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Celebrating Women: Ann Kaplan

Have you ever met a beautiful woman who seems to grow even more beautiful when she speaks? Ann Kaplan is a woman like this. She has an elegant business look and exudes a strong grace that I’ve only seen a few times in my life.

The more time you spend with Ann, the more her sense of humour and intelligence shines through. I was fortunate enough to meet her over a decade ago and since then I have watched as she built her business – iFinance – from the ground up in a predominantly male industry.  As I grew to know her,  I developed a sense of awe over the way she could think and handle hard, emotionally-exhausting life events and yet keep her sense of humour and desire to put others first. Her strength shone through at a time when others might have collapsed under stress of illness and family losses that saw her move from having six children to suddenly having eight.

When Olympic athletes talk about inner strength and endurance, my mind always turns to Ann, who seems to gain strength with each hurdle she jumps over.  I remember having lunch with her while she talked of all the pain and loss she had to cope with, and yet she could still smile and care about what was going on in my life. She draws strength from giving to all those around her.

Now, add to all of this the fact that she is one of the smartest women I have ever met and you start realizing that there are some great lessons you can learn from Ann. Just a few things I have learned from her are:  laugh as hard as you cry, focus on what you can give and not what it takes out of you, and always be able to laugh at yourself.

Ann Kaplan has become a success in business because she understands what is important in life.  She is the perfect example of someone who gives more than they receive, who values what she can do for others over what they will do for her. When thinking of what makes a woman beautiful, I think of Ann’s grace, her intelligence, and how her inside beauty seems to shine all the way through her.

I am lucky to have her as a friend. I think of her often and find myself thinking… now what would Ann do in this situation? I’ll never have her grace, but if I can try to come close to her level of kindness, I may just capture a small part of the beauty that surrounds her.

Election night from an American Canadian millennial

I moved to Toronto from the United States when I was only seven. Thus, being born in New York has become a fun fact rather than a life experience. New acquaintances are always intrigued, waiting to hear more about what my childhood was like in the streets of the city that never sleeps. However, the memories are scarce and the stories are blurry. For over a decade now, I’ve identified as a Canadian — American merely by passport. Home is where the Raptors are. Home is where the poutine is. Home is where Drake- sometimes- lives. The only time my identity changes is during the Summer Olympics. Because let’s face it, y’all are more into hockey, eh?

Over the past year, being American has never been more important. The entire world will be watching tonight as citizens decide the next President of the United States. The new leader of the free world. And given the fact that these same people are the ones that nominated Donald J. Trump as a presidential candidate to begin with — that’s a little frightening.

I did my civic duty and voted. I registered as an absentee voter, I received my ballot through email and I documented the whole process on Snapchat. The experience was rather anti-climatic, as everyone around me celebrated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first year anniversary in office – a man they can actually be proud of helping bring into power.

Given my choices, I was not satisfied by my vote. I would have liked to see someone who has the ability to change the political system. I would have liked to see someone who is going to have big answers to big problems instead of fighting over little issues. Or the wrong issues. I want big change.

So, I didn’t vote for Hilary Clinton. I just voted against Donald Trump. Clinton’s a liar and Trump’s a racist. Unfortunately, I voted for the lesser of the two evils. I voted based on the countless AJ+ videos and Buzzfeed articles I’ve seen on Facebook. I voted based on memes and tweets.

Because I am a millennial. I am a visible minority. And I am a woman. So I think it will make a lot of sense when I tell you that I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. As a millennial, I was raised to value tolerance. As a Canadian, I grew up around diversity. As a woman, I strive for optimism and authenticity.

Sure, it’s empowering to see a woman running for office as a feminist. However, Hilary Clinton lacks the authenticity and transparency that is required for a presidential candidate. I don’t understand her views and she doesn’t understand mine. For one thing, I do not wish to be seen as a ‘front line’ on domestic terrorism solely based on my faith. I’m a little busy. You know, on Netflix and stuff. It’s a millennial thing. You won’t understand.

However, I will admit that my generation is far from perfect. As millennials, we’re going to need to stop taking everything so lightly. As a millennial, I’m terrified that young voters will vote for Trump because ‘it’s funny’. I, myself, voted for the senator with the ‘cooler name’ due to my lack of knowledge about their policies — or existence. And although that wouldn’t be the case if American politics wasn’t arguably the biggest joke of the decade to begin with, it’s still unsettling to think that we’re the generation that’s looking for change without seeking it. And that itself has to change.

So, if you’re American — go vote! Because silence is also a form of politics.

What are your thoughts on the election? Let us know in the comments below! 

Fictional character to be UN ambassador for female empowerment

I’m very confused.

The United Nations has appointed Wonder Woman, a fictional character, as the honorary ambassador for the empowerment of girls and women. According to a press release, this means she “will be tasked with raising awareness about Goal 5 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.”

I’ve always been a big fan of Wonder Woman. There’s something incredibly satisfying about seeing an Amazon warrior outperform all of the male superheroes in the Justice League. She is strong, fierce, and completely independent. While other heroes need sidekicks or weapon experts, Diana Price just needs her wits (and maybe her lasso of truth).

But, does that mean I think this fictional superhero, no matter how iconic, should be representing the struggles of women in an international agency — no, it does not.

There are a lot of people fighting for the rights of women and young girls. There are people building schools in under-developed nations, working on gender parity in boardrooms, and fighting for a woman’s right to choose. There are those trying to end sex slavery and the forced marriage of young children. And yet, despite all of that, the UN, with the combined wisdom of political leaders from across the world, has chosen an imaginary character as the representative for women. Someone who can’t answer questions and doesn’t have to be accountable — because it’s just easier when they don’t’ have to deal with a real woman. Am I right gentlemen?

What makes me truly angry is that this whole scenario is likely a marketing stunt. DC Comics will be releasing a Wonder Woman movie next year, which means they will benefit from having the character’s photo plastered all over the world. The president of DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products was at the ceremony to support the new partnership and did not seem concerned that the position of ambassador was not given to an actual living-and-breathing human being.

“We believe that in addition to the exemplary work that amazing real women are doing in the fight for gender equality, it is to be commended that the UN understands that stories – even comic book stories and their characters – can inspire, teach and reveal injustices.”

I’m all for the power of comic books and stories, but when there are girls who are being banned from attending school, who can’t get jobs, and who are being sold for their bodies, is this really the time to get commercial? The world needs results, not an imaginary woman in a glorified metal bathing suit to act as a symbol of empowerment.

I am absolutely disgusted in this decision. If the UN was having trouble coming up with a name for the position of ambassador, they should have asked Women’s Post. I have a lengthy list of women who would be better suited for the position than … well, no one.

While the decision to appoint Wonder Woman may have been intended as a symbol of power, all it’s done is show how far behind the United Nations is in terms of its goal of gender equality.

If the UN can’t think of a single woman who would be capable of empowering other women — then they have already failed.

 

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Are you fearful of a Trump presidency? You should be.

Note: offensive language to follow.

I can’t wait for the American elections to be over, but at the same time, I fear it. I fear the very real possibility that Republican candidate Donald Trump could be the next President of the United States.

The man is a racist, a bigot, a misogynist, and just plain stupid. He has no real policy other than “kill ISIS” and can’t frame a sentence with any sort of grammatical structure.

Despite his lack of policy, ideas, or genuine political experience, what really bothers me is his attitude. He doesn’t give a shit about the job of president. He just wants the power that comes with it (and probably the money).

Trump’s actions speak louder than the words he constantly spits out in front of the camera. “No one respects women more than I do,” he says into the microphone just days after a video was released showing him saying he likes to kiss women without their permission and “grab (women) by the pussy.” He retorted in a non-apology by saying this was “locker room talk.”

This, my fellow readers, is the definition of rape culture: thinking it’s okay to talk about violence against women (which by the way inspires real violence against women) and then not acknowledging anything is wrong.

But, Donald Trump doesn’t care about rape culture; just like he doesn’t care about women, immigrants, the poor, and, well, anyone who isn’t white and wealthy. It’s obvious to anyone with a heart beat that all he wants is the position — so that he can prosecute who ever he wants and do whatever he wants. For a man who is probably on the verge of bankruptcy, despite the $14 million loan his father gave him, the office of the presidency is a jackpot; it’s nothing more than a chair and a paycheque.

Sadly, here’s the rub: it doesn’t matter what the media says or how ridiculous an answer Trump gives people during the public debates. It doesn’t matter that Hillary Clinton is much more qualified and has to demonstrate these qualifications with Trump looming over her in an intimidating manner. The people who support Trump will vote for him no matter what, and that is where my fear comes from.

The way he talks makes people afraid of the world, and therefore people are willing to throw away common sense for someone who says they will protect them from those evils. These evils could be immigrants, terrorists, and yes, even women.

If Trump is elected President come Nov. 8 (Not the 28th as he has claimed), the United States will de-evolve — it will no longer be known as a country with freedoms for everyone. It will no longer be a country others respect. In fact, it will be a country everyone (even Canada) fears.

 

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What did you think of Sunday night’s debate? Let us know in the comments below!

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What is a “women’s publication?”

As the editor of a women’s publication, I often struggle with its content. Should I appeal to the masses and publish fashion and beauty tips, tips for great sex, or outline the best weight loss diets? Or should I break the mould?

When Women’s Post was founded in 2002, it was done so with a single purpose — to showcase talented women across Canada. The founder of this publication, Sarah Thomson, started it after noticing the disappointing selection of magazines targeting women. They were all pitting woman against woman, competing for the newest fashion trends and workout regimes.

Women’s Post was meant to show that women are interested in more than just their looks. The publication would feature profiles of professionals, asking what they do to help other women succeed in their respective industries. Since then, Women’s Post has grown into so much more. We still feature talented women and have a clear focus on mentorship, but we also publish articles on city politics, the environment, technology, business, and, yes, fashion.

I draw the line at weight loss diets though.

The key is balance — admitting that women are interested in a variety of things, whether that is the latest hairstyles and trends or the rising stock prices. It’s also about recognizing the influential power the media has on women, particularly young girls.

An image has been circulating social media over the past few weeks that has caused a lot of outrage, both inside and outside the newsroom. The image shows the front page covers of two different magazines: “Girls Life” and “Boys Life”.

Girls Life focused on makeup, hair, and overall beauty tips while the Boys Life cover featured job opportunities in the sciences and in technology. While the magazines are not owned by the same company, it displayed some of the blatant gender differences that are engrained in the media.

In Canada, we do a slightly better job. Our “women’s magazines” have articles that encompass a variety of interests, from work advice to recipes. Of course, there will always be specific fitness and health magazines that target specific female demographics, but Canadian publications seem to understand they don’t need to compete with these pre-existing celebrity gossip magazines.

Women’s Post proudly joins the list of Canadian news organizations that have come to understand that gender doesn’t dictate interests. But, I’m even more proud to be part of a publication that also focuses on making sure others know this too. Women’s Post profiles women from every profession, focusing not only on the challenges they had to overcome to get where they are now, but also their many accomplishments.

Women compete enough without the aide of rows of magazines telling them they could be thinner or smarter. With an ever-growing wage gap and the constant discrimination women face in the workplace, isn’t it more important to celebrate womanhood rather than destroy it?

Women’s Post strives to not only be a publication that supports and showcases great women, but a publication where anyone, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, can find news that interests them. I truly believe this is the future of journalism — anything else is simply insulting, don’t you think?

Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany wins Emmy for Orphan Black

There were a lot of good things that came from Sunday night’s Emmy’s — but for me, the most exciting was that Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany won an award for outstanding lead actress in a drama series.

Yes! I am a part of the Clone Club fan base and I’m not afraid to shout it from the rooftop. But, more specifically, I am a huge fan of Tatiana Maslany.

Maslany plays over 10 different characters in the hit sci-fi television show Orphan Black. Her characters are all clones, but they lead unique and separate lives. They have individual looks, accents, and personalities. Maslany’s ability to make the audience actually believe she is playing different people is what makes her deserving of this award — in fact, I find it hard to believe that it has taken this long.

Not only does Orphan Black create a realistic and frightening portrayal of a world in which evolution can be hand-picked and where sentient beings are considered intellectual property, but it also deals with a number of gender-specific issues that a lot of television shows steer away from. Maslany has played a hot-tempered, single mom from London, England; an American police detective with a drug addiction; a traditional (but scary) soccer mom; a lesbian nerd and geneticist; a tortured Ukrainian assassin; and even a transgendered male. And that is just a list of SOME of the clones within the series. It seems every few episodes a new character is introduced into the plot.

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These characters not only fight to gain their independence and freedom from their creators, but they also represent strong and capable women (and men). What I love about the show is they don’t shove these gender roles, or rather the lack thereof, in your face. LGBTQ characters like clone Cosima and adopted brother Felix are simply there, existing along with everyone else, fighting for the same cause.

That may seem like a strange statement — to say that these characters are “simply existing.” But, in many television shows, writers will use LGBTQ characters as a way to introduce gay-or-lesbian-specific problems or conflicts. They stand out, becoming the quintessential and/or token “gay” or “lesbian” personas.

That is not the case in Orphan Black. If a character is gay, it’s considered a fact. That’s it. Instead of making their gender or sexual orientation a part of the plot, the show focuses on the larger storyline — keeping your family safe and implications of genetic manipulation.

And that’s how it should be.

Even Maslany, who has been nominated twice for the award, acknowledged this powerful part of her role during her acceptance speech. “I feel so lucky to be part of a show that puts women at the center,” she said amid her thank you’s.

I am overjoyed that Maslany has finally received the recognition she deserves for her role in Orphan Black. Every episode I watch, I find that I’m admiring her talents more and more. I don’t know another actress who is able to play such a variety of characters with such intensity, passion, and ability — and all within 45 minutes of television.

So, without risking spoilers, let me just say this: Maslany, congratulations on your Emmy! It is well deserved.

My beauty privilege makes me a bad feminist

“He probably just liked what he saw.”

The amount of times I’ve heard my friends and family say this to me after I’ve accomplished something big or small in my life is appalling. Whether it was getting out of a speeding ticket, bagging a new job, or even getting a discount on a new cellphone plan, it’s as if my skills and abilities to function as a member of society is downgraded due to my physical appearance. However, the more experiences I’m gaining as a young adult, the more I’m starting to see that beauty privilege may be an actual thing.

As a feminist, the concept slightly haunts me. Because while I strive for equality and credibility amongst the male gender, I also find myself being inert towards certain projects I take on, knowing that smiling a little brighter and flipping my hair a few extra times will get me the results I’m looking for. And although feminism is defined as the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men, I just don’t think it’s fair to get to that stance by playing on the opposite gender’s weaknesses. Think about it – have you ever seen Hillary Clinton with smoky eyes and red lipstick? I didn’t think so.

I’m not here to complain about my beauty, nor am I here to brag about it. I’m just here to say that I know my physical appearance aids in helping me getting places a nano-second faster and easier than it would have for an ‘Average Jane’. And if you’re in my position, you should be aware of it as well. It’s become apparent that staying young and attractive certainly seems to be hugely important in today’s society. It’s difficult to imagine anyone bemoaning the fact that they’re beautiful; being physically attractive is considered fortunate, and when beautiful people complain about their beauty, it seems ungrateful almost. While I want to embrace it, I can’t help but feel guilty about taking advantage of it.

So while I accept that I have beauty privilege, I’m also willing to accept that I will not have this privilege forever.  The thing about good looks, I suppose, is that they are not permanent. Eventually, even the most well-preserved of females will see their looks fade. And if we don’t know how to fight for equality in sweatpants and a messy bun, how are women to adapt once they are no longer able to rely on their good looks? And while women are perfectly able to conquer the world with our Louboutins, we also need to opt for Uggs once in awhile– just to show society we can succeed in both. And because the foot pain will come back to haunt us.

What are your thoughts on beauty privilege? Let us know in the comments below!

Motion for gender disparity pushed until October at City Council

City Council has promised to address greater gender diversity on the boards of directors of public and private corporations in October.

Councillor Michelle Holland presented a motion to City Council that would see new appointments for women on public boards to start as soon as fall 2016. The motion further directs that all public appointments on boards in Toronto be made up of 50 per cent women by 2019. Unfortunately, the motion was deferred until October because of a heavy agenda at this month’s meeting.

Women in Canada only represent 15.9 per cent of board positions in large corporations and public companies only have 12.1 per cent women. Crown corporations have the highest representation in public office with 30 per cent, but this still falls well below the 50 per cent mark.

This motion is influenced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to have 50 per cent representation in his federal cabinet, which has arguably renewed the work equality debate in Canada. Ontario has also promised to have 40 per cent women representation on their boards by 2019. Involving Toronto in the gender parity goal makes sense alongside the other levels of government so that women can have better representation in positions of power too.

Private FP500 companies have increased their gender parity on boards in their companies to 19.5 per cent in 2015, according to a report by the Canadian Board Diversity Council. Ontario Securities Commission rose the bar when they created new disclosure criteria for gender diversity in Dec. 2014.  Public boards have a lower percentage of equal representation compared to private corporations in Canada.

In a country that advocates on behalf on gender equality, I wonder when the employment sector will embrace gender parity entirely. Both public and private institutions need equal representation on their boards, and it is interesting to see that private companies are leading the way. The fact that the motion was pushed to executive council in October indicates the issue was dismissed in the wake of an important time for gender equality in politics. Toronto needs to join the movement and take women’s rights seriously at City Council.

Women’s Post will be watching to see how seriously the motion is taken in October.

What I really, really want

I usually don’t pay too much attention to viral videos — but this one is pretty spectacular.

As a child of the 90s, the Spice Girls’ song “Wannnabe” was an integral part of my life. I may — or may not — have danced to it during an elementary school talent show (probably to the chagrin of my parents). So, imagine my surprise when I opened up my Twitter and Facebook this morning to see that song plastered everywhere.

The video, which is called “#WhatIReallyReallyWant…” is reclaiming the 1996 song to tackle 21st century problems. It features extraordinary dancers of all ages from around the world, all pointing to signs that talk about what they “really really want.

And what do these girls really want?

  • End violence against girls
  • Quality education for all girls
  • End child marriage
  • Equal pay for equal work

This is what the viral video, produced by Project Everyone, hopes to achieve. It is feminism in one of its truest forms — using a song about what women want in a lover to talk about what women really want; equality. It’s absolutely brilliant in its simplicity.

Project Everyone is an organization that spreads awareness on the U.N.’s Global Sustainability Goals, an ambitious 17-point list of things to achieve by 2030. One of those goals includes the blanket statement of gender equality. The idea is that by ending poverty, climate change, and inequalities, the world would be a better place.

As it says on The Global Goals Youtube page, “Girls and women are disproportionately affected by these challenges and are key to building resilient communities to withstand them. That’s why we need to ensure that World Leaders and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon listen to the voices of girls and women and put them first in policies and plans. 2016 is our chance to use our collective power and tell world leaders what we really really want for girls and women. If you make the noise, we’ll get your message to world leaders at the UN in September.”

The video is encouraging people to share their goals and wishes for women on social media using the hashtag #WhatIReallyReallyWant . These messages will then be shared during the September U.N. Sustainable Development Summit.

So, what do you really, really want? Let us know in the comments below!

How to date more successfully

It’s no secret that most of today’s dating happens in virtual space. One swipe here, one click there, and presto! You’re matched! The problem, however, is that there is a reverse mentality associated with this world. Many women are using these dating apps with the hopes of impressing a man enough to win his approval. She may be wondering things like, “Is my pic good?”, “Did I write too much in my profile?”, “Should I say hi first?” Notice how all these anxieties are based on the idea that the man is the decider, while the woman seeks validation. How often do you try to earn his thumbs-up? This reverse mentality is important because it allows you to recognize your own power and start approaching dating with more confidence.    

Know your Worth

Knowing your worth is an important part of dating the smart way. If you truly believe in your value, he’ll be more likely to invest in your stock. He’ll be seeking your approval instead of the other way around.

How can I do this, you ask? Simple: you just need to know your worth. For example, a guy from an online dating app makes a teasing remark about how you should take him out for dinner. Many men think this is flirtatious and endearing— so instead of playing along, you should assertively say something like, “But we haven’t yet established if you’re even the right one to make me leave this dumb app.” With this approach, you’re creating the understanding that you’re also someone who deserved to be pursued.

Date Around

In the words of Billie Holiday, “A kiss that is never tasted is forever and ever wasted.” In spirit of this mantra, you should treat dating as a sampling buffet. This is not to say that you should gobble down every dessert at the table. Rather, you should select a few delights that interest you, and take the time to learn about the individual flavours you enjoy the most. When you discover a type that you genuinely like, you can then invest your time into nurturing that match.

The bottom line is that you need to see the dating process as your chance to discover your needs and wants, and focus less on becoming what your partner wants. The more you learn about your personal dating goals and desires, the more confident you’ll become later on when choosing the right guy.

Stop Dating Jerks                          

Most women who date jerks secretly hope that they’ll be the one who changes him. The problem with this mentality is that you’re wasting all your valuable time and effort trying to improve someone who’s not fit to date you in the first place. If he needs that much changing, why are you so attracted and invested in him? If he’s not making you feel like the most special woman in the world, why bother? Find someone else who doesn’t need changing because he’s already a great guy.

 Reconsider your Dating Apps

 Finally, you may also want to reconsider the dating apps you’re using. Apps like Tinder and POF are usually just a virtual sex platter. There’s other apps like Match and WhoWinkedMe, which are better suited for quality singles looking for the real deal.

 

Ultimately, if you want to enjoy better dating experiences, you need to start improving yourself first. Make good choices about who you date and, most importantly, how you treat yourself.