C/O Jeffrey F Lin, Unsplash

The inequalities are rooted in systemic issues within sports culture 

For centuries, women were perceived as fragile beings in constant need of protection from any physical exertion. It was America in the 19th century that idealized a special definition of modesty — one where the livelihoods of women would supposedly be threatened by otherwise common practices such as entering the workforce and engaging in sports activities.  

These practices persisted for a long time and it was the norm for elite women to have their (female) servants do everything that was in violation of the supposed modesty they had to uphold.  

A few racially restricted sports were made acceptable, which included tennis, archery, croquet and bathing-beauty swimming (whatever that means). Of course, nothing too harsh that would allegedly threaten the fertility and feministic qualities of a woman were allowed.  

A few racially restricted sports were made acceptable, which included tennis, archery, croquet and bathing-beauty swimming (whatever that means). Of course, nothing too harsh that would allegedly threaten the fertility and feministic qualities of a woman were allowed.  

HADEEQA AZIZ, OPINIONS STAFF WRITER

These sports activities for women, if you could even call them that, were handpicked to be acceptable, largely due to the elaborate outfits that accompanied them.  

It stamped on the assurance of femininity, creating a female sport culture that was only interesting if the women were beautiful and delicate. Heaven forbid they were aggressive or even had a desire to be competitive . . . in competition.  

I think this is a good place to pause just to appreciate all the irony we’ve encountered in our history lesson so far.  

During the very same 19th century, America promoted white male masculinity in capitalism, warfare, baseball, beer and basketball. Once again in an effort to preserve femininity, these activities were restricted for women, masked under false claims of women's inability to endure as much pain, injury and overall labour.  

No one questioned the physical effort and endurance it took to carry a child and give birth, but athletic performances were quickly condemned as immodest and degrading.  

That was back then and a few may find it silly that I’m going on about something that has evolved so much since then. While in many ways, it has, in numerous other ways, it hasn’t.  

That was back then and a few may find it silly that I’m going on about something that has evolved so much since then. While in many ways, it has, in numerous other ways, it hasn’t.  

HADEEQA AZIZ, OPINIONS STAFF WRITER

With the debut of “Women’s Olympics” in 1920, and the slow but steady modernization of female sports since then, you could raise a claim that women don’t face these issues anymore. 

It’s easy to say that from an outside perspective, but 40 per cent of women in the sports industry would tell you something different. They’d tell you how the athletic world still belongs to men and the constant discrimination they face at every possible gateway into the industry — whether it’s at the level of a professional athlete or getting ridiculed for wanting to play middle school girls’ basketball.  

Like all kinds of discrimination, it's very important to acknowledge the intersectionality of gender discrimination. Race, culture, economic status and personal identities play significant roles in the differing experiences faced by women. 

The reason I gave you a brief history lesson in the beginning was to show where these ideologies are rooted from. The idea of placing men’s sports on a pedestal while ignoring women’s sports comes from previous ideas of the sports industry belonging exclusively to men.  

When issues about equal pay come to light, people are quick to point out the media and entertainment gap between men’s and women’s sports. Though this is very true, no one has bothered to take a look at why.  

When issues about equal pay come to light, people are quick to point out the media and entertainment gap between men’s and women’s sports. Though this is very true, no one has bothered to take a look at why.  

HADEEQA AZIZ, OPINIONS STAFF WRITER

Sure, you can probably count on one hand how many WNBA players can dunk a basketball, but no efforts are made to appreciate the talent and hard work the players put in to get to the level they’re at. Where females may lack in physical strength and endurance (when compared to equally trained males), they make up for in technique, passion and resilience.  

Yes, sports will innately look different when it's played by different sexes, but failing to put forth an effort to appreciate these differences is certainly not out of society’s control. For so long, the male-dominated society ruled women by their reproductive systems, believing that they must save and expend all their energy in reproduction.  

Today, imagine if women athletes didn’t have to expend so much of their energy fighting for legitimacy and equal treatment and be able to focus solely on playing their sport. 

Goodbodyfeel’s new initiative is making teacher training more accessible for BIPOC applicants

Representation matters. It’s an absolutely essential part of reclaiming and decolonizing spaces for the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour community. Goodbodyfeel’s new initiative, Fueling Reclamation, is bolstering the fight for representation, by making their teacher training more accessible for BIPOC applicants. By doing this, they are helping to decolonize the wellness industry.

Robin Lacambra had already been working in the movement and wellness industry for many years when she moved to Hamilton. As she began to practice in studios in her new city, she recognized the lack of representation of the BIPOC community in studios not only in Hamilton but also in Toronto where she grew up.

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“It just sparked this awareness that I was asleep, to the political nature ever-present in studio spaces or just in spaces in general when you've got a space of bodies because our bodies are political. So it was in trying to find a movement community here in Hamilton that I woke up to a need of mine, which is to have a space that felt safe for me to be in my full expression as a queer woman of colour,” explained Lacambra.

"It just sparked this awareness that I was asleep, to the political nature ever-present in studio spaces or just in spaces in general when you've got a space of bodies because our bodies are political."

Robin Lacambra

This realization prompted Lacambra to create the space that she needed. She started teaching pop-ups in 2018 and then that same year ran her first teacher training. Many of the graduates from the course went on to be the teaching staff for Goodbodyfeel when it officially opened in 2019.

While Goodbodyfeel is a Pilates, yoga and mindfulness studio, at its core it’s a place of inclusion, healing, empowerment and representation. 

“[It’s] a place where all bodies can come home to their bodies without shame and with compassion,” said Lacambra.

[It’s] a place where all bodies can come home to their bodies without shame and with compassion.

Robin Lacambra

This philosophy is at the heart of Goodbodyfeel and everything they do, from the classes they offer to the individuals they employ.

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“We really centre values of equity and representation, equity and accessibility. I don't ignore the hard realities of systemic oppression and the studio works to challenge systems of oppression, both in the way that we run our business and the way that we share our offerings to the broader public, in the folks that I employ . . . and we do our offerings, don't shy away from creating exclusive spaces for safer spaces. So we have classes that are exclusively for folks of colour, we have classes that are exclusively for queer, trans and non-binary folks, we have classes that are exclusively for folks in bigger bodies. And so yeah, we believe in creating these inclusive spaces for healing,” said Lacambra.

Goodbodyfeel’s teaching staff is mostly made up of BIPOC women, with 10 of 14 teachers being BIPOC and of these 10, seven are Black. Lacambra continues to offer a teacher training program at Goodbodyfeel and also offers scholarships for BIPOC individuals in an effort to make the training more financially accessible.

In February, Goodbodyfeel launched a crowdfunding campaign, Fueling Reclamation, to offer the teacher training program free of charge this year to the 15 individuals who applied for BIPOC scholarships and to help finance a BIPOC specific edition of the teacher training in 2022.

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“For me, it is the way to radically shift representation of leaders in wellness. Many wellness practices are from brown and black cultures of origin and why isn’t our mainstream leadership reflective of that . . . It started off as just scholarships or subsidies that I could afford to give and seeing that the folks who would apply for the scholarship and subsidies were growing every year. I imagined what would be possible if I could say yes to everybody, what would be possible if I could give a fully free training? Wouldn't that be so amazing? Wouldn't that be one of the things to really help decolonize wellness and push back on these capitalistic ideas of leadership training, of teacher training?” explained Lacambra.

I imagined what would be possible if I could say yes to everybody, what would be possible if I could give a fully free training? Wouldn't that be so amazing? Wouldn't that be one of the things to really help decolonize wellness and push back on these capitalistic ideas of leadership training, of teacher training?

Robin Lacambra

This campaign is an example of an easy, concrete way the larger Hamilton community can support the BIPOC community and contribute to decolonization.

“It's overdue. This kind of investment into BIPOC leadership is overdue [and] it's easy reparations for the folks who are like, “Oh, I'm so overwhelmed. How I can contribute to anti-racist work?” Here you go, here's a really easy way to do it. Just help fund it, help spread the word, help empower our future changemakers. If we're fully fueling BIPOC leadership, we are fueling an equitable future,” emphasized Lacambra.

 

Nominations for spring 2019 valedictorians closed on March 4. Interviews with the selection committee are taking place until March 29, with decisions releasing in early April.

In total, the spring 2019 convocation will consist of 11 valedictorians, one for each convocation ceremony, with representation from McMaster University’s different faculties and programs.

Historically, the valedictorian is the student with the highest ranking amongst their graduating class, where highest ranking is determined by grade point average. This student is expected to deliver a closing statement at their graduation ceremony.

While valedictorians are still required to deliver a farewell remark, the definition has greatly changed. According to the McMaster Students Union, valedictorians are graduating students who “best represents the student community at McMaster University.”

In regards to grades, valedictorians are only required to have an average of at least 7.0 in their last academic year, or as their cumulative average.

While this definition does not appear to be problematic, and in fact makes the title more inclusive, the selection process for valedictorians does not reflect this positive change.

To be nominated for valedictorian, students must complete a lengthy valedictorian nomination package. This includes signatures from at least three members of the graduating student’s respective faculty, a two-page letter outlining why the student is best suited for the valedictorian title, a copy of their curriculum vitae or resume and two letters of reference, one academic and one work or volunteer related.

The requirements of this package already discriminates against students who do not have the time to thoroughly complete it. Especially considering the horrible job the MSU did in advertising valedictorian nominations, many students did not have time to complete their applications despite the nomination period opening on Jan. 28.

One of the largest issue with Mac’s valedictorian process is the selection committee itself. While the committee is comprised of both faculty and students, the student representation on the committee is severely lacking.

According to the valediction information package, the student representation consists of students from the Student Representative Assembly and MSU members appointed by the MSU vice president (Education).

Although this means that the selection committee may contain students from the graduating class, the seats on the selection committee were also poorly advertised.

The poor advertising for seats on the selection committee and the actual nomination period does nothing but perpetuate a cycle of only individuals within the MSU bubble being aware and taking advantage of these opportunities.

It makes no sense why faculty members especially are allowed to determine who best represents students. Even the few selected students on the selection committee are not a good representation of the student community, but rather, a representation of those few already involved in the MSU.

If the university truly wanted to elect valedictorians who best represents the student community at McMaster, and not just the MSU bubble, they would allow the graduating student community to vote for their representative through an election.

If an election were to occur, students would have the opportunity to pick who they’d like to have speak at their convocation. Students could run based on whatever merits they feel they possess, rather than those arbitrarily set out by the selection committee.

Perhaps the winning valedictorian isn’t the most “involved” student, but their actions and character make them somebody that their fellow peers opt to vote-in.

As it stands, the selection committee for valedictorian focuses on “McMaster and/or community involvement”, which is listed as involvement in student groups, student support, student government and community involvement. Of the listed examples, almost all have some relation to the MSU.

Being valedictorian shouldn’t equate to being the ideal and involved MSU member. It should, as their definition states, be an accurate reflection of the diverse student community at McMaster.   

Beyond the title and delivering a five-minute speech at convocation, valedictorians don’t receive anything. Personally, I don’t see the point of having valedictorians. It’s pretty much impossible to have a single student be truly representative of their entire faculty.

But if the university wishes to keep the tradition, they ought to do a better job of ensuring that whoever gets the accolade is supported by the graduating class.

 

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Photo C/O Women’s Adventure Film Tour

The Women’s Adventure Film Tour first premiered to a sold-out crowd in Sydney, Australia in May 2017. Since then, the film tour has left its home country and toured across Asia, Europe and North America. This spring, it is coming to Eastern Canada with a stop at Hamilton’s historic Playhouse Cinema on March 21.

The tour celebrates the extraordinary adventures of women by putting on a selection of short films. It is the result of a partnership between Australian company Adventure Film Tours and women-centred outdoors community She Went Wild. The Hamilton screening is open to all and will be two hours long with a short intermission. There will be also be raffle and door prizes offered.

Eastern Canada tour organizer, Benoit Brunet-Poirier got involved with the tour when he met Adventure Film Tours owner Toby Ryston-Pratt on a trip to Australia last year. At the time, Ryston-Pratt had been thinking about expanding to Canada. Brunet-Poirier discussed the opportunity with his partner Jamie Stewart and the two decided to take on the challenge of bringing the film tour home.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9HXWDFs4WM[/embedyt]

Adventure is important for the couple, who met while rock-climbing. The tour also combines their respective industries as Brunet-Poirier works in the entertainment industry and Stewart works for an outdoors retailer.

By showing women-centred films, the tour is helping break down barriers in the outdoors industry. Brunet-Poirier noted that women are historically thought of as individuals to be protected and this series of short films challenges that notion.

“So I really like the idea of having a woman-focused film tour just because… although women are starting to be represented more in adventure stores and in the media and in film, I do think that there still is a misrepresentation or underrepresentation of women. And so this film tour is just putting… the spotlight on women,” Stewart said.

The couple did their first screening for the film tour in Ottawa last fall. They are taking the feedback from that event on the road by increasing the number of films in order to show a few shorter ones and playing well-received flicks.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DE3F336tVQ[/embedyt]

One such film, titled Finding the Line, follows professional skiers and sisters Anna and Nat Segal across Canada, France and the United States. While the film’s humour and thrilling 80 degree slopes make it an exciting watch, it is one of Stewart’s personal favourites because of its narratives of overcoming fear and sisterly bonding. It is these narratives that Stewart and Brunet-Poirier feel will resonate with audiences.

“We let go of some films that were focused on physical achievement to give room to films that are focused on the psychological or social achievement of other women. So there are films about BASE jumping and extreme sports, but there are also films that are more accessible,” said Brunet-Poirier.

In this way, the films should provide something that appeals to everyone, regardless of activity level or interest in extreme sports. The couple hopes that the pictures inspire audiences of all ages to attempt new things or take on a challenge that frightens them.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcWXn_Ydxuc[/embedyt]

Stewart and Brunet-Poirier also focused on ensuring that the films showcases diversity. From a film about an older, blind woman learning to swim for the first time to another about the challenges a lesbian couple faces in a mountain biking community when they open a pizza shop, the films capture a range of identities.

The films were selected from Adventure Films Tours’ global database. While the couple chose some films based in North America in order to be more local, their priority on diversity led them to select films from around the world.

“I am a Chinese woman here in Canada and… we really wanted to showcase diversity and acceptance of everyone… [T]hat's the root of our cause. [We] really try to reach as many people as we can and showing representation in adventure sports of all types of people,” said Stewart.

By centring the diversity of women, Women’s Adventure Film Tour pushes back against the perception of the outdoors community as male-dominated or predominantly white. The films aim to be a comprehensive show of the physical and mental strength of women.

 

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Photo C/O Kyle West

The McMaster Students Union Student Representative Assembly held their most recent meeting on Nov. 11 in Gilmour Hall. Here are some key items that were discussed.[spacer height="20px"]

[spacer height="20px"]The next SRA meeting will be held on Nov. 25 at 5 p.m. in Gilmour Hall room 111.

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Photos by Razan Samara

By Adrienne Klein  

The Shifting Ground Lines: Shifting Pluralist Perspectives exhibition explores how cultural backgrounds influence their view of landscapes and use of land through framed depictions of Canadian landscapes, from Carl Ray’s Medicine Bear to Lawren Harris’ Lake and Mountains, hanging on the crisp black walls of the main floor of L.R. Wilson.

[spacer height="20px"]Shifting Ground Lines: Shifting Pluralist Perspectives is an exhibition curated by Brandon Coombs and a production team consisting of Beatrice Hammond, Sienna Suji Kim, Kyle Wyndham-West and Jennifer Yacula of McMaster University. It is composed of twelve photo reproductions of artistic Canadian landscapes and is part of the Socrates Project at McMaster University, which aims to shed light on pressing issues through interdisciplinary approaches.

[spacer height="20px"]The exhibition was originally conceived as part of a project for Art History 4X03 administered by Angela Sheng, an associate professor in the Art History department, where students were tasked with curating a visual exhibit. Beatrice Hammond, who is a fifth-year art history and English major, explained that her group decided to do their project on Canadian landscapes because they wanted to challenge and question popular ideas surrounding the meaning of Canadian art.

“When people think of Canadian landscape their mind automatically goes to the Group of Seven. That’s what we were taught in elementary school. Go to the art gallery, see the Group of Seven, learn it, but we don’t usually get to see that that’s not the only landscape,” explained Hammond.

“That’s not the only representation of landscape or Canadian landscape and there’s so many different representations. [W]e really wanted to shift the narrative… we’re shifting the notion of what is the conventional landscape and shifting away from the settler, colonial ideas of art and…what is beauty and what is landscape.”

The director of the Socrates project, Rina Fraticelli, trusted these students to make the entire exhibit a reality. They were given the upmost independence in the curation process. They picked pieces to include, framed the artwork by hand, marketed the project and were involved in every details from inception of the project to the closing reception.

“There were a lot of components to this and I learned so much about the professional art world through this experience. It was crazy learning how museums and galleries work and how to communicate with them and get results. Like how to get people to give you photo reproductions, how to get them to ship them to you, you know, just working with people,” said Hammond.

[spacer height="20px"]The reception for the exhibit has received a positive response thus far. On Sept. 26, Coombs gave a curatorial talk where he discussed the way that we create artificial boundaries in various areas of society and Hammond enjoyed watching everyone admire the pieces through that lens.

“[We] had Coombs talk about how the art relates to space and how we create artificial boundaries through our provinces and territory lines and how some spaces are delegated to some people while others aren’t so that was kind of cool watching people view the artwork while keeping that in mind,” explained Hammond.

Only a few of pieces from their original virtual exhibition were able to be secured, but the intent remained the same; to have equal representation for Indigenous and non-Indigenous art. The entire process shows the value of experiential education both for people leading the project and those able to appreciate the end results.

The exhibit can be viewed in L.R. Wilson up until Oct. 19, when there will be a final reception for the exhibit. People will have the opportunity to hear from the students who put the exhibit together and discuss it with them.

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