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March 2016

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Put away your child’s electronics for spring break

As Spring Break begins, many kids will be at home looking for fun things to do. Unfortunately, this also means many children will be spending their days on the computer or watching TV.

Watching children play together is becoming mildly terrifying. The imaginative games of my childhood seem to be replaced with bonding over video games. Teenagers are glued to their phones, often preferring to text or snapchat instead of going out to the mall with friends. This lack of real life interaction is causing more depression in teens and less connectivity between families. This is dangerous for our society.

Because children are often on electronics, their face-to-face interactions with other kids and adults are reportedly decreasing.  Many kids are also overstimulated by electronics and increased Attention Deficit Disorder is becoming prevalent in young Canadians. Parents that avoid dealing with their kids and stick them in front of the leap pad are enriching the addiction causing exercise rates and outdoor play to plummet.

A 2014 study by the University of California showed children with high access to electronics were unable to accurately recognize non-verbal body language as effectively as children with more limited use of technology. The research compared a group of 51 children that were at a summer camp for five days without technology to a control group of children that had access to technology during the same time. Both groups were tested at the conclusion of the camp and the study concluded that children who had no access to technology for the week were able to recognize body language cues 50 per cent better than children in the control group.

Children in North America over the age of eight spend over seven and a half hours a day looking at a screen. The study also reported teenagers ages 12 to 17 use phones to text message more than face-to-face socializing.

Overstimulation is also becoming more prevalent in kids and youth, according to a study put out by the public school board of British Columbia, with one in 20 children suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Over-stimulation to technology in infants can cause SPD and often leads to ADHD, as well as anxiety due to interrupted development of processing abilities in the prefrontal cortex at a young age.

A report card released in 2015 by the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Health Institute calculates startling statistics concerning children and physical exercise in Canada. Seventy per cent of children ages three to four are getting the recommended 180 minutes of daily activity compared to children ages five to 11, with only 14 per cent of children getting 60 minutes of daily exercise. Only five per cent of teenagers ages 12 to 17 meet the guidelines.

This spring break, get your kids outside to play and have fun! By putting the electronics away and inspiring children and youth to play outside, you can kickstart a better lifestyle that involves less technology. A few ideas include going on a hike as family, playing a game of basketball, or going for a bike ride. I challenge you to actually bond with your family — even if it seems forced to begin with — just to see how your child reacts to the non-screen-related activities. Putting away the computer for a week may just be what you all need!

Review: The People vs. OJ Simpson

I was only a few months old when the ‘Trial of the Century’ was taking place. Despite this fact, I grew up knowing the name OJ Simpson. I first heard it when my dad tried to hide the fact that he shrunk my mom’s wool sweater in the wash, who then playfully reminded him that he’s not OJ Simpson. He cannot get away with things. I didn’t know exactly what Simpson did or didn’t do at this point, but I did know that it was a name I should be aware of.  I knew ‘The Juice’ for what everyone perceived him as; a joke.

american-crime-story_1However, with the airing of the new American Crime Story mini series, The People vs. OJ Simpson, it’s becoming more apparent that although the OJ Simpson trial was, in fact, a joke– it wasn’t a very funny one. The words that do come to mind are more along the lines of, ‘what the actual… you know’.

I’m currently watching the series from the perspective of a millennial. Lost, confused, and downright mad. The experience is a first for me, which makes me feel rather apologetic for the audience that has to live through the proceedings of this bizarre trial once again. Although most people know what happens next, for me to realize that spoilers are available on the internet involving the real people — YouTube videos included, is reassuring. (Because I can’t sleep for a week not knowing if the gloves fit or not!)

My friends, who were also too young to have followed the case back in 1994, look at me in disbelief when I summarize what’s currently happening on the show they have yet to tune into. (Come on, ladies!) I myself catch myself pausing during pivotal scenes during the hour to refer to Google in order to confirm whether or not there really was a car chase and why no one said anything when ‘the Dream Team’ redecorated Simpson’s home. WHY? And yes youngsters, those things really did happen.

THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY "From the Ashes of Tragedy" Episode 101 (Airs Tuesday, February 2, 10:00 pm/ep) -- - Pictured: (l-r) David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FXWhat makes this series so appealing, besides the plot, is largely based on the actors and actresses that are depicting each of the persons involved in the trial. Although Cuba Gooding Jr doesn’t really fit the build of Simpson himself, his performance is doing justice to his lack of ‘juice.’ Also, can we talk about David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian? His portrayal of OJ’s bestie and the father of the four obnoxious children in America is rather likeable.

And yes, actual person Marcia Clark probably does not enjoy watching award-winning actress, Sarah Paulson, replay her worst ever hair day — but it’s insightful to see this series make a case for her as the real hero in this tragedy. The fact that they dedicated an entire episode of a 10-part series to the trials and tribulations of a female prosecutor and her personal life demonstrates the challenges that we as women have to face– even in the midst of a case involving two brutal homicides. Because priorities.

THE PEOPLE v. O.J. SIMPSON: AMERICAN CRIME STORY "The Dream Team" Episode 103 (Airs Tuesday, February 16, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: (l-r) Cuba Gooding, Jr. as O.J. Simpson, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran. CR: Byron Cohen/FX

Race is also an important element of the show. With the #BlackLivesMatter movement gaining more recognition in lieu of recent police brutality cases, The People vs. OJ Simpson has only fueled the fire behind the controversy of the trial and the overall treatment of black people in society. The show is doing a phenomenal job in bringing forth the different perspectives of the people involved in the trial while still making Simpson look guilty. (Because he is.) Questions have also been raised as to why this series is tackling the trial after so long in the first place, but the discussions on race and gender equality along with the emergence of new evidence have made Simpson’s case more relevant than ever.

It doesn’t take effort to make the OJ Simpson more ‘TV friendly.’ With car chases, conspiracy theories, and plot twists, the trial not only divided the nation between #Guilty and #NotGuilty, it probably had producers and directors running for their phones to get started on their next crime story project. Despite the distractions that come with Paulson’s hair and John Travolta’s face (yikes!), American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson is the only series involving a Kardashian that you’ll want to keep up with.

Are you watching The People Vs. OJ Simpson? Let us know what you think about it in the comments below! 

 

Five funky rain boots to keep those toes dry

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day (or not! ).

It’s our own fault — we prayed so hard for the end of those cold, dreary, winter days, and this is what we get. Humid and rainy. At least it’s not snowing anymore, right? The only problem is that rainy weather is terrible for daily commutes. Winter boots will make you sweat while sneakers will leave your ankles cold and wet.

Despite what we’ve been led to believe by our parents, yellow rubber boots don’t make an outfit “cool”. But, there are some special renditions of the typical rubber boots that just may fit the bill. Here are five examples of some stylish boots that are sure to keep your toes warm and dry during this wet transition into the spring:

 

The printed surprise: These 100 per cent waterproof boots are made of flexible natural rubber that allow movement while you walk. They may appear like regular rubber boots, but the print really makes a difference. It says, “yes, I’m wearing rubber boots, and I own it.” They come in multiple colours and patterns, which means you can get one that is custom to your style.

BOGS, $90
BOGS, $90

 

The half-pint: Some people just can’t wear tall boots, whether it’s because of their calves don’t fit the skin-tight material or it’s just not their style. That’s what’s so great about these short boots. They are stylish, can be worn with jeans or dress pants, and work perfectly for the person who is opposed to tall, clunky rubber boots.

Cougar boots, price unknown
Cougar boots, around $80

 

The shoe-boot: These shoes are actually made of rubber, which means they are waterproof flats! Whoever invented these are genius. Imagine wearing them with a pair of jeans and a nice top while out on the town one evening. It’s the perfect compromise — stylish, yet practical. They will probably last longer than your regular flat shoes too.

Cougarboots: $50
Cougarboots: $50

The warm-layered look: It may be humid out, but that doesn’t mean it’s summer just yet. These boots are perfect for this in-between weather. The knitted top makes it look like a regular winter boot, but the bottom is completely rubber, and therefore waterproof. These boots would be great with leggings, or any pant that can be tucked into it.

Kamik, $89.99
Kamik, $89.99

 

The funky knee-high: Finally, there is the funky knee-high — a traditional rubber boot, just filled with character and style. Hunter has a lovely selection of boots with bright colours and patterns. These are for the traditionalists out there, those who don’t want to deviate from what they know. These boots are bound to keep your feet dry, but they also add a little something extra.

Hunter, $225
Hunter, $225

Do you have a pair of rubber boots you love? What do they look like? Let us know in the comments below!

What I want my daughter to know about International Women’s Day

When I found out I was going to have a daughter, I was excited and nervous all at the same time. I was happy because I knew I could build a strong connection and felt, as a single mom, a little girl was a blessing for me. On the other hand, I felt apprehensive because being a girl in this world is no easy task.

Between sexual exploitation, unfair treatment in the working world, and an ever-continuing expectation for girls to be sweet and never get dirty, it is tough to be a strong woman. Due to the unfortunate reality of genetics, my daughter also never had a choice in being a stubborn, strong-willed, and loud female — which makes her lot in life that much more challenging, but a great adventure as well.

I come from a long line of strong women. My mother was a single mom who raised me to be tough as nails, and yet always show compassion. No matter how tired she was from working full-time, she always had time to listen to my problems or bandage a wounded knee. She also taught me that no matter how little you think you have, you are always more empowered when you give to others. I try my hardest to teach my daughter the power of solidarity and giving between women.

My mom once told me that it takes a village to raise a child. I can’t possibly count the number of inspirational and beautiful women who have helped me so far in my daughter’s life. I’m lucky my daughter has so many ladies too look up to.

Women are a force of nature when they come together, whether it be to help raise a child or make a dramatic change in the world. Solidarity is integral for making change and promoting healthy relationships between women. I can only hope that all of the garbage out there about women tearing each other down will be something my daughter advocates against as strongly as I do.

I have also taught my daughter about the importance of surrounding yourself with male figures who empower women. I am proud to say that many men in our lives are deeply supportive and fundamentally giving towards my little family. It seems my daughter is growing up in a world where men are changing as much as women when it comes to feminism. I am compelled to give a major shout-out to many of my millenial male friends out there — your mothers are proud.

My grandmother was yet another inspiration for my daughter and I. She taught me to always pursue what you love no matter what other people say you can or cannot do. She achieved a university degree in fine arts from Mount Allison University in 1958, and was the only woman in her class. She was also a single-working mom in the 1970s and pursued her art with a passion, not letting the judgements of others stand in her way.

I take my grandmother’s teachings and apply them to my daughter when it comes to her dreams. There is no single way to be a girl, or a woman. My daughter has the option to grow up to be an artist, a mathematician, an opera singer, or a mechanic if she wishes. The opportunities she has are seemingly endless.

Similar to my grandmother’s history, International Women’s Day reminds us there was a time when these choices were not so easy for women. Every time women get to vote, or to step through an office door, silently thank the women who made this possible and remember the shame and adversity women had to fight through to get us there.

The first International Women’s Day was celebrated on 1909 after thousands of women marched in New York for better pay and the right to vote. By 1975, the United Nations declared International Women’s Day as an officially recognized celebration and it was celebrated by many countries after this event, and continues today.

In the present, many people believe the fight for women has been won, but this is not so. We must teach our daughters the power of women who work together, to surround ourselves with men who empower women, and in turn invigorate ourselves to pursue our dreams.

And finally, we must teach our daughters to remember the women who came before us, and honour their achievements around the world.

International Women’s Day – true leadership and journalist integrity

When I think about strong women, I think of women who have stayed true to their profession, who lead with integrity. As publisher of Women’s Post, it would be easy to simply trash men, to talk about women’s rights and the need for women to have more power. But it would be wrong.

Ethics are tools that help people stay true to the balance our society relies on to move forward. When that balance is shifted so that women or men gain too much power, our society as a whole suffers. I am proud that Women’s Post not only promotes the successes of women, but defends men from the attacks of women using their power unjustly.

In journalism, there are far too many writers who give way to sensationalism, who twist their words for political gain and twitter followers. This was obvious today, as I read Jennifer Pagliaro’s fiction in the Toronto Star where she writes “Tory proclaimed his transit priorities were SmartTrack and the Scarborough subway. He said SmartTrack would provide relief on the Yonge line while knocking Olivia Chow’s support of the relief line subway.”  This is so blatantly false that the writer in me screams foul.

I’m hoping that Pagliaro just hasn’t done her homework, because I hate to think that she might be attempting to use her platform as a journalist to twist the truth.

When John Tory was running for Mayor of Toronto, he came out in strong support of what he coined the “Yonge Relief” subway line.  I remember thinking how clever it was that he had changed the name from the downtown relief line to the Yonge relief line. By calling it a relief line for Yonge Street he was explaining to the public the actual function of the line – to offer riders from Scarborough and Etobicoke an alternative way of getting across the city.

That’s why I cringe today as I read Pagliaro’s words in the Toronto Star because it assumes that just because Tory suggested Smart Track that he was against the relief line, which is simply not true at all. If she were to do her homework she could have discovered that he has promoted the relief line for years. Pagliaro even suggests that Olivia Chow’s support of the relief line was authentic. As a transit advocate, I remember well that we could not get Chow to come out in support of the downtown relief subway line, because her loyalty was to Transit City and LRTs. Tory was constantly knocking her support of the relief line. When Chow came out claiming her love for the relief line all I could do was laugh and wonder if the journalists would notice/remember, or if naive young woman might fall for it —  indeed Pagliaro did.

When I ran for Mayor in 2010, I was very fortunate to have Mayor Tory’s two sons – George Tory and John Tory running my campaign. I’m not sure how big a role their father actually played, but I always had the feeling that he was quietly advising them. We decided to make the relief subway line a pivotal part of our campaign, because most transit experts insisted it was the highest priority line in the city. I remember going into a debate with John Jr. instructing me to answer every question with “the relief line or a subway.”  I balked when he told me he didn’t care if the question was about social housing, or land use planning — that I should answer “relief subway line” to every question or he would quit the campaign. And before I went up on stage he grabbed all my notes and told me I wouldn’t need them.

The next day all the papers were calling me “Subway Sarah” and I jumped to third place in the polls.  I was in absolute awe of the Tory boys and their father.

Back then reporters said our idea for the relief line was wishful thinking.  But over the years, as CEO of the Transit Alliance, my team and I worked to build awareness and support for the relief line, hosting many events in which John Tory would take part. He always spoke in support of the relief line, emphasizing it’s importance. Tory never gave up on the relief line, and that is why I wonder what Pagliaro is trying to do in her column?

International Woman’s Day is about the strength of women to lead within our society. We do this by staying true to ourselves, our profession, and each other. But yet again, I find myself defending a man against the political attacks of a woman who irresponsibly uses her stage to distort the truth.

Becoming a good journalist takes hard work. It isn’t easy to get beyond your personal assumptions and report the facts without bias, and in the world of twitter it is hard to avoid the temptation when given a global stage to write from. But a true journalist doesn’t take advantage of the stage they stand on. She does her homework, uncovers the truth, and writes the facts.

Today, critics are piling on Mayor Tory simply because he is willing to admit that a campaign strategy – Smart Track — may not be feasible. They forget that when he announced Smart Track during the campaign he insisted it was an idea, a vision, and that studies would be needed to see if it could work. They want to ignore the fact that Mayor Tory coined the term the “Yonge Street Relief line” and that he was one of the first to advocate for it.  I want to remind the Mayor of a great quote from Jean Sibelius: “There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic.”

Why do we need International Women’s Day?

When I tell friends that I am the editor of Women’s Post, the response is usually this:

“Wow, that’s amazing! So…what kind of stuff do you write/publish?”

I explain that I work for a publication that strives to be a platform for women, but our content doesn’t discriminate: Yes, I write about fashion and food, but I tend to focus more so on politics and business. Women’s Post also profiles women who have been successful in their industry of choice, and shares their knowledge with other women as inspiration or motivation.

At this point, I often get an apathetic “oh really” or “that’s interesting” response. Even worse is the condescending “That’s amazing that you are doing THAT type of work” reply — as if women as a group are in desperate need of guidance and support; as if they are incapable of being successful without the help of men; as if women, as a demographic, need an organization or a publication to advocate on behalf of their interests because they can’t do it themselves.

Let’s get one thing straight — I don’t believe that women NEED help to succeed. Women are just as capable as men — just as creative, intelligent, and hard working. The only thing standing in their way are archaic stereotypes and policies entrenched in this society that often prevent women from getting a) the jobs they deserve and b) the benefits and salary they deserve. What Women’s Post does is motivate women to fight for those simple rights.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is gender parity — a socioeconomic index used to measure access to education between men and women. According to the World Economic Forum, gender parity won’t be achieved until the year 2133. Only a year ago that number was 2095. Simply put, every year this gender gap is growing at a ridiculously fast rate.

As of 2015, only 25 countries have closed the gap in terms of “educational attainment.” Gender parity has been reached in the “university student” category, but not where skilled roles (75 per cent) and leadership roles (28 per cent) are concerned.

The 2015 Global Gender Gap Index did show a quarter of a billion more women have entered the labour force since 2006. This is great news, but at the same time the salary gap between men and women has increased from 5k to 10k. In fact, the average salary for women in 2015 equals the average salary for men in 2006!

I never really experienced sexism growing up, or at least that I noticed. Even through my early years at university, when my student union was screaming about equality, I thought they were making a big deal out of nothing. I had the same opportunities as my male friends. I never felt singled out as a woman or treated any differently than my male counterparts in the newsroom. Of course, I knew that in other parts of the world young girls couldn’t go to school and women weren’t allowed to work, drive, or venture outside unaccompanied by a man. But, sexism didn’t exist in Canada, right?

I was completely naïve in those days. Now, especially in this role, I’m able to see it all.  As Beatrix Dart, one of the women we’ve featured as a Woman of the Week, said in an interview, the stereotypes become blatantly clear once you become pregnant: “Suddenly, people make assumptions about you and suddenly all these gender barriers you’ve heard about kick in. They really exist.”

It’s also blatantly clear that violence against women is still rooted in North American culture. We’ve been seeing it in the media over the last year, following the trial of Jian Ghomeshi for alleged sexual assault and choking, and the treatment of celebrities like Kesha, who is fighting to be relieved of a contract with a producer she alleges abused her. Consent is still considered a contentious issue open to interpretation and women are constantly judged by their appearance instead of their intellect and worth as human beings. Now that my schoolgirl eyes have been opened, I find myself constantly shocked and disgusted with how my demographic is treated.

Canada is ranked 30 out of 145 countries in terms of gender equality, which is pretty great. But, this country can do better.  Society as a whole can do much, much better. All women should be given equal opportunity for education and employment, and should be treated with the same respect given to any man.

As our mission statement says, Women’s Post is a social enterprise designed to promote women and their initiatives across Canada. By providing mentorship, sharing knowledge, and giving women a platform to voice their opinions, Women’s Post hopes to show how amazing and ambitious this demographic can be if given the opportunity to grow.

It’s a worthy endeavour and I am proud to be the editor of this publication.

At the same time, I can’t wait until I live in a society where this type of work isn’t needed anymore. It’s too bad I probably won’t be able to witness it in my lifetime.

An exploration into the world of Pansexuality

“Gender identity is diverse and there are no binaries. Look into the etymology of “gender” and the word itself means nothing more than genre or kind,” says pansexual and transgender advocate, Sabbina Gibson. “This kind of binary perspective on it has been opposed and imposed on us. As a pansexual, all genders are embraced, not both. It is not one or the other.”

Gibson is a transgender woman living in Toronto. Taking a break to talk to me from personal training at Pursuit OCR, an adult obstacle course located at a converted industrial building in Parkdale, I begin to understand the hurdles Gibson and other pansexuals have to climb to help others understand their sexuality.

“Pansexuality is something that people are becoming more aware of, that more people will be able to identify with, and as a result they will not keep it in the closet. Then it will be able to be discussed openly,” says Gibson.

The first step to discussing pansexuality openly is understanding exactly what it means to each individual person within the context of their lives, and what the word means as a sexual label.

“I think sexual labels need to be defined by the communities and people who use them. We can’t define other people’s identities. In my health research I use a definition of pansexuality that draws on the etymology of the word (“pan” means “all” in Greek),” says PhD researcher for indigenous health and sexuality, Margaret Robinson.

Pansexuality is defined as a sexual attraction, romantic love, or emotional attraction toward people of any sex or gender. The term is becoming increasingly recognized in modern society, but still confuses many people. Understanding the label is a primary step to embracing this type of sexual marker and allows people to further identity with it.

Gibson says that heterosexuals look for a person with particular character traits, similar to a pansexual, but the physical aspects that a person looks for can be very superficial.

Gibson adds, “Someone who is pansexual may have an attraction to physical traits, but an attraction in someone’s personality becomes much more overarching than just a person’s appearance or a specific focus on someone’s genitals.”

Gibson also notes that her experience as a transgender woman has played a part in her identity as a pansexual because it can be difficult to find a partner.“Being pansexual, I don’t have gender preference as a way to increase my odds of finding somebody,” she says. “At this point, I don’t care who it is in terms of their gender as long as I mesh with them on an emotional and personal level.”

Logan Facette, a practicing pansexual from Calgary, AB. agrees with Gibson’s definition of pansexuality. He places emphasis on a person’s personality rather than their gender.

“My sexuality happens with the changing of the seasons. I never know who I’m going to be attracted to at any specific moment,” says Facette.

Facette is an open and outgoing person and is a passionate advocate for people with disabilities, having suffered from epilepsy himself. His favourite saying is “the only disability is a bad attitude,” and he is confident in his identity as a pansexual, demonstrating how irrelevant the need to justify sexuality really can be.

“I really don’t know why I’m pansexual.  I don’t need to justify it. I need to be confident in what my mind is telling me,” he says. “This person is hugely attractive and I don’t need to know what their gender is.”

Facette is also married and monogomous. “My partner is female. She has the same attractions as I do. I am very free-flowing with my sexuality and is something I really wanted in my partner,” he explains. “There needs to be total honesty and communication in the relationship. I quickly learned I wasn’t comfortable with being “bi”. I kept looking and I came upon pansexuality.”

University of Toronto professor of philosophy of sexuality, Ronald De Sousa, emphasizes the importance of drawing the distinction between bisexuality and pansexuality to further understand the meaning of “all” in the Pan identifier. “Pan requires thinking of people without bringing in their gender. Bisexuals may be distinguished because they may not be open to people that are in-between genders,” says De Souza.

Bisexuality is defined as an attraction to the same and different, but is often termed as an attraction to two specific genders rather than all genders. That being said, Robinson notes the difference between the two types of sexual labels leads some people to frame pansexuality as trans-friendly and bisexuality as transphobic, which is not the case.

“There’s been a tendency in some circles to frame pansexuality as trans-friendly and bisexuality as transphobic, but that ignores the reality of bi communities, our trans-inclusive history, and it ignores the trans people who identify as bi. I’m bisexual because I have attraction to people with the same gender as me and also to people with genders different from my own,” says Robinson. “Identity is contextual. Identifying as bisexual connects me with specific communities, particular histories, and particular values. I fit the definition of pansexual, but I don’t use that label.”

Pansexuality also attempts to overcome the common correlation of gender and sexuality, rather than specifying sexual orientation towards genders in any way.

Gender is defined as “the state of being female or male, with reference to cultural differences rather than biological ones.” Sexuality is defined as “a person’s sexual orientation or preference”. Too often, gender and sexuality are blended into the same meaning.

“How absurd is it to filter all of your sexual partners within the criteria of gender,” says De Souza. “Freud said, ‘Heterosexuality is much in need of questioning.’ I agree because people’s sexuality should be free. It shouldn’t be bound by heterosexual monogamous relationships. Gender and sexuality have nothing to do with humans in any way except by these ideas about what you are supposed to do as a woman and a man.”

Gibson agrees. “Gender and sexuality is too intertwined for people to distinguish what the difference is. Even in the LGBTQ culture,” she says. “There is not just one gender or the other, and there is no distinct boundary. Gender becomes a grey area and an expression of a much more complex human nature.”

Over the last century, the discursive space to discuss different types of sexualities and labels across the spectrum has increased substantially. With the wake of feminism in the 1970s, sexuality became a prevalent topic and though homophobia still persists, heterosexuality is no longer seen as the only mode of sexuality in western society.

Robison further explains there are a few generations of women and men interested in enforcing gender binaries, which opens up the space to more gender fluid expressions of sexuality. Potentially, the next possible wave of change in the world of sexuality of understanding is the eradication of the need to label sexuality into a category at all.

“The point here is not about whether you are hetereosexual, bisexual, homosexual or pansexual. The reality is that if you are human, you are just simply sexual,” says Gibson. “How you categorize it and contextualize it is your individual decision.”

Five Toronto events to attend for International Women’s Day

It is time celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. Here are a few great events going on in the city that celebrate women athletes, politicians, comedians, musicians and women of distinction. Get out there and enjoy yourself — and remember ladies, stay proud and strong!

Daybreaker TO-International Women’s Day

Daybreaker is an international initiative to help people start their day by doing a new type of fun physical exercise. Daybreaker is launching an event at Basecamp Climbing Gym (677 Bloor St. W.) for an early morning dance party. Opening at 6 a.m for an hour long yoga session, a dance party will then follow until 9 a.m. The dance party will be hosted by female DJs and celebrates women worldwide. Breakfast bars and cold brew will also be provided at the event.

Toronto the Just: Stories of Women and the Struggle for Equality

This exhibit will feature the stories of eight local women who have challenged discrimination in the past or present day. Speakers will discuss social justice issues and the importance of female solidarity. The event is hosted by Heritage Toronto and Women in Toronto Politics. It is being run at St. Lawrence Hall (157 King Street East) from 6-8 p.m.

Stand up 4 Sistering II Daria Dance Party

Comedy bar (945 Bloor St. W.) will be hosting a Women’s Day bash showcasing popular women comedians. The line-up includes Dawn Whitwell, Natalie Norman, Lauren Mitchell and Chantel Marostica. All the proceeds from the event will be going to the charity Sistering, which helps women in need.

International Women’s Day Concert

The Mod Club (722 College St. W.) will be hosting an International Women’s Day concert that recognizes female artists including Tanika Charles, LAL, MC Nitty Scott and DJ Ariel. The R&B show is put on by The Academy.

YWCA announces Women of Distinction

The YWCA is announcing eight women of distinction for 2016 and will be hosting a discussion panel. The event will be held in the Lambert Room (54th Floor, 66 Wellington St. W) and is being hosted by TD Bank.

Essential gear for a great workout

With spring hopefully on its way, working out at the gym is a good way to wake the body up and prepare for the summer season. Here are some essential items needed to ensure that your workout is a success.

Sports bra

1.Supportive Sports Bra

A supportive sports bra is a must when you are working out in the gym. It is important to keep the ladies in check, and a quality sports bra increases comfort while exercising. When buying, avoid compression sports bras. They flatten the tissues in the breast and can cause pain during a work-out. They also provide little support for the breasts and decrease elasticity. Instead, look for a sports bra with cups and additional side panels for support. Adjustable straps help to customize the sports bra to each individual, and reduce bounce as well. Supportive sports bras start at $40, and are an affordable purchase for a better work-out.

By Dirk Knight
By Dirk Knight

2. Light-weight runners

Have you ever experienced being at the gym and suddenly you hear somebody stomping on the treadmill like they are a herd of angry horses? That is because they do not have a light-weight runners. Heavy shoes make a work-out more difficult especially in the cardio portion of a work-out routine. Having a more aerodynamic shoe can help increase performance at the gym. The Nike Air Zeus Pegasus 32 is a good example of a 2016 light-weight running shoe and runs at $110. Of course, other comparable options are available.

water bottle

5.BPA-free Water Bottle

A BPA-free water bottle is vital for a workout, enhancing performance and avoiding dehydration. Every 2 per cent of body weight lost in fluid decreases athletic performance by 25 per cent according to Human Kinetics. Drinking water will allow you  a more fulfilling exercise routine. Make sure your water bottle is BPA-free. Add ice to cool the water for a refreshing drink during and after workout. Also include some snacks such as trail mix or a clif bar for a post-workout snack.

By Fe Ilya
By Fe Ilya

4. Earphones that stay in

Listening to music while working out will help increase motivation and keep you focused at the gym. It can be really frustrating if your earphones are constantly falling out and you have to stop your workout in order to put them back in. Instead, find some great buds that will stay in and give you the musical motivation needed to succeed. Philips Earhook headphones are a good option. The earphones hook over the ears, anchors them down and keeps them stay in place while exercising. Buying earphones with an adjustable cord helps them stay in.

By Abi Porter
By Abi Porter

5. Facial wipes for post-workout

The sweatier the better after a great workout. Yet if you have sweat dripping down your face, how can you leave the gym looking like you just ran a marathon? Facial wipes solve the problem and are also refreshing after spiking your body temperature on the treadmill. Portable facial wipes are a quick way to get rid of sweat. An additional benefit is wipes help to alleviate potential acne which can be caused by sweating profusely.

With these workout essentials, it will make your gym workout much more enjoyable. Being prepared will make your exercise routine flawless.  Furthermore, you’ll soon be on your way to fitting into that short summer dress tucked away in your closet.

Woman of the week: Camille Labchuk

“I felt compelled to get into animal law. My advice to women is don’t accept being marginalized, you have every right to be there and your opinion and insight are valuable. Just go for it,” says CEO of her own law firm and Animal Justice lawyer, Camille Labchuk.

From her mother’s place in P.E.I on vacation, Camille Labchuk looks relaxed, yet professional in a comfortable rustic room in her hometown in the Maritimes. This setting is a nice vacation spot for the passionate, but humble, animal rights lawyers who is making big waves in Toronto.

Labchuk is currently the executive director of Animal Justice, a not-for-profit legislative fund dedicated to advocating for the humane treatment of animals. As a lawyer, Labchuk defends advocates and animals in the court of law, and contributes to campaigns that seek further protection for animals.

Animal Justice focuses heavily on putting pressure on the farming industry. Labchuk says there is strong public outrage when a dog or cat is abused, but when it comes to farm animals, law enforcement often fails to act.

“In June 2014, Chilliwack cattle sales in B.C., which is the largest dairy farm in the country, were investigated, and undercover footage came out from Mercy for Animals that showed workers kicking, punching, and beating cows with metal pipes,” said Labchuk.

“The BCSPCA recommended charges against the workers and the company — and that was over 18 months ago. Law enforcement still has not laid any charges and the crown has not done anything about the case yet. There is inertia on the part of law enforcement on the part of animals.”

Labchuk first became interested in animal rights when she was nine years old after witnessing the seal hunt on T.V. Her mother was a significant influence on her interest in environmentalism, and helped her pursue her goals in animal activism. “My mom was a single mother and an environmental activist. She single-handedly took on the pesticide industry in PEI. She was very active when I was growing up and I had a role model from a very young age that taught me a woman can do whatever she wants and can accomplish a lot.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Labchuk was uncertain what path to take, but decided to become involved with the Green Party in her home province, P.E.I.

“I got involved in the Green Party with Elizabeth May in 2004 because my mom was running in the election,” said Labchuk. “Elizabeth decided to run for leadership of the Green Party and I became the only staffer on her campaign. Luckily, she won and she asked me to join her in Ottawa.”

Labchuk moved to Ottawa and worked closely with May for two years before running for the Green Party herself in 2006. At this time, she used her vacations to volunteer for the Humane Society International. She helped to document and expose the cruelty of the seal hunt in remote areas of the Maritimes with Rebecca Aldworth, one of Canada’s first animal rights activists.

Elizabeth May was a strong female influence in the young activist’s life and taught her about how much power being a lawyer can have in politics.  “I really saw how much her law degree helped her every single day, whether it was reading drafts or responding to issues of the day,” said Labchuk. “It was useful for her. I realized there were very few people doing animal law in Canada and maybe that could be me.”

Labchuk worked for the Humane Society International in a communications role for a year before starting law school at the University of Toronto in 2009, where she had the chance to meet Lesli Bisgould, one of Canada’s first animal rights lawyers. Bisgould was another mentor for Labchuk and inspired her to pursue her passion in animal law.

Labchuk was given her first articling opportunity while attending a Toronto Vegetarian food festival in 2011. James Silver, a criminal lawyer and vegan, was present for a presentation Labchuk made about animal rights advocacy. “I met them afterwards and James offered me a job to article for him the following year. Now my advice to younger lawyers is to never miss a vegetarian food festival. You never know what job you may get out of it.”

In 2014, Labchuk opened her own law firm to supplement her income while still volunteering with Animal Justice. Her firm’s focus is on animal rights law, but she does take on the occasional unrelated case.

Recently though, Labchuk has gotten on Animal Justice’s payroll and is playing a larger part in it’s operations. She says the not-for-profit is getting more resources and gaining notoriety every year. For Labchuk, it’s not the opening of her own firm that’s her biggest success — it’s her work with Animal Justice.  “I’m excited about where Animal Justice is going in the future because at this point, I think the sky is the limit,” she said.

In Sept. 2015, Labchuk and other lawyers at Animal Justice went to the Supreme Court to intervene in a law about bestiality. “ It was a defence to water down the definition of bestiality to allow sexual acts that were non-penetrative in nature. We sought intervener’s status. The court did allow us to argue that case on behalf of animals. That was momentous and exciting.” In January 2015, Labchuk also got the charges dropped against six activists that were arrested for protesting outside of the St. Helen’s meat Packer’s in November 2014.

Currently, Labchuk is living in Cambridge while her spouse completes a journalism fellowship at Harvard University. She is taking supplemental American animal law classes and rubbing shoulders with big-name animal rights lawyers in the country. She looks forward to her return to Toronto to continue the good fight for animal rights.

“We are chipping away at this paradigm that allows us to exploit animals in such horrible ways,” said Labchuk. “More people then ever are aware, and these issues are mainstream now. I know someday, we are going to win.”