Arts and Culture

Venus, Vixens, Virtues : Looking at Women in the Pop Art Movement

The MMFA’s new exhibition attempts to address the objectification of women in Pop art—how did they do?

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts recently opened their new exhibition The Pop of Life! Pop Art in the Collection of the MMFA. The exhibition features a selection of around 70 artworks from the museum’s collection that belong to the Pop art movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The thematic display takes the audience on a tour of the numerous concerns the artists associated with the movement: commodity culture, political events and the sexual objectification of women. 

Upon entering the exhibit to the left, the audience encounters one of the first themes showcased, Venus, Vixens, Virtue, which includes works by Eduardo Paolozzi and Montreal natives Gilles Boisvert and Pierre Ayot. This theme transparently exhibits examples of the ways the movement’s male artists used feminine archetypes in their work.

Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005), Vogue Gorilla with Miss Harper, from the album “Bunk,” 1972, after a collage of about 1947-1952. MMFA, gift of the artist. © Estate of Eduardo Paolozzi / CARCC 2023. Photo MMFA, Jean-François Brière

The representation of women in visual art has a long and troublesome history. Across cultures, male artists and patrons have exercised their presumed entitlement to appropriate women’s bodies in art for their own aesthetic and erotic pleasure. Pop art certainly inherits this legacy, and it is interesting to consider the manifestations of this continuity in a movement concerned with challenging the traditions of fine art. This begs the question: how much do these images really serve as a critical commentary of the fetishization of women?

Pierre Ayot (1943-1995), Ma mère revenant de son shopping, 1967. MMFA, gift of Madeleine Forcier. © Estate of Pierre Ayot / CARCC 2023. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

The brief accompanying description vaguely and obligingly disclaims that these images are largely a reflection of the sexual revolution. It also maintains that “sensibilities have evolved” and that the male gaze is “now being confronted and questioned.” However, any viewer who skips the didactic is simply presented with a lifeless white wall of vibrantly coloured prints of objectified women.

Gilles Boisvert (born in 1940), Woman, from the album “Les oiseaux,” 1972. MMFA, purchase, Saidye and Samuel Bronfman Collection of Canadian Art. Photo MMFA, Jean-François Brière

Gilles Boivert’s 1972 Les Oiseaux is a collection of graphic, brightly coloured screen prints of nude women in a variety of sexually explicit positions.  In Woman, a black and white woman reclines on an abstract background of bright, warm colour. Her position and expression suggests a moment of sexual ecstasy. 

This print is certainly a product of its time and has the potential to contribute to the celebration of women’s nascent sexual freedom. However, to what degree is this really a celebration of a woman’s agency and pleasure rather than an overt display of her body for the pleasure of the viewer? The woman in the print is denied an individual identity, reducing her to an archetype. Explicit sexuality in a red, purple and blue vacuum hardly demonstrates women’s empowerment; it is a one-dimensional approach that robs women of nuance. This tension seems to be left unaddressed. 

I am certainly not arguing in favour of the censorship or burial of these images. Still, it is increasingly apparent that they must be displayed carefully, and perhaps in a context that makes more of a thorough examination of their function. Ultimately, there is very little effort on the part of the museum to truly confront the pernicious aspects of this selection of artworks. 

Community Student Life

Concordia’s Making HERstory Club

Learn all about how a group of Concordia students are empowering women

Making HERstory is a Concordia club that is dedicated to changing the perception about feminism, that perception being all about gender equality between men and women, not women being perceived as dominant.

The Concordian had the chance to sit down with some of the club’s executive members to understand what the club is all about and how it came to be. 

“Everyone that knows me well knows how passionate and dedicated I am towards achieving big goals. As a proud woman, I decided to join Making HERstory to show everyone what women are made of and what they are capable of,” said Gaelle Abou Issa, the club’s vice-president external.

Angela Farasha, the club’s president, explained that there is a special project in the works to commemorate International Women’s day, which took place on March 8. 

“We are preparing for a unique ‘Equality’ project in collaboration with some of our professors in Concordia,” Farasha said. “We can’t talk about it yet. However, make sure to follow us on social media @makingherstoryconcordia to know more about it when the time comes.”

The events that are hosted by the club are some of the highlights for the team. Farasha explained that a majority of the events are done with an educational purpose in mind.

“We focus on educational events that revolve around women empowerment. Such events will discuss raising awareness about women’s rights, issues women face in Canada and other parts of the world, the importance of financial independence for women, the importance of developing a positive body image and many more,” Farasha said. 

Social Media Manager Lana Haidar said she joined the club because she “wanted to make a change and difference and [felt] the need to be a part of something special.” She added that the group has been very welcoming.

The execs can all agree that the club truly took off during the pandemic, when they hosted a variety of online activities and workshops. The transition to in-person schooling made promoting the club much easier for the execs.

“After transferring to in-person, promoting and advertising became easier. The word spreads and a lot of people discover the association and learn about it from their peers, members of the association, as well as social media,” said Vice-President Internal Hajar Lamri.  

The execs look forward to connecting with women from different backgrounds at Concordia as the club continues to grow.


Good Witch, Bad Witch, Will She Float Or Will She Sink?

The history of the witch: true tales of patriarchal terror

With today’s horror movies depicting their women protagonists as helpless haunted gals, I can’t help but reflect on the true feminist horror story: the origin of the witch.

While witch hunts stopped around the 17th century in America, the fear of the witch stayed in our culture, having a particular spotlight during the spooky season.

Although the topic has now evolved into popular culture, the real history of witches is much darker.

Witches were believed to be practitioners of the Devil’s work, calling upon spirits to heal or harm others. Although sometimes — and let’s face it — they were only practicing traditional medicine or sciences, but them being women made it a crime.

It’s clear that witch hunts were targeting women: more specifically, single, widowed women, or women on the margins of patriarchal society— women who stepped outside their assigned role.

Bridget Marshall, Associate Professor in the department of English at the University of Massachusetts who studies witch trials and the history of witchcraft, believes that most witches were women because of systematic oppression.

“This is why witch trials weren’t just about accusations that today seem baseless. They were also about a justice system that escalated local grievances to capital offenses and targeted a subjugated minority,” she says.

Indeed, out of the 19 people that were convicted of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials of 1692, 14 were women and the other five were guilty by association — either a brother or husband.

So, how did these witch hunts contribute to shape the feminist movement? 

It is only in 1893 that we see a critique of how the church treated women who were suspected of being witches.

In her book Woman, Church & State, Matilda Joslyn Gage, an American suffragette, reframed the witch hunts of the 1600s as a misogynistic attempt from the Christian church and state to police women’s bodies and keep gender roles in place.

Gage’s son-in-law, L. Frank Baum, author of the famous The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was inspired by her work to frame the character of the witch in his story in a more positive light.

The early 1960s TV show Bewitched centered around the life a white middle-class housewife, and coincides with the rise of the women’s liberation movement. The way the protagonist Samantha Stephens uses her magic around the house can be linked to early feminist arguments for agency and free will.

This set the stage in popular culture for how we view the figure of the witch now: from a clumsy Sabrina the Teenage Witch, to the clever Hermione, to the villainous comedic Sanderson sisters.

Although we can argue that most of them are portrayed as feminist icons today, we have to acknowledge that the real history behind witch hunts is rooted in patriarchal power and the fear of a woman challenging that power.

Whether by drowning or burning, marginalized women were murdered in barbaric ways under the broad crime of practising witchcraft.

I say “broad” because the offence included an array of subjects that men were also studying at the time, such as astrology, sciences, medicine, and divination.

Besides the obvious religious hysteria around women, witch hunts were also used to establish dominance in these new male-only establishments.

The crime was ultimately that of being a woman.


The World March of Women’s fifth action concluded this Sunday

Marchers chanted “Equity is Possible through Diversity” as this year’s focus was on the rights of Indigenous and marginalized women

Montreal’s Coalition of the World March of Women (WMW) held a march this Sunday Oct.17, concluding the fifth international action which, this year, emphasized the rights of Indigenous women.

Marchers wore red, a symbol that shows solidarity for missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Red scarves were given out by event organizers at Cabot Square Park before the march departed at 1 p.m.. The crowd chanted “Equity is possible through diversity” during the speeches, right before taking off for the march.

Protesters of all ages, backgrounds and genders chanted and marched down Saint-Catherine Street to the beat of hand-held drums.

The WMW was a feminist movement that initiated in Quebec after the Bread and Roses march in 1995 to combat the growing impoverishment and violence against women.

The movement was “born of the desire to unite women of the world around a common project,” as stated on the official WMW website, and grew to “an international feminist action movement connecting grass-roots groups and organizations working to eliminate the causes at the root of poverty and violence against women.”

The first international action happened in 2000 and has since occurred every five years. Beginning on March 8, International Women’s Day, and closing on Oct. 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the WMW holds a series of events to put forward and raise awareness for their demands.

The fifth action was projected to take place in 2020, but the Coordination du Québec de la March mondiale des femmes (CQMMF) decided to postpone it due to the pandemic.

The WMW regroups activists and women’s groups in Montreal. But, it is also just one part of a global movement. Diana Lombardi, coordinator for Réseau d’action des femmes en santé et services sociaux, an umbrella group for women’s groups in Montreal, explained: “When we sit down and think about what themes to bring up for the march, we ask ourselves: how can what we are doing in Montreal support and make space for women’s voices who are less heard?”

Nakuset, executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, highlighted why the WMW is fighting for Indigenous women’s rights. “We’re still facing no clean water in Iqaluit, we’re still facing missing and murdered Indigenous women, we’re still facing poverty, we’re still facing homelessness, we’re still facing our children being apprehended in youth protection.”

“We learned this summer that there are over 6500 children in mass graves, therefore we need your help,” she said.

This year’s march was organized around five major themes: a strong sense of solidarity and the demands of indigenous women, poverty, violence against women, climate justice, and the rights of immigrant, racialized, and migrant women.

Lombardi was also on Montreal’s WMW coordinating team for this year’s actions. “Our goal is to speak more to the population that it is possible to make changes […] and what we are suggesting is good for all communities, not just a few. We are thinking of a society with less violence, cleaner spaces, less poverty, and a place for all people” said Lombardi. “How can we not fight for that?”

The poverty theme assesses the growing impoverishment of women by asking decent livable wages. “The housing crisis in Montreal is making it harder for women to come out of poverty, which makes accessing clean and affordable housing more difficult,” said Lombardi.

Montreal’s Rental Market Report for 2020 highlighted that the average rental prices on the Island of Montreal went up 4.2 per cent in 2020, which has been the largest increase since 2003.

The WMW is also demanding more recognition of violence against women. Femicide has been discussed by Quebec media more than ever since the start of the pandemic. In 2021, 16 women in the province of Quebec were reported murdered through acts of domestic violence, with an alleged 17th case on Monday.

Lombardi adds, “the housing crisis in Montreal is not helping women who are experiencing domestic or interpersonal violence looking for a safe place to be.”

She also notes that immigrant, racialized, and migrant women “who might not have high status” and “who are trying to be included in Montreal and in Montreal’s society” are failing to be noticed by the city.

“Can we recognize that we have a problem with systemic racism?” she asked.


Photograph by Lou Neveux-Pardijon

“That Girl”: capitalism’s new cheerleader

The nefarious new inspiration porn

“That Girl” wakes up at 6 a.m. for her morning exercise of choice, often yoga, jogging, or weight lifting. Then when she’s done, she showers, performs an elaborate skincare routine, makes her white bed, meditates, drinks a yummy homemade smoothie, puts on some bike shorts and a crop top, and, if she has some time, writes in her gratitude journal.

That Girl” is the latest internet lifestyle trend popularized on TikTok. Aimed at young women, this trend is supposed to encourage girls to be their healthiest, most productive, and #empowered selves — to become “That Girl” who is cool, skinny, and successful. The trend, like most things that live on the internet, has faced some criticism. So let’s unpack why “That Girl” is sort of problematic.

For starters, “That Girl” isn’t anything new. She’s the evolution of girls of the past like the #girlboss (popularized by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso). The #girlboss was simply a confident successful woman, particularly if she was an entrepreneur or her own boss. #Girlboss feminism was synonymous with pithy hashtags and sayings that you could slap onto a t-shirt, like #freethenipple and #girlssupportgirls. She has to operate in a “man’s world,” and so she’s encouraged to take charge, be unapologetic, and hustle. This brand of feminism was particularly championed by millennial women, has been accused of being superficial, promoting patriarchal capitalist attitudes and structures, and focusing on skinny, white, conventionally attractive cis-het women.

This leads us to one of the biggest pitfalls of both the #girlboss and “That Girl.” They’re not inclusive. Like at all. If you look up “That Girl” on TikTok or YouTube, you’ll see the same kind of girl participating.

  1. She has disposable income. Those fancy salads, candles, journals, and gym memberships aren’t cheap!
  2. She’s usually thin, white, and cis-het. And if she’s not all of those things, don’t worry. She’s still conventionally attractive!

On the surface, this isn’t so nefarious. Sometimes certain trends and lifestyles just happen to appeal to a certain demographic, right? But this lack of diversity becomes more troubling when you consider that “That Girl” carries connotations of moral virtue.

Throughout history and across cultures, religions, and philosophies, self-control has been valued. You see it in the writings of influential thinkers, including Plato, St. Thomas Aquinas, Confucius, and the Buddha. Asceticism is the practice of denying your desires in order to achieve a certain goal and traces of it can be seen in most major religions, including Christianity, Islam, and Buddism. Denial of food, sex, comfort, luxury, or even sleep are all seen as admirable sacrifices to achieve moral and spiritual purity, common ascetic practices include celibacy, fasting, and meditation. Ascetics, or those who successfully complete an ascetic practice are more moral than everyone else because they have overcome “temptation.”

Capitalism has a bit of asceticism in its DNA, maybe because of its links to Christianity. Though capitalism loves excess it’s quite strict. Give up sleep, give up a social life, give up being treated like a person… whatever it takes to be successful. Don’t get distracted by your desires and weaknesses, just focus. Anyone can be successful through hard work. If you’re poor, it’s your own fault. You should suck it up and hustle, to the point of exhaustion or even injury if necessary. Sacrifice and discipline is just what it takes to be a “good” and “successful” person in our society. This mentality doesn’t only apply to one’s career and finances, it also applies to health and fitness. Overweight people are shamed for supposedly being indulgent, lazy, stupid. There is no consideration for genetics, lack of resources, or other health problems. Culturally, thinness has long been associated with virtue, and fatness has been associated with decadence and failure.

Ascetics, thin people, the traditionally successful, and “That Girl” have all denied human desires in order to be superior.

“That Girl” is just a new form of the centuries long human desire to feel in control through self-discipline and strict routines. You can’t control the plague, earthquakes, famines, oppressive leaders, or the family you’re born into, but you can control what you eat, when you wake up, if you exercise or meditate, etc. But it’s a cycle of shame, guilt, and self-hatred when you “fail.” The trend serves capitalism, both with the luxurious lifestyle it worships and the attitude it embodies.

In all fairness, I do see value in these attempts to “romanticize your life,” enjoy the little things, touch grass, and be mindful. The trend also professes the importance of mental health, albeit in the most superficial, aesthetic, and pleasant way possible. “That Girl” does not go to therapy or need medication, she takes a bubble bath, puts on a face mask, watches only one episode of Friends, bakes… This self-care trend encourages you to spend money on certain products and is incredibly individualistic. If you are burnt out and depressed it’s your fault, not any system’s. Haven’t you been practicing self-care?

I urge you to aspire for something, anything more fulfilling and genuine than “That Girl.” Trust me, she’s not all that.


Feature graphic by Madeline Schmidt


“My body, my choice”, an ironic juxtaposition

How the use of this controversial slogan has shifted

Growing up, I heard the phrase “My body, my choice” often, whether it was in the context of a history class, in the news, or from a speech my mom once gave me. And then, in the mid 2010s, I discovered the ongoing feminism, womanism, and intersectional feminism movement, and the fight towards the right to decide what’s best for our bodies.

In today’s context, the phrase has been co-opted by a new movement – anti-vaxx – that intrudes upon the safety of many. 

The disease we shall not speak of has created a faction of society that has a fundamental problem with wearing a small piece of cloth over their mouths, getting a vaccine to protect themselves and others from stronger, more contagious variants of the virus, and the use of vaccine passports.

So now, here we are, at a crossroads between the right to choose and the right to… choose, I guess?

It is important to acknowledge that traditional feminism has a long and continued history of excluding Black women and women of colour. In the 1970s, women fought for the right to work outside the home and to ensure their reproductive rights, specifically in the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade, which made abortion services legal, though not nessesarily accessible.

Women everywhere were fighting for the right to choose, but white women mostly ignored important issues that mainly impacted women of colour. This resulted in the start of the womanism movement, which focuses specifically on the everyday concerns related to the Black female experience. It takes a focus on the deeper issues and the intersectionality between being a woman and a person of colour, ultimately addressing concerns that white folks were not interested in.

The phrase “My body, my choice” used to represent a movement that — although flawed — had an overarching goal to give power back to women, specifically when it came to our reproductive freedom. It’s ironic now to hear the slogan chanted by some of the same people who would yell “GOD LOVES YOU” as you walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic.

There are obviously some good reasons to not get vaccinated, such as if you have a health condition that is recognized as having a negative reaction to the vaccine.

Additionally, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 49 per cent of Black Americans stated their lack of trust in the institutions that provide vaccines. There is a documented history of mistreatment of marginalized peoples in the era of eugenics, such as Black Americans, people of Asian and Pacific descent, Indigenous persons, and disabled people. Non-consensual medical experimentation, which goes along with medical professionals having a disregard for the pain and suffering of their patients, has led to a continued lack of trust in western medical institutions for many marginalized people.

Other reasons, such as the side effects of the vaccine or thinking COVID-19 isn’t a real threat seem like a bad joke to me. I can believe some Trump constituents were brainwashed into believing the pandemic wasn’t a real threat, I just cannot get over the hypocrisy in that belief. For decades, women have been fighting for freedom and independence for their reproductive rights, but that has always been outrageous to white conservative Americans, who are composed of 85 per cent Christians. They expect us to just sit down and listen to the Bible whether or not we believe what it says. But today, when the entire world is collectively enduring a pandemic, these same people cannot handle being told what to do.

For decades, people with uterus’s have had to put up and deal with inaccessible healthcare and old white men making the decisions about our vaginas and sex lives, but as soon as those same people experience one hundredth of what it is to have your body regulated, all I hear is whining.

And the fact that the so-called injustice of today is as simple as wearing a mask, in comparison to taking any method of contraception, highly gatekept abortions, the realities of having to live with those decisions, the external judgment, your body and your choices being debated every election, and plain old birth control side effects, whether it’s an IUD and your gyno has to crawl up your cervix every five years, or you have a pill to take everyday — a pill that could make you gain weight, lose weight, have acne, mood swings, painful period cramps, and the list goes on and on.  Keep in mind, I just had to think of my own experiences to make this list… which does not even scratch the surface.

But now, this same person is angry their president didn’t get elected, mad that there’s a hoax of a virus the elite Liberals have created, and that they blew it out of proportion to control us.

Instead of being mad, I’m just going to laugh at the irony of today. It’s everywhere you look, in each nook and cranny around us – from every social media post to every article.


Feature graphic by James Fay

Women’s History Month is off to a terrifying start

The month began with the death of Sarah Everard, followed by a mass shooting and reports of femicide in Canada

As little girls, we were warned against straying from the confines of our gendered boundaries, because if we did, we would surely be punished for our curiosities — that transgressions of any kind would inevitably result in deadly consequences. What nobody prepares girls for is that the same boundaries we are told to operate within serve as challenges for boys and men. That we don’t have to earn gendered violence against us; it may happen anyway. In a month intended to celebrate women, Women’s History Month is off to a terrifying start.

The history of International Women’s Day (IWD) dates back to the early 1900s. Its cultural significance was strengthened by the participation of the United Nations in 1975, includes movements supporting women’s rights in countries all over the world, and has now expanded into a month-long celebration. While Canada celebrates IWD on March 8 along with the rest of the world, Canada’s Women’s History Month is observed in October. However, popular recognition and commercialization of IWD has coloured the way that women are celebrated globally. But despite these admirable goals, this Women’s History Month has been marred with terror.

On the night of March 3, 33-year-old Sarah Everard left her friend’s home in South London, heading on a 50 minute walk home. Sarah left at 9 p.m., well before what girls are told is the cutoff for their unspoken curfew. We learn that she was on the phone with her partner, Josh Lowth, for 15 minutes before it was cut short. She was dressed for an evening walk, wearing a rain jacket, pants, knitted hat and a face mask. When the Metropolitan Police raised concerns over Everard’s whereabouts on March 6, women understood the danger Sarah may have been in, silently praying for news that she made it home that night.

Everard did everything right — she was dressed in a way that would satisfy the “but what was she wearing?” crowd; she was walking home early enough for the “but was she out too late” crowd; and she was careful enough to walk on a main road while on the phone with her partner for the “but was she reckless” crowd. Everard was last seen on a CCTV camera alone at around 9:30 p.m. that night. When remains were found on the evening of March 10 in a wooded area 56 miles away from where she was last seen, we prayed harder. The body discovered was confirmed to be Everard on the morning of March 12.

To date, a 48-year-old police officer has been taken into custody in connection with Everard’s murder. When thousands of women gathered on March 13 in South London for a vigil in her honour, peaceful observers were met with violence from police. As footage of arrests circulated, public outrage prompted London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to declare the force from police “unacceptable,” and that they were “neither appropriate or proportionate.”

On social media, women began to share their experiences of sexual assault, only to be met with resistance from the “not all men” crowd. The widespread refusal to acknowledge mens’ complicity of gendered violence surprised no one, yet women continued to perform emotionally laborious tasks in defending their right to safety. Little did we know, Everard’s murder was just the beginning of the grim weeks to follow.

On March 9, Texas lawmaker Bryan Slaton introduced a bill that would allow the death penalty for those who would have abortions. HB 3326 would allow anyone having or performing abortions to be charged with homicide, a crime punishable by death under Texas law.

On March 16, a 21-year-old white gunman opened fire at three separate Asian-owned businesses in Georgia, killing eight people. Seven of the victims were women, six of whom were Asian women. The mass shooting occurs after spikes in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Asian Canadians since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Canada, a report by the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability found that one woman or girl is killed every 2.5 days in Canada. #CallItFemicide reports that 90 per cent of cases of an identified killer are male, with more than half of them being the partners of their victims.

Women’s History Month has yet to conclude — but thus far, it has served as a stark reminder that violence against women continues to eclipse the celebration of their societal and cultural contributions. Author and activist bell hooks said, “What we do is more important than what we say or what we say we believe.” If Canadians and Americans believe at last, that women deserve the right to feel safe in their own bodies, then much has left to be done.


Photo collage by Kit Mergaert

How to be a bimbo in 2021

A group of TikTok creators are embracing hyperfemininity while rejecting internalized misogyny and the male gaze

In recent years, words like “bitch” and “slut” have undergone a transformation. “Bimbo” used to be a misogynistic insult, connoting an attractive but unintelligent woman. But now it is the latest word in “girl world” to go from demeaning to empowering. On TikTok, bimbos are trending. This proud new breed has embraced the identity of a new-age bimbo while sporting a pink Y2K aesthetic, worshipping icons Dolly Parton and Anna Nicole Smith, and preaching leftist values.

“A neo-bimbo unironically loves hyper-feminine fashion, jewelry and aesthetics in the face of a patriarchal institution that would deem them frivolous,” explains Bunny, who goes by the handle @bunnythebimbo. She has gained a following by making videos where she teaches classes on what she has coined as “bimbology.” Having recently graduated with a Women and Gender Studies degree from Chatham University, she loves to analyze what being a new-age bimbo means from a theoretical perspective. In one post on her Tiktok, she says bimbos take their femininity to the extreme as a way of making fun of how men perceive them in this patriarchal society. “But also we’re taking part and pleasure in it so it’s once again ours,” she points out.

Twenty-three-year-old Tennessean Hannah Foran, a.k.a. @parishiltonslefttitty, enjoys being able to dress for the male gaze, even if she’s subverting it. Ever since she was little, she’s admired the Y2K aesthetic. Known for her platinum blonde hair, plump lips, Juicy Couture, and cleavage, she says, “To me, being a new-age bimbo means you’re flipping the ‘male gaze’ on itself. You are becoming the very thing that men fear; a promiscuous, very attractive woman who plays dumb but is actually very smart once she reveals all her cards.”

New Yorker Meredith Suzuki (@maeultra) recently started to embrace being a goth-bimbo, a type of bimbo who has a darker aesthetic than the stereotypical pink.

“We are hot bitches who choose to be dumb, not just because some annoying idiot man made them like that,” she says in one clip on her TikTok. The 24-year-old believes the pandemic and capitalism pushed her towards bimboism. She became increasingly frustrated with how much more mental and emotional labour women have to do.“I wanted to break away from all that,” she says. One day she woke up and decided that she just wanted to be hot instead.

Perhaps the most successful bimbo on TikTok, Chrissy Chlapecka, 20, has attracted more than two million followers to her account, @chrissychlapecka. In a recent video, she frolics through the streets of a wintery Chicago in a thin coat unzipped to show off a pink fluffy bra. “Sweetheart, this is a sign to wear whatever the hell you want,” she tells her audience. “I don’t care if it’s snowing! Winter is a concept!” Her account is filled with videos where she’s either screaming at viewers to stop being sad over some mediocre boy, making fun of Trump supporters, or discussing how bad she is at math. Chlapecka famously finishes each of her captions to her videos with “#ihatecapitalism.”

Fifty-one-year-old Ginger Willson Pate, @glitterparis, is one of the older bimbos on the app. Her favourite part of being a bimbo is how often she’s underestimated because of her looks. She claims it has worked to her advantage in her life. Along with her daily TikTok videos, she’s a real estate agent in Silicon Valley and has a business with her partner of flipping and selling houses.

“That’s been a really lucrative career for me,” she points out, “so I’m not as stupid as I look.”

To Pate, being a bimbo means she doesn’t have to be ashamed of being ultra-girly and materialistic. “I’ve actually been put down for that by men that I’ve dated,” she says. But she’s happy the way she is. “I’m not gonna tone it down for some guy’s opinion of me,” she explains.

In the past, Concordia Journalism and Creative Writing student Nadia Trudel has struggled with letting herself care about her appearance, while simultaneously wanting to be an intelligent young woman.

“I think seeing these TikToks has encouraged me to be more unapologetically confident and take pride in my appearance without feeling shallow,” she says. Being smart and caring about your appearance had always seemed like two incompatible concepts. She’d been taught to value being smart and dislike girls who cared about their appearance. But now, she recognizes that belief system to be internalized misogyny.

Emma Amar, a Concordia Software Engineering student, categorizes the bimbo movement as a feminist movement. She believes that modern day feminism typically rejects stereotypically feminine things. As Gen Z, we are the daughters of the mothers who wouldn’t let us play with Barbies.

“Publicly deciding to embrace those qualities and still be a feminist, or still be politically informed, is really powerful because it shows that the way you look does not automatically decide how smart or informed you are,” explains Amar.

“Do you support all women regardless of their job title and if they have plastic surgery or body modifications?” Syrena (@fauxrich) asks in a TikTok video about the requirements to be a bimbo. While Syrena has not gotten any work done yet, the 22-year-old is currently studying to become a cosmetic injector.

Foran, @parishiltonslefttitty, openly admits that she had her breasts done in exchange for spanking a sugar daddy with a paddle in a leopard thong. She has blackmailed sugar daddies that were married in order to get free Botox and lip filler. “I want my nose done next,” she adds.

Ultimately, bimbos have created a safe and inclusive space on the internet where one can be themselves without judgement.

“She’s actually a radical leftist who is pro sex work, pro Black Lives Matter, pro LGBTQ+, pro choice,” Chlapecka explains in a TikTok video about the role of the bimbo, ”and will always be there for her girls, gays and theys.” While Chlapecka has progressive values, she still, as a blonde thin white woman, perfectly fits the original bimbo aesthetic from a decade ago from reality tv shows such as The Simple Life and The Girls Next Door.

Despite the progressive message of bimbo TikTok, Amar doesn’t believe that the community is sufficiently diverse. She has mostly come across white women on bimbo Tiktok.

“But I think that has a lot to do with TikTok’s algorithm,” she says. Bunny, who is a self-proclaimed fat white woman bimbo, says she’d also like to see more accounts uplifting POC and fat creators. “I think that creating your own aesthetic despite restrictions that say that you cannot be a part of it is something that can be really powerful,” Bunny explains about her own journey of embracing the bimbo aesthetic as a fat woman.

“The definition has expanded to become much more inclusive of all genders, races, body types, sexual orientations and aesthetics,” says Suzuki. In 2021, bimbo no longer just describes ditzy white blonde girls with big boobs. If that were the case, Suzuki wouldn’t be here. She’s proud of how far Gen Z bimbos have come when it comes to inclusivity and diversity. “But this is really only the beginning.”

Many bimbo creators have gotten comments from their followers claiming they want to be a bimbo but they don’t have big boobs or they don’t have the right sort of clothes. “A neo-bimbo needs to be hot, but that is not deemed by patriarchal beauty standards,” explains Bunny, “but rather by an unapologetic confidence that radiates from within.” Bunny strongly believes that anyone can be a bimbo.

Both Amar and Trudel say that since starting to watch bimbo TikToks, they have gained confidence. “It’s okay to just be like ‘I’m sexy, I’m hot,’’ Trudel says. “And it can be fully serious, or it can be kind of ironic.” To her, it seems like there’s an almost fake it till you make it quality to gaining confidence as a bimbo. “If you start acting like you are sexy and calling yourself sexy, maybe you’ll start to actually feel that way,” she explains.

Amar sometimes gets nervous about dressing in revealing clothes out of fear that others will judge her and think she looks slutty. Seeing bimbo creators dress unapologetically in hyperfeminine or hypersexual outfits has helped her become more comfortable. “It reminds me it’s okay to express myself in whatever way I want to,” she says.

While on the exterior, the bimbo movement on TikTok might seem like simply a pink aesthetic and pretty girls, it’s so much more. Syrena states that being a bimbo, at the end of the day, is a lifestyle grounded in kindness. “Loving yourself and refraining from judging others too quickly,” says Syrena, “That is the most important part of being a bimbo.”


Graphic by @the.beta.lab

Girls, are you on-air ready?

Female broadcast journalists and their efforts to be noticed for their work

It turns out that the “effortless beauty” exuded by female broadcast journalists takes a lot of effort. Waking up and washing your face isn’t enough to be considered on-air ready.

As far as Laura Casella, anchor at Global News Montreal is concerned, “The Laura Casella who walks into work from bed with [her] hair tied up in a bun and no makeup … that Laura can’t necessarily go on TV.”

For female broadcast journalists, physical appearance plays the biggest part in one’s success. These female anchors are the liaison between viewers and the news station, but their journalistic talents are often overlooked.

Laura Casella speaks on behalf of all female journalists when discussing how she wants to be recognized for her hard work and talent within her profession. She wants people to watch her for her stories, not her good looks or wardrobe choices.

So, you noticed my hair but you didn’t hear anything I was saying? I want people to pay attention to the context of my story like they do with male anchors,” Casella adds.

Double standards between men and women are very prominent in broadcast news, according to Caroline Van Vlaardingen, anchor for CTV News Montreal. She believes that male anchors are easily forgiven. Whether they are balding, carrying extra weight or even wearing the same clothing day in and day out, men are not criticized.

Van Vlaardingen continues, “In fact, one Australian male anchor proved it by doing just that, wearing the same suit every day for a year while his female co-anchor changed her outfits every day, and no one noticed.”

Karl Stefanovic conducted this experiment because his co-anchor Lisa Wilkinson was receiving unsolicited critiques from viewers on her appearance. After a year dressed in blue, Stefanovic wasn’t surprised to see that no one ever commented on his wardrobe choices. His experiment confirmed that he is judged on his journalistic talent while his co-host is not.

There are some observations that can be made among the female anchors at both Global and CTV News. To name a few, heavy makeup is an essential part of the ‘getting ready’ process, as well as tighter clothing.

Through observation of 16 women who appeared onscreen on Oct. 23 on CTV and Global News Montreal, every single woman was wearing makeup and jewelry. 75 per cent of these women were white and approximately 65 per cent were blonde and thin. More than half of these women were under 35 years old.

“Acceptance of aging among women on the air is … a challenge,” says Van Vlaardingen. “The sad irony of this job as a woman, is that just as you step into your most experienced years and feel your most confident, your body and face begin to show your age.”

According to Van Vlaardingen, women who gain weight or develop wrinkles as they age tend to disappear from high-profile on-air jobs. Those that manage to stay on-air have a lot of work done to maintain their desired look. Botox, consistent hair colouring and dieting are common ways that female anchors preserve the youthful look.

Kim Sullivan, weather specialist at Global News Montreal, states that she never felt pressured to look a certain way by the management at Global.

“In my first year at Global, I gained 40 pounds because I was going through fertility and never once did I feel that I had to lose it.”

On the other hand, Sullivan does feel as though she doesn’t fit the look of the ‘ideal weather woman’ but emphasizes that this was a pressure she imposed on herself.

There’s one dress that all weather women have to have, so when I started my job at Global I bought it as a joke. It’s called the ‘weather girl dress.’”

There are underlying standards women must adhere to when considering a professional career in media. Huda Hafez, Journalism student at Concordia University, is an aspiring news anchor. Hafez explains the criticism these women receive in regards to their appearance makes her uncomfortable.

“I want to be a hard core journalist, not a piece of eye candy. I’m definitely aware of what I’m getting myself into, but we are a growing society and I’m hoping that things start and continue to change once I get on the air.”


Graphic by @the.beta.lab


Let’s stop policing whether or not women have children

Deciding whether or not to start a family is a personal decision, so why does it seem to be everyone’s business?

I have always wanted children, and a little over one month before this article was published, I had one. Having a baby was the greatest joy thus far in my life. I also, however, was prompted to think about the debates about whether or not people should be having children. This is a debate I have had with many different people, and each debate has a unique outcome.

One of the main arguments I have heard from women who do not want kids is that choosing to have kids makes you a product of the patriarchal society. I find this frustrating because it removes the agency of women who make the choice to have children willingly. I do understand that in certain situations, there is a lot of pressure on women to have biological children. I know that in some families if a woman doesn’t produce a child it causes a lot of conflicts. That being said, I don’t think it is fair to paint this with a broad stroke. I think each woman’s decision should be accepted, and we should embrace that women are in a position to be their own agents in decision making.

Overpopulation and the environment are two other reasons why women say they are opting to not have children and I can understand the concern. I have heard the conversations about there potentially not being enough food to feed everyone. So, I can see someone choosing a childless life in light of this concern. I can also see how someone who is environmentally cautious and wants to reduce their perceived negative contributions to the environment might feel that having no children would make the most sense.

I have wanted children since I was about 16 years old, and so ten years later, I chose to have a child. I remember even growing up that there were debates about this subject. I grew up with two siblings, and in an Italian family, so having children was kind of a rite of passage. However, my desire to have children wasn’t from my family directly. I wanted to have a child that I could take care of and see grow. I think this should be respected.

Something I think is missing from the debate is the fact that men aren’t questioned about this topic in the same way women are. Men don’t have to answer why they do or do not want to be a father. I think that in order to come to a solid conclusion, the debate needs to have more balance. The reason I say this is because the debate around having children seems to just be another way for women and their bodies to be policed and judged. I also think it is easier to ask women the question because they will be the ones who are carrying the baby.

The justification process for either decision is one that makes this debate so heated. It seems like women are pitted against each other for whichever decision they make. I think the justification process, which I have gone through, is what makes this debate the most challenging. It seems that no matter which choice a woman makes, there is something wrong with that choice. Whether or not a woman wants children should be respected. I don’t think it’s up to me, men, other women, or society at large to police whether women do or do not have children.


 Graphic by Lily Cowper


An analysis of J.K. Rowling’s transphobia

How J.K. Rowling weaponizes white femininity against trans people

In a year of general tragedy, disappointment, and chaos in all regards, I didn’t expect a pillar of my childhood to be destroyed.

This summer, while people across the world were protesting against police brutality and systemic racism, J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, decided to get on Twitter. She mocked a headline which used the phrase “people who menstruate” following up with a tweet about her fear of biological sex being erased.

Rowling received backlash from LGBTQ+ organizations like GLAAD who called her tweets “cruel” and “anti-trans,” and cast members from the Harry Potter franchise criticized Rowling or spoke out in support of trans rights. Rowling did not see the error in her ways, however, nor did she have the wisdom to keep quiet. Instead she wrote a 3,000+ word essay published on her website in response to the criticism where she posits herself as a brave defender of women against radical trans activists.

There’s too much to get into, but there is a great thorough rebuttal and critique of the essay you can read from Mermaids, a gender non-conforming children’s charity.

The comment that struck me most in the essay was when Rowling stated that, “When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman … then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside.” Here, Rowling proves that she is a product of the media she has been exposed to.

This idea partly emanates from a variety of very harmful tropes in media about trans women; that they are “men in dresses” (perpetuated by the casting of cis men as trans women), that they are men dressing as women to get something (Some Like It Hot, Mrs. Doubtfire, White Chicks, Tootsie, etc.), or that they are crazy and violent (The Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, Dressed to Kill). With such a historic lack of representation, especially when Rowling was growing up, these types of representation form a lot of negative and incorrect ideas in people’s minds about who a trans person is.

Trans women, particularly trans women of colour, are disproportionately murdered every year. In a survey of trans Americans nearly half said they had been sexually assaulted, and over half had experienced some sort of domestic abuse. There is a correlation between this violence and fears created by these representations.

Representation of trans people as the butt of jokes also dehumanizes them, or portrays them as gross. In Ace Ventura: Pet Detective there is a scene where, after finding out he has kissed a trans woman (or a man depending on how you see it), Jim Carrey as Ventura throws up, induces vomiting, brushes his teeth, scrapes his tongue, and burns his clothes. A similar revelation happens in The Crying Game, in which the male lead hits a trans woman and throws up. When trans women’s killers are actually brought to trial they frequently use what’s known as the “trans panic defence.” This defence attempts to justify the murder by saying that the discovery of someone’s trans identity is that upsetting and shocking. This is an extension of homophobia in many ways because in these cases killers view trans women as “men in dresses.”

If you would like to learn more about the history of trans people in film and television, I’d highly recommend Netflix’s Disclosure, which is executive produced by Laverne Cox.

A lack of, and poor representation, of Black people also shares a history with trans representation.

In early cinema, blackface and crossdressing were often intertwined, as seen in A Florida Enchantment. There is a history of Black men being presented as hypermasculine and aggressive, perhaps seen most notably in D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation where an actor in blackface attempts to rape a white woman.

Conversely, there is also a tradition of emasculating Black men dating back to slavery. Black comedians performing in drag (Tyler Perry as Madea, Jamie Foxx in In Living Color, Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor, Kenan Thompson on Saturday Night Live, etc.) has also become somewhat of a rite of passage.

Actors in blackface crossdressing or Black actors crossdressing is thus an intersection between racism (frequently rooted in the desire to laugh at Black people), misogynoir (asexualizing Black women, presenting them as masculine, aggressive, unattractive and other offensive stereotypes), homophobia, and transphobia.

Just as trans people are regularly murdered based on the notion that they are predators, Black people (particularly men) have been murdered based on the idea that they are dangerous, particularly to white women. Racism and sexism are both at play here because the “damsel in distress” is always a white woman, isn’t she?

In the Post Civil War era, white supremacists and politicians created racial fear amongst white people by frequently using the fear of rape of white women. So you can see how harmful Birth of a Nation was (also because it romanticized the KKK, leading to its rebirth). The consequences of these fears is perhaps epitomized by the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955, after he allegedly flirted with a white woman.

As Mia Brett notes in The Washington Post, “Though built on white privilege, the protection offered to white women against other groups actually serves anti-feminist goals of infantilizing women and using their safety as justification to enact bigoted violence. In cases where women’s safety cannot be easily weaponized against a Black, immigrant or trans person, the figure of the damsel in distress has evoked little societal response, even if a woman is in genuine danger.”

In many ways not much has changed since Emmett Till’s murder. Just this year, white New Yorker Amy Cooper notoriously called the police on Christian Cooper, a Black birdwatcher who had asked her to put her dog on a leash. Luckily, Christian Cooper made it out alive, but incidents like this frequently escalate to violence. In the video you can watch online, she changes her voice to sound distressed and before she calls 911 she tells Cooper “I’m gonna tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” demonstrating she is knowingly weaponizing her white femininity against him. In fact there are plenty of videos online of hysterical white women calling 911 on Black people for anything from barbecuing at a lake, sleeping in a University common room, to simply being in a Starbucks.

Similar fears and dynamics are at play in Rowling’s fears of “erasing sex” and “letting any man who believes or feels he’s a woman” into women’s bathrooms.

I have to acknowledge my own white womanhood and the history and privilege and power that comes with that. Frequently, white women delude themselves into thinking that they cannot be oppressive to others because they have been oppressed for their gender, and this delusion has negative consequences. Even crying to a Black person about your guilt over racism, a phenomenon dubbed “white woman tears,” is oppressive. It shuts down dialogue, puts the focus on the white woman, and forces POC to comfort her.

We must recognize the sources of our fears when it comes to the “other” and realize that unconscious bias is at play, even for those of us who so desperately don’t want to be racist or transphobic.

Rowling’s latest instance of transphobia comes from her latest novel where the killer is a “transvestite serial killer.” The transphobic media which seems to have shaped Rowling’s views is thus perpetuated by her and so the cycle continues. In August, Rowling returned her Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award after Kerry Kennedy, his daughter, called Rowling’s comments transphobic. Again, Rowling posited herself as a martyr for women’s rights, claiming no award could be as important as following her conscience.

I don’t think Rowling believes herself to be transphobic. In fact, in her essay she says most trans women pose zero threat, acknowledges that trans women of colour are more likely to be affected by violence, and says she wants trans women to be safe. But whether she realizes it or not, she is using and perpetuating stereotypes which harm trans people. Her type of transphobia is more subtle but is just as if not more harmful than outright bigotry. She comes across as reasonable and constructs well-spoken arguments, says she has trans friends and rejects the TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) label, so her arguments will be more palatable to people.

She has deluded herself into believing that she is being wrongfully attacked because of misogyny, that she is the victim of a witch hunt. Maybe she doesn’t have any malicious intent — she says she doesn’t — but she is afraid. And a white cishet woman’s fear can lead to real violence and oppression. Beware this type of white cishet woman and call her out on her bullshit, especially if you are also a white cishet woman.


Graphic by @the.beta.lab


How a young Montrealer is fighting toxic masculinity and sexism at school

Colin Renaud wore a skirt to school to protest against “sexist dress code”

Don’t be surprised if you saw high school boys in skirts Tuesday. It was part of a student movement led by Colin Renaud, after his own experience of wearing a skirt to school went viral on Instagram last week.

Renaud, a 15-year-old Villa Maria High School student, wore a skirt to school last week as a protest against their sexist dress code and the hyper-sexualization of women.

“I got a lot of negative comments, just not to my face,” Renaud, who recently started grade 10 and is a member of the student council, told The Concordian. “One of my first projects with the student committee was to make our school uniform unisex,” said Renaud.

His first project was a successful one, as Villa Maria implemented the unisex dress code a couple of years ago, allowing every student to wear whichever pieces of the student uniform they prefer. At least, that is what Renaud thought when he decided to put the new rule to the test by showing up to his class in a skirt.

“I thought that it would be easy, that my school had already approved a rule implying a unisex dress code, but it was the opposite.”

As Renaud walked to his class, he was followed by a school staff member and, during his second period, was summoned to the school secretary’s office, escorted by two faculty members.

What followed still shocks Renaud today.

“They said a lot of degrading comments about me,” said Renaud. What the school administration reprimanded Renaud for doing included wearing a skirt, wearing nail polish and not being a good model for younger students.

Renaud finds it disappointing that his school, which promotes itself as very inclusive, would have such a bad reaction to his choice of attire.

“Diversity is one of their fundamental values,” said Renaud.

He is happy to say, however, that the following day, he had another discussion with the administration, and that they seemed open and ready to hear what the students had to say.

Renaud said the fight is not over as the students’ association has been trying for three years to abolish another dress code rule: mandatory knee-high socks that girls have to wear in combination with their skirt.

“When I wore the skirt, I did not get reprimanded for not wearing knee-high socks but all the girls around me did,” explained Renaud. According to him and his classmates, this account of events shows the sexist nature of this rule.

Renaud is hopeful, however, that his actions will have the impact necessary to make a difference as he compares his situation to other students who imitated him at different institutions.

“There are certain schools that did worse, they sent the boys back home, telling them they can either wear pants or stay home,” said Renaud.

Seeing the movement move across the province in different schools makes him proud, but also uncomfortable.

“At the beginning I was happy … but I felt that it wasn’t my place to be the face of this movement,” said Renaud.

“I like getting feedback, whether it be positive or negative,” said Renaud as he recalled getting a lot of messages from disappointed women. “They believe it is sad that a movement like this one started getting media attention when boys were involved, which I totally understand,” said Renaud.

He prefers to see himself as an ally to the feminist movement, saying, “That’s something I want to change because I don’t want to be at the center of it all, I want to educate people so that we can live in a just place but I don’t want to steal the attention and have the spotlight on me.”

Renaud did just that when he created the movement Le Cercle Mauve, which has the objective to fight against the hypersexualization of women, toxic masculinity and sexism in school dress codes. He is hoping the movement will be a catalyst in changing how students of all genders feel about their school uniform.

“I am still waiting for excuses from the administration,” said Renaud, although he feels the administration owes an apology to all students.

“I’m not attached to that skirt, it is not a skirt I want to wear every day, but if a boy would want to wear it every day, he should not have to go through the experience I went through in order to feel more comfortable at school.”

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