent changes in behaviours, researchers can map out the underlying circuitry of the brain. Fruit flies are easy models to manipulate, but the lab also studies mammalian nervous systems, such as mice and rats, to see how well these discoveries translate to humans. Both Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome – two common genetic conditions that often result in developmental delay and impaired cognitive functioning – are associated with excess protein production. A recent finding in the lab, published in Nature Neuroscience this May, points to a potential link between the two disorders. The Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), which is depleted in Fragile X syndrome, was found to bind to a molecule implicated in Down syndrome (Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule, or Dscam). The depletion of FMRP causes elevated levels of Dscam, which have been associated with the altered neural wiring that causes impaired cognitive functioning
Diana Kwon | The McGill Daily in both Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome. The lab is currently investigating these mechanisms further to find out how the changes in protein levels may give rise to these abnormalities.
By manipulating genetics and observing subsequent changes in behaviours, researchers can map out the underlying circuitry of the brain. By manipulating genetics and observing subsequent changes in behaviours, researchers can map out the underlying circuitry of the brain. Chen and the researchers in his lab are working on develop-
ing new technologies to improve the ease of research. One of the major projects, a new protein quantification technique, was born out of frustrations that existing techniques were time-consuming and unreliable. “Our ability to quantitate protein amounts is still in the Dark Ages,” Chen told The Daily. Traditional forms of protein quantification include techniques like Western blotting that require collecting tissue levels from multiple animals, grinding them up, adding a fluorescent molecule that binds to proteins, and observing these using microscopy. The new model developed by the Chen lab is a much simpler alternative that will hopefully allow researchers to quantify protein levels in live animals. Chen described this technique as a “protein translation reporter.” In simple terms, this technique uses a fluorescent label that will express itself anytime a protein is produced. By observing the quantities of fluorescence in live cells, scientists would be able to observe a real-time picture of
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the amount of protein being produced in live animals. The hope for this technique is that it will provide a simpler means of protein quantification that will overcome the shortcomings of current techniques. “I’ve been told that it seems like a lot of my research is formed out of frustration,” admitted Chen. So how far are scientists from successfully building a self-assembling brain? According to Chen, this is notoriously difficult to predict. With current technologies, we may be an estimated 50 to 60 years away. However, as scientific techniques develop and accelerate progress, that number grows smaller and smaller. It may be closer than we think.
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Monday, October 28, 2013
Showing cancer who’s boss Relay for Life hosts first McGill event 9 Ralph Haddad | The McGill Daily
It’s a celebration,” Hailey Bossio exclaims with conviction. She’s talking about the McGill chapter of Relay for Life, for which Bossio, along with Nadia Fentiman, are co-presidents. The first Relay for Life event to be held at a Quebec university, took place at McGill on the October 5-6 at Tomlinson Fieldhouse. Both co-presidents – along with Christopher Smith, Vice President (VP) Logistics – were more than ecstatic to open up about the months leading up to the relay, and about the night itself. The relay A Relay for Life event goes something like this: teams, made up of ten people each, are responsible for having at least one member on the track at all times, either walking or running. The event lasts for 12 hours, from sunset on the first day, to sunrise on the next. There are three main themes of the relay: celebrate, remember, and fight back. To ‘celebrate,’ cancer survivors (including patients who have cancer and are currently undergoing treatment) are invited to start the relay and start the first lap. For ‘remember,’ members light luminaries (white paper bags with candles in them) dedicated to someone who is either currently fighting cancer, or someone who has passed – and place them around the track for the remainder of the night. ‘Fight back’ is the end of the relay, and, as Fentiman continues, “We had a ‘fight back’ wall where people could write messages, why they were fighting back against cancer, for [whom]...” It’s hard to find someone who can’t relate to the cause. The Canadian cancer rate is one in three people, and, as the saying goes, if you don’t know someone who has cancer, you know someone who knows someone who has cancer. Even though that rate is sadly very high, for Fentiman, it allows people to relate and open up to others in ways that they may not have been able to under different circumstances. Bossio recalls seeing a few younger survivors at the relay, who, according to her, “maybe would never have told people at McGill that they had battled cancer [...] They were able to open up to their friends.” The planning For Smith, it was nice to see something that everyone had spent a long time on finally come together before their eyes. “It was really something we were all so passionate about and had spent so much time putting together. I know it’s a cliché, but it was a success beyond any of our imaginations.” The event planning took a year in total. “When I think of team effort, the Relay exec committee is what I think of,” confesses Fentiman. It’s hard to describe one VP’s duties, because all McGill Relay executive members were involved in each other’s work. “[...] You don’t always get along with your team and we
Alice Shen| The McGill Daily were very lucky that way,” added Fentiman. The process was delayed because the executive committee needed to gain the approval of the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), which was a long process. The CCS has a lot of turnover. The CCS representative to McGill Relay changed halfway through, when the executives were presented with Myriam Lemieux, “who worked overtime and helped us [a lot],” explained Fentiman. “[McGill] is always a little behind in school spirit, so it took us a while to realize that it was something that could be successful,” continued Bossio. The executive mainly dealt with McGill Athletics, who waived the rental fee for the Fieldhouse for the event. They are also very grateful for the McGill Plate Club, who provided all the plates, mugs, and champagne flutes for the survivors, as well as the platters for the cupcakes and vegetables. In an effort to keep the event sustainable, big canteen containers were filled with frozen juice and water from the fountain, and participants had to get their own bottles. In the end, over 200 people’s waste fit into four garbage bags. The money Over $32,000 was raised. The biggest fundraisers were the Plumber’s Philharmonic Orchestra (those people in labcoats who stood at
the Roddick gates and asked for donations for the CCS), a team that raised $6,000 in five days, as well as Peter Clarkson – a McGill residences floor fellow – who raised $1,500 on his own. The money goes directly to the CCS, and mainly to research funding. Cancer research is expensive, and finding funding for it proves difficult. Smith believes, people are wary of donating to big charities because they don’t know where their money is going, but, “Having [Jonathan Cools-Lartigue] telling us that our money directly funds his research [on detecting lung cancer earlier] was very cool because... It was like validation of why [we] were there.” The CCS also funds support groups and prevention and awareness campaigns. Fentiman mirrored Smith’s opinion: “CCS is huge and you think the money is [going to] salaries, but then you find out that it’s going somewhere productive.” Relay fundraising is also provided from corporations such as banks, investment groups, pharma companies, et cetera. Hailey Bossio admits that, ethically, these companies “receive [positive] visibility for their funding, if not a tax receipt.” But they also get fundraising from small businesses. A bakery in the West Island donated 100 muffins and a woman from Atwater Market also donated. “I think it’s because they’ve been personally affected, or they just believe in what
the [CCS] is doing,” Bossio continues. The limits One of the organization’s limits included the timing of the event – which took place right before midterms. Another was encouraging people to raise $100 each which, Fentiman admits, can be off-putting for a lot of students. The executives present also indicated that another limitation on McGill Relay is having to go through the CCS. Some people who had already donated to the CCS refused to donate to Relay for Life. Other times, they couldn’t access some information regarding the event, or see who was registered. Hope The executive committee has hope for future McGill Relays. Fentiman points out that it’s a great way to get people from the Montreal community together (there were participants from UQAM, Concordia, and people who weren’t even students). For Bossio, it’s a way to bring the truly lacklustre school spirit back, albeit in one way that isn’t purely academic. Collectively, they hope it will become a legacy, and an integral part of the McGill experience. Smith continues, hopefully, “Give it three more events and you won’t have a kid at McGill who doesn’t know what Relay is.”
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
Houda Asal talks about Islam in France and Canada 9 Sarah Jameel | Health&Ed Writer
s Quebec looks across the sea for inspiration from France, as per Quebec Premier Pauline Marois’ recent comments on using France as a model for the Parti Québécois Charter of Values, the issue of Islamophobia is one of grave importance. However, this is where Canada does not merge with France. According to Houda Asal, a postdoctoral fellow at the McGill Institute of Islamic Studies, “The time is right for us to talk about [Islamophobia] both sociologically and politically, whilst examining its origins in literature.” Asal presented a talk at the Institute on October 19 entitled “Islamophobia: the making of a new concept,” where she examined the current state of research on the social phenomenon in English and French academic literature. As she points out, “It is not easy to give a definition to Islamophobia.” Asal, whose current research focuses on the construction of the notion of Islamophobia and the anti-racist movement in France and Canada, says that the debates on Islamophobia are more pertinent now than they ever were before with discussions surrounding Quebec’s proposed Charter of Values. First, it is incorrect to link “Islam” and “phobia,” as this implies a sense of moral panic that creates a dimension of fear that
has been consequentially used by both the media and politicians to negatively affect those who identify themselves as Muslim in France and Quebec. The fact that
“We are witnessing a process of racialization in how Islam and Muslims are constructed as homogeneous, static, unchanging, and that is a problem [and] danger.” Houda Asal there is no widely accepted definition of the term poses challenges to its systematic comparative and causal analysis. The origin of the word has remained ambiguous for much of the current century. However, mainstream media has been able to use this religious phenomenon to
create the misconception that this idea was invented in Iran after the Islamic Revolution. This renders the fight against Islamophobia an uphill battle as it diminishes the magnitude of the discrimination and attacks associated with the phenomenon. Second, little do people know that the concept was originally developed in the early 20th century by academics, political activists, non-governmental organizations, and public commenters in France. These individuals drew attention toward the harmful rhetoric and actions directed at Muslims and Islam during the French colonial period. This was meant as a wake-up call to French authorities. These authorities need to prevent all sorts of discrimination against Muslims whose history in France has been correlated with working class immigrants. About a decade later, in the post 9/11 era, Islamophobia has taken a form of its own and has extensively infiltrated the social and political spheres of Western liberal democracies. Has the need to study the issue decreased as French anti-Islamophobic laws increased over the years? This is the question Asal seeks to answer. Third, criticizing religion as a means of freedom of speech in a secular country such as France is a sensitive issue. As Asal
alludes, “The context of this issue in each country is different as their relationship with Islam is different. In Canada, the colonial and post-colonial relationship with the Muslim population is not the same as that of France, which is a big difference in the construction of the national imagery.” This is due to Canada’s policy of multiculturalism that supposedly recognizes differences and inheritance. Fourth, the international dimension of Islamophobia, which has implications ranging from anti-terrorism laws to immigration and citizenship, has a trickle-down effect that reaches the local dimension. In France, a lack of statistics on Islamophobic attacks and discrimination leaves this issue hanging on a cliff where victims have to struggle to prove the discrimination. In Asal’s words, “We are witnessing a process of racialization in how Islam and Muslims are constructed as homogeneous, static, unchanging, and that is a problem [and] danger.” There is no doubt that “Islamophobia and associated social phenomena include an important field of research and will remain a political struggle in the years to come,” as Asal put it. Thus, in this case, one size of Islamophobia does not fit all, no matter how ‘French’ Quebec claims to be.
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Monday, October 28, 2013
“Play through the pain” McGill athletes respond to injury
Anqi Zhang | The McGill Daily
hen professional athletes are injured, the news travels far and wide. To be sure, this varies between sports, and athletes, and is dependent on factors like whether the player commands a cult of personality, or whether the events leading to the injury stood out in any way. But on the whole, injuries statistics are fairly well-kept and accessible for high-profile leagues such as the National Hockey League and the National Football League. Prominent sports networks (ESPN, for example) give them column inches (or whatever the online equivalent is) and television time. And while these leagues often do little to remedy the high occurrence of injuries among their players, there is pressure for them to enact policies to protect athletes, largely based on these statistics. But for university-level athletes, even those playing in varsity sports, injury occurrences are not as widely reported, not as publicly visible, and therefore, not as frequently discussed or scrutinized. High-profile injuries in universitylevel athletics can also bring about policy changes. After Bishop’s University football player Jonathan Fortin suffered a neck injury on October 4, on Molson stadium’s artificial turf, CBC reported that McGill’s athletics director was reconsidering policy concerning keeping an ambulance on-site for future games. But many injuries at the university level go largely unnoticed by those outside of the team, and though student athletes don’t get the amount of media attention that professional athletes do, their injuries can still put them out for a season, and can impact their lives outside the sporting world as well. Kuzi Murwira, a McGill Rugby player between 2010-12 who experienced five concussions over a span of two years, has since stopped playing for McGill Rugby on the advice of his doctor and sister. “They weren’t major concussions, but because they happened over two years – that’s a relatively short time frame.” The accumulation of injuries can end athletic careers, as it did with Murwira, but a single injury can end a career as well. “I don’t think at first anybody realized what had happened,” said Steve Eldon Kerr of his partial shoulder dislocation in 2010. Eldon Kerr was a player on the then-varsity McGill Ultimate Frisbee team, and suffered his injury during practice on the Molson stadium field. After attempting to play through the pain for a little while longer, Eldon Kerr was told to leave practice to have his shoulder checked. As a player in a sport that lacked “the resources of, say, Football or Hockey,” Eldon Kerr dealt with his injury on his own through physiotherapy. Though he noted that “the attitude from coaches nowadays is pretty professional,” and that “[they] seem aware of the danger of playing with an injury,” Eldon Kerr still perceives the existence of a sports culture
Sasha Mbabazi | Illustrator wherein players force themselves to play, and some fear the label of ‘injury-prone.’ This can lead to hiding injuries from coaches, and also poses potential physical dangers to the athlete, something Eldon Kerr has personal experience with. He noted that in high school, he often played through a knee injury, relying on painkillers. “A phrase that comes up in your mind is: ‘play through the pain.’” Murwira agreed that “people definitely do play with injuries,” but added that small injuries could add up, and so, “once the season starts, you never continue at 100 per cent.” The problem of individuals playing with injuries is somewhat mitigated, though, by the fact that each injured player seeking to get back in the game is required to obtain clearance from the team’s athletic therapist. Murwira said that though many “always want to push [themselves],” he had never personally felt pressured to play before achieving full recovery. Though student athletes have a range of experiences with recovery, just as they have a range of experiences with injury, both athletes noted the importance of providing information, as well as care. “I think people working with young athletes should be really serious about communicating the importance of a proper recovery,” said Eldon Kerr. Murwira noted that the athletic therapists
he worked gave him good advice on how to deal with his injuries, leading him to be “grateful for the support structures that are there already.” Making information available to student athletes can happen at the physiotherapy clinic, or it can happen before an injury occurs – hopefully with the possibility of preventing that injury. In a move toward this goal, the McGill Athletics and Recreation has published articles entitled “Female Athletes and ACL Injuries” and “Female Athlete Triad,” – under the Sport Medicine section of their website – to educate female athletes about the types of injuries they might try to either prevent or handle. Though these offerings do address important sports medicine topics, they fall woefully short, in that they leave a range of situations unexplained. Education is key, not only for athletes look to prevent and treat ‘visible’ or ‘obvious’ injuries such as joint dislocations, sprains, and broken bones, but it also seems to be a factor in controlling head injuries and concussions. Dr. Scott Delaney, a team physician for the Montreal Alouettes who also practices at McGill, told the Niagara Falls Review that in a ten-year period at McGill, there were a total of 226 reported concussions from the hockey, soccer, and football teams. However, 80 per cent of male athletes in his study reported possibly
having a concussion but never seeking treatment, citing reasons such as not wanting to be pulled from play, echoing the words of both Murwira and Eldon Kerr. McGill varsity teams should encourage their athletes to recognize signs, speak up, and educate themselves about injuries and the limitations of their bodies. While coaches should be commended for recognizing the dangers of athletes playing with injuries, the reality of players hiding their injuries or “playing through the pain” cannot cease without a change in the culture that makes student athletes feel they have to play no matter what. Making a change to this culture, however, may not be as simple as publishing comprehensive statistics on athletic injuries in university-level sports; Kurwira asserted that a top-down effect, from the professional leagues, may be the most effective vehicle for changing the predominant conceptions, noting that, “Once these concerns are raised at the top level, [...] it trickles down to the juniors.” In the meantime, Murwira noted that his own post-varsity experience of “helping out with coaching, [...] at some of the junior leagues as well as at my old club” has helped him to appreciate both the impermanence and beauty of sport. Murwira stressed that, “What’s important is that [athletes] understand there’s always life after sport.”
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
Redmen hockey home opener recap McGill sweeps weekend with two shutouts 9 Sason Ross | Sports Writer
riday October 18, after splitting two away games over Thanksgiving weekend, the McGill Redmen opened their first game at home with a bang: a 6-0 victory over the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees. This was the second straight shutout for goaltender Andrew Flemming, who made 28 saves for the clean sheet after recording a 37-save shutout against the University of Toronto on October 12. It took a while for McGill to find the back of the net, but, in the last minute of the first period Jonathan Brunelle buried the leftovers of a scramble around the net to get the game’s first goal. Patrick Delisle-Houde, last year’s leading goal scorer, also contributed a goal to the winning effort alongside Neil Prokop, Mathieu Pompei, Guillaume Langelier-Parent, and Max Le Sieur.
Strengths The Redmen presented the physical style that they promised to deliver this season with some thunderous hits, and allaround solid defensive play. They skated well in transition, and used their speed to control the pace of play throughout the game. Andrew Flemming was easily McGill’s top player as he devoured all the pucks that were thrown his way. It was a very positionally sound game from McGill as the team always seemed to be in the right places at the right time. The penalty kill unit was outstanding as they were a perfect ten for ten, including two 5-on-3 penalty kill situations. Andrew Flemming was especially good on the penalty kill, as the keeper stopped everything thrown his way in tough circumstances.
Weaknesses The Redmen got themselves out of trouble with their tremendous penalty killing, but if they continue to give up the same high number of penalties every game, their fortune will take a turn for the worse. McGill must be more disciplined if they hope to regain the former glory of the 2012 championship team. Saturday The next day, the McGill goaltending position once again did not fail to impress. However, this time it was Jacob Gervais-Chouinard shutting the door on the UQTR Patriotes with a 41-save performance in a 3-0 Redmen victory, their third shutout victory in a row. Jan Kaminsky, David Rose, and Ryan McKiernan netted the goals for the Redmen.
The Redmen improved in the discipline area as they only took three penalties throughout the game. Goalie Controversy? With the outstanding play of both goalies, Andrew Flemming and Jacob Gervais-Chouinard, one must be wondering what type of goalie tandem McGill will have for this upcoming year. At press time, Flemming has posted a 0.98 Goals Against Average and a .968 save percentage in three games while Chouinard has his lone shutout victory. Although it’s early in the season, we can see that the duo has great potential to be a force in the Ontario University Athletics conference this year. If the Redmen can bank on having two legitimate starting goaltenders, that strength and their newly equipped offence should give them an added boost over last year’s struggles.
Scoreboard Team Records (W-L-T)
Redmen Football 3 - 4 Martlet Soccer 8 - 5 - 4 Redmen Lacrosse 12 - 1 Martlet Volleyball 5 - 4 Redmen Soccer 5 - 6 - 6 Martlet Rugby 8 - 2 Redmen Baseball 10 - 6 Martlet Field Hockey 3 - 9 - 3 Martlet Hockey 5 - 4
Recent Results Martlets Volleyball, vs Bishop’s Soccer, vs UQAM Soccer, at UQTR Rugby, vs Ottawa Redmen Lacrosse, at Carleton Lacrosse, vs Queens Lacrosse, vs Bishop’s Lacrosse, at Plattsburgh State Football, vs UdeM Baseball, at Carleton Soccer, vs UQAM Soccer, at UQTR
W4-0 L1-2 W 27 - 17 W 16 - 3 W 14 - 8 W 10 - 9 W 13 -12 L 3 - 28 L4-6 T0-0 W4-0
Martlets 11/1 - Soccer, RSEW playoffs begin 11/1 - Volleyball, vs Laval Love Competition Hall Redmen 11/1 - Soccer, RSEQ playoffs begin Molson Stadium 11/1 - Lacrosse, National Championship
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The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
Golden (concert) tickets
The well-oiled Montreal ticket machine 9 Daniel Woodhouse| The McGill Daily
Hillary Pasternak | The McGill Daily
ustin Bieber’s rise to fame started on YouTube, where anyone could watch him. And watch him they did, in the pre-teen millions. Now he sells out huge arena concerts with hefty ticket prices, significantly restricting who can afford to see him. Many of the very fans who made him such a marketable live performer find themselves unable to attend their local Bieber tent revival but for the grace of God, or maybe mom. More generally the acts who saturate our airwaves and rise to the top of what still remains of the popular consciousness are incredibly exclusive in their live performances. It is particularly cruel when many of these acts are essentially promoted to children. It makes radio stations power playing the latest teen sensation about as ethical as toy companies running adverts for expensive toys during Saturday morning cartoons. It also has the effect of changing the audience at a concert from ‘fans of the band’ to ‘fans of the band with parents who can pay for tickets plus those parents.’ In the halcyon days of the 1970s, the Top 40 skewed a little older, and you could get a ticket to an arena show for about the same as the cost of a new album – maybe $15. A significant part of the change has to do with how the Baby Boomer generation grew up and settled down, brought rock and roll into the mainstream. Now it’s no longer just the kids who want to go along to concerts, but the kids’ parents as well. Rock and roll and mainstream entertainment belong to the
baby boomers, and their pockets are significantly deeper than many of the young music fans out there. It is also true that with record sales in jeopardy, live music has become the most reliable source of income for the industry. But the main villains for many music fans are the large concert promoters. With the absence of significant competition in the market, promoters are left free to set prices as high as they like. The rise of large promoters began in the 1960s when the industry began printing tickets by computer, revolutionizing sale and distribution. Now, thanks to the internet, people can buy and print off tickets at home. All this convenience is given to us for that familiar service charge appended to the face value of the ticket. The companies that began by offering their service to theatres, sports teams, and music venues eventually established dominance over the live entertainment industry itself. Standing out as the most successful is Evenko in much of Canada and Ticketmaster in the United States, which expanded into concert promotion with their merger with Live Nation in 2009. With such a powerful monopoly in place it might seem that the pop music fan without much cash is stuck at home longingly watching concert footage on YouTube, back where Bieber himself started. In Montreal, at least, there do seem to exist alternatives. And almost necessarily, they look very different to anything Ticket-
master or any of its subsidiaries will try and sell you. The Daily talked to Matthew E Duffy, a Montreal based artist and musician, in his Mile End office for his perspective about his attempts to undercut this corporate culture. Having started by getting involved in the “psyche-noise” scene in Halifax, he comes from a venue of smaller backgrounds: “house shows and house parties are really important to the scene there because there isn’t a lot of venue space,” he explains. He since moved to Montreal, saw how local labels work, and along the way performed with other artists at large festivals, including Claire Boucher (a.k.a. Grimes) at Fun Fun Fun in 2011. The music events he organizes are somewhere between house party and small gig, with no entry price and unconventional locations. “I sometimes do performance pieces or ritualesque candlelight ceremonies,” he explains. “Meanwhile there is a band playing in the other room [where] I run what is basically a non profit bar. But I only serve relatively fancy drinks.” He will freely admit to trying to create events and spaces where he feels artists can be more expressive and liberated from the corporate concert scene, though sometimes the expectations people have of live entertainment can be hard to avoid. “I asked [one person] ‘why are you here? you are obviously uncomfortable,’ and they [were] complaining, but they are still
there complaining, and I’m like ‘the door is open, you didn’t pay anything to get here, no one is taking advantage. You can leave if you want.’” Many in Montreal may be more at home with Duffy’s non-consumerist means of artistic production. “People in Montreal do not like paying $10, $15 – even [...] just that much – anything above that and you seem to have difficulty selling tickets... The Dream played here for POP Montreal and they had really poor attendance and it was primarily probably due to the ticket price issue. It was far downtown, an expensive show, like $40, which isn’t really too much in the grand scheme of some shows but people in Montreal just have less money.” Duffy’s assumptions about the state of Montreal’s disposable income aside, there do seem to be there are real alternatives to homogenized live music and entertainment in the city. But does Duffy have any grievances against major concert providers? “I enjoy the satisfaction of buying a fancy coffee – I understand consumerism; I try to avoid it, but I can see why it can be damaging, and the over-commercialization of stuff is just bad.” Duffy remains relatively philosophical about the failings of capitalism to make live music available to its fans. But it remains damning that the industry uses the huge fan base of its stars to charge the high ticket prices that denies access to the pop culture zeitgeist for so many young fans.
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
Lessons I didn’t learn Emily Southwood’s Prude: Lessons I Learned When My Fiancé Filmed Porn 9 Megan Lindy | Culture Writer
esides a few statistics here and there that reveal how pervasive porn is in our society (which, as any 14-year old boy will tell you, is not such a shocking fact), most of the information the reader gets from Emily Southwood’s Prude: Lessons I Learned When My Fiancé Filmed Porn is anecdotal. What you might expect to be an uncomfortably eye-opening look into the porn industry, revealing all the dirty details of what goes on behind the corny scripts and the tacky costumes, turns out to be a monologue of female insecurities. Prude is a memoir, so I guess personal musings are what you sign up for, but the anecdotes you get are second-hand, drawn from the experience of the girlfriend of a man who films pornography. The memoir follows Southwood who, recently engaged to her boyfriend, moves to Los Angeles to live with him after finishing her master’s degree at the University of British Columbia. He has been offered a job as a cameraman on a reality TV show about the porn industry called Webdreams. It follows the porn stars’ careers and shoots behind-the-scenes footage. As time progresses, Southwood becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the way the porn industry clashes with her ideas of sexuality, as well as with her boyfriend being in such close proximity to women groomed to be the ‘ideal’ objects of male sexual desire. As she encounters these conflicts, she personalizes them and engages in a cyclical narrative of discovery, disapproval, rejection, and retrospective enlightenment that becomes pretty tiresome after the fourth time around.
Instead of delving into the complex politics surrounding the industry, Southwood only focuses on her immediate emotional reaction to her boyfriend’s involvement with pornography. Each chapter is titled after a sexual act or porn archetype: “threesomes,” “MILFs,” “squirting,” “masochism,” et cetera. In almost every chapter, our protagonist learns something new about porn and is consistently shocked at how large a role it plays in the industry. However, Southwood’s perspective is inconsistent with what most younger readers will have experienced growing up in the age of the internet.
Pornography is widely accessible and, as Southwood points out, youth today are being exposed to porn by the age of 11. Those born from the mid-1980s onward would not be nearly as shocked as she was to know that many women shave their pubic hair or that anal sex is a common occurrence in porn’s narrative arcs. Southwood thus reveals a generation gap that restricts her work to a more porn-shy readership and comes off as either highly conservative or naïve, if not both. She then becomes insecure about what she learns, wondering what men’s expectations are due to their exposure to pornography. MILFs, who are apparently played by porn stars past the age of 23, make our protagonist feel old. Her inability to squirt makes her feel sexually inadequate, and her discomfort with anal sex bothers her to no end. She translates these issues into insecurities about her own relationship, feeling that her fiancé must want everything from her that he sees from behind the camera. With a strand of argument that dabbles too much in the emotional, she bemoans unrealistic standards instead of dismissing them as patriarchal, doesn’t communicate her feelings accurately, and gets upset when her fiancé does not repeat her own views verbatim back to her. Instead of delving into the complex politics surrounding the industry, Southwood only focuses on her immediate emotional reaction to her boyfriend’s involvement with pornography. Then, a few pages later, we hear the author speaking calmly in hindsight about how now she understands that what once made her insecure is perfectly alright and that the porn industry is a-ok – again, without giving much depth to her justification of this new stance. This melodrama is repeated at least once every chapter. Southwood’s flip-flopping of opinions throughout her memoir is not only uninteresting to the reader, but also doesn’t offer much information about current debates in the porn industry in the real world. There is a large body of scholarship in feminist and liberal theory about porn and what our society’s stance ought to be on it. Some feminists believe pornography perpetuates sexism; showing barely legal girls being penetrated in every orifice possible and then being ejaculated on isn’t typically thought to empower women. Many are convinced that the average girl does not grow up wanting to become a porn star, but rather is pushed into becoming a victim of the male gaze due to limited employment opportunities. Others argue from a point of view of concern over the amount of influence porn can have on the viewer. There is no lack of rape pornography that glorifies and legitimizes
Cover Image Courtesy of Seal Press sexual assault, or of porn that, to many, seems to encourage degrading women as part of sexual encounters. Many worry that viewers’ sexual desires and expectations will be influenced by the material they consume and that this will cause an increase in sexual violence towards women or perpetuate women’s inferiority. In response to this, some feminists have taken up the task of making feminist porn, depicting non-violent, overtly consensual, and respectful sex that is for both persons to enjoy. However, others argue that no sexual act is degrading in and of itself and to assume that someone who enjoys bondage or sexual submission is being forced into it is to take away sexual agency, both from the porn star and from the viewers who choose
to imitate certain acts out of their own will and with the consent of their partner. Advocates of freedom of speech argue that no matter how perverse it may seem to some, pornography should not be censored. Southwood touches on some of these viewpoints in her memoir, but only superficially in her epilogue. These are only some of the arguments surrounding porn that are worth debating. Instead, the reader gets an internal dialogue about expectations in relationships and Southwood’s own body image. Prude is an interesting examination of the insecurities women feel when faced with unrealistic standards and sexual desires cultivated for male enjoyment, but it fails to give a critical analysis of what is purported to be the focal point of the novel: porn.
The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
Fight trend piece with trend piece The last article about college hookups you’ll ever need to read 9 Julia Tsybina and Hillary Pasternak | Culture Writers
avoid saying the word “love” like a middle schooler who’s afraid to be caught using an unfamiliar vocabulary term incorrectly. As far as something meaningful goes, the word “relationship” is longer than anything I’ve ever managed to piece together. This doesn’t seem to be the case for many of my friends though. Not that I am some university unicorn; I am by no means alone in this singles’ boat. And it seems perfectly plausible to me that, over the course of my relatively short life, I have remained single. I only started to question why this is when I realized that I am somewhat behind when it comes to dating. I often wonder how others see me. I’ve been called pretty, and hot. I’ve also been called a bitch, and I’ve been called a slut (though not in so many words). One friend commented, “You go through guys like you go through drinks.” Upon seeing my surprise, he said that it’s “fine” because he’s the same way. That’s one impression of me, I suppose. There’s no denying that I’m flirty. I once mentioned that I feel “backwards,” to a friend. In high school, relationships were commonplace but I wanted nothing of the sort. Now, in university, I see these same people gladly partaking in hook-up culture, with a ‘been there, done that’ attitude toward anything serious. Have I missed a step? As with sex, the thought that comes to mind is, “When it finally does happen, I’m not going to know how to do it right.” Earlier this year a gropey young man at a club was asking me why I don’t have a boyfriend. “You’re pretty,” he said, implying that all good-looking people must have partners. He’s not the first to draw such a conclusion, and at this point the sweet coating of flattery is starting to wear thin. There was once a day when I was too wrapped up in the ludicrous idea of a person being “too attractive” to be single to really wonder about this question’s repercussions. Today however, I know that this isn’t just another backhanded compliment. What I see now is a very specific judgment, based on my relationship status. It’s made worse by the fact that the asker always points out my looks, ruling it out as a reason for my loneliness. This leaves my personality and behaviour as the culprits. At this point it’s just easier for me to lie about my relationship status. Otherwise the dreaded question will follow: “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” I may as well be asked what’s wrong with me. It’s a disguised insult, which I hope will someday cease being a part of my life. I would like to live in a society where the frequently asked question is not “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” but rather, “Why do you feel you need a boyfriend?”; where two is not always better than one; and where being single is not just okay, it’s goddamn fantastic. *** Media discussion of young women and
Nadia Boachie | The McGill Daily their sex lives generally come in two flavours these days: micro and macro. Writing in the former category will usually take the form of an opinion piece or a report on the newest findings from the seemingly endless studies on relationships that magazines seem to love. In the latter category, we have shouty reactions to these pieces online (see: Jezebel). Blogs like Jezebel and The Hairpin lead the shouting initiative, usually, with social media and the blogosphere providing the momentum to keep it going. It usually goes pretty quick (sometimes it can go longer: just look at the comment-section havoc wrought by Kate Bolick’s piece in The Atlantic two years ago, on how hard it is to be a single lady). By the time you read this article, the frenzy for the latest instance of this will already be over. This time around, it was Emily Yoffe over at Slate who displayed a phenomenally fuzzy notion of the meaning of ‘victim-blaming’ by telling college girls that while it certainly isn’t their fault if they get sexually assaulted while drunk, it is their fault for being drunk in the first place. Yoffe’s article was published on October 15, and the ensuing media shitstorm peaked within a week or two. The internet has now moved on, but this is going to hap-
pen again soon. It always does. Personal narrative is a powerful tool in the journalistic arsenal, perfect for bringing political issues down to a warmer, more personal level. But most of the widest-reaching media outlets don’t seem to understand how to use it. There’s a vague idea that it’s good for women’s issues (“women are emotional, right?”), and sometimes the editors will even go so far as to think maybe it’s good to have women writing about women’s issues, but the thinking seems to stop there. Writing about the college hookup scene? How about a middle-aged woman? This isn’t to say outsiders have nothing to offer, but promoting their analysis over the firsthand accounts of people directly involved in the issue is all kinds of wrong and disrespectful. So at The Daily, if we use our space to publish an opinion about a young woman’s sex life, it’s going to be written by a young woman, as the above narrative was. And it’s going to come to a point about those old feminist chestnuts: choice and bodily agency. She wants to be single, she wants to be proud of it, and so she will be. But we’re not done being angry yet, folks. Not by a long shot. Because contrary to those aforementioned publications’ publishing
practices, personal narratives are not just for the white middle-class women whose voices are most often amplified and discussed by the internet feminism machine. They’re also for voices not so easily heard, not so well distributed – they’re not hard to find if you’re looking. The virtual world is full of blogs and online zines that consist of nothing but material from people who bring up statistics and interview subjects featured in articles written by privileged Atlantic staffers: lower-income parents detailing exactly how they use their food stamps, hijabis chronicling their bafflement at the stupid questions they have to answer from white girls. So, yeah, we are saying there’s journalistic value in a blog. Sure, the internet’s Sturgeon’s Law-esque (that’s the “90 per cent of everything is crap” one) tendencies have given the blogosphere a bad name. But where else can you find pure, unadulterated learned experience? There are microaggressions to chronicle and evolving opinions and discussions to archive. It’s fascinating, it’s important, it’s worthy of wider exposure. Why are we using our mainstream media to tell girls what to do with their bodies, when we could be using it to tell each other stories? And, you know, maybe learn something new.
volume 103 number 9
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No fracking way The environment is not just an Indigenous issue
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cover design Samantha Shier contributors Zapaer Alip, Nadia Boachie, Lola Duffort, Cem Ertekin, Carmen Fenech, Lauria Galbraith, Grace Harris, Sarah Jameel, Gretchen King, Megan Lindy, Emmet Livingstone, Sasha Mbabazi, Liam Mayes, Vikram Natarajan, Midori Nishioka, Kristian Picon, Catherine Polcz, Nicolas Quiazua, Hannah Reardon, Sason Ross, Samantha Shier, Tamim Sujat, Kai Cheng Thom, Julia Tsybina, Eric White, Daniel Woodhouse, Allan Youster
ndigenous communities in Elsipogtog, New Brunswick are resisting shale gas exploration, as they have been since this summer. This resistance movement has only begun to make news in the last few weeks, as the RCMP has forcibly intervened in the protests. This media coverage has been skewed, with most of the focus on painting the Indigenous peoples of Elsipogtog as anti-government, violent insurgents who are causing undue stress on the local community. Too often, coverage of grassroots resistance by Indigenous peoples across Canada is framed as something that does not impact the ‘average Canadian,’ as if the issues being protested occur in a bubble. This is not an isolated issue. The media needs to become aware that the struggles faced by Indigenous communities are issues that affect us all. The residents of Elsipogtog do not stand alone in the fight against fracking. The majority of Canadians, and various environmentalist groups, such as the Council of Canadians, are against this practice. Fracking and other methods of fossil fuel extraction are not simply a matter of exploiting the ‘untapped resources’ of rural Canada – this exploitation is destructive to the communities that make their homes on the land where these resources are found. Hydraulic fracking is a practice that uses high pressure water, sand, and chemicals to create fractures in bedrock to access shale gas. Fracking is extremely damaging to land and is known to have serious effects on the
environment and the health of nearby populations. The chemicals used in fracking contaminate soil and groundwater, increase risks for earthquakes, release potent greenhouse gases contributing to climate change, and have been linked to illnesses such as cancer. It is important to note that rural communities are most directly affected by these projects, and the large majority of fossil fuel extractions occur on Indigenous lands (ceded and unceded), meaning the most direct and potent effects will be felt in these communities. Elsipogtog is not the only recent instance of destructive resource-extraction projects on Indigenous lands: Le nord pour tous, a resource exploitation project in Quebec formerly known as Plan Nord, is one of many examples of the continual push to exploit Indigenous territory with limited consultation. However, environmental issues aren’t only Indigenous issues. There are more local environmental projects to consider, such as the controversy surrounding the reversal of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline in southern Ontario and Quebec. But even if the direct impacts take place outside city borders, the exploitation that is currently being protested in Elsipogtog will have effects on us all. Instead of buying into the current media representation of these protesters as ‘rabble-rousers,’ we must recognize that their fight is a fight for all of our interests, and lend our support. —The McGill Daily Editorial Board
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In the article “Invigilators file grievances against the University” (News, October 21, Page 5) The Daily wrote that AGSEM: McGill’s Teaching Union came to their first collective agreement. In fact, it was the invigilators, Unit 2 of AGSEM, that came to their first collective agreement with the University. In the same article, The Daily wrote that AGSEM filed grievances two weeks after the collective agreement was signed; in fact, grievances were filed on October 15. The Daily regrets the errors.
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The McGill Daily
Monday, October 28, 2013
Lies, half-truths, and the painful nothingness
Ask the Reanimated Corpse of Roland Barthes! Famed French philosopher, now resurrected, dishes on Facebook
Dear Reanimated Corpse of Roland Barthes, Lately, I haven’t been keeping up very well with the girl of my dreams. We usually communicate by Facebook chat, but these days, she’s taking a long time to respond, if at all. Now I feel as if I message her again, I will seem too eager. What am I to do, Rolly? —Cautious in Cadillac The Check Mark face-book / Facebook The subject is caught between showing nothing (meaningless gestures) and showing too much, which renders him in stasis, a paroxysm of non-action. • I too have found myself on Facebook in my time back from the grave, though my ‘friends’ are few. But I too feel this desire you have, Cautious; for my loved object has been dead for nearly 33 years, yet I still accept that madness of love to her. But I will not speak of the ‘after-life’ or of what happens ‘after death.’ • I realize that I died precisely when I should have. For Facebook (the internet) is the author of my despair. As I say in A Lover’s Discourse (or, as the figure says), as I imagine myself (the figure imagines himself ) dying, “I see the lives of others continuing, without change.” When the relationship ends, in most cases, we are still ‘friends’ on Facebook (and this humorously mirrors the common refrain, “but let us remain friends”). Across our newsfeed (in my native tongue, «fil d’actualité»), the image of our past lover appears unexpectedly, and we are engulfed by pain, their life continuing without us, happily. «Fil d’actualité» –
the wire of news, the wire by which the amorous subject is strangled. • The image of the other on Facebook is always accessible. Facebook has become somewhat sentient as it has progressed, so, as we go to type the first letter of a name, Facebook remembers what we typed before, when we were gripped in passion, and there appears the rest of the previous loved object’s name, a palimpsest. Will our desire fill this name? Awash in sentimentality, nostalgia, we go back through their images. It is the new ones which strike the subject most, as he sees the new life, the life beyond their union. • ‘To like.’ In French, on Facebook, this is «j’aime». I love. And yet, like the avowal of love, it becomes tautology. I like because I like. «J’aime» or “I like” is missing the «t’», the recipient. I do not know if I am loved by the ‘like’ or merely my sentiment – my witty comment, my photo (my image) – is all that is loved by the amorous object. • When the subject of A Lover’s Discourse (only a fool would think that it is me, the (dead (more than just post-structurally)) author) writes letters to the amorous object, he is dismayed by the lack of response, but still clings to the idea that the amorous other does still care for him. To return to you, Cautious, you are caught in the ‘fade-out.’ You are ‘abandoned by the other,’ yet you still labour under the idea of «pourquoi?» – “Why don’t you tell me that you love me?” It is in the check mark that this ‘fade-out’ resides. The check mark, that the loved has seen your message, but chooses not to respond: this is the scar. They respond with effort, after some time. To keep messaging is to be over-exu-
E.k. EK | The McGall Weekly berant, to not properly hide our passions. But then there is no way to show our love either, for «j’aime» means nothing in this realm. • There is a zen koan: Eshun, an elderly monk, climbs to the top of her funeral pyre, ready to die, lighting it ablaze. “O nun!” shouts one monk, “is it hot in there?” “Such a matter would concern only a stupid person like yourself,” answered Eshun.
The flames arose, and she passed away. • Facebook is the funeral pyre; we climb into it, and accept the painful nothingness that it inflicts. Send questions to email@example.com so the Reanimated Corpse of Roland Barthes can answer YOUR questions about love!
Campus construction to continue indefinitely Reportedly “for the greater good”
9 Conrad McCowski | The McGall Weekly
arious construction projects around McGall’s downtown campus are expected to continue at their current rate “indefinitely,” reports one administration insider. The construction sites, which include Sadpath Museum and the SadpathMcLooter Library complex are in full swing as classes move into the second half of the semester, and show no sign of slowing. After the annual fall Book Fair was cancelled due to construction, students have begun to grumble about the projects’ interference with day-to-day campus affairs. Following a volley of complaints, McGall administrators released the following cryptic statement in an email to campus news outlets: “Tell them whatever you have to tell them. Just know that everything is happening for the greater good.”
A Weekly correspondent visited Jones Administration building demanding answers last week, after having emails and phone calls ignored. Later, he sent a text message to The Weekly’s office which read, “Just met with ‘Mr. X’ – nice guy – said he couldn’t talk in office. Wants me to meet alone at Rutherfort Reservoir after dark. I have a good feeling about this!” On an unrelated note, if anyone has any information as to the whereabouts of our associate, Dan Large, please let us know. One marketing professor who wished to remain anonymous suggested that “no one would ever suspect a school forever under construction to be floundering economically.” According to Professor Sam Golding, of the Department of Pointing at Graphs, “The construction is probably intended to take the University of T-Dot down a peg, the bastards,” at
which point he spat on the floor of his office. As always, there are student groups and vocal individuals skeptical of the administration’s aims. Theories are numerous, ranging from insidious xenophobic neo-colonial impulses, to McGall’s recently-ex-Principal, Heatha Mama-Boom, seeking the treasure of James McGall in a scheme “remarkably similar” to that of Warden Walker in the popular youth novel Holes. Despite the slight inconvenience, many students are remaining positive. “The sound of power-tools keeps me awake and focused during the day,” said Divad Sandool, a U1 engineering student. Divad is one of several students and faculty members who, after ascending the steps across from the McGall Bookstore in a backfired shortcut gambit, stood looking over the construction at
Sadpath Library. “It’s fun to climb on when you’re drunk,” opined Mira Kpolovic, fourthyear philosopher. “The only issue for me, as a soft-spoken Canadian Studier, is the–” said Betty Magulis, before her voice was lost in the cacophony of buzz saws, hammers, and French expletives. As the weather begins to cool, the pace of construction remains unvaried, and one begins to wonder if students and staff will find any reprieve in the frigid, desolate months of Canadian winter. Our administration insider denies such hopes, claiming that construction crews have already signed contracts to persist through the cold. But where will they work? “There are various interior sites around campus that require immediate attention, such as lecture halls, washrooms, and libraries.”