What’s this about female rage?

People are often surprised when I admit that I’m an angry person. I rarely show frustration or impatience, and it’s difficult for me to be vocal when someone upsets me. I think this is true for a lot of people, but especially for women. We’ve been taught that to be feminine is to act with grace and poise, even when faced with unfairness or unfortunate circumstances—to essentially grin and bear it. 

It’s no wonder, then, that the pressure of these negative emotions builds and inevitably seeks a release. This might be why there has been growing interest among young women in what has been dubbed “female rage.” What is so-called female rage and why is it important? 

The phrase refers to the uninhibited expression of women’s anger. Though female rage could be used to describe any woman’s expression of anger, this particular terminology is more typically seen in reference to representations in pop culture, such as music or films. Some examples include Alice yelling at Jack in the film Don’t Worry Darling, or songs like “Kiss With a Fist” by Florence + The Machine and “Violet” by Hole. Recently, I have seen increasing numbers of Tik Tok film scene compilations that feature screaming female characters, as well as playlists entitled “female rage” filled with songs that express pure frustration or fury. 

Young female audiences latch on to these depictions as a form of catharsis. It is refreshing, even thrilling, to see our rage be shown. This rage can come from so many sources—seemingly small issues that haven’t been given focus, not being listened to or understood, and of course the broad plights of women. Female rage is the final straw, a refusal to continue being silent.  

It could be argued that the interest in female rage is also a reaction to the glamorization of sadness. Sadness has long been romanticized—just think of the entire “sad girl” aesthetic and all of the female singers that capitalize on melancholy. This is because sadness is more easily feminized (and is often considered inherently feminine) as it is inwardly focused and self-destructive. Anger, on the other hand, is focused outward and is considered a more dangerous emotion. Therefore, it is rarely shown—and when it is shown, it is villainized. 

Women often don’t feel comfortable expressing anger because they fear being labeled as too much, unattractive or crazy. Female rage releases all of these fears and demonstrates to the world what it looks like to be pushed to the brink. It is liberating to finally be able to express this anger, but it doesn’t come easy—it’s almost always the result of ongoing repression. 

Acknowledging this repression is essential, as is investigating the reasons for women’s anger. Anger does not exist in a vacuum; it is a direct result of circumstances that need to be addressed. The fact that anger is often a call to action further emphasizes its importance. This ties into feminist philosopher Amia Srinivasan’s 2018 essay “The Aptness of Anger,” in which she establishes that anger is not counterproductive, as some might argue, but rather a fitting response to injustice. Unfortunately, those who express anger in response to their own oppression are often told to tone down their emotions in order to ensure more “productive” discussion—an easy example is women being told to “calm down” without their anger being validated. Srinivasan refers to this phenomenon as affective injustice.                                                                                                  

It must also be remarked that there is still an imbalance even within these expressions of anger. Celebrated expressions of female rage most frequently feature white women, which indicates that there are unjust levels of acceptance towards women’s expression of anger. 

The more intersectional a woman’s identity, the more “threatening” her anger becomes to oppressors and, therefore, the less it is accepted. So while it’s exciting to see women’s anger be spotlighted, there is still a long way to go in ensuring every woman is heard and addressing the causes of their anger. 

To me, this is the main point that female rage is trying to make: women have every right to be angry. That anger is there for a reason, and it deserves to be listened to. 


The trouble with “young and beautiful”

What’s up with our fixation on female youth?

Three years ago, I was terrified to turn 18. Now with my 21st birthday approaching, I’m completely unbothered. In those three years, I’ve been able to unlearn what made me so afraid to get older. 

When I was 17, I was painfully aware of the fact that the world affirmed that this was the most desirable age to be. With songs constantly drilling lyrics like “Well, she was just seventeen/ You know what I mean” (“I Saw Her Standing There”) and “Young and sweet/Only seventeen” (“Dancing Queen”) into my mind, I easily jumped to the conclusion that the moment I turned 18, I would be deemed a spinster. In Lana Del Rey’s lyric, “Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?” the two adjectives are fundamentally linked: young and beautiful must go together. 

This mentality is one we’re introduced to in early childhood. Disney is (as always) the main culprit: the heroine is the young and innocent princess, and the villain is the old witch who is jealous of her younger counterpart’s beauty. “By reinforcing this binary in popular culture, the media capitalizes on the association that old women are ‘bad’ and young women are ‘good’” writes Reese Martin in The Michigan Daily.  

Point-blank, this mentality is just creepy. The fixation on female youth is indicative of a massive psychological issue with what society considers desirable. Youth is linked to beauty partially because the innocence of youth is linked to naivety. In a male-gaze dominated society, it’s hard to overlook the fact that someone who is naive and demure is more malleable and obedient. Coincidence?

As always, women are held to a completely different beauty standard than men. Female celebrities are constantly scrutinized for aging like normal human beings, whereas male celebrities are applauded and revered for becoming “silver foxes” (gag). Female actresses also get phased out of film roles much faster than their male co-stars. When Maggie Gyllenhaal was 37, she was deemed “too old” to play the love interest of a 55 year-old man. This is because women are taught that their youth is intrinsically tied to their beauty, and their beauty is deemed to define their worth. 

Another aspect of the fear of growing old is the pervasive belief that these are the “best years of our lives.” Countless coming-of-age films affirm that these are the years we should be having unforgettable adventures, making life-long friendships, and falling in love. Supposedly, we’re in our prime. For women, this is especially ingrained due to the “biological clock” that dictates we must marry and have kids by a certain age.

On the contrary, life doesn’t have to follow this timeline. The whole notion of a “prime” is backward, as people are constantly evolving. Valuable experiences don’t have an expiry date, even if you do decide to “settle down.” Life is rarely so linear. 

Here’s what I’ve learned in the last three years: there’s no rush. I’m still young, and besides, getting older isn’t a bad thing. I’m not going to cater my self-worth and life trajectory to some twisted notion of what youth represents. The years will pass regardless—might as well embrace them. 


True crime goes beyond entertainment

Many women find comfort in tragedy because it reflects their traumas.

True crime once felt like my safe place, a fact that might sound eerie. I was introduced to the genre in 2018 when my favourite YouTuber, Savannah Brymer, started uploading true crime videos. At first, I just loved the storytelling aspect of it. But the more I listened to victims’ stories, the more I started noticing that I had developed an addiction to true crime. 

It became part of my daily routine, and I would not go a day without putting a true crime podcast on to fall asleep. I listened to true crime while eating and getting dressed, or I would put it on as background noise. I can easily say that I have listened to over 100 such podcasts—most containing detailed descriptions of torture and abuse. I did not understand why I was interested in violent stories that mainly involved women as the victims. At first, I used to pause the video because it made me nauseous. But as time passed by, I became desensitized. 

I listened to true crime podcasts for four consecutive years. During that period, I was struggling with social anxiety. In 2021, I took a FFAR class about true crime and learned a lot about the genre. I discovered that true crime consumers’ statistics are skewed to women. This obsession primarily stems from a sense of safety, because women identify as the victims. Other reasons include self-education and escapism.  

Fortunately, after learning coping skills to deal with the stressful life events I was going through at the time, my consumption of true crime drastically decreased and eventually stopped. For years, I did not realize that this fascination with violence and unsafety reflected my childhood. People who grew up in a stressful environment or have been traumatized at some point in their lives will find trauma relaxing. The reason is that traumatized people often do not know what it feels like to be safe; it is unfamiliar and boring. People who have been traumatized choose what is familiar, and that becomes their refuge. 

Looking at the genre itself, I appreciate that it is spreading awareness about how to be safe. However, I find the idea of true crime creators making money from a tragedy highly controversial. Many true crime creators consider it a job and dedicate much time to crafting their podcasts. I do think that true crime creators deserve compensation for their hard work. Getting paid and sponsored will help channels like Kendal Rae continue using their platform to raise money for different organizations and causes.

As a woman in the process of healing, I feel great empathy for all the women who cannot get rid of their obsession with true crime. This fascination has more to do with past traumas than simply being interested in the victims’ stories. Right now, I cannot listen to any true crime story as it makes me anxious rather than at peace. 

I encourage women who listen to true crime to take a step back and thoroughly consider why they find comfort in tragedy. After going through this introspection, it is necessary to address the issues within. 


Nuances self-care: the Montreal-based beauty brand catering to women of all shades

Keisha Lamptey helps fill a gap in the Canadian beauty industry with inclusive haircare and skincare products

Keisha Lamptey wears an apron and clear plastic gloves as she carefully adds seed oils and seed butters to her stainless steel KitchenAid mixer. It loudly whips all the ingredients together, creating a smooth and uniform texture.

After a few minutes, she shuts off the mixer, lifts the mixing bowl and gently pours the contents into her filling machine. 

An off-white creamy product comes out of the tube, filling the empty jar that she holds in her left hand with her homemade Moisturizing Hair Butter.  

Lamptey is the owner of Nuances self-care, a company that manufactures natural, vegan and eco-friendly haircare and skincare products for women of all shades at an affordable cost. 

Growing up in Montreal, Lamptey noticed that there was a minimal selection of products designed specifically for Black women in Canada. “I felt very underrepresented when shopping for products,” she said. 

Courtesy photo provided by Keisha Lamptey

She explained that none of the mass-market beauty companies were Black-owned and none of them understood her needs as a woman with thick, curly hair. Products that did work for her had to be purchased from the United States, making it “just absolutely crazy expensive.” According to Lamptey, one small eight-ounce product would cost her $50. 

“I thought to myself, ‘Canada deserves to have these products, too,’” Lamptey recalled. So, in 2017, she used her background in organic chemistry to begin experimenting with various formulas to create products catered to all skin types and kinky hair types. 

But it wasn’t until December 2020 that she incorporated Nuances self-care after receiving the Canada Starts grant — a $5,000 cash prize sponsored by RBC Ventures aimed at helping aspiring entrepreneurs launch their business.  

According to Lamptey, the grant covered all her start-up costs — including federal and provincial incorporation fees, website expenses, and the cost of necessary equipment, ingredients and packaging — all of which totalled about $3,700. 

“Receiving that grant was so amazing,” she said. It allowed Nuances self-care to start off profitable from the get-go.

According to Lamptey, sales were high in the first few months of business. This was not only because it was the holiday season, but also because Quebec was under a lockdown, making it easier for customers to purchase their beauty products online.

Many of these early customers still support Nuances self-care nearly two years later, like Yasamin Fawzi. 

‘[Nuances self-care’s products] feel good for my skin and hair and they’re really affordable,” Fawzi said. “I’m always about buying local, or buying stuff that’s more ethically sourced and natural.”

Today, Lamptey has 15 products listed on her website, each of which have gone through a detailed process. The process begins with months of researching, experimenting, and testing. Once Lamptey is satisfied with a product recipe, she orders the labels and packaging from the supplier and makes a batch for customers. 

The final step of the process is marketing the new product. 

According to Lamptey, she typically uses social media and her email newsletter to tease upcoming product releases and to announce new products when they come out.

But with the most recent launch, the Apple Cinnamon Body Butter, Lamptey tried a new marketing technique: she planned a launch party at a local Montreal shop. Those who wanted to purchase the product had to attend the event. It was so successful the product nearly sold out, totalling 35 sales and over $1,200 was made.

“It was a great way to create buzz and boost sales,” she said. “But it was also a good way to make myself relevant in people’s eyes.” 

While Nuances self-care started as a retailer business through an e-commerce website, Lamptey is now exploring the wholesale business, too. Nuances self-care’s products are now sold in two hairdresser salons, one perfume store, one hair accessory store, and a few cafés around the city. 

Courtesy photo provided by Keisha Lamptey

Lamptey shared that regular customer sales are highest in months with celebrations or holidays, with about 50 to 200 customer orders per month.

But in slower months, like last September and October, Lamptey noticed a decline in customer orders but an increase in wholesale orders. According to Lamptey, this shift is more profitable because businesses purchase more units compared to one regular customer. 

Lamptey said that she dreams of selling her products in the United States and Europe, as well as selling in bigger stores like Walmart and Amazon.

While there are big dreams of expansion for Nuances self-care, loyal customers like Fawzi will continue to support them in Montreal.


Hiking is a women’s sport

Hikers are taking it upon themselves to create representation for women in the sport

Hiking the 4,265-kilometer-long Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is no easy feat, but for Christel Bourque, a Montreal-based hiker, photographer, and visual artist, it was how she got into hiking in 2019. Four years later, she recalls how her first experience on the famous through-hiking trail made her realize women in the sport are underrepresented.

“The first thing I realized is that there are not a lot of women who do the PCT alone,” Bourque said.

To prepare for the hike, Bourque, whose experience was limited to Mont-Saint-Hilaire, turned to YouTube for information on the PCT. This is when she noticed a lack of French-Canadian hiking content tailored for women.

Due to heavy snowfall conditions (and a personal emergency that arose later), Bourque had to quit her hike after having covered roughly 1,600 kilometres of the PCT in three months. Nonetheless, she returned to the PCT in 2022, documenting her experience on her YouTube channel La Petite Marcheuse, thereby filling a void for underrepresented Quebec women in hiking.

Just 1,000 kilometres shy of the end, Bourque’s second attempt also ended abruptly due to complications associated with an insect bite that forced her to return to Canada. 

A third attempt at the PCT lingers in her mind, as she continues hiking in Quebec.

Bourque noted that compared to shorter Quebec trails, the long-distance PCT comes with extra hardships, especially for women.

For one, menstrual pain doesn’t magically go away on hikes and tampons add weight to the backpack.

“I used to be the DivaCup girl, but that was impossible,” Bourque said. “I went back to tampons in 2019 and carried the used ones in those opaque dog waste bags.”

For her second attempt, the hiker took the birth control pill to handle her menstrual cycle — but not without it taking a toll on her body.

Another prevalent challenge for women hikers is hitchhiking to go to faraway towns to resupply, which Bourque did alongside other women.

“If one of us didn’t like the vibe of the person offering us a ride, it was an immediate no,” said Bourque. “We were two women and we didn’t want to get in danger.” She recalled the times when men insisted on giving them a ride or proposed shady exchanges of services. 

Nonetheless, hiking is one of the sports in which discrepancies in performance between men and women are negligible.

“More and more evidence has come out that women’s bodies are better equipped for endurance activities,” said Liz Thomas, hiker and co-founder of Treeline Review, a company that specializes in reviewing women’s outdoor gear. The performance gap between the sexes in ultra-endurance activities (defined as lasting more than six hours) is merely four per cent.

Thomas, whose passion for hiking developed through her alma mater’s outdoor club, achieved the Triple Crown of Hiking after completing the PCT, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. She’s been dubbed the “Queen of Urban Hiking,” a title first given by Outside Magazine.

As a tip for beginner hikers, Thomas suggests hiking with friends as it allows for more time to slow down and catch up. It also makes it harder to quit.

“Go on trails in town, you don’t have to go somewhere really remote. Just get out there and walk,” she said.

Conveniently, Montreal might just be the place to do so. “I would love to urban-hike Montreal,” beamed Thomas.


Why do men like sports?

People always like to ask women why they like sports, but why don’t we ask men the same question?

“Why do you like sports?”

“You only watch because the players are attractive.”

“Go watch women’s sports!”

“Name three players on the team or you’re not a real fan.”

Any woman who likes sports has most likely heard at least one of these sentences at one point or another.

Why is it so hard for people to understand that women, and non-binary people, enjoy sports for the same reasons as men?

There is no underlying reason: not the players’ looks (that are barely noticeable in football and hockey games anyway, might I add), not the fact that there have been fewer fights lately (in hockey), or any other ridiculous reason.

Sports are fun. It’s really that simple, folks.

We never ask men why they watch sports, so why ask women? Why do people feel the urge to gatekeep sports from women?

If there’s one positive thing social media has brought, it’s diverse ways of engaging with sports fans online. Whether you like sharing photos, making art, videos, or memes about sports, there is a place for everyone on social media.

A lot of women, especially younger women, feel more welcome sharing their passion for sports via Twitter or TikTok interactions than reading or watching mainstream coverage.

If you’re looking to understand why more women have watched hockey recently, take a look at the hockey community on Twitter or TikTok and you’ll see how fun sports discussions and content can be.

Also, women don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why they like sports. So just stop asking.

Let me also point out that women’s sports are just as fun as men’s sports, and that telling someone to “go watch women’s sports” isn’t the insult you think it is.

I mean, have you seen Marie-Philip Poulin and Christine Sinclair? Both women have set records in both the women’s and men’s sports categories. They’re the G.O.A.T.s, as they call it, of international hockey and soccer, respectively. So give women athletes the respect they deserve.

“Women’s sports” are also just “sports.” If we don’t specify that we’re watching men’s sports, we also don’t need to specify that we’re watching women’s.

At the end of the day, sports are supposed to bring people together, not divide them. So how about next time you see a woman enjoying sports, you leave her be?


Tearing at the threads of a romanticized history: crafts and women of ancient Cyprus

How unpacking the history behind the art of my home country led me on a path of self-discovery as a native Cypriot

It was an average winter day in 2006 at my gothic revival-type apartment in Budapest. My former Cypriot boyfriend and I had only been dating for three months and brief discussions of moving in together loomed out in the open. Well, that was until he exclaimed to me with fury that we needed to break up. The reason? His belief that I wasn’t good enough of a homemaker.

His irritation did not come as a surprise to me. He would often shame me for my cooking, cleaning and all around lack of classically defined “homemaking skills.” At first I thought this was an absurd reason to end our relationship. Eventually, reality set in and I began to feel shame and question my self-worth. “Are all the other qualities and skills that I bring to the table invalidated because I do not know how to make moussaka and clean dishes the proper way?”

I thought of the women in my life. Looking at my Cypriot friends and family, all I could see were “worthy” women that were perceived by many as perfect homemakers. These women did it all and never complained.

Part of me envied their ability to multitask and manage it all perfectly; a real prize for any man out there. I had no other real-life examples of what a healthy relationship was supposed to look like. I wasn’t even quite sure about what it meant to be a woman. Based on what I had been told, our role as homemakers was to take care of the house, cook, sew, take care of the children and be willing to have sex at all times. At first, I considered these ideologies relics of the distant past. In my attempt to develop my own identity, I subconsciously equated the word homemaker with my self-worth.

My family held the same belief. “How else are you ever going to become a mother and take care of your children?” I told them that I would meet somebody that loves me for the way I am. I also expressed, with conviction, that homemaking should be a shared responsibility and not just mine. Although no words were spoken after that, their expression said it all. Disappointment, pity, contempt. Cracks with my family ties had just begun.

In an unexpected opportunity to revisit the past 14 years later, a research scholarship offered to me during my art school studies led me down a crucial path of self-discovery. One that forced me to question my identity as a Cypriot woman, my life, and the day my ex-boyfriend broke things off for my unwillingness to accept an oppressive reality that I was expected to conform to.

I chose to centre my research around crafts and practices in ancient Cyprus and Cypriot women were at the centre of my focus. The topic of women and crafts in Cyprus during the 19th and 20th centuries was one that interested me. Growing up, I heard several stories about women and crafts of the past from my family. These stories were meant to teach us about weaving patterns, finding materials, and about the necessary labour-intensive process of homemaking with “primitive” tools on a daily basis. However, it was important for me to draw information from factual existing research to inspire my art practice.

I sought to develop a deeper understanding of how these women chose threads, colours, and materials to dye their fabrics, and how they made ink as part of their everyday ritual and practice.

As I dove deeper into my research, I was in awe looking at the beautiful patterns and weaves that these women created using basic tools, since the majority of them were poor.

I discovered how multiple households would come together to help each other “dress” the loom that took up an entire 10 foot x 10 foot room. My research motivated me to complete my tea towel and play a part in bringing forward a beautiful craft that has been partially forgotten.

I was going to attempt to weave a tea towel, learn to make ink that I was then going to use to paint my artwork and possibly compose an installation. I spent the next few months taking weaving classes, ink making classes and purchasing the necessary equipment to dye fabric — thus, walking in the footsteps of my ancestors and their craft practices through my own lens.

The weaving of the tea towel was well underway and I was beginning to get the hang of using the floor loom. Although this is not something I had done before, I felt an enormous amount of joy throughout the entire process. “It must be the bloodline of women that came before me that is now manifesting/speaking through me during this process,” I thought to myself.

As minutes, hours and days passed happily finding myself on the loom, a sense of dread and melancholy arose in me. I could not explain why I was feeling this way, “it must be the labour intensive process of weaving that is taking a toll on my body,” I reassured myself. I decided to take a few days away from the loom and focus on the writing aspect of my work. It was this moment when my feelings for the art that stood in front of me took a darker turn.

Initially amazed by the intricacy and beauty of the art, I soon realized that my vision of ancient crafts from Cyprus and women from the past had been heavily romanticized.

I came across a research paper titled The dowry in Cyprus during the twentieth century (1920-1974): from the agricultural society to a commercial economy by Chatzitheocharous-Koulouridou Panagiota. The “dowry” or proika (in Greek), was a term that I was familiar with from a young age. By definition, a “dowry” is a property or money brought by the bride’s family to her future husband at the time of marriage.

I often remember my grandmother talking about this. She would tell me how she had made me a number of quilts, blankets, bed covers, baskets, etcetera for when my day came. Eventually, these items were going to be the dowry that my family would give to my future husband. Initially, I felt proud looking at the large stash of handmade items made with love for me when I got married. The truth is, I did not fully realize the truth behind the dowry system and its impact on Cypriot women of the past.

After emerging from my office having spent days reading this paper, I came out a different person.

The research paper focused on the dowry system that was taking place in Cyprus during the 18th and 19th century; as a contract between the village priest and the two families that arranged the marriage. According to Panagiota’s paper, the village priest was the dignified middle man that negotiated the terms between the groom’s parents and the parents of the bride. Once the contract was finalized, the bride’s family, and by extension the bride herself, were given a deadline to fulfill part of the dowry/contract.

The contract included land, money and animals in cases of a wealthy bride. It was a list of items that brides had to make in order to prove their ability as acceptable homemakers. The bride had to display the complete list of items required by the contract. Additionally, the entire village would have to come to her house to view her worth as a homemaker, which was later followed by a visit from the priest who would decide whether the contract had been fulfilled. Her fate was sealed, her worth was decided, her label as a homemaker was given.

These stories struck me like lightning. Although well hidden, the remnants of this relic belief system are still visible to this day. While a dowry may not be explicitly required and a contract is not formed, the idea of evaluating women on their ability to manage a home is a perspective that I believe is still prevalent to this day. I’ve faced the consequences of this mindset head-on.

I was taught from a young age about the expectations that I had to fulfill as a daughter entering womanhood. I was meant to have children and become a good homemaker. I can still hear my mother, aunts and grandma telling me and the other girls in the family — “Pay attention, you will need to learn these skills for when you get married.” I never heard them say this to any of my male cousins.

These parasitic ideas are woven into us since early childhood in more ways than one. It was a form of daily brainwashing performed by family members, teachers, politicians and even the media. Eventually you began to suppress yourself; their job was done. The stories that I came across revealed how these patriarchal ideals employed craft and material practices as means to suppress women. My findings expressed the reality that weaving and suppression went hand in hand.

Diving into the waters of my research led me on an unexpected journey. One that unveiled the darker reality behind historically romanticized pieces of art. One that unearthed the voices of those who had been suppressed for decades. Voices of women that were silenced by men and other women — such as mothers, grandmothers, aunts, etcetera — that were meant to protect them the most. The same voices that were meant to protect me.

The dread took over me as these stories occupied my mind. My weaving time at the loom began to feel like a chore. The act of weaving itself brought up conflicting emotions along with more questions than answers for my art practice. “How can I love something that was used to suppress women? How can I identify with a culture that takes the freedom and artistic expression of women and transforms it into a weapon against them?” These were questions that I asked myself over and over again.

My tea towel was not complete when I chose its new identity. I named the artwork Weaving Blood. I named the artwork Weaving Blood, which reflects the idea of weaving until you bleed and numb yourself from the emotional pain and burden you experience. Weaving with joy that slowly turns into dread and blood, just like the transformation of my feelings during this research project. Weaving your way into womanhood, where you lose your virginity and everyone wants to see the blood on the white sheet to prove your purity. Weaving with the hope that you wake up from this play of fate that birthed you a woman. Weaving to prove your worth.

A principle stands out to me when I look at my art pieces: we control our body, we control our craft, we control our threads. My journey of unravelling my identity as a Cypriot woman has just begun.

I began to unravel — and will continue to unravel for a very long time — romanticized relics from my fabric of life. I am beginning to heal the parasitic thoughts that poisoned my mind as a young child by weaving my own ideas and perceptions. In doing so I am re-writing the stories of and for many Cypriot women of the past as well as the present. Stories that unveil their resilience while being minimized into mere objects, ready to manufacture craft goods and children. While these may have been uncovered stories of the past, their impacts loomed heavily on my experiences in the present.

I met my husband in 2014. He is tall, kindhearted and a better “homemaker” than what my family ever expected me to be. What struck me the most when we first met was that he was not your “typical idea” of what you would expect from the category of “man” in a relationship; at least compared to some of the guys that I’d been with in the past.

He knew how to take care of himself and kept things tidy, which was no longer left as a job for me. He had a profound joy for cleaning and organizing. It was refreshing to meet someone like him. Even though I exhibited confidence in finding a partner with such noble qualities, deep down I never deemed it to be possible.

My husband never placed traditional expectations on me or pressure me into changing who I am as a modern woman. He accepted me for who I am while embracing the idea of homemaking for the both of us. It was a match made in heaven.

By the time we got married, the rift between my family and I had grown bigger. I kept my marriage a secret. While I was happier than ever to have met the love of my life, my family didn’t hold the same approach. When a whistleblower eventually informed my family that I was married, they callously and dispassionately announced that I was “his problem now.”

I didn’t hear much from them after they found out about our marriage. To them, I was just a piece of property for sale that had “finally” been sold and taken off their shoulders.

At the time, I could not understand why having an additional X chromosome gave anybody the right to dehumanize me to a mere burden. I often contemplated how my external physical attributes “made me” a woman and laid the fertile ground to manufacture disheartening ideologies about what exactly a “woman’s place” was.

I rejected my family’s given identity and embraced my new life and the beginning of a journey I could never have imagined.

We welcomed our daughter into the world in 2017. Today, it’s become imperative for me as a mother to show my daughter on a daily basis what it means to be a woman and embody the potential of womanhood.

Expressing how historically rooted gendered oppression has impacted my life experiences through my art is important to me. Turning to my art is my way of creating something new with my life and showing my daughter that our history does not define us.

The stories that I’ve shared are only a tiny fraction of the suppression and abuse I endured growing up. The reality is much more stark and complex. That is why I choose everyday to do the work and strive to heal, and re-write my story while re-discovering my identity and being a role model for my daughter . I do it to heal and I always strive to be an example for not just my daughter but for all women out there who are actively and maliciously being suppressed by their “benefactors.”

Accepting the suppression is normalizing it, and normalizing it means more of it. I urge women and anyone reading to create your own ideals, to work towards healing, eliminate and replace these ideologies that infested our minds on the grounds that others are superior to us. Our handlers no longer have power over us. We hold the keys to our own innate power within us. Seek it, find it, embrace it — and above all, embody it.


Visuals by Catherine Reynolds


Spotlight: Women in Engineering

“It’s important for every girl to know that there is support,” said president of Women in Engineering (WIE), Riya Dutta. “I think it’s important to be able to encourage and empower women.”

WIE is a Concordia-based student association that aims to give female engineering and computer science students academic, social and professional support. They promote inclusivity, as their association and activities are open to men, and aim to provide students with the tools to foster growth.

As Dutta explained, this inclusivity is intentional – exclusivity would not help the cause of closing the gender disparity gap seen in engineering programs.

“When everyone notices there is an issue, that’s when things will get resolved,” said Dutta.

According to WIE’s website, only 20 per cent of students enrolled in engineering programs across Canada are women, and only 12.8 per cent of those students become professional engineers.

“The gender disparity within engineering is huge,” said Dutta. “It’s important for women to know there’s a place for them in engineering, and it’s important to show young girls it’s possible.”

There are two levels to WIE’s activities. The association does in-house work, where opportunities are brought directly to the students by social and networking events. For example, on Feb. 6, WIE will be hosting a Power Networking event where attendees will have the opportunity to have several short one-on-one chats with female industry representatives. Dutta described the event as “speed dating, but with companies.”

The second tier is an outreach program dedicated to reaching women and girls of all ages through educational activities at primary and secondary schools and CEGEPs in Montreal. For example, on March 7, WIE will be hosting an event called “WIE Inspire WIE Empower,” which is a day of hands-on STEM workshops at a highschool for students between secondary one to five. The day is hosted by industry leaders such as Google, which will touch on several engineering fields. There will also be female guest speakers from the STEM field who have made impactful contributions, such as Gina Cody.

WIE also hosts coding workshops in elementary schools.

“We try to inspire them to learn science and to get into engineering,” said Dutta. “It’s such a great feeling when young kids learn.”

Through workshops and other activities, Dutta noticed some young women in CEGEP are worried about the gender disparity in Concordia’s engineering programs.

“We always tell them that getting more women in the field, and in these programs is how we are going to (close to disparity gap),” said Dutta.

Dina Khalesi, a software engineering student, sees the value of having a student association that offers support to female engineering students.

“WIE certainly affected me at the beginning of my journey,” said Khalesi. “They gave me the initial push to join Software Engineering through one of their conferences.”

“I think it is important to have these types of associations in a field mainly dominated by men,” continued Khalesi. “Knowing there’s a group of women going through the same struggles as you and knowing that they are there to support you inspires more confidence to stay and perform well in engineering.”


Graphic by @sundaeghost





Don’t fall for the Girlboss scam

Surely you’ve seen the branded content.

Whether it’s on a millennial pink T-shirt, a sassy coffee mug, or the former Nastygal CEO, Sophia Amoruso’s memoir that started it all, #Girlboss culture has become inescapable online and off.

The girlboss moniker is attached to overwhelmingly white, cisgendered women who have achieved lucrative careers in their field of choice; generally the business sector. The term’s purpose is to encourage women to climb the corporate ladder, in hopes that if more women are at the top of historically male-dominated industries, they will become more ethical and egalitarian.

Girlboss culture didn’t come out of nowhere. Girlbosses are just the millennial manifestation of the decades old “girl power” movement. Girl power started in the 1990s as a result of the radical “Riot grrrl”  feminist movement. Riot grrrls would play underground women-fronted punk shows, circulate handmade political zines, and preach radical self-acceptance. Whereas Riot grrrl was a bottom-up DIY scene, girl power was the market’s top-down commodification of Riot grrrl’s ideals.

For example, The Spice Girls are often cited as a prime example of girl power, yet the band was assembled by two (male) managers connected to major label Virgin Record . Like much of girl power culture, The Spice Girls were manufactured to sell a product, and secondly, to sell the idea of “empowerment” to young girls.

Empowerment remained an important notion in the transition from girl power to girlboss culture. “Empowerment” is one of those words that has become so ubiquitous in popular culture that it has begun to lose much of its original meaning. By definition, empowerment means gaining control over the actions and choices in one’s life.

Since girlboss culture is targeted to mostly white, middle to upper class women in the west, I struggle to see how this veil of empowerment is necessary. Girlboss culture is not about making sure women have the education or structural means to achieve careers, it is simply bolstering already-privileged women into higher levels of financial success. Thus, empowerment is just a trendy word to rally behind that serves no real purpose other than making powerful women feel good about their accumulation of wealth.

Additionally, the notion that a company with women at the top is inherently more ethical is highly flawed. In the case of Amoruso, the original #girlboss of fashion retailer Nastygal, she had several allegations against her company’s culture of image consciousness and lack of accountability and respect for those working under her.

This “trickle down” mode of feminism will not work. Instead of placing our faith in a handful of corporate women to try to change the system from within, why not focus on structural change that will improve the lives of everyday women and other marginalized groups? It will be hard to try to hack at patriarchy without taking capitalism to task as well. Feminist practices don’t need to always be “practical.” Pushing for large structural change, rather than sticking more women into an already broken system, is the only way forward.

Graphic @sundaeghost


Why we need more women in late-night

There’s nothing like kicking my feet up after a long day, turning on my TV and hanging out with one of my dear friends: John Oliver, Seth Myers, Trevor Noah, or Samantha Bee.

Late-night comedy plays an important role in my life and over the last half-decade, its place in society has shifted. Due to an information overload and the aggravating political climate, this outlet has become a more digestible way to get news.

According to a study in the Global Media Journal, comedians are aware of this shift. The journal states “Despite the fact that Late-Night TV show comedians are not necessarily considered as professional journalists, they identify themselves with the market model of professional journalism.” Since late-night comedians are often seen as journalists in at least some facet, it’s important to examine how this affects our world view.

These late-night shows often highlight and criticize the lack of diversity and inclusivity within the system, but, ironically, the demographics of late-night comedians is still quite homogeneous. According to The Los Angeles Times, there is a lack of women writers in leading late-night shows. Patriot Act with Hasan Minaj consists of only 20 per cent female writers, 22 per cent on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah, 25 per cent on Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, 28 per cent on Late Night with Seth Meyers, 17 per cent with Conan, and even Full Frontal with Samantha Bee has only 45 per cent women writers.

Women have been fighting for a voice in comedy for a long time, and it’s important to address how their voice has the ability to influence our perception of the world. Since the role of late-night comedians has become to articulate and digest world events in a humorous manner, it is crucial to widen the way that this is done.

Tina Fey recounted to David Letterman in an interview that her experience with a more diverse writing room has lead to social change.

“As the chemistry of the room slowly became more diverse, other things played better,” she said. She continued by explaining that women just simply laugh at different things than men. For a long time, people have thought that what is funny for men is universal and what is funny for women is strictly for women. This is another way that the patriarchy dominates society.

Although it does look bare for women in late-night, there has been a push for more representation. According to, Lilly Singh, an Indian-Canadian YouTuber, will be hosting a late-night show on NBC, which will air after Seth Meyers’ at 1:35 a.m. Other late-night hosts, like Seth Meyers, have added segments to push a more diverse agenda. The segment “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell” allows writers for the show, Amber Ruffin and Jenny Hagel, to take the floor and tell jokes that would not be politically correct for straight white men to say.

On a podcast called Late Night with Joy Reid, Jenny Hagel explains that different stories and jokes emerge when people connect to the news in different ways.

“When you are a member of a sub-community you just have a different angle,” Hagel said. “You might think, ‘awh man that sucks’ from a distance but if it hits you directly you might find a different way into that joke, or have a different idea for a sketch about it.”

Even the most progressive comedians, like John Oliver and Trevor Noah, are limiting themselves by having less diversity in their writing rooms. Although they may have a very balanced and well-informed perspective, they will not receive the same intellectual, psychological, and emotional reaction to news from the other less represented members of society.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Texas abortion bill is anti-woman, not pro-life

How abortion punishment contradicts pro-life claims

Republican Texas state representative Tony Tinderholt has reintroduced a bill that, if passed, would criminalize women who seek out abortions, as well as open up the possibility for those women to be convicted of homicide. In Texas, this means that women who choose abortion could face the ultimate form of punishment: the death penalty.

The basic value held by those who are anti-abortion, also known as “pro-lifers”or at least the value they claim to upholdis that an unborn fetus has the right to develop fully and be born into the world. What’s strange is that, rather than focusing their efforts on this simple idea, a number of those who are involved with the extremist anti-abortion movement use violence to get their point across and make a statement.

There is a long and unfortunate history of anti-abortion extremist violence in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. Vandalism, arson, assault, abductions, bombings, and shootings—abortion clinics across these countries have seen the worst. Sadly, this is far from being an issue of the past. In 2015 alone, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Claremont, New Hampshire was vandalized; a Planned Parenthood clinic in Pullman, Washington was intentionally set on fire; and three people were killed (along with several others injured) in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

If extreme pro-lifers really are pro-life, then why do they use such violent—and sometimes fatal— methods in their attempts to make themselves heard? If one is truly pro-life, should they not value all lives, rather than only the lives of unborn fetuses? What about all the lives lost in these brutal anti-abortion attacks? Moreover, what about the lives of the women seeking out abortions in those clinics themselves?

When it comes to the concept of punishing a woman by death penalty for her choice to have an abortion, the same line of questioning should be used to critique this bill. If someone is against abortion for the sake of the sanctity of human life, but they are fine with implementing the death penalty as punishment for abortion, can their arguments really be taken seriously?

No part of the term “pro-life” seems to track with the concept of imprisoning a woman for life or sentencing her to death for making reproductive choices for her own body. In fact, a belief in the death penalty could be considered extremely “anti-life”.

The proposal of these cruel, sexist bills under the guise of a “pro-life” mindset is misleading at best and—at worst—utterly inhumane. Tinderholt is using this abortion bill as a mirage to veil the truth of the matter: that the extreme end of the anti-abortion movement was never about protecting human life. It is, and always has been, about stripping women of their reproductive and human rights.

Archive Graphic by Zeze Le Lin


Liking sports for the sake of the game

How sexism prevents women from being part of the conversation in sports and sports coverage

Watching sports is not a quirky personality trait, it’s not a way for women to differentiate themselves from other women, and it’s definitely not unusual that women enjoy it.

I know several men who think the opposite; that women force themselves to learn everything they can about sports—from the rules of the game to the good and the bad teams—for the sake of standing out. Or they think that women just say they like a sport because the players are attractive. Either way, it’s common for people to not take women seriously when they try to talk about sports.

In a group of avid basketball fans with support for two opposing teams, different opinions are sure to be brought up. Maybe this player’s stats haven’t been looking too good the last few games, or maybe this team’s coach has been making bad calls lately. Whatever it is, “sports talk” is bound to happen.

As a Toronto Raptors fan, I’d love to be part of the discussion. But my opinions are quickly dismissed, I’m repeatedly interrupted until my voice is drained out, and facts just aren’t believable when I bring them up. It’s not because I don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s because I’m a woman.

Most sports are controlled by males, from the administration to the professional players to the journalists. In the media, only 4 per cent of sports media coverage is based on women’s sports, and 12 per cent of sports news is given by women. As viewers, we’re used to watching men guide the conversation, participate in the debates and bring up the numbers. We don’t think it’s any different when the men in our lives do the same.

When it’s time for playoffs, the English Football League (EFL), National Hockey League (NHL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and National Football League (NFL) dominate not only sports news, but regular news as well. When a reigning team wins a trophy, it’s everywhere.

In the International Ice Hockey Federation Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship (IIHF), Team Canada and Team USA have played in the finals for all 18 tournaments and are the top two in standings. It’s a proud achievement for both countries, yet it’s still disregarded because it’s a team of women.

In Canada, hockey is a major sport. The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) has been the main front for female hockey players, but the league will be terminated as of May 1 due to financial reasons. Imagine the reaction if the Montreal Canadiens held the same title as Team Canada in the NHL, or if the team’s operations were to be discontinued.

By being a woman who likes sports, I’m out of the norm. If I want to watch a basketball game with other fans, it’ll probably be with a bunch of guys who will suggest going to a nearby bar. I’m already shunned by sober basketball fans, why would I want to fight harder with the drunk ones? Why should I have to prove my worth by passive aggressively forcing myself into the conversation and talking about how many games I’ve watched and how long I’ve been a fan?

Gender inequality within sports is bigger than the lack of coverage of women’s sports—it boils down to overlooked fans because they’re women. The facts are there, but we shouldn’t have to constantly assert ourselves into the conversation, whether it’s to talk about sports or the imbalance of women in sports media.

Graphic by @sundaemorningcoffee

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