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7 things to know before Girl Positive launches in Vancouver

Showcasing diverse voices of girls and young women from North America, Tatiana Fraser and Caia Hagel shift the focus from media’s sensationalist stories to highlight real-life accounts of how girls are making positive change and shaping a new world. Girl Positive looks closely at topics from social media, sexual violence, hypersexuality, and cyberspace, and offers stories of struggle and victory, bringing to light where today’s girls are finding new paths to empowerment.

Girl Positive launches in Vancouver Thursday at the Historic Theatre. To find out more about this unique publications, Women’s Post caught up with co-authors Tatiana and Caia and asked them a few questions. Here’s what they had to say:

Can you tell us more about your new book, Girl Positive?

Caia Hagel

Tatiana: Girl Positive was published in September by Random House. It explores the political, social, and cultural realities facing young girls and women today. We cover a range of topics; from pop culture to the Internet, to girls and sexuality and we dive into topics such as poverty and racism. We talk about girls as leaders and changemakers. Girl Positive also takes up issues pertaining to girls, power, and relationships and unpacks issues around sexual violence. So, its quite broad in terms of the issues we tackle. We really intended to center girls’ voices and experiences; to hear from them about how they see their world and the issues that they’re dealing with. It was important to get a feel for their inspirations, actions and visions for change.

What was your inspiration behind the book?

TatianaAs founder of Girls Actions Foundation, I was working with girls, young women, and organizations across the country for many years. It was very clear to me that the issues or the stories and the popular culture and the narratives about girls didn’t line up with girls’ realities. This misalignment was outdated.  What we’re doing in the book is re-framing the issues that girls are dealing with in a more complex and holistic way.

CaiaTatiana and I met when she was still acting director at Girls Action Foundation and I was—and still am—the co-founding creative director of Guerilla Pop Media Lab, an ethical media group. We enjoyed working together and the approach we took to creating a dynamic media platform for the voices of girls and young women and their messages, cross-pollinated in an exciting new way. I’ve been working my whole career in media creating space and visibility for the less visible and often most pioneering voices  Girls are an emerging force. In Girl Positive, Tatiana and I merged our skills, our passion for girls, and our belief in their crucial role in co-creating our future, to provide a platform for them to speak from the truth of their experiences. We hardly ever hear from girls themselves about their own lives, even when the stories are about them. In our book, girls speak from their diverse realities. In Girl Positive, all the people who care about girls, including girls about each other, get to know them, get to understand their struggles, see their visions and learn about practical ways to support them in their leadership as they move in to their power.

What was it like to collaborate with each other?

TatianaIt was a very creative experience for both of us. What’s unique about our collaboration is that by combining our backgrounds and expertise, we were able to make this work accessible to new and broader audiences. Oftentimes, the learning that’s happening around girls and young women is happening in the margins and on the fringe. We wanted to reach every parent and educator across the country- and everyone who cares about girls. That is what is really special about our partnership together.

Caia: We managed to create a holistic space where storytelling could be the means to seeing, hearing and feeling the issues that are at stake in our book, and in the world. We were able to do this because we brought culture and politics together through our backgrounds and complementary expertise. When ‘issues’ are made personal and heartfelt—and we love how the book is just brimming with girls voices, they’re all in there with us, navigating us through their worlds—big things like ‘activism’ and ‘policy change’ become tangible to everyone and like ‘wow, I really get this now and I can be part of it too!’ which is something we really wanted to offer all readers.

You speak about many problems that girls face on a day-to-day basis in your book. Can you tell us more?

Tatiana: We’re both parents. We both have daughters. And so, it was really important for us to focus on girls’ voices and hear their stories. The book weaves together many and diverse experiences that girls are living. Our role is to provide the context and draw on the analysis and the thinking that’s out there. In terms of experience, I can say for myself, that the inspiration for doing and creating spaces for girls and young women came from my own experiences growing up a young woman and a girl. I ended up in Women’s Studies by accident at university and it was transformative for me because I began to see that my experiences growing up with a single mom and seeing issues around violence that my peers were dealing with, or my family had dealt with, issues related to gender violence that often become internalized for girls and young women were in fact social and political issues that I could help change.  So, I think we all have our personal journeys that connect to the many issues that we talk about in the book.

Caia: It’s a unique time in history to hear from girls and young women. Technology has allowed them to create a new space for their self-expression that is unfiltered, honest and real—and all over social media and mainstream media feeds, generating attention, noise, controversy and discussion. After having been left out for so long, girls are now able to speak up and push their agendas into culture on their terms. I would have loved to have had the same direct line to participating in collective dialogue as a girl! Tatiana and I both grew up with single moms who were feminists. We happened to have role models who could help us think critically about who we were and what we needed. Resources, mentors and good role models are a crucial part of a girl’s ability to actualize her dreams and the often practical and brilliant solutions she has to some of her own, her community’s and the larger world’s problems. Trusted mentors and resources are also necessary in helping girls live up to and back up what is said on social media, or what we see there because celebrity feminism is so hip right now. There is still a lot of progress to be made that requires all us. Structures can only shift to give these voices real power to lead if a lot of us are involved in supporting this movement, and the girls within it. We hear incredible stories of girls and by girls in our book, who are re-imagining social, cultural, political and economic issues from their unique points of view, informed by their diverse realities and their resilience. Our goal with Girl Positive is to celebrate this by bringing their stories together in one dynamic place. With this, and reflections from experts on some of the topics we cover, as well as our own analysis, we aim to give tools to all of us to support girls so that all girls can be part of shaping the future.

Do you have advice for girls who aren’t feeling so positive, especially in the wake of recent political events?

Tatiana Fraser

CaiaWe were devastated by the election of Donald Trump. But the truth is that through his alt-right agenda, we are finally seeing and having to politically negotiate with what has always been there but bubbling silently (and violently) in the background. It’s easier to fight what is in the open. Girls, women and the many marginalized groups that are most deeply affected by this administration are feeling a call to action that is unprecedented, and an urgency about using their resources to organize, protest and build against these regressive forces. We see this time of darkness as a great opportunity for large-scale transformations lead by the people who are carrying the visions for a world that is innovative, inclusive and progressing because it reflects our true diversity. The Women’s Marches and the movements of resistance at the Dakota Pipeline and Val D’Or are a great start. It’s as if Trumpmania has opened the door for all of us to use our voices, to get our toolboxes together, and really organize ourselves to make change part of our agenda.

TatianaIt’s definitely an opportunity. There’s momentum. It’s a unique time. A time for young women and girls leadership for change. It is a time to build on where we’ve come from and to really push for change on many levels. At the same time, it’s a calling to recognize there’s work to do. Part of that work is recognizing the intersecting realities girls and women experience from diverse locations and identities. Women who are coming from issues related to poverty, or women who are dealing with racism have an important perspective, experience and contribution to make to the change. There’s work to do.

What message do you hope to pass on with this book?

Caia: One of the simple ways of accomplishing the goals of the book that we’ve listed above, was to create a ‘survival kit’ at the end of every chapter that offers practical tips about the issues of that chapter to everyone from girls themselves to grandfathers, friends, mothers, teachers, political leaders and coaches—to support those issues and get involved in changing them to empower girls. You don’t have to be wearing a pink hat and a pussy riot scarf and be marching on the streets everyday to make change happen. You can do it in small and large ways, which are equally as meaningful. We took a very passionate and practical approach to creating a book that we hope becomes a handbook for everybody in our collective quest to shape a future that is sustainable, enlightened and populated with leaders who are, and were once, girls.

Your book launches today! What can we look forward to?

Caia: The Cultch theatre (hyperlink to https://thecultch.com/) has started a Femme February month and our panel will be the first event. We will host
an amazing line up of three generations of women who work in the arts, and we will link the stories from our book told by girls to the storytelling they do as writers, actors, activists and directors – and hear from them about the realities they face in the workplace where racism, sexism and ageism are still alive and well. We’re really excited to be participating in this event and having Girl Positive make a splash in Vancouver!

Girl Positive launches in Vancouver today at the Historic Theatre. To find out more about this unique publication, visit their Facebook page!

 

Review: Lauren Graham’s ‘Talking As Fast As I Can’

As avid readers of Women’s Post are keenly aware, I’m a big fan of the hit-show Gilmore Girls. Even though I didn’t love the revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, the original show still maintains a special spot in my heart. That’s why I picked up Lauren Graham’s book “Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (And Everything In Between).”

When I started to read this book, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was an autobiography of sorts that touched on the actress’ role as the infamous Lorelai Gilmore and that it would contain a diary of the filming of the revival. But the book also gives readers a sneak-peak at the Graham pre-and-post this iconic role.

I knew nothing about the actress behind my all-time favourite television character — which meant that while reading the book all I heard was Lorelai Gilmore speaking in my head. But, strangely enough, that worked.

It takes a few chapters to get used to Graham’s writing style, which is as conversational and scattered as a Gilmore Girl. She makes the reader feel like a friend and is not afraid to abruptly end a sentence and jump into broadway song lyrics or go on a tangent about her wardrobe or a phone conversation she had with her dad. It’s through this writing style the readers are truly able to get to know the author.

Some of my favourite chapters revolved around her writing and her entrepreneurship. When she first started writing, she received a lot of flak from male journalists and men within these industries, all of whom couldn’t believe she didn’t have help completing her work. When bigger opportunities were offered to her, she questioned it, wondering whether the people she was meeting with had other people in mind to produce or be in charge of her projects. The sexism she experienced made her feel inferior, but it’s something she was able to combat, which I found incredibly inspirational.

“It’s not lost on me that two of the biggest opportunities I’ve had to break into the next level were given to me by successful women in positions of power,” she writes. “If I’m ever in that position and you ask me, “Who?” I’ll do my best to say, “You” too. But in order to get there, you may have to break down the walls of whatever it is that’s holding you back first. Ignore the doubt—it’s not your friend—and just keep going, keep going, keep going.”

And of course, there were the two chapters on Gilmore Girls themselves. In “What was it like, Part I”, Graham re-watches the original series and makes comments on the fashion, technology, and the elements she loved about each season. This chapter seems to go by fast, and I wished there was more insight into the relationships between the actors rather than a simple review — but that’s not Graham’s style. As much as that was what I wanted, I respect Graham for not dishing on her co-workers. The whole book is full of positive messages, and that was something I sorely needed at the time I read it.

In “What it was like, Part II”, there was a lot more detail. Graham kept a diary during the filming of the Gilmore Girl revival and readers get an in-depth look into the challenging process of re-creating the series nearly 10 years later. The diary is written in order of filming, not in order of episodes, which provides a unique view into what it was like to make the Netflix hit. Apparently, Carol King gave an impromptu concert that led to many tears and a few emotional breakdowns. Don’t you wish you could have been there?

What did I learn after reading this book? Lauren Graham is my spirit animal — and probably yours too!Her style is refreshing and authentic, something that is very rare in memoires, which tend to be overly edited and formal.  Some of the other topics mentioned in the book include the trials and tribulations of trying to be an actress in New York, the blunt of sexism when trying to promote her first novel, and the challenge of sitting down and writing. She speaks candidly of the jobs she auditioned for that made her cry, the jobs she took because she had to, and the struggles of being an artist.

If I had to sum up “Talking As Fast As I Can” in one essence, I would say this: Graham broke down the barrier between “celebrity” and “normal”, proving that actors and actresses are just regular, nerdy people who love the work they do, and sometimes do work they don’t love to do. Seems simple, but trust me, its a lot more complicated. You should probably read the book to truly understand.

A bout of sexism: Clinton is not too “weak” to be president

The United States presidential election seems to be a race between two cartoon characters rather than a campaign to find a leader for one of the most powerful countries in the world. The rat race continues with claims that Democrat leader Hillary Clinton might be too “weak” and unhealthy to lead the country due to a bout of pneumonia.

Health concerns have been a point of contention in this election because Clinton, 68, and Donald Trump, 70, are the oldest competing campaigners in US history. At the 9/11 ceremonies on Sunday, Clinton appeared to faint in public and her doctor later announced that she had come down with pneumonia. The media and Trump supporters have latched onto this diagnosis as proof that Clinton is “weak” and may not have the strength to lead the country.

Both candidates have previously released health reports to the public, with Clinton offering a two-page detailed report stating she had previously suffered from blood clots and fainting. On the other hand, Trump gave out a four-paragraph report in which his doctor explained he had “astonishing health” and would be the “healthiest president yet”. Comparatively, it is easy to see which candidate is giving the most information on the status of their health.

Though Clinton has been honest about her health in the past, her bout of pneumonia plays against her, especially considering she is the first female candidate in history to run for president in the United States. Opponents may use her pneumonia as an example of how her status as a woman makes her weaker. If Trump had become sick during the campaign, he would have claimed it was because he was working so hard and has been putting ‘the people’ first.  Americans would have applauded his efforts. Sure, with the campaign in its final two months, this is not a good time to be fainting. But Clinton is a human being and all people, men and women, are susceptible to getting sick. Let’s not play a double standard.

The way that many Republicans and media outlets are claiming her illness makes her a weak competitor is ridiculous. Pneumonia is a fairly common occurrence, affecting over one million Americans per year. In fact, her attendance at the event even though she was ill shows she is quite strong and dedicated to her campaign.

Maybe the people backlashing Clinton should be looking inward and should assess why they are placing so much pressure on one individual to be perfect. Is it now necessary to elect a leader in perfect health? Have the rules changed and to err is no longer human?

The US election is a prime example of how propaganda can be so damaging to the democratic process. Clearly, it pushes candidates to the brink of exhaustion and wastes time focusing on trivial issues. Perhaps Clinton felt she couldn’t rest even though her doctor ordered it because of a potential backlash, which is completely unacceptable. Instead of goading Clinton and calling her weak for getting sick, let’s focus on making sure Trump doesn’t get elected — because then we will surely have bigger problems than a bout of pneumonia.

Stayed tuned as election day grows closer as we will find out the fate of the United States on November 8, 2016.

Comedy on College: embracing the female funny bone

There is nothing better than a good joke to make the hardships of womanhood feel lighter, and the women who run Comedy on College do just that.

Female comedians are all the rage in entertainment these days, ranging from Amy Schumer to Tina Fey, and Toronto has caught on to the funny female fever.The lead organizers of Comedy on College, a comedy night on Tuesdays at Pour Boy (666 Manning Ave.) are embracing the move towards female comedians wholeheartedly. Heather MacDonald, 30, and Clare Belford, 26, both run the weekly event, balancing the responsibilities between hosting and performing. MacDonald recounts the ambitious tale towards her comedic stardom.

“I started it last June. I have a full-time job and I was sick of going to open mics and staying up until two a.m in the morning. I wanted to be on good shows,” MacDonald says. “I talked to the owner and convinced him to let me try it. It has been very successful and in January I asked Clare if she wanted to run it with me.”

Stand-up Comedian Clare Belford. Photo by Scott McLean.
Stand-up Comedian Clare Belford. Photo by Scott McLean.

MacDonald hails from the Waterloo region and was in the industry for just over a year when she started Comedy on College. She is an ultrasound technician by day, and enjoys having her own show because it provides much-needed flexibility in a busy work week. Belford, on the other hand, has been in comedy for over three years. She ran a show in her hometown of Edmonton, helping her create a cross-Canada network with other comedians. She serves at a restaurant in the financial district, which occasionally provides material for her comedy set. Both women moved to Toronto excited to pursue their comedy careers in a diverse and progressive city.

The two comedians host a weekly series of local female and male comedians, and look for diversity in their performers. Oftentimes, comedy sets are male-dominated, and Comedy on College has even numbers of both genders performing. Having women performers in the mix adds a range of experiences and perspectives into the various sets. “I think comedy has changed a lot in the past few years and people want to see women performing,” Belford says. “I think you lose a lot when you don’t have women performing because then you are limiting yourself to one perspective. People in the audience have a good chance of identifying with more people in the comedy show when it’s diverse.”

It hasn’t always been a bed of roses for these two women. Both reported experiencing sexism during a stand-up routine, due to the fact that comedy is traditionally male-dominated.

“One time, I made a joke about being half-Asian, and when I left the stage, a fellow comedian said, “You’re half-Asian and I’m fully erect,” MacDonald says. “I had just finished my set. I wanted to punch the guy because I felt discredited in what I just did.”

Belford had an experience in Edmonton, where a booking agent told her that women weren’t funny when she was trying to get a spot in the line-up. “I had a full-on argument with someone who was booking shows that women aren’t funny,” Belford says. “There was a crowd of comedians standing around me that didn’t support me and I floundered in the argument by myself. It was very discouraging.”

Women have to deal with performing sets on stage that is often full of rampant over-sexualization of women and the common idea that men are funnier than women. The 10 highest paid comedians in the world make a collective $173 million — and are all men. Comedian Samantha Bee is the only late-night television host, otherwise filled with funny male comedians. These tendencies in the big leagues don’t dissuade these two women performers, and several other women comedians they bring on stage each week.

Regardless of gender, both comics believe the most important thing is to put yourself out there, practice, and work to become a talented comedian. “I just want to be as good as I can be. I want to be a very good comic, and I don’t care how long that takes me,” Belford says.

Comedy on College. Provided by Heather MacDonald.
Comedy on College. Provided by Heather MacDonald.

I personally watched both comics on Tuesday night on stage, with MacDonald hosting and Belford performing. It was a hilarious evening. MacDonald began conversations with individuals sitting near the front of the event, and cracking jokes left and right. Belford’s comedy routine was a rip-roar from beginning to end. She joked about how difficult it was to finish an entire cabbage when living solo, and the dilemma of going home with a man with no sheets.

I felt I could identify with both women on stage, and discovered a new and great way to connect with other women and shared experiences many of us have. I highly recommend hitting up their show. I guarantee you will walk away laughing to yourself about the hilarious parts of being a woman in Toronto.

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.

Let’s stop hating on women through social media, shall we?

Over the past week, the world witnessed some rather high profile women get into some rather uncomfortable situations. And while life is bound to get messy at times, the problem with modern day society is that spectators are now able to watch the events unfold time and time again, while at the same time adding their thoughts and opinions on the matter — anonymously — through the click of a button.

And while this way of life has brought the world closer together and has provided insight on the mindset of today’s society, it has also allowed people to lack in forgiveness and spread negative dialogue. What hurts the most however, is to see independent, well educated and woke women engaging in the same negative dialogue – to criticize other women. Not only are we pushing the feminism movement back a couple of years by doing this, but we are doing our gender a disservice by dragging our colleagues through the mud.

Just last week, Qandeel Baloch split the world in two after being strangled by her brother because of the “kind of pictures she had been posting online.” Like many of you, I found myself scrolling through the deceased social media star’s Instagram, coming across sexually suggestive pictures and videos of an attractive South Asian woman boldly expressing herself.  The think pieces and blogs flooded my newsfeed, with comments from mourners condoning the death and asking people to take a stand against these types of ‘honour killings’. However, in the same comment section, there were people — many of them women — who felt bad, but understood what provoked her brother to brutally murder her in the first place.

“She was asking for it.”

In a very different situation, the Internet witnessed Taylor Swift being ripped apart by Kim Kardashian West on Snapchat when the reality-tv star posted a telephone conversation between her husband, rapper Kanye West, and what is believed to be singer herself. The topic of the telephone conversation was the allegedly misogynistic lyrics directed at Swift in one of West’s singles. Swift had previously released a statement saying she wished the couple would ”just leave me alone.” Kim, listen up: A hundred years have passed since this shit storm started and Kanye West’s single released. Since then, we’ve already seen you and Swift publicly lash out at each other, while the Internet followed along, taking sides. So why don’t you exclude us from this narrative, and give each other a call?

Because here’s the thing, ladies. There are a lot of women out here that are fighting for your rights and freedom. Women that are currently driving on streets they are not allowed to drive on. Women that are interviewing for a job they are deemed unqualified for. Women that are being utilized for their body without their permission. The least you can do, is offer a little support. They’re not asking for billboards of heartfelt messages with a hashtag, or a protest in lieu of every mistreatment that takes place. However, when someone is strangled to death in the comfort of their own home for essentially being themselves, it is not an invitation to slut shame the victim and justify their killer’s actions. She wasn’t asking for it. No one ever is.

Neither was Leslie Jones; one of the stars of the new Ghostbusters movie, which has been getting mixed reviews. Jones announced early this week that she was leaving Twitter “with tears and a very sad heart” after receiving racist and sexist abuse that she describes as her own “personal hell.” Her response to the incident was not only relevant to the situation at hand, but also to the events that have occurred in the past weeks regarding social media hate.

Jones called on Twitter to crack down on the hate, posting, “Twitter I understand you got free speech I get it. But there has to be some guidelines when you let spread like that.” She had a few things to say about the negative comments as well. “You have to hate yourself to put out that type of hate. I mean on my worst day I can’t think of this type of hate to put out. I don’t know how to feel. I’m numb. Actually numb. I see the words and pics and videos. Videos y’all. Meaning people took time to sprew hate. I’m more human and real than you fucking think. I work my ass off. I’m not different than any of you who has a dream to do what they love. I’ve never claim to be better or special. I just try to do my job as best as I can. Isn’t that any of us yall. So Yea this hurts me!”

The question arises; how do we overcome this girl-on-girl hate? Social media has evidently fuelled gender violence. Comment sections will make you lose faith in humanity while trending hashtags will encourage you to take part in a social media cleanse. Imagine the difference we could make if women gushed about what they love about other women by merely swapping hate and jealousy for support and encouragement?

A big difference. Let’s start THAT hashtag!

What are your thoughts on social media hate against women? Let us know in the comments below! 

What did you think of Jian Ghomeshi’s trial?

The last year has been eye-opening, and not in a good way. The case of CBC radio broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi, who was accused of allegedly sexually assaulting and choking four women, really shed light on how messed up our justice system really is. It also demonstrated why so many women (and men) don’t report instances of sexual violence.

At the end of the day, Ghomeshi was found not guilty of four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking. The second round of the trials ended with an apology and a peace bond, which essentially is a contract that stipulates the accused must maintain good behaviour for a year and cannot contact the complainant. It is not an admission of guilt and it will result in no criminal record.

Ghomeshi was asked to apologize to the final complainant, Kathryn Borel. His apology mentions the power he held at the CBC and how, after serious consideration, he misunderstood how his actions could be interpreted: “I was a person in a position of authority and leadership, and I did not show the respect that I should have to Ms. Borel … I failed to understand how my words and actions would put a coworker who was younger than me, and in a junior position to mine, in an uncomfortable place.”

Borel decided to forego the trial after being presented with the option of a peace bond because it seemed “the clearest path to the truth.” In a statement following the trial, she said that “In a perfect world, people who commit sexual assault would be convicted for their crimes. Jian Ghomeshi is guilty of having done the things that I’ve outlined today. So when it was presented to me that the defence would be offering us an apology, I was prepared to forego the trial. It seemed like the clearest path to the truth. A trial would have maintained his lie, and would have further subjected me to the very same pattern of abuse that I am currently trying to stop.”

So, it’s over. After intense investigations by various media outlets, excruciating witness interviews, and hours of court time, the Ghomeshi trials are done.

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#MoreThanMean: when is online trolling harassment?

“I have trouble looking at you while I’m saying these things.”

This is the point the #MoreThanMean campaign is trying to make: that what people say online has a real impact on real people. What’s more —those messages can also be considered as harassment.

A video created by podcast Just Not Sports (@JustNotSports) circulated the Internet last week that aptly proves this point. It features sport writer, columnist/broadcaster Julie DiCaro and Sports on Earth’s NFL writer Andrea Hangst, who have found themselves the target of some truly terrible messages on social media.

But, they are just “mean”, right? As proven by comedian Jimmy Kimmel, reading mean tweets can be funny. So, these women did just that. Except, instead of reading the messages themselves, they had men read these “mean” tweets to their faces. This was the result:

 

 

The video itself is cringe-worthy. The men seemed increasingly uncomfortable with the level of hatred and sexual violence exhibited in these anonymous tweets — with good reason.

 

“One of the players should beat you to death with a hockey stick like the whore you are. Cunt.

“This is why we don’t hire any females unless we need our c*** sucked or our food cooked.”

“Hopefully this skank Julie DiCaro is Bill Crosby’s next victim. That would be classic”

 

And those weren’t even some of the worst ones. The men were apologetic as the tweets went from “mean” to violent. Many of them pleaded with the director to skip a few of the statements. They couldn’t look the women in the eye.

DiCaro and Hangst were prepared for these messages. They had already seen the tweets before the video was taken, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt.

A lot of the people watching this video completely misunderstood the point it was trying to make. Probably half of the comments attached to the Youtube page called it a feminist ploy. Some people thought it devalued the criticism and hate messages male sport reporters received on a daily basis. Others claimed the comments weren’t actually considered harassment —they were just mean statements and these women should get a backbone.

Here are some of the most recent comments as of Monday afternoon (spelling mistakes included):

LurkerDood: What’s with these pussy ass guys?! What’s so hard reading mean tweets?

opinionated hater: some of these are hilarious

Polarhero57: And bullshit that dudes don’t get any of this. It’s not harassment, it’s the fucking internet. This is completely staged.

Ali Bakhshi: If your biggest problem right now is people saying you should be raped on the internet then you seriously need to realise how privileged you are.

Micheal Bay: This is just another stupid feminist thing, these women are exposing themselves, in reality they’re sluts!

nalyd321: to be honest none of these were really that bad

quezcatol: it is also ironic how a fatso, like that big red haired women – can write about sport, that hippo shouldnt tell real athelte what they need to work on. she hasnt done shit in her life herself.

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There is a childish undertone to the word mean. “So-and-so was mean to me”, kids will say. That so-and-so will then be told to sit in a corner and think about what he/she had done. The people sending these messages are, most likely, adults who have nothing better than to say incredibly sexist, discriminatory, and purely callous things because they know they can get away with it. Blocking or ignoring these people is the equivalent to asking them to sit in a corner. It does nothing and they are free to come back online to harass others. These are childish penalties for adult crimes.

Harassment is defined as aggressive pressure or intimidation. It can involve unwanted physical or verbal behaviour that offends and humiliates. Making obscene sexual remarks is considered also sexual harassment. There is no specification that it has to be done face-to-face, and that is the point of the #MoreThanMean campaign.

In this case, these tweets were more than mean. They were violent, inappropriate, and deserve to be blocked and reported by social media networks. They were harassment.

I used to be a Sports Editor at my student paper — the first woman in four years to hold the position. I can say with personal experience that my gender made a difference. Coaches didn’t take me as seriously and neither did the players. At my first hockey game, the player I was interviewing said I should enter the changing room to speak to his teammates. Not knowing any better, I did. I immediately knew that he was messing with me when I saw all the players in jock straps, but I decided to just walk up to the one player I needed to talk to, ignore his smirking, get my answer, and then calmly (but swiftly) get out of there.

And this was all before the prevalence of Internet trolls.

I’m lucky this incident was a one-time thing, but it definitely opened my eyes up to the gender barriers women face in the sports world.  With the prevalence of social media, female reporters and broadcasters have opened themselves up to all sorts of attacks — just because they are women in an industry dominated by men. This is absolutely unacceptable. Most of the women in the sports industry are talented, knowledgeable, and capable. They should not have to feel like they need to defend themselves.

There shouldn’t be a need for a viral video and a trending hashtag to bring attention to the blatant sexism these women are facing in this industry. It’s time for society, and social media, to step up. Share this video and spread the message.

Don’t be #MoreThanMean.

Be #MoreThanGrateful that you don’t have to read these tweets every day.

Why do we need International Women’s Day?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#ILookLikeAnEngineer Breaks Stereotypes of Women in Tech

It all started with an ad campaign. The ambiguous message behind it left platform engineer, Isis Wenger, confused on whether or not she was being used to attract women or men to become engineers. Her “sexy smirk” was rather seen as a marketing tactic to lure guys into the tech industry. The response to the seemingly innocent advertisement turned into a discussion of the sexism that is still alive and well in the industry.

Wenger explains it perfectly in her post on Medium, saying, “At the end of the day, this is just an ad campaign and it is targeted at engineers. This is not intended to be marketed towards any specific gender — segregated thoughts like that continue to perpetuate sexist thought-patterns in this industry.”

It’s no secret that sexism in these types of industries still exist. Engineers, computer scientists, web designers, and others have been subjected towards gender discrimination at one point or another in their careers. However, as women should, Wenger decided to do something about it. Thus, She started the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer to raise awareness towards the gender divide that continues to exist in the technical industry.

Many took to Twitter to support Isis.

The hashtag, as Wenger explained, is not gender specific. “External appearances and the number of X chromosomes a person has is hardly a measure of engineering ability. My goal is to help redefine “what an engineer should look like” because I think that is a step towards eliminating sub-conscious bias towards diversity in tech.”

This invited men to take part to support the initiative as well:

The hashtag is quickly breaking stereotypes about women in the tech industry. Many are often perceived as ”tomboys” or ”nerdy.” Brains and beauty may be the more appropriate terms to use in this case:

What’s more impressive? Her pink hair or the fact that she’s a badass engineer who can still find the time to model:

And they make it look so. easy.

OneLogin may have missed the spot on their efforts to recruit more engineers with their ad campaign, but these ladies will have both men and women wanting to pursue careers in tech in no time. Where do I sign up?

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