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March-April 2016

We could be heroes

Epic fantasy and sci-fi are today’s bestsellers and blockbusters. But in a world that can imagine magic and dragons, why is diversity so hard to find?

Nicole Abi-Najem@NajemNorth

I was maybe, what, eight years old? There I was, standing in my literal cave of a stinky basement—a carved-out hollow of dark, dank stone under my rickety old house—scrounging through books piled high into mountains of dust. I whipped out one book. The cover stood out: A woman with flowing ebony braids is striking […] More »

Gender Block: writing’s on the wall

Starchild Stela's radical softness

Hillary Di Menna

Growing up in a low-income household in a small Quebec town, Starchild Stela passed the time drawing, “It was one of the few things I felt I received validation for,” she says. As a teen she started to graffiti and moved to Montreal where she has been working since. Within the last five years the artist […] More »
January-February 2016

Standing ovation

How one playwright confronts stereotypes of black women through her work

Vivien Fellegi

TORONTO PLAYWRIGHT ANDREA SCOTT started to wonder about the secret lives of her neighbours after watching the U.K. television film I am Slave, based on the true story of a modern-day captive. In the film, Arab militia snatch Mende Nazar from her Sudanese village and sell her into slavery; she eventually lands in England, where […] More »
January-February 2016

The People Do Good Stuff Issue: Kim Katrin Milan

The artist who helps her diverse communities tackle issues in creative ways

Blair Mlotek@blairmlo

YOU DON’T EXPECT the word “amazing” to come out of someone’s mouth so often when they speak about difficult issues every day. Splitting her time between New York and Toronto, Kim Katrin Milan is an an educator, writer, artist, yoga instructor, and activist. She does so much that a casual viewer would be forgiven for […] More »

Gender Block: Makeup as a feminist act

Discussing women's lose-lose battle with cosmetics

Hillary Di Menna

Fifteen years ago some guy friends of mine—friends in the sense that I lived in a suburb so anyone my age was my friend by default—removed my makeup from my purse and threw it out. They ignored my asking them to stop and mansplained about how makeup is oppressive to women. So, just to be clear: […] More »

Gender Block: more abortion options in 2016

New drug development and approval could mean better abortion access this year

Hillary Di Menna

“If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament,” wrote feminist writer Susan Maushart  in her book The Mask of Motherhood, after seeing it written in a New York subterranean passageway. Women are still forced to ask Daddy Patriarchy for permission when it comes to reproductive rights. Being denied access to a safe abortion […] More »

Gender Block: Venus Envy

Making it easier for those under 18 to buy gender-affirming items like chest binders

Hillary Di Menna

In September, sex shop and bookstore Venus Envy was fined $260. The Ottawa location was charged for selling a chest binder to a person under 18. The chest binder, a piece of clothing similar to a tank top that flattens the chest, is not itself illegal. It’s the fact that an “adult store” sold it […] More »
November-December 2015

This abject body

How going bald helped me confront the politics of hair

Jill Andrew

I WORE MY OLD WOOL HAT almost every day in 2011. The plaid hat, formerly hiding at the bottom of my wardrobe, stuffed in between worn-down shoes, was suddenly my best friend, my savior—even in the summer when the smoldering heat held my head hostage. I was newly diagnosed with Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia. That […] More »

Gender Block: Canadian universities and sexual violence

Why do universities have such a laid-back approach to sexual violence on campus? Plus, CBC's documentary School of Secrets

Hillary Di Menna

On Monday night, CBC’s The Fifth Estate streamed the episode School of Secrets (still online). The episode featured Mandi Gray of Toronto’s York University and Glynnis Kirchmeier of the University of British Columbia. Both women have filed human rights complaints against their schools for not responding to reports of sexual assault by alumni. Since her […] More »

Gender Block: UBC, sexual harassment, and cover-up culture

Why won't the University of British Columbia seriously investigate women's complaints of rape and sexual assault on campus?

Hillary Di Menna

For years the University of British Columbia (UBC) has told those speaking out against sexual assault to stay silent. “In January 2014, I reported a graduate colleague named Dmitry Mordvinov to the UBC for his unprofessional, sexual harassment behavior I observed,” writes Glynnis Kirchmeier on November 10 in a letter to colleagues, her former students, […] More »
November-December 2015

My invisibility cloak

For years, Aeman Ansari’s body shame kept her clothed in oversized tracksuits

Aeman Ansari

THE FIRST TIME I REALIZED I WAS OVERWEIGHT I was wearing a grey and red plaid dress with buttons snapped like daisies on the pockets. It was my eighth birthday, and my mum invited all of our friends and family over. Like always, she picked matching outfits for my sister and me, laying them out […] More »