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Why are reporters still describing female athletes as ’emotional’?

Last week, fans were shocked to hear that well-respected coach John Herdman will be leaving the Canadian women’s soccer team and heading up the men’s national team.

Herdman has led the women’s soccer team to two Olympic bronze medals and two CONCACAF champions, as well as numerous other international wins. The Canadian women’s soccer team is a force of nature, and is the only Canadian olympic team to win medals two Games in a row.

But, the article I’m going to write is not about Herdman himself or his move to the men’s team. Instead, it is about an article written in the Toronto Sun by Kurt Larson that diminishes the women’s soccer team’s accomplishments and frames Herdman’s transition as a step up within the industry.

The article itself contains a number of condescending remarks, but the top zingers are these:  “Matches aren’t won via athleticism and emotion as they are in the women’s game. Results are secured through tactics and technical ability on the men’s side” and “The source invoked San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the site of Canada’s infamous 8-1 loss, as being far different from playing at BC Place in front of thousands of screaming pre-teens, donning red face paint and Christine Sinclair jerseys. Simply put: The stakes are higher on the men’s side.”

Herdman’s experience with the women’s team far outweighs the capabilities of the former men’s soccer coach over the last few years. The women’s team has gone to the olympics to win medals while the men’s soccer team…well, they haven’t competed on that stage in a while.

My household is full of soccer fans. I often come down in the morning to the sport being played on television on Saturday mornings. I’ve watched the men play and I’ve watched the women play. I can personally tell you the women are stronger players on many levels. Their athleticism, their sportsmanship, and their skill far outweigh what I’ve seen at a men’s soccer game.

I urge you to watch a game for yourself. When the women are knocked to the ground or hurt, they get back up immediately and jump into the game with a level of ferocity unseen on the men’s playing ground. The men? Well, they hang on to their ankle and shed crocodile tears until the referee calls for a free kick. Is that the “tactic and technical skills” this reporter was talking about? If so, I’m not sure that is something to celebrate.

This year, people are celebrating the strength of women — and yet reporters are still using words like “emotion” to describe female athletes. My question is why? What makes a female athlete so damn more emotional than a male athlete? They both put their heart, soul, and body on the line each time they compete. They each try their best to represent their team and country on an international stage. And yet, every year some journalist seems to fit the word “emotion” into a sentence about a female athlete, despite the only difference being reproduction organs. It’s incredibly disappointing.

The Sun even admits their own feelings for female athletes when they explain why Herdman is so respected. “He even showed a bit of fire last year when he took the Toronto Sun to task over not covering his women’s team with the same enthusiasm it covers the men.”

I guess nothing’s changed.

Featured Image taken for Canada Soccer.

Do Toronto women need another gender-flipped film?

The trailer for the gender-flipped Ocean’s 8 movie dropped last week.

It does look good. The cast is amazing — Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling and Rihanna to name a few — and the one-liners made me chuckle. I was a fan of the original Ocean movies, so I will probably see this one. It is being described as not a remake, but rather a spin-off or a sequel. It follows the storyline of Debbie Ocean, sister of Danny from the original films, who wants to steal an incredibly expensive diamond necklace worth one or one and a half billion dollars (unclear). She assembles seven other women to help with the job.

This is the second “gender-flipped” film set to be released. The first was the all-female Ghostbusters reboot and there are rumours of more on their way.

While I’m all for seeing films with strong female characters, I have to wonder why they are all remakes or sequels to pre-existing films in which the cast was dominated by men? Can anyone come up with a movie script that has a predominately female cast, with complex characters and a decent storyline. Wonder Woman was a good film, but those characters were also pre-existing in lore and comics.

Other original films revolve around romance or motherhood — and most of them are really terrible. They tend to make fun of women more than they empower them. What the world needs isn’t another remake, but rather an intense drama or action film with a diverse range of female stars. Preferably, this original film would be written, directed, and produced by a woman. 

I know it may be a long time until something like this is produced. But, I think the challenge is worth it. In light of feminism being the word of the year and sexual harassment being the story of the year, maybe it’s time to start considering real, strong women as inspiration in film.

Hey Toronto – Santa’s sleigh is pulled by women!

According to the Chicago Zoological Society, Santa’s sleigh is most likely pulled by some seriously strong female reindeer!

I saw this statement on Facebook last week; although I didn’t know it was a legitimate conversation scientists were having.

This is the rundown: Reindeer loose and grow a new rock of antlers each year. Adult reindeer lose their antlers in early December, while female reindeer lose their antlers in the summer. According to the Chicago Zoological Society, their rack of antlers stay longer so they can protect their babies from predators.

In every image of Santa’s reindeer, they have antlers. Therefore, if the Chicago Zoologist Society is correct, this means that all the reindeer who pull Santa’s sleigh may be women! Strong, powerful, and magical women!

Of course, some may still be male, as not all male reindeers shed their antlers right on schedule. But, I like this theory better!

Introducing Jodie Whittaker, the first female Doctor Who

The next Time Lord will be a woman!

Fans of Doctor Who were surprised over the weekend with the announcement that Jodie Whittaker, an actress most known for her role in the BBC drama Broadchurch, will be stepping into the role of the thirteenth doctor! This makes her the first female lead of the 50-year-old television show.

The Doctor, an adventurer who flies around in his time-travelling phone box saving the world with a number of different companions, has always been a man — albeit an eccentric man. After such a long sting, I have to admit it’s hard to imagine the character as a woman.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so. The decision itself has caused a lot of controversy. Long-time fans have said they will no longer watch the show now that the lead is female. The Internet has blown up with sexist remarks and angry sentiments from fans completely distraught that the BBC has decided to change a long-standing tradition of making The Doctor a man. A bit of an overreaction I think.

I, for one, am excited to see where Whittaker takes Doctor Who. While it will be an adjustment, sometimes change is a good thing. There has been a call for a female Doctor Who for years, and honestly, if the BBC decided to hire another white male actor, there probably would have been just as much of an uproar from female fans.

But, I really don’t understand the controversy. Doctor Who, for the most part, has always been a gender-friendly television show. It was only a few seasons ago the writers decided to make The Doctor’s nemesis a woman, despite years of the character being played by a man. I don’t remember such negativity on the Internet when Missy showed up instead of The Master.

And then, there are the companions.

The female companions were always strong-willed characters that were able to keep the madman of a Doctor in check. They asked questions, never assuming the Doctor knew what he was doing, and stood up to him when he was being selfish or high-tempered. They were, and still are, critical parts of the show. Never has a female companion simply become the love interest. In a refreshing twist for a television show, romance is just not part of The Doctor’s charm. Even The Doctor’s wife had to work hard for a little bit of action, and she played a much larger role in saving the world than she did as a lover.

Then there was Captain Jack Harkness, who was the first openly non-heterosexual character on the show. His portrayal of bisexuality (although in 2017 terms he would probably best be described as pansexual) inspired so many people that he was re-cast in the role as the lead for the spin-off series Torchwood.

And finally, in the latest Doctor Who series, writers introduced the first female gay companion.

After all of these transformations, there was nowhere else for Doctor Who to go. Having a female Doctor was necessary and should give the BBC the opportunity it needs to bring a new and refreshing take to the show after the last 50 years. Personally, I think all fans should hold their opinions until they see Whittaker in action.

But, I’m still left with one question. Considering the companions of the story are the real heroes of Doctor Who: will Whittaker’s partner in crime be male, or female? Sure, a powerhouse double female act would be absolutely amazing — but who else is itching for a male companion with a female Doctor? Or better yet, an alien!

 

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

In Her Voice: reflecting on female writers

Looking for something to do this week? Head to the Scotiabank Community Studio to listen to a number of strong women speak about their experiences writing a variety of fiction and non-fiction works. The conversation promises to be stimulating and controversial, touching on a number of topics varying from the realities of writing and publishing to the struggles of Indigenous peoples in light of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

In Her Voice is a festival that runs from June 15th to June 17th and features three-days worth of talented and inspirational female voices. The event, hosted by independent bookstore Ben McNally Books, is designed to showcase various female identities and perspectives. Each author will be given the opportunity to discuss the themes of their latest works.

Here is the schedule:

June 15
7 p.m. – Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. The Fact of a Body Presentation.

June 16
7 p.m. – Durga Chew-Bose and Scaachi Koul, interviewed by Fariha Roisin.

June 17
12 p.m. – S.K. Ali, Cherie Dimaline, Jane Oxkowski. Young Adult Writers Presentation
2 p.m. – Patricia Lockwood. Priestdaddy Presentation.
4 p.m. – Myra Tait, Kiera Ladner. Surviving Canada Presentation.

For more information or to get tickets to these presentations, click here.

 

Do you have a favourite female author? Let us know in the comments below!

Remembrance Day has never been more important for women

There are moments in history where women have proven themselves to be forces of change. These moments give me goose bumps — when I think of what these women fought for, what they sacrificed so I could be in this position: a woman editor of a news publication, a woman who can vote, and a woman who has equal rights.

On this Remembrance Day, I’m reminded of the role women played during the war efforts. They worked in construction, took over their husbands’ jobs in farms and factories, and manufactured shells and ammunitions for the men overseas. They sold souvenir stamps and knit clothing for military personnel. Throughout both World Wars, over 50,000 women joined the Canadian Armed Forces. They served as soldiers, nurses, and artists.

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Their contributions not only played a large part in the success of the war effort, but it also helped laid the foundations for women’s movements to come. These were the same women who fought for the vote and the opportunity to work alongside a man. They set the groundwork for women to become active members of the military. They were just as brave as the men on the front lines.

Last year, I wrote a piece about how Remembrance Day is impacting future generations. Groups of students and families with young children gathered at Queen’s Park around 11 a.m. to watch as veterans and politicians acknowledged the sacrifice of Canada’s men and women in uniform — the people who fought so that we could be free.

This year, I’m a bit more cynical. I still admire and respect every single person who contributed (and still contributes) to the Canadian military. But, as a society, I feel like Canada still as a long way to go.

7f5c68c6f4bea0b3cf89c090fd0a6c72Celebrating women in the military is often an afterthought —the words “and women” are thrown into most public speeches about military service and sacrifice, but very little is said about their dedication to the cause.

The women being celebrated on Remembrance Day sacrificed much more than anyone should have to. They served during a time when their service wasn’t recognized, where they were simply considered stand-ins for men who were being forced to go oversees. Women with pilot licences were still unable to serve in the war effort during the Second World War, despite being active members of the Royal Canadian Air Force – Women’s Division. So, why not recognize their service now?

 

While watching CBC’s live-stream of the ceremony in Ottawa, I noticed that their banner included a number of photographs from various war efforts, from the Boer War in 1899 to our peacekeepers and soldiers fighting against ISIS. The pictures are touching, but they also don’t include any women. No female veterans were interviewed prior to the ceremony either, or featured during the hour pre-show.

Over the last few years, instances of sexism and harassment against women in the military and the RCMP have been widely covered in the media. As of 2014, women only made up 14.8 per cent of the Canadian Armed Forces, 18.7 per cent in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and 18.4 per cent of the Royal Canadian Navy.

But, that doesn’t stop women from joining up. It doesn’t stop women from going through the training and overcoming all of those obstacles. And this should be celebrated and remembered.

The last year has been challenging for women. In the United States, women watched as a sexist man was elected President. In Canada, sexual assault cases were thrown out because the word of women could not be trusted. Female reporters are being targeted and attacked on air be men shouting obscenities. There is a real and inexcusable lack of respect for women, despite it being 2016.

On this Remembrance Day, let’s use this opportunity to renew our sense of togetherness and respect. Let’s honour the sacrifices of men and women equally, and continue to fight for total equality.

Let’s not let anyone’s service be forgotten or go unrecognized.

Lest We Forget.

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