Where Have Your Hands Been?

Influenza, or “the flu,” is a common seasonal disease with viral properties that can be spread via air or surface contact. Although we made this PSA to be humourous, influenza and its symptoms should be taken seriously and small simple steps such as washing your hands with soap can help prevent contraction.

Don’t stay oblivious; click here to learn about flu vaccinations in BC.

The Bachelorette: Is It Really About Slut-Shaming?

>>>>>[[SPOILER ALERT]]<<<<<

Monday night’s episode (06/22/2015) finally showed the big “who did Kaitlyn sleep with?” reveal after a six-episode super-tease, attempting to throw us off in every direction. The answer was of course, Nick Viall (surprise, surprise!) from Andi’s season AKA the guy who did the ‘kiss and tell‘ in the After the Rose special.

During the group date in New York, Kaitlyn bumped into Nick and decided to bring him into the show because…well, there didn’t seem to be any good reasons save for the fact that she was wholly enamored by his faux D-list celebrity status as a previous bachelorette candidate. Ah, shallow love (or lust?).


After only his second week on the show, Nick managed to snag a one-on-one date much to the dismay of the other men, especially Shawn, in Dublin, Ireland. Despite the handsyness and heavy make-out sessions, the date started out innocent enough as a stroll in the park and ending with dinner until Kaitlyn invited Nick up to her hotel room aaaaand you can imagine what happened next (clue: they did not just sit and talk, as Nick suggested to the others).

Since the scandal has been hinted at profusely up until now, there has been much debate from both sides over whether what Kaitlyn did was okay. The Vancouver bachelorette herself commented on E!, quote “I don’t think it was a mistake…just the timing wasn’t the best.” You think? Plus on the show she admitted it was a mistake so it just seems like she’s trying to save face now except the attempt can only be described as feeble and has turned into some kind of cringe-worthy, self-righteous crusade against slut-shaming.

Here’s a list of reasons why the entire issue is NOT about slut-shaming:

  • The issue is not related to gender. If it were a man in her shoes, he would have been just as criticized, if not more so. Whether it is a man or woman, it is equally NOT OKAY to sleep with someone while you’re technically dating others.
  • Correction: Sleeping around is okay while you’re dating others so long as mutual agreement has been discussed by all partners, otherwise the word we’re looking at here is “cheating.”
  • After the incriminating night, in a panic Kaitlyn groans, “I’m concerned that Nick will say something to the guys and then it would ruin everything,” — a statement which goes to show that she acknowledges the news would hurt the other men and yet, later she cries, “I didn’t mean to do anything that would cause anybody any problems…I would never have done it.” Oh, but she did with full understanding of the damage it would do. She did it anyway, disrespecting all others in the process.
  • Wait a minute, if she isn’t ashamed over sex with Nick, then why did she want it kept secret from the guys? Forgive me if I’m wrong but aren’t relationships supposed to be built on trust and honesty?
  • She is not being criticized for having sex; she is being criticized for her bad decision-making. Kaitlyn claims that the “off-camera time” she had with Nick was “unexpected” and “came out of nowhere.” Um…what? Let’s rewind here.
    • [Dinner Scene]
    • Kaitlyn: I also don’t really want [the night] to end.
    • Nick: No, me neither.
    • Kaitlyn: Do you wanna go back to my hotel and hang out for a bit?
    • Nick: Yeah? Are you ****ing with me?
    • Kaitlyn: No. Do you want to?
    • Nick: Ok, yeah.


Had she just owned up to it and stood by her original statement that what happened was a mistake, instead of turning it around and becoming a false social justice warrior, she would have saved herself some dignity.

Rumor has it that brawny Ryan Gosling-lookalike contender Shawn Booth is the season 11 winner (if you can call being with Kaitlyn ‘winning’). We thought Shawn hated Nick but I guess he didn’t mind it when Nick got “to know every part” of his fiancée.

Screenshot: RealitySteve Source: Kaitlyn’s Snapchat

Writing a Product Description

Sometimes as a copywriter or as a businessperson, you will need to come up with an engaging description for your product. The following provides handy tips as well as an example:

1. Do Your Research

Know your product inside and out and make notes before attempting to write anything. Once you are satisfied with the amount of research you’ve done, begin to brainstorm what keywords and features you want in your description–however don’t expect to use all of them because you don’t want to overpack your description.

2. Inform AND Interest

Readers tend to scan product descriptions for the answers to certain questions: What does the product do? What are its features? How does it benefit me? Don’t forget to include all important characteristics of the product and consider whether they ‘answer’ the reader’s questions.

Just because you’re trying to provide answers doesn’t mean it has to be boring! The first sentence should be some kind of hook to catch the reader’s attention. It’s a good idea to begin by posing a question to your reader so it would seem like you are speaking to them personally. For some product features, you may want to express why it’s great and especially how it benefits the reader; you want to give people a visual of how the product will be useful to them.

3. Be Short Yet Concise

Obviously don’t make it the size of a tweet but do make sure to read it out loud and check for rambling. Edit for awkward sentence fragments or any unnecessary information that can be cut entirely; 100-120 words are recommended.

Bonus tip: Repetition

Referring to the product by its full name at least TWICE in the description can make it more memorable.


Here’s a sample product description for the KitchenAid Cobalt Blue 6-quart Pro 600 Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer.

KitchenAid Cobalt Blue 6-quart Pro 600 Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer

Tired of using a hand mixer? Upgrade to this KitchenAid Cobalt Blue 6-quart Pro 600 Bowl-Lift stand mixer and give your hands a rest! Unlike the classic tilt-head, this modern mixer features bowl-lift technology which provides support to the large six-quart bowl so you can always expect a stable performance. Available in a vibrant cobalt blue gloss finish and power reaching up to 600 watts, this appliance combines both beauty and efficiency in one machine.
The purchase of the KitchenAid Colbalt Blue 6-quart Pro 600 Bowl-Lift stand mixer comes with a one year warranty and also includes the six-quart stainless steel bowl, a flat beater, a dough hook, and a wire whip for all your essential baking needs.

Source: CrowdSource

Copywriting Basics

As the title suggests, this is not meant to be a comprehensive lesson on copywriting, this is more like a starting point. Like anything, if you want to be good, you have to work at it. I still am! Although I do think for copywriting, one needs a bit of a designer mind and by that I mean that one should be able to understand and visualize both the presentation as well as audience reception. If you have that ability then you have the potential to become a very successful copywriter. Now without further ado, here are my three essential “must-knows”!

Know what you’re selling.

  • Research the product/service/brand and note your first impression of it; how does it make you feel, what does it remind you of, and ask whether or not those emotions should be associated with the brand identity.
  • Have a conversation with your client. Ask them for the top 10 words that come to mind when they think about their business then ask them how they want their brand to be conveyed to the public. Often, the answers are quite different. Use this information to create an visual outline for your copy.
  • Tone of voice matters. Depending on what you’re selling, you need to use an appropriate tone of voice. For example, in a brochure for a medical field may need to sound professional and informed whereas writing copy for a social media startup could benefit from a more human voice.

Know your audience.

  • Research their demographics and psychographics.
  • Create audience personas so you can simulate your communicative approach. Evaluate their position on the Social Technographics Ladder as well as the Adoption Curve.
  • Consider what would motivate your audience to carry out your set goals (sign-up, buy, like, etc.).
  • Give direction to push the audience towards those actions. Use words like: Here, Now, Click, Submit…
  • Write copy that has use value to your audience. People will only care if it matters to them, that’s the hard truth so don’t bother with the filler language.

Know your medium.

  • Writing web copy is NOT the same as writing print copy. Publishing online means you have to take into account SEO, eye-catching titles, page fold, user interface/experience, user reading behaviour, page layout (headers, sub-heads, images), and much, much more.
  • For web copy, avoid being too clever with your headings. You don’t have a lot of time to catch a reader’s attention so make sure you don’t confuse them and have them not know what you’re talking about. Be clear!
  • In print, you have more leeway to be clever. Remain clear but remember that in print form, readers are likely to spend more time with the physical copy and therefore they may pay more attention to what they’re reading and absorb it more easily rather than being distracted by signs to click elsewhere. Still, be concise.


  • Brainstorm keywords/emotions/images that you want readers to associate with the brand. The brand’s image is important, but it’s very important that you help it emit the right vibe.
  • Consider the reader experience. I mean really, walk through the entire process yourself. What works and what doesn’t? Is the copy focused? Does it demand your attention or do you find yourself getting distracted? Figure out where the little details matter and adjust them accordingly.
  • FRESH eyes. Think you’re done? Not before some peer review. Get a friend or colleague to read it over. Their feedback is valuable especially when you’ve been reading the same thing again and again.
  • Edit, edit, edit! Do NOT have run-on sentences or overthink the delivery. People often ask when they should stop editing and how much should be cut. The answer: just enough. You can stop editing when the end result is clear and concise. Don’t try to say too much, though it is sometimes tempting. It’s also OK to be clever so long as it never takes away from the message.
  • Read your copy out loud. Often it is easier to evaluate the flow of words and see whether it makes sense or not by listening to it being read aloud.


I’ve always flirted with haiku, it’s such an exuberant form of poetry–being able to say so much with so little. Here’s one of mine:

Over the sand dunes

she walks, tasting dry desert salt

in her mouth


Feminist Theory and the Girl Gamer

Often in class, we are told to situate the theories and critiques we read into our own lives, which I have decided to do both as a woman and as an avid gamer. Mainly I have asked myself, how are these theories relevant to my life? Can I learn anything from them? Where can I draw parallels between them and my everyday experiences? Upon reading early and contemporary feminist theory by Wollstonecraft, Butler, Wittig, and Woolf, I have considered the obstacles of being a girl living in a patriarchal society but specifically my plight as a gamer in a male-dominated activity. Here, I intend to recount one exemplary experience (among many) in my years of gaming and examine how being a girl has made my gaming experiences different, what it means in the social construction of gender, and whether any discrepancies can be resolved.

Since my first Nintendo 64 console as a child, I have been an enthused gamer for most of my life. More recently in the last five years, I have taken part in the online PC gaming world with games like Maple Story, World of Warcraft, and currently League of Legends. My love for playing has always been keen and I’ve always felt a sense of belonging in the gaming community, making long-lasting friends from all over the world. However, there are times when the community is not as welcoming as one would think and I do encounter some hindrances as a girl gamer. I want to start off this essay with a particular story of one such encounter on League of Legends.

Normally I never bother to reveal that I am female to others during gameplay because I don’t want to bother and I don’t see how it would be relevant to the game. On one occasion last year, I was on a winning team and after the game was over, one of my teammates (a complete stranger and a male) began to verbally abuse an opposing player, justifying his abuse by saying that he had “played with her before” and knew “she was a girl” which was “why her team had lost.” The harassment was so downright sexist and derogatory that I stepped in and said, “Hey, I was on your team and we won and I’m a girl too.” That remark, instead of silencing him, only made me the new target of abuse which consisted of being told to “go back to the kitchen” and other such domestic niceties. At the time, this backlash made me regret telling him my gender and I wished I had not got involved.

Immediately after this incident, I joined some friends of mine to form a team and play another round. Lo and behold, who were we put up against? Mr. Girls-cannot-play-games. He recognized my username and wasted no time throwing insults at me again for…well, being a girl. I was told among other things, to go “make [him] a sandwich” because I “don’t belong there (but I do in the kitchen)”. Offended, I went to prove him wrong. I chased him down and killed his character consecutively three times to show I was better and I mocked him back, saying that I had killed him all while “simultaneously making a sandwich.” Admittedly, I insulted him back too by claiming his insolence was probably compensating for a too-small reproductive member. Despite some last snide remarks from his end, my efforts to shame him paid off and he did eventually cease his insults, when I noticed something else happen. My own friends who were both male and on my team and whom I hang out with regularly, neither supported me or defended me, instead asking me why I bothered and to not talk back at all to the enemy team. Sure, I understand they meant it was pointless to stir up trouble but their complete disregard for the situation was unsettling nevertheless.

From this personal anecdote, I want to focus on and discuss certain aspects that struck me as important in separating the girl gamer experience from the guys. One, that I always felt I had to hide my gender; two, that similar incidents have occurred when my identity was disclosed in-game; three, how a woman’s role and place in society has been socially constructed; four, my own role in participating in gender social constructions by emasculating my harasser; and finally five, why men like my friends don’t feel comfortable defending women in games. Understanding all these points will hopefully illustrate a picture of what it means to be a girl gamer, how she is perceived by other players, and how she is excluded.

First up is why I feel the need to keep my gender concealed. Besides privacy reasons and not wanting to make an announcement of my sex, there has always been an underlying sense of fear. From “Chloe Likes Olivia,” Virginia Woolf describes women as being so “terribly accustomed to concealment and suppression, that they are off at the flicker of an eye turned observingly in their direction” (900). I can’t help but lean towards agreement with Woolf’s statement. Outside of the game, I always try to call as little attention to myself as possible, as a girl, because when people notice you, sometimes it leads to unwarranted harassment. In a game however, you have the choice to be anonymous. My gender is never explicitly made known because I don’t want the attention that comes with it. If someone knows I am a girl, sometimes they use that knowledge to criticize me if I play poorly. Hidden, I was included in the game as one with the group. It was just more convenient to stay hidden and be treated as “one of the guys” so that any criticism or attention would be based off my playing skills alone. Wittig says that “to refuse to be a woman does not mean that one has to become a man” but in the game realm, it does mean that (1908). It is concerning though that choosing to be anonymous doesn’t mean one is neither male nor female, but only male by default. For instance, there have been countless times when people have messaged me in-game referring to me as “dude” and “bro,” not knowing that I was a woman, but therefore a man.

This leads us to the second point of discussion—the differential treatment I received in similar circumstances being the reason behind my choice to remain anonymous. In the past, when players knew I was a girl, if they didn’t criticize me, they would treat me like a sexual object they rarely came across. As a girl, I have been catcalled enough times just walking down the street to know sexual harassment as a common occurrence but I am still surprised this phenomenon transfers into games as well. Woolf has argued that “women in literature have almost always been imagined as only sexual…and usually only in their relations or nonrelations to men” (894). This is definitely true in the gaming world too. Upon realizing I am a woman, players have inquired about my personal contact information, Facebook, pictures, age, and location. Even real time and spatial difference between us don’t seem to bother most people or deter their inappropriate attitudes. Somehow it is doubtful that males get the same sexual interest from other players in the middle of a game.

The second part of Woolf’s quotation about women being seen in the context of their “relations or nonrelations to men” bring us to perhaps the most noteworthy point of discussion about the social construction of women and how that applies within games (894). In her critique of Milton, Wollstonecraft exclaims, “how grossly do they insult us who thus advise us only to render ourselves gentle, domestic brutes!” (497). This last sentiment exactly captures the conflict in my story and shows how women tend to be seen as domestic creatures. When that guy told me to return to the kitchen, he implied that that was my place of belonging, and when he told me to make him a sandwich, it connoted my relation to him as supposedly subservient. Are women, like Wollstonecraft says, made out to be inferior? “Taught to please…and only live to please” (500)?

“As the second-born and first daughter of six children, [Wollstonecraft] experienced firsthand the preference accorded to men” when her older brother inherited assets from their grandfather (493). I like to think that as the eldest daughter in my family, I understand this biased preference too. My brother was allowed to study abroad whereas I was made to stay home, study here despite wanting to go to Toronto, and help my mom maintain the household. In “Shakespeare’s Sister,” Woolf imagines men laughing in Judith’s face, telling her, “No woman…could possibly be an actress” (897). Men took all acting parts back in Shakespeare’s day and nowadays a good portion of them think that games, too, are their domain. “Actress” in that spiteful quote could easily be replaced with “gamer.” The female gamer whom I stepped in to defend couldn’t be taken seriously by the male gamer; she couldn’t be a “gamer” or at least one as good as a guy.

To make sense of these constructed gender roles, I turn to Judith Butler’s idea that there are “performative accounts of cultural meaning” and her exploration of “how gendered identity is socially produced through repetitions of ordinary daily activities” (2536). Historically, women have been the homemakers, engaged in domestic activities such as cooking, cleaning, and sewing. Nowadays, girls appear to be materialistic, concerned about shopping and their looks. Possibly, these reiterations of female construction have contributed to why we aren’t taken seriously in a competitive field such as games. Butler believes that “the norms…of identity construction and maintenance are oppressive” which explain why women are attacked in gaming (2536). Putting down women in games empowers a man to reclaim his space in the game, pushing women out of what he sees as his territory. Objectifying her as a sexual being places her beneath him, serving his desires, and is reminiscent of Milton’s view that “women are formed for softness and sweet attractive grace” (497). Either way, the woman is oppressed in the game; her place is forced out back into a domestic sphere and she is seldom seen as an equal.

How does the oppressed girl gamer react? What did I myself do? To defend myself, I had told the bully that he had a small penis. Was that any better, any more progressive than how he had treated me? Considering again Butler’s performative gender theory, it is evident that I also participate in gender construction and in what masculinity represents. Since he tried to remove me from the game context, I tried to remove his masculinity by targeting his ego. “Gender Trouble” explains that there is a “play of presence and absence on the body’s surface, the construction of the gendered body through a series of exclusions and denials, signifying absences” which is relevant to the specificity of my retort (2548). I had consciously chosen to focus on the absence of a large penis in order to deny him his masculinity, suggesting my belief in an “organizing principle of identity” (2548). This means that I am guilty in being part of a society which has outlined gender constructions. Of course, whatever the size of his penis, he wouldn’t be any less of a man, he would just still be a jerk; to say that a small penis made him less of a man would only be a “fabrication manufactured and sustained through corporeal signs” (2548). Just as he had his own reservations about what constituted a woman (belonging in the household, cannot play games, etc.), I had my own idea of what constituted a man. Perhaps not only did demeaning his penis have to do with his masculinity but also worked to imply that he could not please a woman. Suddenly I see a reversal where I had turned men into being responsible for pleasing women. For Wittig, “matriarchy and patriarchy are equally oppressive because equally heterosexist” and here, one can see the truth of that statement (1905).

Finally, I want to discuss the silence of my friends in the face of my own dignity. One can say they aren’t good friends to begin with, but I think it is more to do with the fact that they are male too. For although I was being bashed by an opposing player, I was still a girl and therefore an outsider, and there is a sort of camaraderie between male gamers. Certainly it is not my playing ability that is an issue because my friends are familiar with my skill level and I even beat my aggressor several times to prove myself. No, the non-defense was not due to poor playing, but the opposite. By not addressing the conflict, my friends rendered me invisible. What is the purpose of this inaction except to downplay the existence of the girl gamer? Referring back to “Shakespeare’s Sister,” Woolf wrote that “any woman born with great gift in the sixteenth century would certainly have gone crazed…half witch, half wizard, feared and mocked at” (898). In today’s context, does a girl’s gaming ability invoke fear in the male gamer so much that she must be figuratively burned at the stake for it? Woolf further pinpoints the source of this fear in “Androgyny” when she said that “The Suffrage campaign…roused in men an extraordinary desire for self-assertion; it must have made them lay an emphasis upon their own sex and its characteristics which they would not have troubled to think about had they not been challenged” (901). Following this thought, perhaps a girl’s high gaming ability unnerves males because they are afraid of the competition, or of losing to a girl, and it makes them review their own manhood.

Hopefully this account sufficiently exposes the differences between a male and female gaming experience. Although it was based on my personal experience, the fact that it happens periodically suggests that these experiences aren’t only limited to me but also to other girl gamers. Girl gamers stay hidden or risk being criticized or sexualized, we are seen as the inferior gamer regardless of our skill level because it threatens the gender constructions that male gamers have become socially accustomed to, we are insulted with remarks about our place in the domestic sphere (and out of the gaming one), and gaming at all seems to make male gamers uncomfortable, especially if you are able to outplay them. How does one begin to resolve any of these dilemmas? Surely resorting to matriarchal backtalk like I did, is not useful. How about then, Woolf’s advice to incorporate an “unconsciousness of sex,” or an “indifference to sex” (895)? If players were neither perceived as female or male but simply as “gamers,” attitudes in the playing field may become more neutral and be based on skill alone. But then there are gender differences and knowing that, shouldn’t girl gamers be celebrated and encouraged? It seems for me that this predicament leads to more questions than answers.


Leitch, Vincent B., ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd Ed. New York: Norton & Company, 2010.