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Anna Gordon

“If My Vagina Could Talk”

In its fresh portrayal of The Vagina Monologues, McGill University’s V-Day celebration showcased a cacophony of cunts. The eleven performers explored personal and collective connections to Eve Ensler’s famous feminist ethnographic monologues, communicating to McGill audiences varying interpretations of what it means to be a woman, and what it means to have a vagina. With a live and personal introduction of the performance, student director Grace Jackson spoke to the actors’ presentations of The Vagina Monologues as stories contextualized within the personal interpretations of the women performing them; the pieces presented were thus not intended to generalize the female experience. Actors did a powerful job evoking an honest connection to the female characters embodied by the text. For example, in her performance of the “The Vagina Workshop,” Katie Gervais engendered a horrified mocking of the words “My vagina is a shell…” which was repeated with a glorious, self-enveloping resonance at the end of the monologue; Gervais’ accentuated repetition conveyed a metamorphosis of thought and feeling by the end of the discovery of herself, inside of herself. I couldn’t help but think of the playwright Susan Lori Parks’ discussion of her rhythmic theatre in her essay from Elements of Style. Parks depicts her own style of "American dramatic literature" that sings historical phenomenology with syncopated words. With such musicality, Gervais invited her audiences into the rhythmic metaphors of her vagina. Jackson’s introduction of the performance also noted that while The Vagina Monologues has taken beautiful strides in feminist outreach across college campuses, “Ensler’s portrayals of trans women, women of colour, and queer women (as well as the erasure of other marginalized identities) are harmful and exclusionary,” she specifies, “The narratives that do include women of colour, queer women, and trans women are disempowering and propagate many myths and negative stereotypes about these… Read More

The invigorating fight for social equality

Dear Barbara and Celia, Personally, I do not identify as a feminist. Despite my ideological alignment with neofeminism, I have realist reservations about the strength of the word feminist in this time and age: I do believe that it is fair to assume that the average male is aversive to his conceptions of feminism. Historically, there is common misconception that the institution of feminism is grounded in male-blaming. Evidently, with the title of Kay’s article referencing “feminist double-standards,” she also misunderstands the definitions and philosophies of feminism. While few feminists do exhibit such ideals, feminism as an institution does NOT attack men; it attacks a patriarchal world, a world that is filtered through male physiological-psychological mindsets, adopted and performed also by women (as Kay validates with her example of women slut-shaming one another). Call this sociological pattern a deterministic result of male physical strength, an unraveling of evolution, or a socially constructed reality, whatever you will. But it is a fact: Our western world is off-balance in its gender equality. While I believe Barbara has misunderstood the purpose of Edell’s article (Celia is not male-blaming, rather society-blaming for the permissiveness of rape culture), for the sake of clarity, I believe we’ve reached a point at which it’s time for a new glance at what it is we call equality of the sexes, one that might be ready for a bypass of any mistakening of gender-blaming. And so, as I put forth my perspective, to avoid any misunderstandings, I will define myself not as a feminist, but as an equalist. This being said, Barbara, I must staunchly disagree with your strong generalization that men are not mysoginistic. Whether repressed or tucked subliminally within the advertisement ploys of Victoria’s Secrets standards, cinching of female encouragement in the political sphere, or overt objectification… Read More

Bring your own juice, but laughs are on the house

At the end of November, a TV McGill group joined together to launch a comedy project, known as Bring Your Own Juice. A handful of talented sketch comedians and actors, the team of 14 spent only one month writing and producing a series of sketch scenes, infused with wit, irony, and exceptional characterization. The performance begins with Ben Soussan and Daniel Moczula shaking themselves to life after holding an impressively fixed tableau for the entire twenty-some-odd minutes of audience-entering in Players’ Theatre of McGill University’s SSMU building. They build a beautiful energy, pulling the audience in with neurotic yelling and panting as they realize they’ve somehow scheduled their unwritten show for tonight. Divulging a vague inner turmoil over his beloved son, Ben is derailed by Dan to begin recruiting aimless actors wandering out of the curtains. “I laughed once,” says Matthew Robert, haphazardly hiring himself the position. “…when exactly does the juice come in?” says Adam Pickersgill.  “Hey, I saw a poster outside with a bunch of penises drawn on it and-“ Nancy Ferranti bumbles. Ben and Dan jovially pull the rest of the seemingly unqualified actors into the team, and the show begins. Contrary to the joke, every actor, some with very little performing experience, was remarkably impressive. Additionally, they spent only one month writing the script themselves, along with Joey Haar. “The writing of BYOJ was a collaborative process,” says Moczula, Economic Major, improv performer and Red Herring writer at McGill, “The writing process was on-going and even prior to the show we were changing lines.” The audience was floored after a night of giggling (there was even one of those uncontrollable cacklers in the front row that kept making everyone laugh even more), so evidently the chaotic writing and explosion of creativity was a comedic success. Sketch… Read More

On Alzheimer’s

All my life I had been raised with the philosophy that everything happens for a reason. The mantra wasn’t even grounded in religion or sense of fate. Rather, it was a more deterministic way of thought: every effect has an explainable cause that can be regarded with positive consequences. Every event that occurs in life deserves a denotation of significance. But what was the significance of my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s? It seemed that at the time of Grandma’s death, I was experiencing a cataclysmic explosion of meaninglessness. In a span of two months, I had underwent heartbreak, shortly followed by my father’s diagnosis with cancer, and soon after met with Grandma’s abrupt but loomingly expected passing. My emotional options, at that point, seemed pain or numbness. The two waxed and waned for a few months as I desperately occupied my mind with distractions from loneliness, dad’s chemotherapy and grandma’s passing. Gordon family: I know it might hurt a bit for me to share these thoughts with you. But I believe it’s important to let ourselves feel the truth of the most difficult moments of our lives. It’s important to acknowledge the aching in our hearts when we feel the loss, illness, or death of a loved one has sucked out or chewed up a piece of what we call 'the self,' if only to redefine how we’ve grown, and how to give our love out again for the growth and strength of those around us. In the study of psychology, I’ve noticed that any deviation from the norm is so regularly stigmatized as 'bad,' or feared as 'painful.' It’s like we have developed a statistical map of goodness and badness that falls on a normal curve -- goodness being normal, badness being abnormal. However, many thinkers, such as McGill Professors Robert O. Pihl… Read More

Abstraction from Reality, or Reality from Abstraction?

As someone who has always considered herself a social leftist, my initial reaction to Tom Stringham’s article on social conservatism was one of tense resistance. I tend to consider myself an open-minded individual, but I sensed my values shielding me from Stringham’s traditional mindsets. My biases maintained themselves until I reached the part of Stringham's argument defining the distinct visions of progressives and conservatives. Stringham identifies “social welfare,” or maximized societal quality of life, as the shared goal of these political ideologies. He suggests that the conflict between progressive and conservative schools of social political thought is not one of virtue, but rather of ‘visions,’ as he quotes Thomas Sowell, or ‘sense of how the world works.’ It was at this point that I began to recognize how problematic it can be to antagonize an entire body of belief. For if, as Stringham suggests, these social ideologies form with an incentive of unified objective and humanistic cooperation, at the basis of their social politics must lie a desire for knowledge and human efficacy. With this in mind, I began to open my thinking. Stringham describes the social progressive mindset as gifting humans with the capability of moral construction. Conversely, he asserts that conservatives give society less credit; they rely on the “wisdom” of historical observation for moral direction. For a moment, I began to peer through this conservative lens, considering people only as products of their society. From this perspective, human perception of reality must be grounded only in the realities of those around us. Thus, according to Stringham, while perhaps we may think we are morally autonomous, our behavior with which we exhibit our values is often rearranged and reformatted to fit the “reality” that we collectively partake in. In Stringham’s eyes, the majority of society behaves on a… Read More