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The Agenda’s Steve Paikin to women: Call me

Steve Paikin. (Image: Courtesy of TVO)

Steve Paikin. (Image: Courtesy of TVO)

Women! Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em, and can’t book ‘em as guests on your public-television talk show, at least if you’re Steve Paikin and the show in question is TVO’s The Agenda.

Paikin published a blog post earlier this week in which he laments this situation. He writes, among other things, that The Agenda tries, but frequently fails, to achieve gender parity on every one of its discussion panels, and that among the excuses he’s heard from would-be female guests is, “Sorry, can’t do your show tonight, my roots are showing.” Mostly, he says, they just don’t think they’ll be good enough.

The gist of the piece—although Paikin might summarize it differently—is that getting more expert women on the show would be difficult under almost any circumstances, because so many of the world’s top pundits are men, but that the situation is made even worse by womankind’s collective refusal to man-up to the task of going on TV. His diagnosis is that women, as a whole, are too timid.

Women, why are you so afraid of Steve Paikin? Is it the rakish arch of his left eyebrow in his official headshot? Are you perhaps confusing him with his son Zach?

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Random Stuff

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Nike is running free (and intense) workout classes on Ossington

It may take a few sessions to master this Gabby Douglas manoeuvre (Image: NTC)

Nike, which recently brought its group-training program to Canada, is now hosting free, women-only conditioning classes three times a week at the Academy of Lions gym on Ossington. The professional trainers leading each of the sessions combine strengthening drills and cardio to create a full-body workout. (In other words, prepare to sweat. A lot.) Participants must register through a Facebook page and classes fill up fast, so plan ahead to avoid missing out.

Mondays at 6 p.m., Wednesdays at 9 a.m., Saturdays 11 a.m. Academy of Lions, 64 Ossington Ave., Facebook

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Memoir: after years in denial, I finally worked up the courage to switch genders


Memoir: Girl Interrupted

In my earliest memory, I am four and it’s bath time. I see my brother’s penis and turn to my mother to ask where mine is. She laughs the question off as normal kid stuff. But I am legitimately confused, and in that bathtub, I realize for the first time that my body and my mind are not aligned.

I grew up in a tiny village in Portugal where men were men and women were women, in the traditional sense. If I tried to play farmer with the boys, I was told to play dolls with the girls. My name was Lilia and physically I was female, but every time someone called me a “she” I felt like they were looking through me. I was granted respite a few times each year on village festival days when the streets teemed with families and I was allowed to run freely. Once, wearing my most androgynous clothes, I approached a little girl, and with one look she took me for a boy. We played as boy and girl the entire day; at one point I even stood facing a wall pretending to pee. It was the first time I’d ever experienced “passing,” and it was like every Christmas wish I’d ever made was granted to me in a single instant.

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The Goods

Shopping

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The Find: vintage-inspired sandals from Philip Sparks’ first women’s shoe collection

Since clothier Philip Sparks started making men’s shoes a few seasons ago, female visitors to his Ossington Avenue boutique have been begging him to produce the retro-inspired brogues and boots in smaller sizes. This spring, the Toronto designer did one better, launching a line of footwear specifically designed for women. The collection is small—just two styles in a couple of different colours—but it’s a promising start. This leather sandal in canary yellow, for instance, is a little preppy, a little vintage and very, very cheerful. $225.

Available at Philip Sparks, 162 Ossington Ave. (side entrance off Foxley Street), 647-348-1827, philipsparks.com

The Goods

Stores

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Store Guide: Craft and Guile, a trendy new women’s boutique in Yorkville

Store Guide: Craft and Guile

Name: Craft and Guile
Sells: Women’s clothing and jewellery, and vintage designer bags and shoes
Contact info: 
70 Yorkville Ave., 416-924-4369, craftandguile.com
Hours: Su–W 11–6, Th–Sa 11–8
See it on a map »

Craft and Guile, a womenswear boutique that soft-opened on Yorkville Avenue on Saturday, caters to the twenty-somethings in the nearby condo towers, rather than the society dames who venture south from Rosedale to shop. The merchandise includes brands favoured by Nicole Ritchie and the Kardashian sisters, and is squarely on-trend (right now, that means peplums, faux-leather accents and pastel mint and pink). Label junkies can also find—or consign—vintage shoes and handbags, like Gucci and Louboutin pumps ($400-$750) and Balenciaga and Chanel bags ($600 and $3,100, respectively). 

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Shopping

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The Find: Toronto-made lingerie that you’ll still want to wear after Valentine’s Day

Although Valentine’s Day gift guides are usually chock full of lingerie, most women actually prefer to buy their own lacy bits (trying to wrangle oneself into an intimidatingly complex yet ill-fitting undergarment being more awkward than arousing). If you’re looking to treat yourself this year, we recommend this satin bralette and lace underwear by Fortnight Lingerie, a Parkdale-based label whose luxurious pieces hit the sweet spot between cotton granny panties and whatever this thing is. They’re highly tailored for a supportive fit and have a vintage sex appeal that will appeal to your partner—not least because you’ll have saved him from making an awkward shopping trip to Victoria’s Secret. Bra, $69; low-rise knicker, $48.

Available through gravitypope.com

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Best Dressed

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What to wear on Valentine’s Day: three stylish outfits for women

On Valentine’s Day restaurants that are normally packed with plaid and jeans are suddenly full of suits and cocktail dresses. And why not? The Hallmark holiday is a good excuse to show off a little for your main squeeze, even if you’re just planning to grab some pizza. Below, three date-worthy Valentine’s Day outfits, from casual to come-hither.

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Stores

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Introducing: Gotstyle’s new Distillery District store, with clothes for men and women

Introducing: Gotstyle Distillery

Although Gotstyle’s new two-storey store in the Distillery District is still a work-in-progress, the stunning space—originally a stable building—already has the elements of a retail destination. Currently in soft launch mode, Gotstyle Distillery breaks from the menswear-only catalogue of the Bathurst and Wellington location with a range of fashion-forward women’s brands like Cuchara, Sashin and Babi and Rebecca Minkoff. The prices reflect the diversity of the wares, with some button-ups just clearing $100 and outerwear breaking the $1,000 mark.

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Stores

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Celebrity stylist Brad Goreski wants women to start wearing Mark’s Work Wearhouse

Brad Goreski at New York Fashion Week earlier this month (Image: Angela Weiss/Getty Images Entertainment)

Mark’s Work Wearhouse has brought in It’s a Brad Brad World’s Brad Goreski in an effort to rebrand itself as a purveyor of casual wear for women as well as working gear for men—an effort that also involves losing the “Work Wearhouse” part of its name and offering yoga gear. Mark’s, as it is now known, has tasked Goreski with speaking about the retailer’s efforts and styling looks—actual looks!—from its fall/winter line. So far, the new concept seems to be working: Sales are up seven per cent in Calgary, where the concept was introduced last year, largely driven by the new women’s wear. Mark’s is now directing its efforts toward the GTA (or, as far as key markets go, “ground zero,” as COO Harry Taylor puts it). [Toronto Star]

The Dish

Restaurants

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Hooters embarks on a bold new business strategy: appealing to women

The John Street Hooters location (Image: Gary J. Wood)

Bloomberg Businessweek recently took a look at the economic state of Hooters, the chain known for buxom servers, orange shorts and jokes about wings. A dwindling clientele from a fairly constrained demographic (i.e., men) is contributing to declining revenue for the chain in the States (it peaked at $960 million annually in 2007, and dropped to $858 million last year). The solution? Hooters, that casual-dining bastion of the frat-house sensibility, needs to attract a female clientele.

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The Goods

Stores

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Canadian-centric womenswear shop Pho Pa closes 

Pho Pa, the women’s boutique that focused on Canadian-designed clothing and jewellery, has closed its doors after seven years on Queen West, and several more in Kensington Market before that. Local brand supporters who will miss Alexia Lewis’s shop can take some comfort in knowing that at least a few other stores in the area also stock Canadian designers.

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Features

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The Cult of Pastor Song: a religious sex scandal in Toronto’s Korean community

The sex scandal consuming Toronto’s Korean community began when six international students said they were repeatedly gang-raped by members of their small church. The accused allege that their eccentric pastor brainwashed the women to deflect attention from his own transgressions

The Cult of Pastor Song

Holy orders: Jae Kap Song, the founder and pastor of Jesus First, encouraged his flock to wear church uniforms and live together in six shared apartments

One July day in 2007, an 18-year-old woman checked into her Toronto-bound flight at South Korea’s Incheon Airport. She was travelling light—she had with her one suitcase containing clothes for a range of seasons, some books and a favourite brand of face cream. She had been living with her grandparents in South Korea and was joining her mother, who had split with her father and moved to Toronto to study acupuncture three years earlier.

A court-ordered publication ban prevents me from identifying the woman, but I’ll call her Yeri. Her plan was to learn English at one of Toronto’s hagwons, Korean-run cram schools that cater to the thousands of young men and women who come to Canada on student visas each year. With command of the language, she would get into a better college in South Korea and ultimately, her family hoped, receive coveted job offers at multinationals.

From the airport, Yeri headed to a Bloor and Islington apartment building where her mother lived in one of six units leased by members of Jesus First, a Korean Presbyterian church run by a pastor named Jae Kap Song. Her mother belonged to the church and expected her to join, too. They’d share one of the apartment’s bedrooms. A second bedroom was shared by two male members of Jesus First.

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The Dish

Random Stuff

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Mantry launches dude-specific food delivery service in Toronto

(Image: Mantry)

Mantry, the “Modern Man’s Pantry,” is a new mail-order service from co-founders Reggie Milligan and Kyle Zien which aims to tame the big bad world of food selection. The premise is simple: “cut through the crap and deliver straight goods.” For less than $50 a month, subscribers receive a basket of “guy-specific greatness”—in other words, food and drinks designed to reflect the sensibilities of the modern man (which, apparently, are a combination of the exotic, the rare and the functional). “Between work, women and weekends, guys don’t have a lot of time to focus on food,” said Zien in a release, “so we hope to step up and not waste their valuable time and money with things that suck.” Mantry doesn’t claim to up your dating game, but as the website explains, “babes recognize a man with taste,” and offering your date a cup of premium Oaxacan Hot Chocolate or showing off your collection of Norwegian Reindeer jerky “shows her you’re not some hack who only orders in.” Duly noted.

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Features

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Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 29, because we inspired a 21st-Century international suffragette movement

Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 29, Because we inspired a 21st-Century international suffragette movement

It all began in the winter of 2011, when a cop named Michael Sanguinetti told a group of York University students that in order for women to prevent harassment and rape they should “avoid dressing like sluts.” Two 20-something women, Sonya Barnett, a graphic artist, and university student Heather Jarvis, were so disgusted by his comments that they invited their Facebook friends to join a Slutwalk—a protest march from Queen’s Park to police headquarters on College Street. Hund­reds of people took part, some dressed only in bikinis, and coverage of the event inspired similar marches in 200 cities around the world. In New Delhi, it was called Besharmi Morcha. In Tegucigalpa, Marcha de las Putas. Feminist icon Germaine Greer wrote an approving op-ed in the U.K. Telegraph. This May, Toronto’s Slutwalkers did it again, with an even bigger march (up University to Queen’s Park) and a slate of firebrand speakers. Even Slutwalk’s critics—who mostly dislike the name—can’t ignore its success. The movement has kicked the oppression of women onto the global stage, one awkward stilettoed step at a time.

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Features

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Memoir: Aruna Papp reflects on the abuse she suffered at the hands of men

I never questioned the abuse I suffered from my father and husband, nor did I have any reason to think life had treated me unfairly. Until I secretly went to school


Memoir: In the name of honourOne night, in Delhi, when I was 14, I heard a horrifying scream and leaped from my bed. On the street below, I saw our neighbour, a young woman named Kiran, in a glittering red bridal sari engulfed in flames. Head thrown back, wrists bound with thick rope, she reached her arms beseechingly to the stars and then collapsed.

Kiran and her family lived below us, on the first floor of our apartment complex. She was tall, with a beautiful figure, and educated. She worked in one of the posh American hotels. We later heard that her brothers had killed her. They disapproved of the man she wanted to marry.

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