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Newsflash: April 1, 2014

Those who love April Fools love it, and those who hate it absolutely despise it, but all the pranks today left us wondering if there actually was any real news going on in the world. Turns out there was plenty: Marois’ money, Libs push mini LCBOs, LGBT youth homelessness, and fake anti-Ford campaign signs.

 

The husband of Pauline Marois was accused over the weekend of inappropriately soliciting $25,000 in donations from an engineering firm to contribute to her leadership campaign. It wouldn’t be a Quebec election without some good old fashion corruption. But hey, at least no one was wearing a hijab.

The Ontario Liberals are pushing forward a plan to install LCBO pop up shops inside of grocery and corner stores. Considering the amount of bad press the McGuinty cohort has projected on to Wynne getting the voting population drunk enough to forget about gas plants and e-mails might not be a bad plan from here on out.

A Toronto man was convicted of inciting hatred against Muslims and sentenced to nine months of jail time for handing out flyers slurring the religion and harassing a Muslim family. No word yet on whether the PQ will run him as a candidate.

Andrea Houston explored the issue of homelessness with gay and trans youth in Toronto, an at risk population that many organizations don’t know how to help properly. To add some scope to the issue: we can’t even find a home for a rainbow flag in front of City Hall — Toronto needs to work better to protect those who need it most.

Fake campaign signs promoting almost anyone as better than Rob Ford have been popping up. There is truth in this advertising, when someone sounds like a better alternative because they will only smoke weed (not crack) as mayor there are some fundamental problems.

 

The TTC puts out new plan (on April 1st) to put condos in underused stations to make money

The TTC has a new plan that would save money by selling underused stations like Bessarion and Chester to make condos at track level.

The plan, released on April 1st and presented over YouTube with the TTC’s Brad Ross and Chris Upfold, is a great prank that acknowledges the under use of certain stations. Watch the video and let us know what you think, would condos beside subway tracks have a good chance in today’s condo market? We think yes. Well, maybe not Bessarion.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

WATCH: What if ‘heterophobia’ was a real thing?

Filmmaker Kim Rocco Shields and actress Lexi DiBenedetto have flipped the script on the traditional coming out story with the short film “Love Is All You Need?”

In an attempt to show homophobes just how hard it can be for gay people to face adversity from bigots in their lives she has created a parallel universe where being gay is the norm and a girl coming to terms with her (hetero) sexuality is the one who faces sneers from friends, tears from parents, and vicious attacks from bullies.

This short film is stunning in its depiction of the horrors that gay kids can experience and the depression and isolation that can be brought on by bullying and intolerance.

Dedicated to “any child who has ever felt such darkness due to others’ hatred and misunderstanding,” this film is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever felt excluded and shine a light on the very real and serious pain experienced by many gay teens coming to terms with who they are.

For anyone who has ever wondered why gay kids need love, support and acceptance, this short film is a must-see.

Online dating: It’s here to stay, we might as well enjoy it

DerekTheClown entered my apartment yelling as I greeted him.  “Tower!” He screamed, apparently about the high-rise I live in with my parents, who were, mercifully, not there.  He brushed past me to dump his six pack of Red Cap on my kitchen counter and proceeded to go through my closet looking for second hand finds.  He selected a black and white Urban Outfitters dress, whipped off all his clothes and shimmied it over his shoulders; he looked like Fred Flintstone.  “I love you,” he said, then he kissed me, hard.

Derek looked exactly like he did in his photos – like the most beautiful and crazy person I had ever seen.  He had wildly long hair with a beard to match, sharp blue eyes and the tanned skin of a construction worker; I had to clench my jaw to keep from gawking at his physical attractiveness.  Clearly I had gotten lucky.  Derek’s photos are what initially led me to message him, as they painted a pretty accurate picture of his perfect physique and weird lifestyle.  Among them were a picture of his hairy face taken in a dirty bathroom mirror and another of him jumping over a fire wearing a loincloth.  I continue to hear horror stories from friends who have been on dates with people whose photos are a total misrepresentation or several years old.  “Yay!”, I remember thinking.

Clearly, I’m a bit of a risk-taker when it comes to online dating, and I am (or was) more than willing to invite strangers to my house for weird drunk/naked dance parties in an effort to find love.  But really, online dating is for mentally healthy people too.

The origins of online dating depend on who you talk to; there have been various iterations and attempts to match total strangers using computer algorithms, video interviews, or phone chats since these technologies have been taken on by the sad, lonely and entrepreneurial.  But none have come as close in popularity and user count as the online dating behemoths of today like Match.com, started in 1995, now even more gargantuan thank to buyouts of smaller competitors.

Now operating in 24 countries with millions of users, Match.com is likely the first place many people go when seeking out an online dating site; its net worth is estimated in the billions.  Definitely geared towards the mainstream, Match.com is successful in being everything to everyone.  Though it’s feels a little clunky, it feels like a deliberate demonstration that online dating is no longer cutting edge – perfectly suitable to you and your suburban house and Acer computer.

Of course, all dating sites, whether they have millions of users or just a small slice of the market pie, have a certain flavour and vibe.  Colloquially, eHarmony is for old farts that want to find true love, while AshleyMadison is for people that want to cheat on their wives with someone with a name like Ashley Madison, though they’ll probably end up screwing someone named Nancy who also drives a minivan.  There are the religious sites, like ChristianMingle and JDate which are also used by the secular-minded looking for stability (with the former) or wealth (the latter).  Then there are the free sites, the most popular being PlentyOfFish and OKCupid, which are both basically a sea of horny hipsters and thugs who live at home.

The differences between these dating sites are really reflective of what their creators were trying to accomplish –  eHarmony was founded with an eye towards lowering the divorce rate, so to sign up you are forced to answer an hours worth of personality questionnaires and can only view the profiles of people with whom you are compatible.  You also have to be pretty financially committed to finding romantic harmony, with a one month subscription running at about $60 a month with discounts if you sign up for longer.  OKCupid on the other hand was started by a crew of Harvard mathematicians and is thus focused on getting their users to answer questions of varying predictive value.  For example, answering yes to “Do you like the taste of beer” is highly predictive of whether someone will have sex on the first date.  Ultimately though, all of these sites are faced with the same problem: how to facilitate meetings between strangers.

I first heard about internet dating in a socially acceptable context back in 2011 when a good friend of mine introduced me to OKCupid.  She was using it to reach out to a demographic that was new to her – men.  Before her introduction I pretty much thought internet dating was for sad sacks looking “the one” because they were too weird for the real world, like WOWers, people with facial deformities, Asperger’s, or my Grade 12 World History teacher who unfortunately resembled a human mole, who I found on LavaLife.  When I first signed up and carefully created/curated my profile, it was like I had just discovered Facebook.  I was struck by the sheer number of “normal” people out there with pets and mothers and jobs who were waiting for me to click onto their profiles or send them a stupid message.  I was immediately hooked and began going on date after date after date – sometimes more than once in a night.

Of course, online dating isn’t all fun and fucks, sometimes people get raped and murdered.  Carole Markin famously sued Match.com to begin doing background checks on its users after she was brutally raped by a registered sex offender on their second date.  Even more notorious, the so-called Craigslist Killer (aka medical student Philip Markoff) was accused of three armed robberies and a murder, all of the victims reportedly having made contact with him via Craigslist personal ads.  What is clear about these terrible scenarios however is that they could have occurred in the context of “regular” dating too.  Just like in the non-virtual world, online dating requires some reliance on gut-feelings and best practices.  It’s probably not a good idea to go home with a stranger or invite them over for a first date.  In practice though, I have a hard time taking my own advice.

After Derek was settled into my dress and couch we drank a ton of beer, listened to music, made out and chatted a little bit.  This date was an after party for both of us, as he was coming from a concert and I had just been out on another date.  At some point we had to sleep so we took to my tiny tower-sized twin bed and cuddled until we drifted off.  The next day we explored Scarborough, shopping for thrift clothing and jewelry, talked about getting married and ate at Subway – Derek loved Subway, I think ironically but maybe not.  I found his stash of approximately 20 parking tickets.  Derek parked where he wanted to.  In hindsight I was totally falling for him but I kept it together reasonably well that first 24 hours and avoided acting like an obsessive teenager

I had promised that first date from the previous night that I would see him again, so later in the day I made up some story about a dinner party I had to go to and got Derek to drive me to his house.  (I literally will always wonder if this had karmic implications on the trajectory of my relationship with Derek, but more on that later.)  We tongued each other goodbye and he honked several times as I made my way up to the door of this other guy’s basement apartment.  At that point I knew I couldn’t give less than one shit about other dude and was excited for when I could see Derek again.

Derek and I dated for a whirlwind seven weeks of trips to Toronto Island, tours of his hometown, too-hip concerts and countless tall-cans of Old Milwaukee.  Finally, he dumped me, leaving me a total emotional mess.

Ultimately my experience with Derek taught me that it is actually possible to find love on the internet.  Though it didn’t work out between us, finding Derek on OKCupid refined my tastes, raised my standards and exposed me to one of the very best people in the world.  I am convinced that there is more of the same out there.  While I sometimes get frustrated after a few hours of progressive drunken but still boring conversation, I find some shallow comfort in the fact that there is always going to be another internet man rating me 5 stars.

Read this beautiful 40 year old missed connection right now

While we spend a lot of time here dishing on awful missed connections it is worth it every once in a while to pause and remember that the medium exists to help people find more than a cheap fling.

This missed connection — now 40 years gone since the time they first met — is a beautiful example of the reason that people write these things. Check it out and let us know what you think and if you have any suggestions to help him reconnect with her.

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Grand Central – November 1973 – m4w – 58 (Midtown)

In the fall of 1973 I was studying as a freshman at NYU, and after failing to make my initial train home to Maine, I was rushing through Grand Central on the evening before Thanksgiving 1973 when I spotted you, emerging from one of the railways, with a look of utter confusion on your face. You had the blondest hair I had ever seen, and a plaid dress. I had never seen a plaid dress before.
I was, in those days, terribly shy, and if I am honest with myself, I’ve never shook that stubborn sense of timidity or loneliness in crowds. To this day, trying to explain the uncharacteristic courageousness that seized me in that moment, and inspired me to walk up to you and say “are you lost?” is almost completely beyond me.
You were studying at Olberlin, and on your way to spend Thanksgiving with your aunt in Jersey City. After explaining to you where you could get a bus, I asked, in spite of knowing it would mean sacrificing my last chance to spend the holiday with my family (and likely infuriate my over-protective mother), if you wanted to get a drink and you said yes.
We walked out into a rainy Manhattan street and ducked into the first (cheap) bar we saw, where I ordered us two bottles of beer. Now in my 50’s, when with any luck a man might finally begin to acquire that elusive thing called wisdom, I know that there is nothing more exciting yet rare in life than making a true connection with someone. I have always been too sentimental for my own good, but in all honesty, I have never felt more at ease with anyone than I did laughing and talking to you that dimly lit midtown bar.
When I confessed that I purposefully missed my train to keep talking to you, you smiled slyly and said “well I guess it’s only fair that I miss my bus.” With no money for a cab, we walked to my Lower East Side dorm room, which was deserted aside from my German classmate Franklin, who kindly gave us a half-finished bottle of red wine.
We made love that night, and in the morning coached one another through shaky phone calls to our angry relatives back home. With the November cold turning the night’s rain into a dreary wintery mix, we stayed in bed all day, sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes, discussing politics and philosophy. You told me you had never felt “so New York before.”
That evening, you took a bus to Jersey City. A few weeks later I received a letter from California. You sent no return address, and I never saw you again.
I have been married twice since then – once divorced, and once widowed. I have had a successful career as an English professor, and am a proud father. My life has known its share of triumphs and heartaches, of love and loss. Against my better judgement, I haven’t forgotten that day – and, at least once a year, while mowing the lawn, or reading a newspaper, the details come back to me.
Perhaps, if life’s strange circumstances can permit it, we can have a second drink.

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There is nothing sadder than the ghost of what could have been, but the author of this missed connection treasures the time they spent together nonetheless.

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

No jail time for female B.C. teacher who molested 11 year old boy

A former school teacher from Langley, B.C. received a conditional sentence after pleading guilty to sexual interference with an child between the ages of 11 and 13 between 1998 and 2000. The teacher, who was 43, 44, and 45 at the time the crimes took place, will be submitting to 18 months of house arrest, community service, and a curfew.

The difference between this case and the moral outrage that normally accompanies cases of child molestation is that the teacher, Deborah Ralph, now 59, is a woman and her victim was a young boy.

TheProvince reports that her crimes included kissing, touching, cuddling, and oral sex with the child, who was not her student at the time. Like many high profile cases of child molestation where the perpetrator is a female teacher and the child is a young boy a psychiatric report portrayed Ralph as a woman who saw herself in a consenting romantic relationship with the boy.

Justice Selwyn Romilly didn’t view Ralph as a typical predatory child molester saying that she was at a low risk of re-offending and that “she is at a very different point in her life after a great deal of introspection and emotional growth.”

The decision handed down by the judge clearly notes that the sex of the offender influenced the ruling, stating that  “Ms. Ralph’s sexual behaviour with the victim was not consistent with that of a predatory paedophile. Instead the category of female sex offender into which her offending falls is recognized in the literature as the “teacher/lover” who sees herself as part of a consenting romantic relationship with an adolescent and does not recognize any abusive behaviour. However the behaviour clearly violates the normal boundaries present in the teacher/pupil relationship”

What many people fail to realise is that this situation and ones like it show a problem with the advances of modern feminism. While women have fought for years to dispel the image of the mother, the child, the nurturer, or the emotional and docile female the case of Deborah Ralph shows that the courts haven’t yet caught up.

Feminists need to be fighting not only to dispel these notions to protect the advancement of women in the workplace and society, but to ensure harsher penalties for sexual predators who happen to be women to protect our own families, the families of others, and the community as a whole.

 

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Let us know what you think. Should female paedophiles receive equally harsh sentences?

Newsflash: March 26, 2014

In honour of tonight’s Toronto mayoral debate Yahoo News came up with Mayoral Debate Bingo, complete with all the phrases you love like Old Politics, Jack Layton, Downtown Relief Line, Pride Parade, Scarborough Subway, and Bike Lanes. This might be the easiest game of bingo you’ve ever played.

Pauline Marois was schooled by a bunch of high school kids who know what they’re talking about. The Quebec Charter of Values has been a debate in the province and around the rest of the country for a while now and the popularity of the charter others view as racist or bigoted has helped the PQ even in the midst of endless bad press. Good thing these kids have a decent understanding of rights and liberties and throw down the hammer by quoting Marois’ own 1997 education act’s enshrining of respect for other cultures. Hey Mme Marois, maybe it’s time to go back to school.

John Tory says he has a plan for a new north-south subway in Toronto. The details are sparse, but he says he can pay for it somehow and we’ll find out how… sometime before the end of the campaign.

Rob Ford has been snubbed from the Garrison Ball this year after becoming famously (and belligerently) drunk when he attended last year. Although he’s hinted he might crash the party organizers have made it clear that only ticket holders are welcome and RoFo certainly does not have a ticket.

One of Ontario’s most controversial mayors has taken leave. No, not Ford. Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell is the highest paid mayor and has been under fire recently for lavish expenses and also taking a secret pay cut. former MPP Linda Jeffrey left the Ontario cabinet to run against her in the upcoming municipal election.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin broke up and were immediately made fun of by everyone because they called in ‘conscious uncoupling.

There is going to be a Miss Congeniality TV series produced by Gracie Hart herself Sandra Bullock and it will be amazing.

There’s a Snickers ad about empowering women that’s actually a bit sexist

Snickers Australia decided to have some fun with the idea of construction workers putting aside cat calls and lewd remarks for empowering statements and encouragement to professional women.

Christopher Hooton at Independent, however, thinks the commercial spot might have sexist undertones.

In the last frame of the advertisement the Snickers tagline “You aren’t you when you’re hungry” shows up, undermining the message that the commercial set out.

“The advert concludes with the slogan ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ however, suggesting that their actions have been those of someone driven crazy by hunger, and leaving a sour (and faintly peanuty) taste in the mouth of the viewer.

Let’s hope those builders get a Snickers in them soon so they can return to their usual lecherous antics eh? Maybe a Yorkie before they start treating everyone like equals!”

While the intention probably wasn’t to come across as sexist, when you take into account that previous ads in this campaign have included obnoxious celebrities acting awful when they don’t have their Snickers it does stand to reason that the nice behaviour of these construction workers might be viewed as another thing to be remedied with a quick snack.

 

What do you think, is the ad empowering, poorly executed, or sexist in the end?

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Prayers do come true: Sandra Bullock to produce Miss Congeniality TV show

Today there was finally definitive proof of a just and caring God, one who heard the countless prayers from women and gay men and looked down on us and said “Let there be more Miss Congeniality, and let it be plentiful and weekly” and it was so.

Yes, Hollywood sources say Sandra Bullock is planning on producing a comedic television series based around her character Gracie Hart from Miss Congeniality and Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous.

Fans of the original two movies thought they had hit the jackpot when Bullock donned an FBI bulletproof vest, albeit as a different character, in last summer’s The Heat, but just as soon as we were ready to accept it as an unofficial third installment in the Miss Congeniality franchise we learned that Gracie Lou Freebush will live on in the Bullock produced series.

A source told TheSpec “Sandra loved her ‘Miss Congeniality’ FBI agent character Gracie Hart and the concept so much that for years she has continued to keep up friendships with FBI agents she met while researching it. Sandra loves that real FBI agents, particularly female ones, continue to respond to and write her letters about both ‘Miss Congeniality’ and ‘The Heat’.”

Yes please.

 

‘Bollywood Logic’ infographics tackle violence against women in India

In the past few years the rest of the world has been startled awake to the long simmering issue of sexual violence and violence against women in India with high profile gang rape cases and terrifying statistics showing lax safety for women, an issue that the new feminist Bollywood movie The Pink Sorrys attempts to address by incorporating violence, dance numbers, and punk rock into the framework of a traditional Bollywood movie to start the conversation.

Check out these infographics juxtaposing Bollywood tropes with harsh realities for women in India and let us know what you think, can a Bollywood style film jump start awareness for women’s issues in India?

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