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Stephanie Pellett

Women are never “asking for it”

On April 3, 2011, Toronto will be hosting an unprecedented event: the Slut Walk. In a nutshell, it’s an organized march for anyone who disagrees with the notion that what a woman wears is directly responsible for her harassment or assault. It’s a tongue-in-cheek titled event, yet all too seriously designed to dispute the prejudice and negative signals being sent to the young women of our nation.Lately it seems as though messages have been sent increasingly often that it is a woman’s responsibility to ensure she isn’t assaulted. Who shares this opinion? The Toronto police officer whose comments were the catalyst for the organization of the Slut Walk, the young man who didn’t get charged with sexual assault because the judge deemed that the victim was dressed in an “inviting” manner, and countless others who make these types of derogatory comments in order to avoid fault and blame.I’m a woman. Evolutionarily speaking, I’m attracted to large muscles, bare chests and a strong jaw line. Yet I’m not so ignorant as to believe that, should I walk past a construction site where a fine specimen of man is working without a shirt, I am entitled to harass, grope or otherwise make him uncomfortable. Nor would I ever posture that “he was asking for it”.The way that someone dresses is just that – the way that someone dresses. Whether a person’s style of dress is conservative or provocative is not the point – a voice speaks much louder than clothes ever will. It’s permissible to make judgments about a person based on what they’re wearing; what’s unacceptable is taking action on those judgments without their permission.The media, through music videos, reality television, and even sitcoms, is informing young girls as to how they must dress to seem desirable – thongs, skintight leggings, crop tops, mini skirts… Read More

The Risks of Canada’s Top Pills

At the risk of sounding like a scary public service announcement: is your birth control pill putting you at risk? In a recent program by CBC Marketplace, Canada’s top birth control pills – Bayer’s Yasmin and Yaz – were investigated for several claims, including increased risk of gallbladder problems, trouble breathing, blood clotting, and stroke.A bit of a shock to the system, especially considering that the majority of young women – over 2     million Canadian prescriptions in 2009 alone – are taking one of these pills. The main reason for their  popularity is that they contain a new hormone, drospirenone, which boasts effects like less bloating, less acne, and less PMS symptoms. To most women – and several doctors – it sounds like the dream pill, hence the surge in prescriptions.Yet not everyone agrees. In fact, about 5000 women across North America wholeheartedly disagree, and are filing a mass action lawsuit against Bayer for personal injuries – everything from pulmonary embolisms to strokes. Bayer is also under fire for misrepresenting the pill, claiming that it reduces acne and premenstrual symptoms when there is no conclusive proof of these effects. The company has had to issue follow-up advertisements to smooth over their false claims, an action that makes them look hasty and careless.Unfortunately, I personally know several women my age who are taking either Yasmin or Yaz. Although obviously this recent development should be taken with a grain of salt – all birth control pills carry a heightened risk of blood clotting and stroke, and those effects are much greater if you have risk factors like smoking or high cholesterol – this news still makes me uncomfortable.The investigation highlights a study, which suggests that women taking pills containing drospirenone have increased health problems – 90 of 100,000 women developing blood clots on… Read More

Stones in His Pockets is Moving and Hilarious

It’s gotten to be that time of year again: when Montreal students of every description put their heads down, bundle up, and hibernate in the library until Spring. Common laments during these cold times: “I feel like I’m missing out on Montreal!” and of course, the ever popular, “I want to do more cultural things!”Not to worry, greater McGill community: I’ve got your back. On now is a show that will satisfy your craving to get out of the McGill bubble, satiate your desire for a laugh that doesn’t involve physics puns, and is not too terrible to travel too in this hideous weather.Stones in His Pockets is a Tony Award-winning play, written by playwright Marie Jones and set in modern day Ireland. It’s an us-versus-them story, and is quite poignant in the way that it juxtaposes the quiet, rural Irish community against the boisterous and bossy Hollywood movie set that comes to town.It starts out light enough – the two central characters are extras on the movie, and bond over the silly facial expressions they’re forced to enact, and their lust for the diva-like lead actress. They are initially humoured by the ridiculous antics of the film’s staff, and become fast friends between takes. As the story goes on, however, things become a good deal darker, and the Irish characters start to resent the overpowering, pushy, and selfish nature of the film and those who work for it. I don’t want to give too much away, since the hysterics and thoughtfulness both stem from their surprising nature, and it’s wonderful to watch this play unfold.Here’s the big twist though – two men play all the characters in the play! Their great acting skills are highlighted by the fact that they can so effortlessly slip into various roles – male and… Read More

Eating Au Noir

Just in case you got lucky on Valentine’s Day and were promised a second date, might I suggest a solution that will allow you to ebb the anxiety, breathe deep, and be yourself? Eat somewhere where you can’t see the other person – that ought to take the pressure off!In all seriousness, though, O Noir is one of the most interesting restaurants in Montreal, and can be applauded both for its unique dining experience and its equally fine cuisine. The concept? Fine dining in the dark. And when they say dark, they’re really not kidding around. Pitch black, can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face dark, the kind of dark where you have to grope for your water glass and eat with your hands. For a few hours, you experience what it’s like to lack eyesight, which is very novel at first, and considerably more taxing by the end.One of the more interesting features of the restaurant is that all the servers are legally blind! Therefore, apart from being a fun experience, it’s also an informative one – meant to increase awareness of how it feels to lack eyesight. What’s great about the set-up is that it employs the visually impaired – they typically experience a 70% unemployment rate.After stashing all electronics (yes, even your Blackberries!) into lockers in the front room and placing your order, you’re greeted personally by your server and led through the door – into the abyss! Let me tell you, hold on to your server’s shoulder with all your might because even after being there for two hours I couldn’t even begin to tell you the layout of the room, where the bathrooms were, or even how many people there were in there with me. What I found interesting about lacking vision is that it’s true about your other senses becoming… Read More

Meatless Mondays : A Proposal

On this website, we debate any number of controversial issues, as one look at our homepage will confirm. Yet the topic that seems to rock the boat the most in my everyday life is what we eat. Or, more specifically, what we shouldn’t, don’t, or can’t. People have such a fundamental attachment to food: tastes, nutritional information, associated memories…I’ve been a vegetarian for almost two years now, and I get asked the same questions over and over by anyone who finds out — “What do you eat?” “How do you do it?” “Aren’t you unhealthy?” The answers to these questions (in my head) are invariably, “A heck of a lot more of a varied diet than you do”; “It’s really not that difficult”; and “No, I am not unhealthy.” The myths surrounding vegetarianism and veganism are difficult ones to shake, especially since it appears that most of the population is (somewhat understandably) unwilling to hear the information and therefore be forced to change.I am a peaceful vegetarian. When I was first learning information about meatless diets (through countless books and websites — see below for more details) I was eager to share that information with my family and wrote about it on my personal blog. If argued with, I can quickly and easily pull up lots of facts to disprove biases. However, I grew up eating meat, I live with a carnivore, I’m surrounded by people who make different food choices than I do – and I can assure you, I’m not angry about it. I’ve never intentionally made somebody feel badly for eating what he or she was eating, made a snarky comment, or paired a chicken casserole with alarming statistics. What saddens me is that I’ve been on the receiving end of rude comments more often than not — people… Read More
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