Monday, March 21, 2011

The Sexiest Man on TV: Captain Jean-Luc Picard

The other day a female friend of mine asked me a rather thought-provoking question: "Who is the sexiest man on television?" While this question might produce some hesitation and pondering among others, I immediately knew my answer. Without hesitation I blurted out, "Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise." I might also have added, "make it so" (Picard's iconic catch phrase.) My female friend stared at me, wide-eyed and confused. So let me explain.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard is a Star Trek character portrayed by Patrick StewartHe appears in the television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation and the feature films, Star Trek GenerationsStar Trek: First ContactStar Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek Nemesis. He also made an appearance in the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Picard is depicted as deeply moral, highly logical, and cerebral. He is a master of diplomacy and debate who resolves seemingly intractable issues between multiple parties. Though such resolutions are usually peaceful, Picard is also shown using his remarkable tactical skills in situations when it is required. 

Okay, so even with this description you still might be a tad confused as to why I label this man as the sexiest on television. The thing is, I practically grew up raised on Star Trek: The Next Generation. My mother developed a Trek habit while I was in utero, watching Shatner and Nimoy in late-night syndication while I bounced around her insomniac belly. And she viewed TNG as a virtuous bit of television, whose plots and philosophical think-pieces were the perfect antidote to the mindless timesuck of soap operas. So instead of love triangles and sleazy affairs, I spent my elementary school years with aspirant androids and Wesley Crusher. My cousin also adored anything sci-fi related, so many a dinner were spent watching Picard boldly commandeer his ship around the treacherous universe. 

Clearly, I was captivated by this powerful man at a very young age. And my fascination of him continued throughout my youth. But this wasn't enough to convince my friend that Jean-Luc Piccard is the sexiest man alive. To further my point, I made a list:
  • Picard has a fondness for detective stories, Shakespeare, and horseback riding.  Forsooth! All these activities combined make him awesome.
  • He is frequently shown drinking Earl Grey tea and issuing his famous taglines, "Engage" (when going to warp) and, "Make it so" (when giving an order). Seriously now, who else will drink Earl Grey tea and actually LIKE it? Who else will issue forth such commanding orders with as much confident authority as him? No one, that's who. 
  • Jean-Luc was born in La Barre, France, which means he is fluent in French. And I'm not talking about the butchered Quebec French where everything is Bonhomme de Neige and poutine, I'm talking about that sexy Parisian language of love and wine. Yeah, he has that.
  • Despite his often serious attitude, Picard doesn't mind acting playful and silly from time to time. 


  • He is bald, and he doesn't give a shit. Sure, Picard has lost his hair, but the fact that he couldn't care less makes him insanely attractive. Confidence is key, gentlemen! 
  • Jean-Luc Picard is so cool, he doesn’t even have to fly his own ship. He has bitches for that. But if he wanted to, he could control the entire USS Enterprise on his own - without having to stop and ask for directions. ;)
  • Q? Pfft. That's just another letter in the alphabet for Picard. 
  • Jean-Luc Picard doesn’t scream like a girl when he’s getting tortured. In fact, when faced against the odds, he'll continue to insist that there are "four lights." Picard will certainly never crumble under pressure. 

  • Picard fires both photon torpedoes AND phasers at the same time while in battle. He always hits his target. There is nothing sexier than a man with good aim!
  • Picard was responsible for Beverly Crusher's husband dying, berated her son constantly in her presence, yet still managed to make her fall for him. No one else could get away with some of the shit he has pulled.
  • Picard gets along with the aliens aboard his ship. While sometimes getting into short squabbles with the Borg, Picard ultimately accepts and rejoices in the nationalities of others. (Heck, he even has Whoopi Goldberg working in his bar!) 
  • Picard has never mutinied or had his crew mutiny against him. His subordinates respect him, and he has earned that respect. 
  • Jean-Luc knows how to carry a tune - he has played on hundreds of Federation worlds. His heavenly melodies transcend the great barriers of race, culture, and species! 

  • Picard only becomes scruffy looking after living a lifetime in an alternate universe created by an extinct civilization. It is obvious he takes the time to care about his personal hygiene. 
  • He even looks good in a spandex, one-piece jumpsuit. Lemme tell you, not many men can pull THAT look off! 
  • Even when incredibly upset, Picard manages to look like a cute, sleeping kitten. 
  • Picard is incredibly intelligent and fluent in many languages - even becoming the first freshmen to win the Academy marathon. 
  • Jean-Luc Picard was never the third wheel in an incestuous love triangle. When a woman is with Picard, he focuses on her and her alone. *swoon*
  • Even while confronted with countless stressful situations, Picard still takes the time to have a laugh and break out into a random song and dance routine.

So, there you have it. Jean-Luc Picard epitomizes a sexy, confident, cultured man in many different ways. And, well, even if I haven't convinced my female friend (or my awesome blogger readers) yet, I'll take him all for myself, thanks ;)

I can feel your eyes on me, Captain ;) ;) ;)
- Jennie

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Celebrate International Women's Day!

Not only is today one of my favourite days of the year (Pancake Tuesday - an excuse to indulge in stack upon stack of maple syrup covered goodness), more importantly, it's also International Women's Day! What makes this year's International Women's Day extra special is that it is the 100th anniversary of this significant movement.

For those of you who aren't familiar with IWD, annually on March 8, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the globe ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.

This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday. When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.

International Women's Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men. In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war; during the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for "liberty, equality, fraternity" marched on Versailles to demand women's suffrage.

The idea of an International Women's Day first arose at the turn of the century, which in the industrialized world was a period of expansion and turbulence, booming population growth and radical ideologies. Following is a brief chronology of the most important events:

In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day was observed across the United States on February 28th. Women continued to celebrate it on the last Sunday of that month through to 1913.

The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women's Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women's rights and to assist in achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament.

As a result of the decision at Copenhagen the previous year, International Women's Day was marked for the first time (March 19th) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded the right to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job. Less than a week later, on March 25th, the tragic Triangle Fire in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working girls, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This event had a significant impact on labour legislation in the United States, and the working conditions leading up to the disaster were invoked during subsequent observances of International Women's Day.

As part of the peace movement brewing on the eve of World War I, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around March 8th of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with their sisters.


With 2 million Russian soldiers dead in the war, Russian women again chose the last Sunday in February to strike for "bread and peace." Political leaders opposed the timing of the strike, but the women went on anyway. The rest is history: Four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. That historic Sunday fell on February 23rd on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia, but on March 8th on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere.

Since those early years, International Women's Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women's movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women's conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point for coordinated efforts to demand women's rights and participation in the political and economic process. Increasingly, International Women's Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of women's rights.

Great improvements in women's rights have been made over the years. We now have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, and women can work and have a family. Women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.

So, today, while you're munching on your hearty stack of pancakes and celebrating in any other Mardi Gras activities, also reflect on the wonderful women in your lives that have made an impact on you. Celebrate their victories and thank them for the incredible presence they have made in this world.

- Jennie

PS - To learn more about International Women's Day, as well as any events that may be taking place in your area, click here

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mean Girls and Mean Women

What is it about certain members of the female sex that make them act in extremely catty, cliquey and condescending ways? As a 27-year-old adult woman I've encountered my fair share of spiteful females. You know the type I'm talking about - the kinds of girls the film, "Mean Girls" captured so perfectly. Tina Fey was spot on when she portrayed this upper echelon of female popularity embodied by designer purses, chemically altered appearances, and copious amounts of pink. What astounds me though, is that, even today, years out of high school, I still come across the same types of women.

I'll preface this rant by stating that I have never been the popular girl. I was never in a "clique." I was the nerdy girl in high school that sat at the front of the class and got straight As. I joined geeky after school clubs like yearbook and the banner crew (yes, we made banners for school events... why not shoot my shriveling social status in the head now?) I rather talk about boyish things like Pokemon and Ninja Turtles than the proper way to pluck my eyebrows or paint my nails. I was active in sports (playing softball in the summer and skiing in the winter.) So. Yeah. I didn't really belong anywhere. I'll admit that I spent many lunch periods in grade 9 eating my beloved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the bathroom stall by myself. 

It was the same in University. Sure, I had plenty of friends, but eventually I'd notice these "friends" would all start going out without me. Sometimes they would even make the rudest comments, straight to my face. Now, I've never been a confrontational person; I'm still not. But that doesn't mean I didn't notice when girls were being disrespectful to me. It hurt just the same, but I always tried to put a on brave face and "laugh it off." Of course I noticed when they were gossiping about me in the corner and laughing my way. Of course I noticed when they wanted to change seats with someone so they weren't sitting next to me. Of course I noticed when they blatantly talked about a bridal shower or a birthday party that I wasn't invited to in front of me. I'm not stupid, and I don't know why they acted like I was.

Fast forward to this year. It stings that I'm still being confronted with "mean girls" in my life. Women I thought were my friends suddenly stop inviting me out altogether, for no apparent reason. Women I try to get along with delete me off their Facebook with no explanation. Heck, women I've been roommates with for years suddenly seem to forget about all the time we spent together. I guess if one female in the group dislikes me, all of a sudden they all must despise me. It sucks, and it hurts.

So why do girls do this? Why do women, with their more immature school days behind them, still form hurtful cliques? It saddens me that as a gender we aren't more accepting and supportive of each other. What good does it do to ostracize another female? What good does it do to make a girl feel unwanted or not "good enough?" Even as adults, many women still revel in their execution of the perfect lunchroom snub or the art of vicious gossiping. I'm sorry to say, but based on my experiences, bullying doesn't seem to stop out of high school - particularly with females. In a society where women have to struggle enough to compete with men, why do so many females insist on needlessly competing with each other? It makes no sense to me.
How many of you have felt this way, even as adults?

With that being said, I have to admit that I have some incredible female friends in my life that always try to include me in social events and never make me feel like I am any less of a person than they are. I love these women for that, and it makes me have a little bit more faith in my gender. These "awesome girls" are the antithesis of the "mean girls." They are strong, confident, mature women, who realize that there is no point wasting energy being catty, cliquey, or condescending towards others. I love these women and I strive to be more like them. If I ever have a daughter, it will be my main goal to raise her to be a strong, confident, "awesome" girl.

I wrote this post for two reasons. Firstly, I'll admit that I just wanted to be selfish and rant about a topic that has been nagging at me for the last little while. Secondly, I want any of the "mean girls" out there to realize that their actions are hurtful, and that it's much more rewarding being nice to a fellow female than being mean. We have a lot more in common than you think.

- Jennie