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Male victims of sexual assault often ignored

On Feb. 8th, a 28-year-old woman in Vaughan was charged with sexually assaulting a male student. The allegations are being investigated by the York Regional Police after someone came forward with information about a supply teacher for the York Catholic District School Board who had a sexual relationship with a teen between October and December 2017.

The supply teacher was employed occasionally since 2014. She is being charged with three counts of sexual assault and three counts of sexual exploitation.

Stories like these are rarely reported. The idea of a woman sexually assaulting a man is something many can’t fathom, but it does exist. According to a 2012 UCLA study, 38 per cent of all rape and sexual assaults are committed against men. The Canadian Children’s Rights Council, a non-profit that advocates on behalf of Canadian children, estimates that 86 per cent of these victims are dismissed, which leads to an increasing amount of unreported incidents.

There is also evidence that the number of sexual violence that occurs to men and women in their teens is rather similar — a difference between one in five and one in four.

“While the majority of sexual abuse is by males on females, anyone can be a victim of sexual trauma,” the men’s trauma centre in Victoria, B.C. says on their website. “Research suggests that between 20 and 30 per cent of all male children are sexually abused before the age of eighteen.”

“Despite the media stories of male survivors of abuse that have come out over the past few years, many people remain unable or unwilling to respond to this problem and the long term damage it creates both individually and at a societal level.”

The stigma associated with male victims of sexual assault if much different than that of women. While people think a woman may have “deserved it” for leading a guy on or acting in a way that could be described as promiscuous, it is assumed a man is enjoying whatever experience he is thrust into. That complaining about being forced to have sex is something a man would never do, and therefore it is not possible for a man to be raped or sexually harassed.

While it may be more rare for an adult man to be sexually victimized, it does happen, and those cases should be treated with the same level of respect and consideration as other stories shared in the MeToo movement.

Stick to your knitting Minnan-Wong, Keesmaat is out of your league

“Stick to your knitting.” Reaction to this phrase can be mixed — and it completely depends on the context in which it is used.

For example, using it in a business meeting to indicate that employees should play to their strengths while allowing others to do the same is a commonly acceptable use of the phrase. “Stick to the knitting” when used by a professional colleague to describe an incredibly accomplished woman who has her foot in all aspects of her craft can come across as derogatory, sexist, and downright rude.

Toronto Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong is being accused of sexism for using the phrase in relation to outgoing Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat in an interview with the Toronto Sun last week. Minnan Wong said this in response to Keesmaat’s use of Twitter and how she debates municipal affairs publicly on the platform.

The history of “stick to your knitting” is a bit obscure, but the phrase has been used widespread in the business community since the mid 1800s. Many business professionals use this phrase when giving advice to young entrepreneurs. Stick to what you know and let others stick to what they know. That way you have the benefit of different experience instead of pretending to be an expert in all fields.

And yet, many politicians get in trouble for using this common phrase — and it’s all because of the context. Especially considering most of the time it’s used to describe women.

Despite its history, the phrase in itself is slightly derogatory. The person who uses it is telling their co-worker they don’t value their opinions. As a woman, this is especially offensive because women fight hard to be heard in the first place. In the case of Keesmaat, she has expertise in city building and most of her tweeting revolves around different aspects of this field. To say she shouldn’t have an opinion on how the City of Toronto is run and/or built is a bit farfetched and, frankly, sexist.

There is also the democracy angle that makes the use of this phrase even more strange. Minnan-Wong decided that posting discussion on city affairs on Twitter was not appropriate, but isn’t public discussion a foundation of democracy? Keesmaat has previously told Women’s Post that defending her planning choices and discussing them with the public was a critical step for accountability. In that case, her activity on social media is an extension of her role as city planner and an active citizen.

“If you have planners gone wild you could end up in a totalitarian type of environment, so the due diligence that comes from the vigour of being questioned by councillors and by the public is an essential part of the planning process from my perspective,” she said.

Why shouldn’t Keesmaat, or any person for that matter, use social media as a platform for public discussion? If everyone on Twitter was told to stick to their knitting, then it would be a pretty boring place. The whole purpose of social media is to allow people to share information and opinions.

And then there is the final point — why would Minnan-Wong care about the social media habits of a city staff member who is leaving their position in a month’s time? The only reason to use this phrase is to remind them that once they leave city hall, their opinions shouldn’t matter. Well, what does that mean for the rest of us? I hope Minnan-Wong’s constituents don’t have any opinions they want to share or ideas they want to suggest, because it appears like he won’t be listening to them.

Ultimately, Minnan-Wong made the same mistake many politicians make — trying to create a sound bite using clichés, hyperbole, and commonly used phrases in order to capture the attention of the media and the public.

Looks like he did — just not in the way he expected.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Will replacing the OMB cause more problems?

The Ontario government is looking to replace the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) with something called the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.

The OMB is an independent adjudicative tribunal that conducts hearings and makes planning decisions on zoning bylaws, development proposals, subdivision plans, and ward boundaries. It has been around for over 100 years and has been criticized by some for its lengthy and costly process.

Despite these criticisms, the OMB is considered a positive third party officiate between developers and municipalities. The fear is that the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal may not have the same reputation.

One of the biggest challenges with the new tribunal is the elimination of the “de novo” hearings, which allows the OMB to consider municipal land use planning decisions as though no previous decision had been made. This is frustrating for city councils that may have already made a ruling on a development and it lengthens the hearings because all evidence has to be presented anew. It also gives the perception the OMB favours developers, despite this not being the case.

The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal is supposed to be independent and at an arms’ length from the government — but removing the “de novo” hearings will ensure the decisions of city councillors and/or provincial representatives are taken into consideration during appeals, effectively giving them more power than before.

Another example is the new appeal process. The tribunal will only be able to overturn a municipal decision if it does not follow provincial policies or municipal plans, unlike the OMB, which has power to overturn a decision if it isn’t considered the best planning decision. Instead of repealing the decision, the tribunal will then give the municipality 90 days to take new action based on that information. The tribunal will have a final say only if on a second appeal the plan still falls short of provincial policies. The idea is to give communities more control in land use planning.

The new legislation will also exempt a range of major land use planning decisions from appeal, including Official Plans to support transit areas like Go Train and subway stations or Official Plans (and their updates) that have been approved by the province, as well as minister’s zoning orders.

All of these changes to the appeal system are meant to try and reduce hearing times and encourage mediation. Since length and cost are the two biggest complaints about the OMB, this makes sense. However, the new tribunal also makes it difficult for developers to get their projects past councillors who may not approve of their blueprints despite it being the best planning option. It also limits hearings to policy rather than encourage innovation and creative thinking.

While the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal does include a number of interesting new policies that would encourage resident and community engagement, it is unclear how it will function as a third-party appeal agency.

The legislation in question, also known as Bill 139, “Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act “, has already passed the first reading in the Legislative Assembly.

What do you think of Bill 139? Will it help or hinder the system? Let us know in the comments below! 

EDITORIAL: What’s the value of an employee?

What’s the value of an employee? Better yet, what’s the value of a human life?

A few weeks ago, the Ontario Liberal government announced a plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 in the next few years. After the press releases were handed out, two things happened — low-paying workers rejoiced and businesses started complaining.

Small businesses argued they wouldn’t be able to stay afloat if they had to dedicate more funds to their employees. Larger industries also criticized the government’s decision, saying they will be forced to cut down on labour and raise the prices of their services.

As someone who understands the perils of living on minimum wage, I don’t exactly sympathize. But, it’s one thing to make a business-case argument and another to dismiss the value of having a hardworking (and well-paid) employee at all.

In Tuesday’s morning paper, I saw an advertisement doing exactly that.

In the ad, a woman is standing at a counter preparing to take a customer’s card and complete a transaction. The text reads: “The Ontario government has announced a devastating 31.6 per cent increase in the general minimum wage. Quick Service Restaurant operators now have a choice….More than $15.00/hour or only $2.50/hour.” The advertisement is for a self-serving order kiosk, by RT7 Incorporated. Under the picture of the machine is a list of benefits such as “never comes late”, “no coffee breaks”, “no overtime”, and “doesn’t complain.”

This advertisement isn’t about technology or the future of restaurants — it’s about an employer who thinks his/her workers aren’t worth the sick days and overtime pay. It’s about labelling everything that employee does as something not deserving of being fairly compensated.

And that is absolutely unacceptable.

Advertisements like this one are incredibly dangerous. It makes the assumption that every day human actions like getting coffee or getting sick are somehow of detriment to a company. That human beings, especially those paid minimum wage, complain too much and use social media (a.k.a. are irresponsible).

This is not a stereotype that should be allowed to spread.

As Ontario pushes forward this new legislation, it’s important to remember that employees are, more often than not, hard workers. Many have large student loans or families to support. They may have a second job or may be in school. All they want to do is be able to afford a place to live and food to eat. It’s not that much of an ask, right?

If a business can’t afford their employees, they shouldn’t be allowed to remain open. It’s as simple as that. And anyone who thinks a kiosk can replace a human being, obviously hasn’t had to call the cable company.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

How rejection has humbled me

So get this. During your lifetime, you will come across people that won’t exactly love you. Heck, they won’t even like you. The very thought of you doing well in life will cause anguish in theirs. And while some people have come to terms with this very early on, realizing it’s just a part of life, I, myself, am just learning this. And dear Lord, it’s quite the humbling experience.

I try to be a good person. Plus, I’m cute. So my first wave of rejection came as a shock. What’s there not to love about me? I carry myself with poise, demonstrate kindness and sincerity, and have just the right amount of confidence. I bring this confidence to all my relationships. I made sure he saw it. I wanted him to. I had feelings for him after all. But after a couple of months, we decided a romantic relationship wasn’t going to work out due to a number of uncontrollable reasons, including distance. Despite the circumstances, we continued speaking anyways. I was hooked. He was my drug. I told myself he was hooked on me too. He had to be.

Then, fate took over. I came across his profile on a dating app my friend had recently signed up for. I read his bio. I read his willingness to move abroad. I read he was looking for a confident, ambitious, smart, funny, and crazy woman. Confident. Ambitious. Smart. Funny. Crazy. I read it over and over again, never feeling smaller then I did at that moment. The confidence I brought to that relationship wasn’t enough. Neither was the ambition. Nothing was. He didn’t find anything he was looking for in me.

It was humbling.

The problem is, I’m a people pleaser. I will bend over backwards to get people to like me, sometimes putting my own priorities at jeopardy. I’ll let my own deadlines slide, or sacrifice that one thing I was saving up for to do something for someone else. It’s the norm I’ve grown up knowing. So after putting in 110% to a relationship that was never really a relationship to begin with, I realized how much I cared for him. What I didn’t realize, was that I was expecting something in return. What I didn’t realize, was that, instead, I was being used as a scapegoat to fill the emotional needs of this person while he was searching for something better.

It was humbling.

I wasn’t as selfless as I thought I was. As I heard in a movie once (because romantic comedies are always credible), unrequited love is actually an immensely powerful feeling. Because unlike other relationships, it doesn’t need to be shared by two people. You have sole proprietorship over it. I gained a little strength from this, but I quickly concluded it was complete bull sh*t. Love feels better to share. Love feels better when its reciprocated. There’s something about it that makes you glow. Inside and out.

Unfortunately, its human nature to want what you can’t have. Even if you were blessed with anything you’ve ever wanted and more, you’ll still want that one thing you weren’t meant to obtain. Your heart will tell you he’s the only one for you, and you’ll genuinely start to internalize this. But then you’ll come to realize….maybe you’re not the one for them.

And its humbling.

Grilling: from revolution to togetherness

It’s almost here — yes, I’m talking about barbecue season. For most Canadians, this is a year-round phenomenon, but for the less brave or cold tolerant, the beginning of Spring usually means it’s grillin’ time!

Why all the excitement? Well, grilling is more than what sears on the grate. It’s the experiences lived, memories created and the friends and family brought together sharing the common love of great, grilled food. It’s for burgers and buddies and being social without the media.

That’s the passion of Weber!

Rewind to 1952, when a man named George Stephen, a sheet metal worker at Weber Brothers Metal Works in Chicago who also happened to have a passion for grilling, sparked a backyard revolution in America with the invention of the first Weber Kettle charcoal grill. This first-of-its-kind covered kettle barbecue quickly gained a loyal audience with Stephen eventually buying out the company, changing the name to Weber-Stephen, and devoting all of his professional time to manufacturing and selling Weber kettle grills. But he didn’t stop there! In 1985, Weber again revolutionized outdoor grilling with the introduction of the Genesis gas grill, replacing grease-catching lava rock found in other gas grills with a unique Flavorizer system designed to eliminated flare-ups. The food drippings that hit the specially-angled hot Flavorizer bars are vaporized back into the foods for that great barbecue flavour. The juices that don’t vaporize are directed away from the burner tubes into a catch pan at the bottom of the grill making clean-up a breeze. Another revolutionary invention from Weber!

Thirty years later, Weber’s most loved grill just got better! The new, show-stopping Weber Genesis II line of gas grills has been thoughtfully and carefully designed to provide backyard chefs with the ultimate outdoor cooking experience.

Equipped with the new and innovative GS4 high performance grilling system—the heart of every grill in the line—Genesis II grills are available in 2, 3, 4 and 6 burners so there’s one to fit every lifestyle and budget, giving you more reasons to bring everyone together.

Explore the new Weber Genesis II here! 

Bluetooth technology takes the guesswork out of grilling

Genesis II grills also come equipped with something called iGrill 3, a cutting-edge Bluetooth thermometer that makes grilling easier, more convenient, and a whole lot smarter. It’s the perfect solution for the 84 per cent of backyard chefs who are afraid they will fail at the grill. The Weber iGrill 3 monitors the internal temperature of food from beginning to end, sending grilling data to your iOS or Android device and notifying you once your food has reached the perfect temperature. The Weber iGrill 3 is exclusively compatible with the new Weber Genesis II grills in that it fits in a water-resistant docking station positioned on the front of each grill. It includes two temperature probes, which can be adaptable to four probes so you can monitor almost anything you grill including steak, chicken, fish or roasts – giving you perfect results each and every time.

For charcoal lovers, the heat is on with new all-natural hardwood briquettes

“The charcoal segment continues to grow dramatically in Canada with 90 per cent of charcoal grillers saying they want charcoal that lasts longer while providing consistent heat,” said Patricia Larez, vice-president marketing, Weber-Stephen Canada.

The new Weber Briquettes do just that, outperforming other charcoal fuel on the market. Weber Briquettes provide consistent heat and are made from 100 per cent all natural hardwood. They do not include any unwanted chemical binders or fillers and they produce less ash.

They are also conveniently packaged in a weather-protected re-sealable bag that features a handy zip top to help protect charcoal from rain or snow.

Become a backyard hero!

If you are looking to upgrade your grill skills, look no further than the Weber Grill Academy, the first and only school of its kind dedicated to grilling. The Grill Academy, located in Vaughan, Ontario, offers regularly scheduled public grilling classes and is also available for special events. Whether it the “back to basics” approach to charcoal grilling, learning how to smoke the perfect brisket, or simply improving your technique at the gas grill, Weber Grill Expert and Celebrity Chef Michael P. Clive teaches a variety of classes that are sure to get you fired-up for grilling season. Classes are held year round and are always a great, hands-on, edutaining grilling experience.   Each class offers three hours of grilling instruction and when finished, you’ll eat your grilled creation and take home your leftovers!

Visit webercanada.ca for product information and to sign up to receive fresh off the grill news!

When a sexist comments on Women’s Post

Last week, Women’s Post published an article about the success of Canada’s female athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. It was a great piece and it received a fair amount of attention from our sport-fan readers.

However, Monday morning I opened up my computer to check the website’s status and found something shocking underneath that very article: a comment by Roosh V, North America’s favourite hateful misogynist.

At Women’s Post, we have a strict policy in regards to our comment section. We will publish almost anything. It doesn’t matter if opinions differ, but as long as the comment is not hateful, sexist, or racist, we will publish it.

Women’s Post will NOT be publishing Roosh V’s comment.

The comment includes a link to an article published on his website Return of Kings, where he writes about how women shouldn’t win real medals in the Olympic Games, rather they should be awarded “a giant knockoff of that cheap Hanukkah gelt (chocolate gold coins) that Jewish children get for the holiday season.” The post goes on to say that women are the weaker sex and shouldn’t be considered real athletes.

Before deciding to delete the comment, the staff at Women’s Post got together to express their concerns and their frustrations. As women ourselves, we had a lot of reasons for wanting to address Roosh V in an article on our website. We wanted to let him know exactly what we thought of his activist group and his theology. At the same time, we didn’t want to give his organization legitimacy by acknowledging it and linking to the post.

But, the biggest question we asked ourselves was this: should we let our personal feelings dictate what our readers — which I still can’t believe includes Roosh V — write in our comments? After much discussion, the answer in this particular case was yes.

The post Roosh V included in his comment was everything that Women’s Post despises. It was hateful with no purpose. It took obscure facts and altered them to make women sound like pathetic and weak creatures that need to be coddled and taken care of by strong, athletic men. It argued that women have no place in society other than staying in the home and taking care of a man’s needs. And finally, it demeaned the vast accomplishments women have made over the last week and a half. It was sexist and hateful — and therefore has no place on this website.

To solidify this argument, let me say this. These types of activist groups and comments are not welcome here at Women’s Post. We will not give them credence. We will not allow them to insult or offend women using our publication. There is no wiggle room.

Women’s Post has written about Roosh V previously, but this will be the last. We refuse to waste more precious space and time defending our choices against a man who thinks women are scum.

And that’s all we are going to say about that.

Decorating for the holidays

By Leslie Whatmough

The season for entertaining is upon us. Although I enjoy taking time out of my regular routine to get together with friends and family, I find the thought of entertaining a little daunting. It is not the menu or the music that concerns me, rather it is simply the concern of how to fit everyone in, comfortably.  Indoor entertaining raises a host of logistical problems for many households . Homes that easily accommodate the everyday functions of a family may be inadequate for entertaining larger groups. The secret to a holiday of stress-free entertaining this year may just be a little creativity.

For me, food and drink are the backbone of every great get together, so my holiday preparations focus on the dining areas of my home. Our kitchen has a small breakfast counter which can double for a serving area for buffet functions. Otherwise we use the dining end of the great room. This grandiose term does not adequately describe the unused end of the living room that we chose to use for a dining room.  When we first planned the room arrangements of our new house we realized that our home office needs would be best suited by reassigning the dining room. Then we divided the overly large living room into two separate spaces, visually, to gain a dining area with  a lovely view of the backyard. The space is compact, but functional for everyday use. We chose an oval table with sentimental value as the heart of our room. My father built the pine table top when he and my mother needed space for their five children and they couldn’t afford to purchase anything fancy. It has been the centre of many a celebration.  I am a big fan of oval tables, especially ones with a pedestal base. There are no legs to get in the way of the dining chairs and no one feels like they are hanging off a corner. The one drawback with them is that they do not easily connect with another table if more seating is needed. Should you be in the market for new dining furniture, current trends in design feature tables with leaves or other expandable designs to solve space problems.

Another trend that appeals to me is the demise of the matching dining suite. It appears that more people prefer to find individual pieces that suit their unique spaces. Mismatched chairs around the dining table are becoming common, though there is a preference for matching the two end chairs. My first consideration for a chair is comfort, second is size. Tiny chairs are not practical or comfortable for most people, but space does dictate that smaller chairs will allow more people around the table.

The dining room needs to be a functional food service space, so additional surfaces are needed to store dishes and act as the traditional sideboard. Non-traditional pieces are my preference for this function. Old hutches reflect a country decorating style while dressers and other low pieces like old stereo cabinets could be incorporated to evoke a retro feel in a more modern setting. The choice of lighting also helps to define an era or evoke a mood. Chandeliers are popular right now and as a result there is a wide assortment available, from traditional to modern.

I have noticed that many people seem to be afraid to treat the dining room like other rooms in the house. There is often either a lack of decoration or an overly formal mood that does not match the rest of the home. I find it helpful to examine the decor in my favorite restaurants when I think about decorating the dining room. I believe that form follows function. If the room is inviting people will naturally gravitate to it. A room does not have to be large to be effective.

So as this holiday approaches I will have to make some decisions about whether we follow the tradition of a sit-down dinner or perhaps a buffet will be more practical. I prefer to sit at a table so maybe I will rearrange my “great room” to accommodate a number of smaller tables and really go with that restaurant feel. The possibilities are intriguing.

What if he were a she?

The media response to Leonardo Di Caprio recent appearance would have been much worse if he were a woman

Recently the trash tabloids reported that Leonardo Di Caprio was seen leaving a night club with 20 women in tow. Most of the reports pointed out how surrounding himself with vacuous faces was pathetic, but all seemed to take glee in his exploits. Imagine how much harsher the reports would be if  he  had been a she.

Take the statement below for example and replace his name with a woman the public sees as sweet and innocent – Anne Hathaway — and try to imagine the tabloid reaction.

Leonardo DiCaprio Anne Hathaway reportedly left a nightclub in Miami last night with 20 women in tow. The tone of the coverage of this mass exodus from the VIP room has been gleeful, fist pumping, and congratulatory.

anne-hathaway-ebola-fear

Had he been a she the tone of reporting would have been much harsher. If a woman were seen leaving a night club with 20 men in tow the narrative reporters would use would include words like, slutty, a tramp, or a woman desperate for attention. They might also throw that she was crazy, or not operating with a full deck

Why is it that we are still bogged down by these archaic social customs?

The answer is simply that the media has become little more than a microphone to broadcast our crudest and most spiteful responses to those who break with social customs. To expect more from these reporters is naïve and ignores the fact that our individual responses and standards are what should be questioned.

So the next time you read a gossip column telling you that a woman is slutty, crazy or both question the very notion of the words they have used to describe her and then shut down your computer, pick up a copy of Vagina by Naomi Wolf and read it.