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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.

New portable housing for domestic abuse survivors and their families

Imagine packing your belongings in the middle of the night and waking your children to escape the place you call home. Frightened and without any place to go, 3,491 women and 2.724 children arrive at the doorsteps of emergency domestic abuse shelters each night. About 300 of those women and children are turned away.

Once they actually get up the courage to leave their abusers, survivors of domestic abuse and their families face a number of challenges. They must find a safe place to go, obtain a new home and all while living with the fear that their spouse is trying to find them. The government of Canada and Ontario are trying to help the situation by investing $20 million over two years into the Survivors of Domestic Violence Portable Housing Benefit Pilot project. The pilot project will provide 1000 survivors of domestic violence per year with immediate affordable housing.

As is stands, when women and their children find temporary housing in an emergency shelter it can take several months to find another place to live. Going back home is often not an option. This leaves families stranded in very unstable living situations. Domestic abuse survivors are placed on the waitlist for rent-geared-to income and must wait for social housing to become available. Though domestic abuse victims are given priority on the waitlists, the state of social housing waitlists in Canada leaves many of these families stranded for months.

It also leaves the victim of abuse in a vulnerable situation because they don’t have access to permanent housing. In Canada, 26 per cent of women who are murdered by their spouse have left the relationship and half of these women are killed within two months of leaving their abuser. Women are also six times more likely to be killed by an ex-partner than a current partner, placing the victims in a vulnerable situation after leaving their abuser. Women and children are still in danger after leaving an abusive partner, and obtaining safe housing is paramount for their safety.

The federal and provincial government are taking steps in providing better resources for domestic abuse survivors and the affordable housing situation. Though the new pilot program is a step in the right direction, more efforts to provide victims of domestic abuse with optimal support is of upmost importance.

Premier Wynne shows what female leadership can do for climate

This week has been a whirlwind for the provincial government. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s is in Mexico City to discuss environmental and international relations, all the while promoting women within these industries.

The premier made the trek down south to discuss the importance of climate change and the economy with Mexican leaders, exporters, and potential investors and to host the first-ever Women in Leadership Climate Change Panel Discussion. The participants of this panel discussed the role that women can play in the economic transition to a low-carbon economy and explored the unique experiences of the Indigenous people in the fight against climate change.

Several other prominent women leaders were present as well, including the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate, Her Excellency, Patricia Espinosa. Espinosa was elected executive secretary in May 2016 at the Paris Climate Change Conference. She is originally from Mexico and has worked in foreign affairs between the Americas for several years. Espinosa was joined on the panel by Tanya Muller Garcia, the Minister of the Environment of Mexico City. Garcia actively promoted cycling programs throughout Mexico City and played a large part in integrating the region’s transit system.

Wynne has had a large impact on the climate change agenda in Ontario, most recently with her adoption of cap and trade in Ontario. Part of her agenda in Mexico is to promote an open trade relationship with Mexico City, who has recently adopted a pilot project cap and trade program themselves. An interworking relationship of cap and trade with Mexico would have a significant economic impact on Ontario’s new climate change incentive, and would integrate will with the programs in California and Quebec. Recently, cap and trade has come under fire because Quebec and California have failed to sell all of their emissions, leaving both governments in debt. Many worry Ontario will suffer the same fate.

The climate change conference is a good opportunity for Wynne to show that Ontario is not concerned with the xenophobic agenda that Trump followers and the US is currently leading towards, and is instead open to creating trade partnerships involving climate change. It is inspiring to see a representative of the Canadian political fabric represent women interests, tackling environmental concerns, and promoting healthy international trade relations in the midst of struggling global unity.

It is easy to see this week as a win for Wynne.

 

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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.

TTC to tackle safety using ‘gender-specific lens’

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) discussed safety at Monday’s board meeting, with a special focus on women.

City Council requested that the TTC “apply a full safety audit using a gender-specific lens…to address safety concerns of women and women with disabilities.” Suggestions included adequate lighting, clear sightline design for stations, more security, and more women employed in the transit process.

The board, however, chose to focus on an app that would allow a TTC rider to take a photo of a person who is harassing or assaulting someone and report it. The hope is that it will draw less attention than pushing the yellow emergency strip and stopping traffic. The app should be ready to launch by the end of the year.

As a woman who takes public transportation at least twice a day — if not more — I understand the type harassment that can take place on an enclosed streetcar or subway car. But, I’m not sure this app is the solution.

As with a lot of Toronto’s safety plans, it puts the onus on bystanders to help out. Bystanders are notorious for…well…being bystanders. There is no guarantee that someone will capture the moment on film, and if that person did take time to take a photo of the harassment, I hope they would also step up and stop it.

The idea is that the app will automatically turn off flash and sound so that those making the report won’t have to worry about drawing attention to themselves. But, with the size of cell phones nowadays, it’s almost impossible to be conspicuous when taking a photograph in a small space. And has anyone thought about the many false accusations that will have to be filtered through to find the legitimate complaints?

I also don’t think that silent reporting is enough — anyone who assaults or harasses another person should be afraid to do it again. They should be worried they won’t get away with it. They should be made to seriously consider their actions. Pushing the yellow emergency strip and forcing them to wait for the authorities is exactly what people should be doing, and encouraging them to do otherwise is just another way to say “don’t worry about it, the authorities will deal with it the situation…maybe.”

If someone is harassing a woman (or a man for that matter), someone should speak up and tell them to get lost. People should rally around victims of assault and let it be known that it’s not okay. Women should also feel comfortable telling the driver of the bus or streetcar about the incident, which means that all drivers, toll operators, and TTC workers should be trained on how to deal with harassment and assault.

It is imperative that future designs of stations, streetcars, and subways take public safety into account — better lighting, a more secure waiting area, and a bigger authority presence after sunset are all integral to the safety of women and women with disabilities. But, let’s not diminish this importance by creating silly apps that allow us to spy and report people to authorities.

Let’s focus on what really matters: making people safe and training staff do handle numerous types of emergency scenarios, including harassment and assault. If you have to make an app, I would rather an app that allows me to reload my PRESTO card on my phone – thank you very much!

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.

One woman’s journey in documentary, “As She Is”

“As She Is” is a documentary about one woman’s journey to discover what is missing in her life, and to recover her feminine identity in our westernized and often patriarchal society.

Director Megan McFeely embarked on a life-changing journey after experiencing the death of her boyfriend and two other family members in the span of three weeks. “My life fell apart 17 years ago and I began really trying to figure out another way. I never felt fully myself in the world and was being pre-constructed to live a certain way,” said McFeely.  “I started working with organizations that were trying to shift consciousness. I had to go to India and make the film.”

Director, Megan McFeely
Director, Megan McFeely

“As She Is” explores how the feminine is absent from many faucets of westernized society and needs to be embraced by both women and men. McFeely says she needed to draw away from the dominant and power hungry ethos of being a business woman, and instead wanted to live differently. “I started looking around for what it meant to live a life. What am I doing here? The question was so fundamental, that I started finding things that helped me understand,” McFeely said. “The question about the feminine came at a later state. It guided my life.”

Previously, McFeely had been working in public relations in San Francisco and had been a successful business woman in the software industry. After her life fell apart, she felt that her career focused on her more dominant traits and she desired to connect with her emotive side more deeply.

“I have been living from the masculine. My father was a federal prosecutor. I was really assertive and direct and I had a really good linear thinking mind. I was completely disconnected from the feminine,” McFeely said. “We were born into a patriarchy, and we have been trained. Our mind is more trained than our heart. The mind is a thing that separates us, breaking things down from the biggest to the smallest. The heart brings us together.”

McFeely quit her job and embarked on her journey to India to discover her feminine side. She decided to make a film, interviewing a variety of spiritual teachers and authors on the subject of the feminine and its import in modern society. Interviewees include Sufi teacher, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, who is the founder of the Golden Sufi Centre in Northern California, and explores spiritual consciousness and the significance of the feminine within.  Co-founder of the Center of Entrepreneurship and Technology at University of California at Berkley, Stacey Lawson, is also a spiritual guide and talks about the strengths of embracing the feminine in the business world in “As She Is”.

“Interestingly, McFeely is interviewed in the film, which is rare in a documentary. She described the experience of being the subject of the film and the director as vulnerable and humbling. “I was very judgmental of myself and I had to trust other people. Imagine watching yourself for eight months, it is really humbling,” McFeely says. “You have to accept yourself in a certain way. It was an amazing learning process for me to be in the film.”

Since the release of “As She Is”, McFeely has met women all over the world that feel similarly. Recently her documentary was screened in the Library of Alexandria in Egypt and was recently presented at the 14th Annual Female Eye Festival in Toronto. The festival showcases female documentaries and includes panels discussing women and the film industry.

Ontario cabinet now consists of 40% women

Monday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced a cabinet shuffle that is meant to integrate some fresh perspective into the Liberal government. Seven new cabinet members were added, including five women.

After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed a federal cabinet consisting of equal parts women and men, provincial Liberal governments are under pressure to do the same. Ontario is now closer to that goal, with women making up 40 per cent of the cabinet and 50 per cent of the Priorities, Delivery and Growth Committee, which is responsible for steering Ontario’s economic plan.

Some of the highlights of the cabinet shuffle include: Deborah Matthews, who will be remaining Deputy Premier and who was also appointed the new responsibility of Minister for Digital Governance. Laura Albanese is now Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Indira Naidoo-Harris is Associate Minister of Finance.

Luckily, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray, was given an opportunity to implement the climate change plan he spent the last year putting together. Other ministers who will be staying in the same position include Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance and Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation.

Strangely enough, Ted McMeekin’s position as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has been taken over by Bill Mauro, former Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. Last week, McMeekin made a statement saying that he would be stepping down from his position to make room for more women in the cabinet. Imagine my surprise when his job was instead given to a man.

There are a lot of qualified women on the roster. Here is a list of the new Ontario cabinet:

  • Kathleen Wynne: Premier and President of the Council Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.
  • Deborah Matthews: Deputy Premier, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Cabinet Minister Responsible for Digital Government.
  • Michael Gravelle: Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
  • Brad Duguid: Minister of Economic Development and Growth.
  • Jeff Leal: Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
  • David Orazietti: Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
  • Liz Sandals: President of the Treasury Board.
  • David Zimmer: Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
  • Michael Chan: Minister of International Trade.
  • Reza Moridi: Minister of Research, Innovation and Science.
  • Yasir Naqvi: Attorney General, Government House Leader.
  • Charles Sousa: Minister of Finance.
  • Eric Hoskins: Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.
  • Glen Murray: Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.
  • Bob Chiarelli: Minister of Infrastructure.
  • Michael Coteau: Minister of Children and Youth Services, Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism.
  • Tracy MacCharles: Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, Minister Responsible for Accessibility.
  • Kevin Flynn: Minister of Labour.
  • William Mauro: Minister of Municipal Affairs.
  • Helena Jaczek: Minister of Community and Social Services.
  • Dipika Damerla: Minister Responsible for Seniors Affairs.
  • Steven Del Duca: Minister of Transportation.
  • Mitzie Hunter: Minister of Education.
  • Laura Albanese: Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
  • Christopher Ballard: Minister of Housing Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy
  • Marie-France Lalonde: Minister of Government and Consumer Services, Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs.
  • Kathryn McGarry: Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.
  • Eleanor McMahon: Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
  • Indira Naidoo-Harris: Associate Minister of Finance (Ontario Retirement Pension Plan).
  • Glenn Thibeault: Minister of Energy.

What do you think of this new cabinet? Let us know in the comments below!