Category Archives: Toronto
So, I’ll admit it. I’m not the biggest opera fan. I’ve been to two operas in my life, the second one most recently this Fall when I saw the Canadian Opera Company’s (COC) rendition of Madama Butterfly.
My thoughts? Well, it’s not going to pass a Bechdel test anytime soon, but it sure was beautiful, both visually and aurally. I posted that comment to my Twitter account and the COC retweeted me, which I thought was pretty cool of them.
Basically, I have really enjoyed opera. I just don’t know much about it. So when I was asked to report on the COC’s Centre Stage, an Ensemble Studio Competition Gala affectionately referred to as “Opera Idol,” I jumped at the chance. I wanted to hear more opera, and I wanted to possibly bring a younger audience to the genre, through these seven young opera hopefuls vying for a place in the COC Ensemble.
(I did bring a colleague/friend and Opera aficionado to help me out with the more technical bits)
It was an evening of splendour and romance – as the lights dimmed to start the show, I spotted a woman in the balcony reaching over to squeeze her partner’s hand. The seven finalists – narrowed down from a pool of 175 young opera hopefuls – shone among the starry background and lanterns illuminating the stage at the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto, along with the baubles and sparkly dresses donned by the female contestants.
But the greatest moment, for me, was witnessing soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, Canadian opera royalty, perform. When she came onstage, the elderly man sitting beside my friend loudly whispered to his companion, “She’s a lesbian!” before muttering away. My friend started laughing and whispered to me what he said. I really wish I’d been sitting beside him and heard. Because I really hope I would’ve leaned over to him and said, “So am I. You’re surrounded. It’s a conspiracy!”
I looked her up later, and she is married to a woman, and they have a daughter. Not that it matters, of course, but as a fellow queer person who still deals regularly with everyday example of homophobia, this little tidbit of information made me love her even more.
Last week, a colleague and I went to a posh DISARONNO event at the Spoke Club on King West. It was my first time at that venue – I’d heard good things, and was expecting some posh-ness.
I was not disappointed.
All the pretty people – I felt a bit out of place, but man those cocktails were good!
Yeah, so I’m going to chime in on this Jian Ghomeshi thing. And look, I don’t know if he’s guilty or innocent, and it’s not my place to determine that. I don’t have the evidence. But what IS bugging me is all the swirling speculation that these women must be lying since they haven’t gone to the police. I understand why they haven’t gone to the police. I was mildly sexually assaulted (I say mildly because it could’ve been a lot worse, it was very quick and over my clothing, but it was still violating and is still an assault) while I was living in London, England, at 9 am on my way to work. I yelled at the guy to “Fuck off!” and whipped myself away from him as he smirked and walked away. I walked in the other direction and promptly burst into tears. And when I called a close female friend, still weeping, what was her comforting response? “It’s no big deal, it’s happened to me. It happens to everyone.”
This is a systemic problem. It’s a political and legal and cultural problem; the conviction rate for sexual assault is abysmally low. Victim-blaming, as we have seen, is rampant. Yet instances of false accusations are statistically quite rare.
Eventually, I was convinced by a lawyer friend to at least report it to the police for statistical purposes. Even though I had no idea what this guy looked like, besides his race and general height – I didn’t get a good look at his face – it could show a pattern in the area. No one answered the phone at the local police station, and that was enough for me to give up and try to forget about it. Because I could envision the response: “What do you want us to do about it? You can’t ID the guy, you’re not physically injured, so why are you calling us? At least you weren’t raped.”
We need to look at the bigger issues – the systemic issues of misogyny and patriarchy and victim-blaming. And yes, while women need to be careful when walking alone at night – or in my case, in the morning – the focus of sexual assault prevention should NOT be on the women who are victims, but on the men who perpetrate.