Hair may seem simple enough. It’s just a mass of dead cells, congregating on and around your head ready for you to style (or not) at will. However, hair is a lot more than that. It’s a functional part of your body, and can serve to express your personality, portray an image, and for some, provide a sense of security. My hair has changed many times throughout the years, and I have changed with it. However, yesterday, I (spontaneously) underwent the most transformative hair experience of my life.
From the time I was four up until the time I was around 9 or 10, my hair style really didn’t change all too much. I could usually be seen sporting a chin to shoulder length blunt cut, sometimes with bangs and sometimes without. I was pretty secure with myself and my hair from a young age, so I didn’t see the need to change anything about my appearance.
When I was in grade 5, I came upon the idea of donating hair to make wigs for cancer. I thought that this would be a great initiative to participate in, so I spent a year growing my hair out until it was long enough to cut and be donated in grade 6. I went back to sporting a shoulder length cut with bangs until about grade 10 where I decided I wanted to grow out my hair and bangs. While this was under the guise of looking older, subconsciously, it aided with my desire to blend in and try and hide myself from people. High school, especially grade 10 onwards, represented a rough patch in my life, my self-esteem and confidence were at an all time low, and I was in general, just super confused and displayed a copious amount of teen angst, making my large shroud of thick, dark hair that went down to the middle of my back perfectly fitting my personality. In grade 12, I got highlights over the summer and cut my hair slightly shorter, however by March I became tired of them and proceeded to grow my hair out again and dye it a much darker colour.
My large curtain of hair stuck with me until December of 2014, when I decided to once again, donate my hair as part of a Movember initiative we had conducted in our residence. After 8 inches had been cut, I came out sporting a shoulder length cut once again. A lot of people thought it was very gutsy of me to make such a change to my look but my reasoning was simple- hair grows back.
And grow back it did, for up until yesterday, my hair had long surpassed my collarbone and a haircut was in order. For a long time, I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of cut or style I wanted. I knew that I had grown tired of my same old style and wanted to do something drastically different. However “drastically different” doesn’t isolate a particular kind of style, so I just resolved to asking the stylist to do whatever he thought would look best. It wasn’t until a couple hours before I got my haircut did I start google searching different kinds of haircuts that would suit my incredibly round face. Everywhere I looked, I saw people hailing short hair cuts as being best suited for round faces, and the seed was planted.
When I arrived at the salon, my stylist came over to talk to me about what kind of haircut I wanted. I asked him if I would be able to go super-short. “I wouldn’t advise it” he said. “The shorter your hair is, the bigger it’s going to get”. He then explained to me that he was thinking about more of a lob (long bob). Even thought that was a pretty low-risk option, I told him that my hair had always been around that length and I was tired of it and wanted to do something different. He started to warm up to the idea of me going shorter, saying “I can make you look beautiful when you’re here, but I want to make sure you don’t go home, wash out your hair, and then think to yourself ‘What have I done’?” He asked me how good I was at taking care of my hair and I said I was open to putting in time and effort to make my hair look good. After looking through some hair magazines, we finally agreed on a short style that he would modify slightly so I wouldn’t “look like a boy”.
After getting my hair washed, I sat in the chair, feeling oddly zen for someone who was committing to lose most of their hair. Right away, he grabbed a good 6 inch chunk of my hair and snipped it off in two seconds. After that part was done, I knew there was no going back. 1 hour later my hair had been completely transformed. The weirdest part of the experience was most definitely having an electric razor used to cut my hair. Never in my life did I think I would get to experience that.
It’s been less than 24 hours since I’ve had my short hair but I already feel like I different person. It’s been pretty liberating to not have my hair be a heavy, tangled mess that is weighing me down all the time and it will definitely be a lot easier to take care of. But it has also made me feel different mentally. No longer do I have any hair to hide behind and while that may seem scary to some, it’s actually made me feel more secure as a person. When I was looking through a magazine trying to decide on a haircut that I liked, I stumbled across a guide to preparing for a short haircut in one of the sections where it talked about mentally preparing yourself, picking out a style in advance, etc, etc. I had to laugh because I literally did none of those things, and had decided to go super short a couple hours before my haircut took place. However, one of the tips in the guide said that rocking short hair is all about confidence. Now considering I’ve never been the most confident, secure person, this definitely threw me for a loop. However, as the magazine said, it takes a lot of confidence to wear your hair extremely short, so it’s almost like this feeling of confidence is something that the style radiates. And I figure, if my haircut can give me an air of confidence, why not run with it?
Having short hair is definitely a drastic change in my life, but at the end of the day I’m so glad I made the cut. I’ve had no regrets since I got it done (and hopefully I won’t eat my words in the long run) and I’m exciting to have fun doing my short hair. Hair is very deeply rooted in a lot of people’s psychology as a kind of security blanket, and for a lot of people this means that they will never change their hairstyle. Now while short hair may not be everyone’s cup of tea (though I would definitely recommend it as I think so many people have the potential to pull it off) a brand new hairstyle is something that can make you feel like a different person. Whether it is a new colour, length, or style, do yourself a favour and invite a change in your hairstyle for once! It definitely helps you to feel great and can even give you a new outlook on life. And if it goes badly, well then thank god for hats. The best thing about changing up your hairstyle is that it’s semi-permanent- sure if you screw up it will suck, but only for a short period of time, after which you can grow it out and then get it done properly next time.
Will I keep my hair short from now on? I honestly don’t know. I have to see how this whole episode plays out and if short hair is still something I’m feeling in 6 months, or even a year down the road. But I know for know, I will focus on enjoying my hair and the feeling that a change in my lifestyle has brought.
Occupy Wall Street has been one of the preeminent social movements of the decade, but there was another movement that occurred which not many people heard about, even though it was of equal importance. In May of 2013, a group of students at The Cooper Union, a small college specializing in the fields of architecture, arts, and engineering, occupied president Jamshed Bharucha’s office for almost two months to protest the school’s decision to begin charging tuition for its future students.
The school was founded by an American businessman named Peter Cooper, who dreamt of giving students from all different backgrounds access to an education that was completely free for all. He used most of his money to create and fund The Cooper Union, which promised to provide a free university education to any student and did not discriminate based on ethnicity, religion, or gender. Keep in mind that this all happened in the 1800s, making Cooper one seriously progressive man. The school remained free for all students for the better part of it’s existence, however in 2011, discussion regarding the financial state of the institution began to occur. The college decided that, due to its massive debt, it would have to start charging tuition to it’s incoming students from then on. Students attempted to protest and form joint committees with the faculty and board members to find a solution to the impending problems, however all efforts to keep the school tuition-free failed. Cooper Union now charges an annual rate of $40 800.
The Cooper Union protest may not have succeeded in its objectives, however it did help to shed a light on a much bigger issue: the cost of a higher education, and especially, whether this large cost is worth it.
It is no secret to most people that post-secondary is being more and more expensive. In the US, the average cost of an education at a 4-year public university increased about 15% in 2 years. In my home province of Ontario, tuition fees have increased almost 4% since last year. Being a Canadian however, I have been lucky enough to have an education that is much less expensive than my American counterparts. My school, McGill University, which is considered one of the more expensive Canadian schools, costs just under $9000 (excluding room and board, which is around the same amount) meaning that my total fees work out to a little under $20 000 annually. For international students, this fee is even steeper, increasing to just over $18 000, when not including room and board.
Despite this, McGill has a large number of students from the US attending, one of the drivers being that it is cheaper to study at McGill than in the US, despite being charged an international tuition rate. For example, at the University of California (a state university), residents of California will pay between $30 000 - $34 000 annually, depending on whether or not they choose to live on campus. That number increases to almost $60 000 if you live in another state. At most private universities in the states, figures around the $50-60 000 range are common, no matter where you are located. Most schools do offer some form of scholarships/grants/financial aid, however for a lot of students and their families, this is simply not enough. In America, the total student loan debt surpassed the $1 trillion mark back in 2013, and that number just keeps on rising.
Why are there so many price discrepancies between the American public and private systems, as well as the Canadian system? Public universities incur lower costs because they receive some funding from state governments, whereas private institutions do not. Canada operates on a similar model, with the majority of its post-secondary institutions being publicly funded. There are a few private universities, however these tend to be much smaller and are often associated with religious/cultural groups that help to fund such institutions. Due to being private, these schools usually maintain a flat tuition rate, independent of where a person comes from, but rates cap out around $30-35 000 per year.
Then there are the countries that offer free tuition for their students. Norway provides free tuition for all of its students, but still requires them to pay a semester fee of less than $100 and cover all living expenses. Sweden also has a similar arrangement. Finland does not charge students for university tuition, extending this to people from outside the European Union as well. In Denmark, if a student over 18 is living away from home, they receive $900 a month from the government for their studies. If they drop out, this money does not have to be paid back. Outside of the Nordic, so-called “socialist” countries, Germany is known for having world-class, english-speaking schools that charge zero tuition.
One of the big questions that arises from examining this issue pertains to the idea that you are paying more for a better education. While this seems like a strange concept to think about, it may very well be the case- the top 20 universities from the Times Higher Education rankings had an approximate average annual cost of around $50 000. Interestingly enough, in the US alone, 36 individual university heads earn over $1 million per year, with average annual income for the profession being around $400 000. As a side note, the president of The Cooper Union, Jamshed Bharucha, earns $650 000 annually, as well as being provided with free housing. In a school with a current enrolment of less than 1000 students, around 67 of them are paying his salary. By contrast, Harvard president Drew Faust earns just shy of $900 000 annually, making her the 54th-highest paid university president, as she presides over 12 000 faculty and 21 000 students.
Much of the money spent by universities also goes towards building state of the art, multimillion dollar recreation centres with rock walls and swimming pools and the like. Because the higher education business is so competitive, schools need to be able to offer things that will incentivize students.
One opponent of post-secondary education that has come to the forefront is Peter Thiel. The co-founder of Paypal is so outspoken against the higher education system that he has created the Thiel Fellowship, which awards $100 000 to students who will forgo a post-secondary education and instead, will use the money to create startups.
Of course, one of the most well-known payoffs of a university education is the ability to find a good job. And while post-secondary graduates do earn more and tend to have lower unemployment rates than their counterparts, the gap between different levels of education isn’t anything extremely significant. This fact, combined with ever-rising tuition rates and student debt, is enough to make anyone question whether the value of a university education is truly worth it in the long run.
While many people enter into higher education with the expectation of becoming equipped for a career, Drew Faust, president of Harvard, explained her slightly different interpretation, in the documentary Ivory Towers. Faust maintained that the purpose of a Harvard education was not to train anyone for a job- it was to allow the students to gain knowledge, think critically, and develop new ways of learning and understanding information. While there is no denying that these skills are valuable, it begs the question: are they skills worth paying $60 000 a year for?
Certain organizations, such as UnCollege (the product of a Thiel fellowship) have decided to grapple with this idea. For $16 000, the program offers fellows opportunities to travel the world and volunteer, attend workshops that focus on career-focused skills in areas such as technology and finance, develop a portfolio, meet and engage with a personal coach and mentor, and intern in Silicon Valley for a three-month period. All the fellows live together in the Gap Year house in San Francisco, which is akin to a typical college-dorm environment, meaning that students won’t miss out on a lot of the social aspects of attending university, Alongside this,as more and more popular and influential courses from institutions around the world become available to the masses in the form of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), learning from some of the world’s top academics doesn’t necessarily have to come at such a steep cost.
All of this information can be overwhelming, but in my opinion, the issues here boil down to something very simple. According to myself (and UNESCO), education is a fundamental human right. Rock walls and high presidential salaries are not so much. When students such as Ronald Nelson, a high school student who turned down admission at all 8 Ivy League schools because of the huge financial burden, there is a problem. When student debt is currently higher than credit card debt, there is a problem. When more and more students are refusing to even attend higher education because it doesn’t fit the bill in terms of cost-benefit analysis, there is a problem. A well-educated society is an ideal that governments should strive to protect and uphold, and the best way to do that is by making an investment in their students. While demanding free post-secondary education is a step that many people aren’t necessarily ready for (sorry Bernie Sanders), demanding the government to make more of in effort to invest in a more educated future is a reasonable demand, and one that should certainly be paid more attention to.
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few days, you might have heard about the recent controversy surrounding the whole FHRITP debacle. If not, here’s a breakdown of the incident.
CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt was at a TFC game on Sunday, May 9th, when a man said the infamous phrase “Fuck her right in the pussy” and walked away. Clearly taken aback, Hunt paused and called out another group of men, who were planning on doing the same thing, on their behaviour. However, the men failed to see why Hunt was so offended by their actions, calling it “fucking hilarious”, telling her she was lucky she didn’t have a vibrator in her ear, and when asked what his mother would think about his behaviour, one man responded saying she would probably die laughing.
A few days later, one of the men, Shawn Simoes, an employee of Hydro One, was subsequently fired from his job. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns TFC, also banned the men from all TFC games, as well any other teams owned by the company, for one year. One of the other men featured in the video has been identified as an employee of Cognex Corporation. A company spokeswoman has said that the issue will be addressed, however as of now, the company has refrained from public comment.
The FHRITP trend was started in January 2014, when “filmmaker” John Cain posted a video on Youtube entitled “Reporter fired for remarks about missing woman on LIVE TV” which depicted a reporter saying that he would fuck the “missing woman” in question – right in the pussy. Cain then posted a followup showing a reporter being interrupted by a man known as Fred, who grabbed the reporter’s mic and repeated the phrase. The act has become somewhat of a trend ever since. If one browses Youtube, they are sure to find compilations such as “Every single FHRITP video EVER!” which have racked up hundreds of thousands of views.
There are many conflicting opinions surrounding this topic, which has led to me try and find some clarity regarding the whole situation.
Firstly, the idea that the trend is sexist because it solely occurs to reporters who identify as female is a false premise. There have been recorded incidences of FHRITP being used to interrupt broadcasts being made by male reporters, such as one of Global Calgary’s Stefan Keyes.
The idea that the act is degrading is one that is true, but to think about it in this sense I would first like to take gender out of the equation.
As Erika Stark, a reporter with the Calgary Herald, wrote after the phrase had been yelled out during one her segments, “When you invade my space, grab my mic, and yell that, you’re not just disrespecting me as a working journalist. You’re disrespecting me as an individual”. Going through the effort of yelling out a phrase as crass and vulgar as FHRITP as a deliberate attempt to interrupt someone who is merely doing their job is an insult to their career as well as their professional integrity.
The men who were trying to justify it on Shauna Hunt’s video did so by saying that the comment wasn’t supposed to be directed at her. As we know from the nature of this trend, this may be fair statement to make. However the idea that these men would go out of their way to interrupt her broadcast and humiliate her on live television in such a crude way is something that is insulting to Hunt, as a working professional who is merely trying to do her job. The fact that these men would try and use such an unsubstantial means to their 15 seconds of fame, if you will, just goes to show the extent of their immaturity. The strange thing about this whole situation is that these men were probably well-educated professionals whose downfall was the result of subscribing to a dumb and childish trend (at the time of his terminated, Simeos was earning $106 510.60 annually).
Do I think it was the right action of the company to fire him? Simply yes. Regardless of any personal beliefs I have on the subject, it is plain to see that Simeos publicly acted in a way that Hydro One did not want to be associated with, making his termination make sense. It also makes sense that MLSE banned these men from attending any of their events, because, they too, do not want to be seen as an organization that supports these kinds of ideals.
Do I think that the men’s comments were degrading towards women? Yes, in a sense. This is an issue that is rather difficult to unpack because it calls a whole bunch of other factors into question. While I do not encourage people to participate in the kind of behaviour that aims to marginalize any sort of identity in any way, I also don’t think everyone should have to live their lives tiptoeing around others and worrying about what they will be offended by, seeing as everyone will be offended by something different.
Do people have the right to freely think and express what they want, even if it is offensive/derogatory/etc? I think so. The reason this kind of an incident, while quite vile, is beneficial, is because it is sparking a debate about why these kinds of words/actions/behaviours are wrong, rather than just shutting them down without giving people the chance to consider their implications. I do agree that this phrase is one that contains undertones which reduce anyone identifying themselves as “her” to a sexual object. However sexual objectification is a complicated topic and one that deserves its own post, so I digress.
Within the scope of this, we know that most people do or say things that they feel is acceptable within society, meaning that this trend has resulted in a slew of people feeling comfortable using the phrase and partaking in this kind of behaviour because it has entered to lexicon. With that said, the only way to combat these kinds of issues is to change the way people think about or see them, and a lot of people really don’t see it as being offensive or objectifying females. They see it as a joke or a trend, and a socially acceptable one at that. Unfortunately, this is an attitude that has been taken in response to many phrases that are considered objectifying to females, which is why this particular trend may be indicating a tipping point of sorts regarding vocabulary surrounding ideas of sexuality and gender.
A personal anecdote may be in order at this point. I was having dinner with my friends last night, two guys and a girl, and my female friend was telling us about how she had matched with a guy on Tinder.
When she went to look at his profile, she noticed his description read “No means yes, and yes means anal”. Angered, she confronted the guy who wrote it off as a joke “between him and his bros”. While my friend and I were both less than impressed with this young man’s behaviour, our male friends took a slightly different view on the subject, agreeing that it was just supposed to be a joke and that we had overreacted. Now I have known these guys for some time now and there is absolutely nothing wrong with them or the way they regard females. They have always been respectful, courteous, and sympathetic to our grievances and would never intentionally say or do anything that could harm or hurt females, or anyone for that matter. But that incident shed light on just how much of a distinction there is between the way people perceive these kinds of actions based on their own personal experiences, but this is a gap that can be closed with the right amount of education and understanding.
I’ll be the first to admit that experience is way more valuable than education when it comes to shaping the way a person will act and react to things, therefore saying that we need to educate all peoples on the struggles of others is a suggestion that seems idealistic and impractical at best. However, what we can learn to do is to respect and educate ourselves on other people’s experiences, in order to better understand why something is a certain way to them. There are certain phrases that have, for the most part, been deemed unacceptable by society that once were (ie racial slurs) as a result of this process. And this is the same thing that we can hope will happen to phrases such as “fuck her right in the pussy”.
At the end of the day, the FHRITP trend was meant to just be a joke. But it’s become much more than that. It’s made a hero out of Shauna Hunt, it’s been the undoing of Shawn Simeos and his squad, and (hopefully) has given way to a much more important social movement.