A Summer of Climate Catastrophes has forever changed my Position on Climate Change

A tale of two climate crises and how the effects of climate change differs across the world.

The first time I experienced temperatures above forty degrees Celsius was in July while I was representing Concordia at the Thessaloniki International Media Summer Academy in Greece. The second was two weeks ago after a heatwave in Montreal and parts of Quebec caused the city to experience record-high temperatures.

When I look back on this past summer, it seems that every significant experience that I had was somehow underscored by climate catastrophes. Whether it was going to the park while Montreal had the worst air quality in the world or exploring the CJ building as it flooded, it’s a stark reminder that the climate crisis is a part of our new reality.

Before this summer, my views on climate change could be summarised by the phrase “optimistic ignorance.” Don’t get me wrong, I knew that climate change was a major challenge facing humanity and would require tremendous social action to combat its worst of its ramifications. And yet, I still believed that the dire warnings of climate scientists espoused of dead zones and societal collapse would not come to pass.

The cognitive dissonance required to hold these two positions simultaneously could only come through my privilege and background. Experiencing the effects of climate change in two vastly different countries has provided me with a unique understanding of how our collective understanding of the climate crisis reflects our circumstances. 

In Quebec, the public’s response to record high temperatures was to demand for the provincial government to service all public schools with air conditioning. Meanwhile, in Greece, I watched as the people were forced to adapt their lifestyles to deal with the heat. Businesses and social services would close during the highest heat of the midday sun.

The most startling example of this occurred when I was in Athens during the peak of July’s heatwave. As I walked down the street, my self-centred concerns, anxieties, and frustrations regarding the temperatures were quickly humbled when I came across a refugee struggling to find shade in the city. Beside her was a young girl, barely over the age of 10, wearing a pitch black robe lying in the middle of the street, too weak to sit up. 

It was the first interaction I had with displaced peoples. It’s a scene that still haunts me to this day, a reality that most of us in the Global North will be sheltered from. A reality that has permanently altered my relationship to the climate crisis.

Despite my newfound perception of the climate crisis, I refuse to partake in climate nihilism, or the mindset that nothing can or will be done to address the current crisis. It’s infuriating to witness those in the Global North, who enjoy the advantages of our modern world while being shielded from the repercussions of their actions, readily accepting defeat.

It’s up to us to engage in the hard work that is needed to bring social and infrastructure reform to mitigate the worst effects of the climate crisis and embrace the sacrifices to our personal lives that will come with said changes. At the very least, we owe it to those who are the most affected to not give up.


Six Tips for a successful Semester

Fear the semester no more!

The fall semester might be challenging, but with the tips below, you’ll be ready to conquer the semester.

You must first be mindful of what is expected of you in a course. Read the syllabus carefully to understand what you will learn and what your assignments look like. Write down all the due dates in a planner and organize your time accordingly.

Use the office hours on the syllabus to meet with your professor or TA. You can ask them as many questions as you want, and they will happily help you. The Student Success Center also offers a wide range of learning services that you can find on Concordia’s website. Countless workshops are crafted to help you better navigate your semester. 

Volunteering on campus is a rewarding experience that allows you to make connections and improve your confidence. Say you’re in journalism, you could join Concordia’s radio station, but if you are a JMSB student, you could be part of one of the committees at John Molson. Volunteering will allow you to get hands-on experience in your program of studies. You can find all student clubs on Concordia’s website under Student Life and find the best match for you. 

Regular physical activity can improve your memory, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and boost your self-confidence. I find exercising to be a form of self-love, because you get to challenge yourself to push through, spend time alone and improve your overall well-being in the long term. In the EV building downtown, Le Gym offers both online and in-person fitness classes. If you are interested in martial arts, aerobics, dance or yoga, among others, now is your time to sign up!

Many students struggle to balance classes, social life, volunteering, working and paying bills. After a hectic day, you might feel a little overwhelmed and drained. It’s essential to spend time looking for a relaxation technique that helps soothe your anxiety. That could be mediating, breathing exercises, or practicing mindfulness. Sleep is another vital aspect—insufficient sleep can affect mood and intensify stress. It is recommended for adults in our age range to get at least seven hours of sleep. 

If you have concerns regarding your mental health and need professional help, Concordia offers counseling and psychological services. You can book an appointment online on Concordia’s website under Health & Wellness. 

The last thing you want to experience is going through all the course material a night before the due date. Find yourself a study space that will keep you motivated and focused. Concordia’s Webster Library, downtown, is open 24 hours. Make sure to be consistent and plan your study time. Also, turning your phone off for a while can be a game-changer. 

Have a successful semester!



Dreams Struck Down By Strikes?

Concordia film production students talk WGA/SAG strikes

In case you’re unaware, the WGA (Writers Guild Association) and SAG (Screen Actors Guild) are simultaneously on strike for the first time in 60 years. Both writers and actors are demanding fair compensation and better working conditions, standing toe-to-toe with Hollywood’s powerhouse studios. 

These strikes are now exposing some of the working conditions in Hollywood, and just how awful they are. On top of this, they’ve exposed how studios are cutting costs by not paying any residuals for content on streaming services. 

Does this sound like the kind of work environment you’d aspire to have? Well for some of Concordia’s film production students, it is. So how have they been reacting to these strikes?

Talking with Alvaro Gomez, a second year film production student, he explained the need for these strikes saying, “Action needs to be taken right now.” 

So, if you were to ask me these strikes have been a long time coming. Netflix began its streaming service in 2007. Since then, writers and actors have not received any residuals for their work in content shown on streaming platforms. For any of you non-math majors that’s 16 years of not being fairly paid for your work. 

I believe we can all agree that that’s outrageous and unacceptable, no?

Yet, there’s still talk online of strikers’ demands being greedy— to which Ellie Charette, a second-year film production student, says: “If they’re willing to pump $200 million into weekly blockbusters, I think they can afford to pay their actors and writers fairly.” This just showing how studios are more than capable of paying fair wages, they’re just choosing not to. 

“I don’t see how that is even remotely selfish… I’m not even asking for 1% of the revenue” said Gomez. Now, in a post pandemic world nobody would take issue if say, nurses were asking to be fairly compensated, but as Gomez pointed out ‘Everyone knows the industry is completely rotten with the most horrible people.’” 

On top of this, studios like Disney have been completely unwilling to budge. Instead of agreeing to the terms and taking a less-than-one-per-cent pay cut, studios are now pushing release dates for highly anticipated films, hoping to wait out the strikes so actors will return to do press.

However, through all this there’s been a shining light at the end of the tunnel. Strikers today are fighting not only for themselves, but the aspiring filmmakers, writers, directors and actors of tomorrow. Mingus Ferreira, a second year film production student, actually visited the picket line outside of Netflix offices in New York.

Ferreira spoke to the camaraderie and witnessed heartwarming solidarity. “It was raining, it wasn’t a very nice day but people were still out there,” he recalled. 

Gomez spoke to the same thing as he pointed out how, despite studios cutting down trees in LA to get rid of any shade in the sun, strikers still showed up. “You could hear them from far away,” Ferreira added.

So how come these awful working conditions haven’t deterred our film production students from the industry? It comes down to one thing— the love of film.

In speaking with these three film production students, one thing was made glaringly clear. The fact is that these strikes need to be happening now, because these young passionate and talented filmmakers deserve to be treated with respect.

Pay your actors and writers, that’s all. 


Can mental illness be an addiction?

Finding comfort in anxiety

Mental illness can be addictive. I know that is a loaded, very serious statement, but allow me to explain. Ever since I was a kid, I have struggled with generalized anxiety disorder. It usually manifested itself in very normal stressful situations and everyone figured it was just a part of growing up.

Though overtime, it worsened. In high school, I’d feel nauseous before hanging out with friends or I’d spend hours crying because I felt overwhelmed and overstimulated. I started to avoid going out, gaining a reputation for being “anti-social.” 

At the height of my anxiety I developed an intense fear of being murdered, which still lingers today. I spent nearly a year constantly looking over my shoulder and imagining different violent scenarios to see if I could plan a way to get out of them. 

I barely slept. I’d cry over every single assignment I’d submit because I knew I could barely manage to get it done in the first place. I didn’t go out unless it was to my best friend’s place where we’d just stay in. 

My mental health was at its lowest. The problem, though, was I didn’t want to change. 

I knew my fears were irrational. I knew I should’ve forced myself to try harder at school. I knew getting out of the house would make me feel better. But I had no interest in doing that. 

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the definition of addiction is “a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behaviour, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects.”

Looking back, I’d say I was addicted to my anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying that mental illness is addictive, or that this applies to every mental illness. However, in my experience, it did — and it’s come to my attention that I’m not the only one who has felt this way. 

I found comfort in my anxiety, I was so deep in it for so long that it became what I centred my life around. My anxiety felt like that childhood stuffed animal, the one you couldn’t sleep without as a kid. I saw no reason to change.

The prospect of trying to fight my way out of my worst episode, just to fall back into another potentially even worse episode, was terrifying. 

In an interview with CBC, psychiatrist Dr. Judson Brewer said that humans can become addicted to worry and anxiety, and just like any other addiction our brain can learn to crave the sensation of worry.

I am only comfortable enough in saying this because of those lovely, deep 3 a.m. talks with friends. Those conversations were part of what helped me realize I was not alone in this experience. 

That’s the good news: You’re not alone.

There are places you can turn to for help.

If you’re struggling, please consider reaching out to Concordia’s Counselling and Psychological services.

HERstory Lesson Opinions

HERstory Lesson: Sir Lady Java

How she fought against the transphobic Rule Number 9

Sir Lady Java is an American transgender rights activist and performer. She performed in the Los Angeles area from the mid-1960s to 1970s.

Java was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1943 and transitioned at a young age with the support of her mother.

After singing and dancing in local clubs, she moved to Los Angeles to further her career and by 1965, performed in a nightclub owned by Comedian Redd Foxx that welcomed other great entertainers of the time like Sammy Davis Jr., Richard Pryor, Flip Wilson, Rudy Ray Moore, LaWanda Page, and Don Rickles.

In September 1967, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) ordered Redd Foxx’s club to cancel Java’s performances, but they didn’t comply. The LAPD then threatened to fine the club and arrest Foxx if they continued hosting her, using a city ordinance against cross-dressing.

Before today’s war on drag shows and the fight to ban them, there existed laws like Rule Number 9. The city ordinance in Los Angeles, California, stated, “No entertainment shall be conducted in which any performer impersonates by means of costume or dress a person of the opposite sex, unless by special permit issued by the Board of Police Commissioners.”

As part of the rule, performers had to wear a minimum of three “properly gendered” items on them.

Even though any form of public gender nonconformity had been outlawed in Los Angeles since 1898, the Board of Police Commissioners developed Rule Number 9 in 1940 to require bar owners to get special permission to host entertainment which included any sort of cross-dressing.

As a response to LAPD’s crackdown, Foxx’s club applied for a permit to host Lady Java in October 1967, but was refused.

On October 21, Java protested against the rule by picketing in front of Foxx’s club advocating for her right to work. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), she challenged Rule Number 9 as unconstitutional in court.

The court rejected her case, stating only club or bar owners could sue the police department. Java and the ACLU could not find any owner willing to join them in their fight.

In 1969, Rule Number 9 was ultimately struck down by the California Supreme Court in a separate case. Although Java’s case was not the one to dissipate the transphobic rule, she is recognized as a trailblazer for transgender performers and drag queens.

As stated on the ACLU’s website, police at the time were not just cracking down on a couple of drag queens — their fight against “deviant” activities actually targeted the whole LGBTQ+ community. 

“They were attacking drag performers in order to target bars and clubs that often served as the only public places where gays and lesbians could gather. The police made no real distinction between gay people and transgender folks,” reads the website.

With today’s political climate in the US directly targeting the drag community, it is important to remember Lady Java’s activism and fight against Rule Number 9.


“Where are you from?” is a bad question

How growing up with an international background altered my perspective on identity

Growing up internationally is hard. Although there is no place I could call home apart from physical places, like my room in my apartment or my parent’s house, growing up internationally changed my life forever. It completely altered my perception of the world, exposed me to multiple cultures and provided me with the open-mindedness I have today. 

So why does a simple question like “Where are you from?” have such a negative impact on me? 

Like many others, I was born in a different country than the one on my Canadian passport. I was born in Belgium, and moved to two different cities in Switzerland before experiencing the culture shock that was New York City and Boston. Growing up, I found myself adjusting to a new country or community so frequently that it became part of a rhythm in my life. 

Sometimes it was pretty rough to adjust, like when I moved from a small town in Switzerland to NYC. I had to adjust to the number of people around me, a new language, new habits, and the NYC subway. I felt so overwhelmed at first, with the amount of people everywhere all the time, and words people used that I had never learned in my English classes before. 

The plus side of moving was that I always gained the same things: familiarity to new cultural elements, and being exposed to new people and languages, all of which has helped shape who I am today. 

Transitioning between schools and cities in different countries frequently made me feel as though I was a stranger, always the “new kid.” 

“Where are you from?” reinforced the feelings of not belonging I have felt each time I moved. 

When I finally arrived in Canada nine months ago for university, saying I was Canadian became easier, it meant more than just a document I held. But imposter syndrome was still very much present. How could I be more Canadian after living in other countries for years? It’s simply not possible. 

Humans crave validation and in turn crave to belong. I sometimes also wish I had a set nationality that I could be so proud of. 

Often I look at my Balkan father and the way he talks about his country, the people, the food, and the culture. I admire the way he can always scope out a community of Bosnians and feel pride in his country. I know, however, that I will never feel so attached to one country. 

I’m sure I’m not the only one. Maybe you, too, feel like you don’t fit in where you were born, or where your family comes from. Maybe you feel like you’re not “enough” to truly be accepted. 

We should change the meaning behind the term “home” and the idea that we should fiercely represent one country or culture, or consider our home to be the country printed on our documents. We should be able to argue that our home is in multiple places without turning heads. 

In a way, having an answer when asked about our nationality takes weight off our shoulders and allows us to belong to a “club” or a community — a cheat code to having a particular identity. 

The catch is, in the midst of globalization, I believe there is no way to identify with only one place, or belong in only one community. In fact, I strongly believe that seeing yourself as coming from one definite place immensely restricts your experiences and potential future connections. After all, you’re the sum of the many segments of your life. 

Should we not be more concerned about where we could go than with where we have been in the past? Should we not focus on how we could shape who we are by learning from others and exploring new faces in this world we live in? 

In a world where we are so interconnected, a question like “Where are you from?” should never hold as much weight as it does today, nor should the answer ever contribute to who we are. 

HERstory Lesson Opinions

HERstory Lesson: Julia Butterfly Hill

From saving forests one tree at a time, to redirecting taxes

Julia Lorraine Hill is an American activist and environmentalist, known for living in a tree for over two years as a protest against deforestation.

Hill adopted the nickname “Butterfly” from the age of 7, when a butterfly landed on her finger during a hike and stayed there for the duration of the walk.

At age 22, she survived a major car crash involving a drunk driver who hit her car from behind, which resulted in the steering wheel penetrating her skull. Her injuries required to re-learn how to walk and talk.

“As I recovered, I realized that my whole life had been out of balance… I had graduated high school at 16, and had been working nonstop since then, first as a waitress, then as a restaurant manager. I had been obsessed by my career, success, and material things. The crash woke me up to the importance of the moment, and doing whatever I could to make a positive impact on the future,” she said in a biography.

This is what made Hill embark on a spiritual journey that made her more aware of the environmental crisis, specifically the deforestation of redwood forests in Stafford, California. 

She told the Washington Post in 2004 that “the steering wheel in my head, both figuratively and literally, steered me in a new direction in my life.”

Shortly after recovering from her accident, Hill attended a fundraiser in Humboldt County, California to save the forests.

At the time, the Pacific Lumber Company was clear-cutting the redwood forest, a forestry practice which results in most (if not all) trees in a forest to be cut down. On New Year’s Eve 1996, their practices left the community of Stafford buried in mud and tree debris after it had fallen down due to a landslide.

This is when the community demanded action and asked for a volunteer to tree-sit for a week in protest of the clear-cutting. According to Hill, she was the only one willing to do so.

She ascended the 200-foot tall and 1,000-year- old tree, later nicknamed Luna, on December 10, 1997. The week-long protest turned into a 738-day one, where Hill lived on a small platform. A support crew would often come to provide her with food, medicine and necessary survival gear.

During her time in the air, she endured the harsh weather conditions with only a sleeping bag to keep her warm and was harassed and intimidated by the Pacific Lumber Company.

Hill and the Pacific Lumber Company came to an agreement in 1999 for them to not cut down Luna and preserve all other trees within a 200-meter radius, in exchange for Hill to evacuate the tree. As part of the agreement, the $50,000 that was collected by the environmental groups supporting Hill’s tree-sit were also donated to Humboldt State University to support research into sustainable forestry.

Luna is now protected under the non-profit Sanctuary Forest and a team of experts is constantly looking after her.

Hill’s history of civil disobedience does not stop there. In 2003, she started redirecting her taxes to places she believed “our tax money should be going.”

Tax redirection is a form of direct action that takes place through refusal to pay taxes, and in Hill’s case, redirecting that money to different causes. She gave $150,000 to different environmental and social programs that work to provide solutions such as alternatives to incarceration.

After years of dedication to various social causes, Hill seems to have retired her activism career, as her website reads she is “no longer available for anything at all relating to me being Julia Butterfly Hill.” She still leaves behind a legacy of important and concrete actions.

As our world is in an ever-growing climate crisis and younger generations seem more discouraged than ever, Hill’s story is a perfect example of the overworked environmental activist burnout.
“People forgot there was only one of me and tens upon tens of thousands of everyone wanting, needing, asking, hoping, and demanding,” she said.

HERstory Lesson Opinions

HERstory Lesson: Billie Jean King

How she humbled a male athlete’s ego in a post-second-wave feminist climate

Billie Jean King is a former American tennis player and six-time Wimbledon champion. Active from the 1970s to the 1990s, she also won seven Federation Cups, the international team competition for women’s tennis, now named after her. She is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

Despite all of this, King is mostly remembered for a match she played against a 55-year-old man when she was 29.

Dubbed the ‘Battle of the Sexes,’ the match was initiated by top men’s tennis player Bobby Riggs, who claimed “there’s no way a woman can play tennis with a good man tennis player.”

Riggs, who played in the 1930s and 1940s, said he could beat any woman in tennis and challenged King to play for $100,000 on Sept. 20, 1973.

King, who campaigned for gender equality in women’s sports, first rejected the challenge. However, after Riggs challenged and beat Margaret Court, she accepted.

Coming out of the second-wave feminist movement, one that focused on equality and discrimination, this match held important cultural significance on the gender politics that reflected the social climate at the time.

Riggs said it best himself in a Tonight Show interview, where he said that he planned to “set back [the] women’s lib movement about another 20 years.”

When asked by host Johnny Carson if he liked women, Riggs replied “I like them real good in the bedroom, the kitchen and when they bring you the slippers and the pipe.” Interrupted by a mix of cheers and boos, he continued and said: “I really think the best way to handle women is to keep them pregnant and this way, they don’t worry about getting out in the men’s world and competing for jobs and trying to get equal money and all that baloney.”

Although some might say that Riggs was just playing into a character to bring hype to the game, we cannot deny that comments like these would not pass on any of today’s prime-time television talk shows, jokes or not.

Whether an intimidation tactic or not, it worked as King said “I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn’t win that match. It would ruin the women’s tour and affect all women’s self-esteem.”

90 million viewers tuned in from 37 countries to watch the Battle of the Sexes go down in Houston Astrodome. To put it into perspective, the Super Bowl that year received 53 million viewers on average.

It was in front of this large audience that King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, which makes this statement by Riggs even more delightful: “Would you believe that she said she could take the pressure and play for the money as well as I can?” Yes, Bobby, yes, she can.

This was more than just a tennis match — it was a significant cultural event that helped garner greater respect and recognition of female athletes.

Although King recognized the importance of this match, she said that “to beat a 55-year-old guy was no thrill for me. The thrill was exposing a lot of new people to tennis.”

Indeed, it is important not to forget that King did so much more than just win against an old misogynist at tennis. She was at the forefront of the Women’s Tennis Association, convincing her colleagues to form a players’ union. She founded the WomenSports magazine and Women’s Sports Foundation, an organization promoting the advancement of women and young girls in sports.

As King said it best, “In the ’70s, we had to make it acceptable for people to accept girls and women as athletes. We had to make it OK for them to be active. Those were much scarier times for females in sports.”

There were scarier times indeed, as even King’s sexual orientation became a subject of headlines in the 1980s. After a palimony suit was brought forth by one of her lovers, King had to come out publicly as bisexual, which made her lose $2 million in commercial endorsements.

At the end of the day, I think her story, despite being heroic and bad-ass, goes to show just how much women need to prove themselves outside of their sport in order to make an impact outside of it.

In a 1984 interview with Parade Magazine, King said, “My only regret is that I had to do too much off the court. Deep down, I wonder how good I really could have been if I [had] concentrated just on tennis.”

This only opens the door to one question: what are we waiting for to recognize women athletes as athletes and stop expecting them to also be advocates and publicists for their own sports?


Let’s talk about Justin Bieber, not Selena and Hailey

How about we don’t pit women against each other over a man yet again?

In the aftermath of popular media’s latest example of pitting women against each other, let’s talk about Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber. In case you’re lucky enough to have not had this media firestorm cross your feed, let me catch you up. 

Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber were an on-and-off again pop culture power couple from 2010 to 2018. Commonly referred to as “Jelena,” the couple was beloved by their separate (though mostly intersecting) young fanbases.

Both very successful young artists, they had a very public, difficult romance as they grew up together in the spotlight. However, six months after their final split, Justin announced his engagement to Hailey Baldwin. 

Since then, Hailey has been labelled a mean, petty, obsessive, and crazed fangirl, while Selena has been picked apart all the same. Both women have had every social media post over-analyzed and have been accused of being shady towards the other.

Why, though? Why has the media hurled insult after insult at these women?

It all stems from two Instagram stories. Selena Gomez poked fun at herself over an Instagram story for accidentally over-laminating her eyebrows. Then, Kylie Jenner posted a close-up selfie captioned: “This was an accident??” followed by a screenshot of her and Hailey Bieber on FaceTime, showing only their eyebrows. This sparked outrage online and people quickly began to throw both Hailey and Selena in the ring. 

Now, while there might be some validity to claims of Hailey Bieber being mean or petty towards her husband’s ex, it does not justify the onslaught of hate she’s received. Don’t get me wrong, when this drama initially surfaced, I was team Selena (who took a brief break from social media following this fiasco) all the way… that is until I saw just how awful people were treating Hailey, who took the brunt of it. 

I myself got caught up in the TikTok edits and story after story, the rehashing of old posts that could’ve potentially been shade. But why is it that both Selena and Hailey were the ones being picked apart in the media? Aren’t we all forgetting the common denominator? Justin Bieber himself. 

Now, Justin went through a notorious “bad boy” stage, collecting a fascinating range of crimes for his record. From drunk driving, resisting arrest and egging a neighbour’s house, to losing custody of an illegal pet monkey, it’s clear that he’s not the most mature partner to have. Obviously this is blatant immaturity, but easy to overlook in the grand scheme of things. What shouldn’t be overlooked though is Selena’s claim of emotional abuse. Selena admitted in an NPR interview that she was emotionally abused in her past relationship. “I think that it’s something that — I had to find a way to understand it as an adult,” she said. 

Selena has spoken openly about her struggles with mental health since cutting her Revival tour short due to both medical and psychological reasons in 2016. She now runs a highly successful company, Rare Beauty, as well as being both an executive producer and lead actress in the hit show Only Murders In The Building.  So, clearly she came out the other side for the better.

Hailey is also a success in her own right. Previous to her marriage, she had a booked and busy modelling career, working on campaigns for major labels like Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and more. She now owns her own skincare company Rhode and has recently premiered her new cooking show What’s In My Kitchen? So again, she is an independently successful woman being dragged down by her husband. 

Also, a quick question: when was the last time Justin did anything noteworthy?

Hailey, however, is now the next victim to the “Peaches” singer’s immaturity, with video after video surfacing of Justin either being annoyed by or completely indifferent to his wife’s presence. For example, there’s a video of him closing a car door in her face as they both try to get out on the same side of the car.  He may have matured, just not that much. When being asked by a fan what he does on a regular day he answered: “When I’m with my wife, we like to… You guys can guess what we do. It gets pretty crazy… that’s pretty much all we do,” revealing details of their intimate life. 

Neither woman has openly attacked the other; still, we pit them against each other because of the one thing they have in common: a man.

Selena recently stepped in, posting to her Instagram story saying “Hailey Bieber reached out to me and let me know that she has been receiving death threats and such hateful negativity. This isn’t what I stand for. Nobody should have to experience hate of bullying.” 

So, here we are, right after Women’s History Month, continuing to judge women because of their association with a man, instead of judging the man himself. So, if you ask me, I’d say I’m not team Selena or team Hailey, but rather team not absolving men of responsibility.


Can the damages of colonial power in museums be reversed?

Museums continue to hoard the history of colonized countries

Since 1802, the Rosetta Stone has been on display in the British Museum after being taken from Egypt during Napoleon Bonaparte’s occupation. 

The Rosetta Stone, along with thousands of stolen historical artifacts, is symbolic of the long lasting effects of colonialism still being suffered today. It serves as a reminder of the ways colonialism lives on, and how museums promote it through their unethical practices.   

The Stone is inscribed with text from three different languages: Ancient Greek, Demotic, and Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. It was used to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs for the first time, unlocking a plethora of new information about Ancient Egypt. 

Two hundred years later, Egypt still suffers the loss of this piece of their history. It makes me rethink how these stolen artifacts and colonizer attitudes disrupt national identity and pride. 

Last year, Egyptologist Dr. Monica Hanna launched a petition urging the public to speak up for the artifact to be returned. Zahi Hawass, Egyptian archeologist and former minister of state for antique affairs, has been working tirelessly since 2002 to repatriate stolen artifacts and put an end to the unethical purchasing of artifacts by museums. 

The Concordian spoke with University of Southern California researcher Jumana Behbahani about the Rosetta Stone being kept in the British Museum. She criticized the display as a result of a history of cultural violence: British visitors can celebrate a piece of history as if it’s their own, while Egyptians remain stripped of their accessibility to a vital piece of their history.

“Keeping these artifacts in western countries, in a way, represents the ways in which these countries stripped the areas they colonized of their respective cultures.” 

As social historian and Concordia professor Dr. Lucie Laumonier noted, “Back then, Egypt was culturally plundered and its stolen historical artifacts inundated the European markets […] the return of the Rosetta Stone to Egypt would be a way, from the English side, to acknowledge this colonial cultural plunder.” 

However, some have argued that the British Museum is the best location for the Rosetta Stone, claiming that Egypt is a vital part of European heritage, and crediting European historians with deciphering the Stone which would have otherwise not been possible.

Dr. Laumonier criticizes this line of thinking. “The people who belong to the country from which artifacts were stolen during the colonial times deserve as much, if not more, to be able to access these artifacts,” she said. “Historical artifacts are essential in asserting national identity and pride, and to be aware of one’s history.”  

Along with that, many of the artifacts in the British Museum’s possession were taken forcibly, and nearly all of them aren’t even on display but are instead kept in the museum’s private archives that the public doesn’t have access to. 

The British Museum is no unique case of the capitalist incentive of museums profiting from colonial power. The idea of displaying historically significant artifacts somewhere other than their country of origin seems inherently colonialist, especially when it signifies a period of struggle and war crimes. 

Museums such as The Getty in Los Angeles, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,  the Louvre in Paris, and the Humboldt Forum in Berlin are notorious for hoarding looted artifacts and claiming entitlement over them because they are “the spoils of war.” This doctrine, however, has been rejected by international law. 

These museums can look to other institutions for compromises over stolen artifacts. 

Museums around the world have displayed efforts of decolonization, unveiling possibilities of engaging with colonized communities with their permission and respect granted. For example, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago invited Indigenous artists to showcase their work in their Native American galleries. Indigenous communities can be celebrated and studied without taking away from them. 

The Australian Museum in Sydney rethought its relationship to the artifacts in their museum when they shifted ownership of the artifacts to the “custodians of those collections, with an obligation to the peoples who created the objects and stories, and to their descendants,” as stated by former Museum Director Frank Howarth. 

The display of these artifacts appears enriching and informative to its visitors, but when the items are a byproduct of cultural violence, charging people to come see them is exploitative in its nature. The Rosetta Stone should be housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, where Egyptian people can celebrate and engage with their history and culture. It belongs to them and not strictly to those who have the luxury of flying to London and visiting the British Museum. 

The British Museum has been called upon multiple times to return The Rosetta Stone, but have yet to respond to requests.
The matter extends beyond the value of a tangible object; it’s a concern of national identity being stripped away in the name of colonialism. The Stone symbolizes the colonized world and its relationship to the colonizer, one that arguably still exists.

HERstory Lesson Opinions

HERstory Lesson: Athénaïs de Montespan

The crazy life of Louis XIV’s number one mistress

Françoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart, Marquise of Montespan was born in 1640 from many different royal ancestries. At the age of 20, due to her parents’ status and royalty, she was made maid-of-honor to the king’s sister-in-law, Princess Henrietta Anne of England, and was appointed lady-in-waiting, a female personal assistant, to Queen Maria Theresa of Spain.

In 1663, she married Louis Henri de Pardaillan de Gondrin, Marquis of Montespan. The title of Marquis designates a nobleman of hereditary rank (in Britain, it’s below a duke, but above an earl). Together, they had two children and lived close to the court so that Madame could carry out her duties as lady-in-waiting. 

She had everything going for her: she was beautiful, cultured and politically-aware. She knew her worth. As per her memoir, confidence was not something she lacked: “I was not slow to perceive that there was in my person something slightly superior to the average intelligence — certain qualities of distinction which drew upon me the attention and the sympathy of men of taste.”

In 1666, Madame de Montespan was in her mid-twenties and trying to replace Louise de La Vallière’s as Louis XIV’s main mistress. At the time, it was common for the king to have two wives: the queen for political affairs, and the maîtresse-en-titre that would serve as a social companion. Madame de Montespan got closer to La Vallière and even became her confidant, all while still keeping a close relationship with Queen Maria Theresa.

While both women were pregnant, she cleverly started to entertain the king in private. It is said she purposefully showed him her ankle (big hoe move for the 17th century) while getting out of a carriage. This led to the beginning of their relationship. Apparently, she would mock people in order to make the king laugh and her sarcasm hurt so much that courtiers feared it. It is also said that another way she seduced Louis XIV was by “accidently” dropping her towel while he was spying on her showering.

La Vallière was then reduced to second mistress. She was so humiliated that she retreated to a convent.

Madame de Montespan’s husband, enraged to learn of her infidelity, made a scandal at court and even made a symbolic funeral in front of the children (talk about childhood trauma). He was then imprisoned and exiled. Madame de Montespan became the favourite, but was still not recognized as the official mistress due to her marriage.

Her beauty and new position made her popular with men, but not so much with the church. They didn’t like her adultery and despite the king’s demand to give her absolution, the church did not yield.

They still went on to have seven children, to which Madame de Montespan did not tend. They hired a governess to look after them, named Madame de Maintenon.

Madame de Montespan became more than just a mistress. She had so many means of influencing the mind of the king that many ministers and courtiers submitted to her: her advice was asked for and followed. This also meant she knew a lot of state secrets.

Madame de Montespan became jealous when Louis XIV started an affair with none other than the governess looking over their children, Madame de Maintenon.

It was another affair with yet another mistress that sent Madame de Montespan into a downward spiral. Indeed, Louis XIV also took interest in another noblewoman named Madame de Fontanges, only 17 years old at the start of the affair. She became pregnant with the king’s child quickly, but gave birth prematurely and died not long after.

However, this all unfolded during the infamous Affaire des poisons, a major murder scandal in France near the end of the 17th century where multiple members of the aristocracy were accused and sentenced for charges of poisoning and witchcraft.

Given the general mistrust at the time due to the Affaire, it was not long before suspicion grew that Madame de Montespan’s jealousy could lead her to murder. This is why many believed her to be responsible for the death of Madame de Fontanges by poisoning her, although it was later confirmed she died of eclampsia, a condition where high blood pressure results in seizures during pregnancy.

During the Affaire des poisons, Madame de Montespan’s name was dropped in court by several accused and convicted as being a customer of Madame Catherine Monvoisin, also called Lavoisin, a potion maker. Montespan was accused of giving Louis XIV a love potion and participating in Black Masses with Lavoisin where infants were sacrificed.

It is important to note that Lavoisin allegedly provided midwife services and performed abortions, which at the time was seen as witchcraft was the source of the child sacrifice rumour. 

Despite the state of frenzy at the time of the Affaire, Madame de Montespan was never put on trial or convicted for the accusations. It is believed the king either believed her to be innocent or wanted to avoid the humiliation for his children.

Madame de Montespan later retreated to a convent and died in 1707.

HERstory Lesson is a column presenting all the “bad girls” in history, or the ultimate girlboss summit.


Death of the theme party

Please let me wear my regular clothes again

Picture this: it’s a Friday night, and you’re either hunched over a computer trying to squeeze out the last bit of academic energy you have left in you, or anxiously procrastinating. The weekend is near and you’re ready for a night on the town — you deserve one, after all. But you’ve been so caught up in the academic haze that you forgot to make plans. 

You eagerly ask your roommates what they have planned. One has opted to spend the night with their significant other watching the 2006 critical flop (yet still beloved) film Aquamarine; the other has a date. Before admitting defeat, you rapidly fire off “what’s the move” texts to anyone you’ve ever had a remotely good time with — and some you’re willing to give a second chance to. 

It’s growing late and you’re about to give up when your cracked iPhone buzzes with hope. With a racing heart, you check your messages. 

“We’re going to so-and-so’s party on St. Dennis, you can totally come,” one of the fun friends has informed you. You run to the closet to pick out your best threads. When the phone buzzes for a second time, the text says: “It’s pirate-themed. See you there <3.” With a sinking heart, you hang your brand new navy blue Uniqlo chore coat back in your closet. Panic sets in. Do you wear an eye-patch? A funny hat? Do you need a parrot? 

This is the third week in a row you’ve been underprepared for a theme party. Time and time again you’ve been asked to dress for different themes, like goth, 90s night, like characters from the movie Midsommar, all in white, all in brown and one time even just like someone named John. 

You try to participate, but between the price of beer and the snack you know you’ll need on the way home, your budget is tight. How can you justify a whole new outfit that you will never wear again for solely this one night? 

You consider not going at all, but reluctantly, you grab a torn shirt, your roommate’s funky old striped pants and a bandana. You look nothing like a pirate. You’re dressed closer to Johnny Depp in real life than Jack Sparrow and you feel ridiculous. It’s not fashionable, not flattering and not fun. But dammit if you aren’t participating because parties have rules and you have to play by them. 

On your way, you stop at the depanneur to get the standard six pack of whatever beer is under ten dollars. The man behind the counter gives you a look of confusion and modest judgment. “Nice pants,” he says politely. But you know he doesn’t mean it.

You arrive at the party and see that, once again, everyone is outperforming you. 

People have eyepatches, fake parrots, and one person seems to have an eerily convincing peg leg (you do your best not to look directly at it). As you dodge questions about why you’re wearing a torn up dress shirt in an attempt to masquerade as a pirate, a sense of shame begins to creep in followed by resentment. Three weeks in a row, you’ve tried to look the best you could and tried to conform to the theme, but sadly, you just can’t keep up anymore. 

The TikTok-i-fication of your nights out has started to ruin the fun of it. With bring-your-own-cup parties and “summertime in the winter” parties, nobody had to feel left out. But, now it seems as though each week your friends try to outdo each other with a more convoluted and ill-conceived trendy theme that they saw a group of influencers attempt online. 

You and a group of other underperforming partygoers gather in the shadows, avoiding snide remarks. After a couple of hours, people begin to filter out and you decide to join. On the way home, you stop at A&W and chat with your friends recounting the night’s shenanigans. An appropriate amount of time passes and you turn to leave.

“Next week at my house: clown theme!” someone shouts as you begin to walk away. 

You bow your head in defeat. “Tonight might as well have been clown-themed,” you think to yourself. 

On the way home, you accept your fate and begin to brainstorm where to buy a red nose as the bag of buddy burgers grows colder in your hands.

Exit mobile version