Adulting 101: So you think you can launder?

There is a correct way to do your laundry and you’re definitely doing it wrong

Adulting 101:  So you think  you can launder?

Do any of us really know how to do laundry?

Last Sunday, I pulled out my new white shirt from the washer and it was stained pink — just a massive, in-your-face blotch on my shirt a day before an interview.

How could this happen to me?

I’ve been doing laundry for the past four years, and now it turns out that after all this time I’ve been doing it all wrong.

If you’re anything like me, you probably take a pile of dirty clothes, shove them into the washing machine, throw in detergent, pick both the cycle and temperature based on absolutely no logic, and then let the beautiful pièce de résistance do its magic.

Well, if you can relate to the above, then this is for you. And to those of you rolling your eyes, good for you. You’re nailin’ adulting. Love that — but I can’t relate.

After the last astronomical disaster, I finally went ahead and did some research. I typed “how to do laundry” on Google, and there it was: a long, verbose list of articles claiming to know the secret to doing laundry perfectly. There was an entire page dedicated to whites, a different one for knitwear, another one for colours — each with their own list of instructions.

But don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the details of each of them. I know we’re all busy U of T students, which only gives us time to skim through online readings before getting back to our actual readings.

So, I’ve compiled a brief list of things that’ll help you preserve your Canada Goose jackets, woolen sweaters, and your white shirts for a little longer — or, at least, until after the interview.

1. Do not mix your whites with colours. Come on, don’t do it!

I know that we’re all lazy and that nobody wants to do two cycles, but mixing really ruins your garms. Even if there’s no colour leak, the materials for the two are usually quite different and your whites will get damaged.

2. Best way to load a washing machine? Use the Palm Rule

You need to give your clothes enough space to tumble and spin. If you overload the washer, then your clothes won’t get washed properly. On the other hand, if its not loaded enough, then you’re wasting water. Hence, the palm trick! Place your hand in the drum, and if your hand fits between your clothes and the wall of the drum, then you have the perfect load size.

3. Know your laundry symbols

You know those tiny white clothing labels that are sewn on the inside of your clothes and have all these fancy shapes that are practically incomprehensible? Yes, those! They are important. Some clothes can’t be washed with bleach, some need to be washed with cold water, and some shouldn’t be washed at all! Knowing these could really save your clothes from damage.

4. Now, about your knitwear — this is important to know because we live in a freezer for eight months

First, it’s never a good idea to wash your wool clothes often. Every time you wash them, a little more damage is done to the fibres. If you can’t eat a burrito right and end up spilling sauce on your sweaters, just clean the stain using bleach or stain remover, but please, remember to first check if you’re allowed to use bleach. Secondly, if you want to wash ‘unstructured’ wool pieces, like sweaters, blankets, and scarves, wash them on a delicate cycle in the washer. Always use cool water and gentle detergent; otherwise, it will shrink.

5. A little more complicated advice on the type of wash cycle, but stay with me…

Try using normal or regular cycle for whites, sheets, towels, undergarments, and socks. Always use a permanent-press cycle for jeans, non-cotton items, knits, and polyesters, and a delicate cycle for wool, silk, and other fragile garments. Great, you finally know what the permanent-press cycle is used for!

6. A few things that you should never, ever put in the dryer

Silk, lace, activewear, and pantyhose — now you know why your tights get torn so quickly! Also: those dryer sheets? They can actually be bad for your health. According to a few doctors, they might even be bad for your skin. So, even if you don’t take anything away from this article — and continue to shove all your clothes into one load, or take your laundry back to your parents house every two weeks — you can at least save money on those dryer sheets!

What’s it like having an IUD?

Let’s talk about sex, birth control, and how to become a work of art

What’s it like having an IUD?

I love having my copper Intrauterine device (IUD).

As an individual who does not like the idea of having hormones added to their body, but does want the highest level of protection during sex — it was the perfect option.

If you don’t know, an IUD is a small, T-shaped device with two hanging strings, that you can get inserted into your uterus. Yup, sounds terrifying. At least, that’s what was running through my brain while I sat fidgeting in the waiting room for 40 minutes.

When I was considering getting the copper IUD, there was a major downside. It increases period cramps and flow, and is typically recommended for people who have lighter menstruation cycles.

But hey, I already had a painkiller prescription for my cramps: you know, the type of pain where you have to imagine you’re a Viking warrior with a stab wound — those menstrual cramps. Fun.

My doctor’s response to my IUD request was something along the lines of, “Are you sure? Let me give you another prescription too, just in case.” This naturally made me more apprehensive of the procedure, but I knew that any hormonal option would impact me more than extra cramps.

I also knew that I could get my IUD taken out anytime after its insertion — the myth that you’re trapped with it for the next five years is not true. It is, of course, better to wait two months and see how your body adjusts, but after that, do whatever you want! Now, having had my IUD for a year, my cramps have remained exactly the same.

People often hold on to what’s conventional and I’m grateful to have access to any method of birth control around me at all, but I also know that I should have the final choice over what goes into my body.

What works for one person might not be what’s right for someone else. That is to say, my experience is just one story. When I was growing up, no one taught me about any options beyond abstinence and the pill. That’s why I think it’s important to talk about other forms of contraception, like the IUD.

When I finally got into the insertion room, my doctor was nowhere in sight. After 20 minutes of staring at the harsh fluorescent lights, eyes roving over cheap ceiling tiles with my back pressed into the operation table, I heard a knock at the door. She came in to tell me that they were waiting for the instruments to cool down from their time in the dishwasher, which gave me a whole host of visuals that I didn’t ask for.

When she returned, she placed a little plastic tool inside of me that held the area open, sprayed an antiseptic down there, then talked me through the insertion cramps. I’m endeavouring to be nothing but honest and informative — and maybe, just maybe, slightly entertaining.

Afterward, I rated the pain of having the IUD placed inside of me as a seven out of 10. This may seem like an arbitrary detail, but I want it out there for any person trying to decide what they want to do to have a fun, safe sex life. I’ve had enough friends ask me about it and then decide to get one themselves, that I wanted to share with a bigger audience.

I didn’t have any cramps after the operation was done. I even went to a party that night.

However, some people have reported experiencing pain afterward, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. You don’t feel the IUD itself inside of you at all. You don’t beep going through airport security or anything like that either. Although, I do like to think that the fact that it’s up there makes me a cyborg.

I made the customary second appointment to have my thread checked a few months later. The threads allow the doctor to ensure that the IUD is sitting correctly in your reproductive system. My IUD is soft and high enough in your cervix that it shouldn’t be noticeable. It also curls up with time into a practically non-existent little ball.

Like birth control pills, for a reason that I don’t understand, the copper IUD has a name. Only instead of sounding like something a kid would name their Barbie doll, it’s called the Mona Lisa.

So, if you do decide to go ahead and get one, keep in mind that you are officially a work of art.

WTF is weather amnesia and how can art explain it?

On your way back from office hours, pop into an interdisciplinary and intergenerational art exhibit at the Jackman Humanities Building

WTF is weather amnesia and how can art explain it?

Weather Amnesia is an art exhibit on the top floor of the Jackman Humanities Building currently showcasing work by modern and classical artists at the intersection of science and artistic expression. The pieces are arranged on walls and bookshelves of the 10th-floor lounge and seminar room, more decor than formal gallery.

“We are very easy to forget — to deny the abundant evidence of changing environment,” said Yuluo Wei in an interview with The Varsity. She is the curator of Weather Amnesia and a Master of Visual Studies in Curatorial Studies student at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. Wei is critical of our modern indoor lives, especially in the urban environment, and she hopes this exhibit creates dialogue toward an awareness of our surroundings, toward noticing the weather.

In a 1922 oil painting by Graham Noble Norwell, sketches of a classical snowy Canadian landscape, ice over a lake, and a silver birch are grouped together. Around a corner hangs Lisa Hirmer’s photo series tracking the melting of snow in a test tube. Though both artists incorporate snow into their pieces, their artworks provide a stark example of the evolution of art from classical to modern times.

Another work includes a hygrothermograph, an analog measurement tool that reports temperature and humidity. A tablet with a live bird migration map is in another. A watercolour collage of a bird from a museum collection, by Florence Vale. Blocks of timber cut into a model of the Jackman Humanities Building. Abstract shapes in a big square inked in 1979, inspired by a Canadian winter.

There are two contemporary Canadian artists featured in the gallery. Lisa Hirmer has two pieces, the second being “Watching, White Ibis,” a letter to the migratory white ibis. Tania Kitchell has two pieces, one named “Weather Observations,” a diary of comments and measurements of weather by a lake. The other is Occupy, composed of 3D-printed plants that are invasive or alien to the arctic. The printed plants are not a perfect ratio to the living counterpart — for any visiting arctic plant experts.

To me, the title Weather Amnesia is a reminder; I personally don’t remember my elementary-school snow days, but my parents sometimes remark that there’s less snow falling nowadays. Kids in the 1990s must have had more snow than me, and I had more snow than the kids now. The oil painting is a quintessential Canadian snowy landscape, and older generations may relate to this more. Newcomers and youth may relate more to the six frames of melting snow. The printed plants are another guilty reminder; I barely recognize three out of the many species, save the dandelions and clovers.

But can you spot the Canadian Thistle, the Blue Eyed Grass? I think we all need this reminder lest we forget that the urban lifestyle we live is, for most of history, abnormal.

The artwork can leave viewers with important questions, but a block of wood labelled as laminated timber may not have as much face-value significance to the theme of the exhibit. The Quayside project, run by Sidewalk Labs, alongside University of Toronto’s own Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport, will both have wooden skyscrapers made of the same laminated timber, a simple but high-tech building material.

Construction of these structures is fast, less noisy, and has no harmful chemical by-products. The sculpture of the Jackman Building was first modelled on a computer, and buildings have the same process but at a bigger scale.

Weather Amnesia will run Monday–Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm until June 26, 2020. It’s free and open to the public, but the seminar room space, a third of the exhibition, is sometimes booked for events.

Overlooked: Anne with an E

From a children’s classic to a Netflix original, literature’s favourite Canadian redhead finally reaches our favourite procrastination tools

Overlooked: <em>Anne with an E</em>

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, set in Prince Edward Island, is about a unique orphan who wins the hearts of siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert.

The book is treasured not only by Canadians, but by people all around the world. I remember growing up and falling in love with Anne’s flamboyant personality.

I laughed when she got into trouble for dyeing her hair green and adored the love-hate relationship between Anne and Gilbert Blythe. Over the years, there have been many television adaptations of this series, however, Netflix and CBC’s diamond-in-the-rough Anne with an E offers a fresh new perspective on Montgomery’s beloved novels.

Despite being renewed for a third season, the show is still vastly underappreciated. The first season offers us a look into Anne’s life before she arrives at Green Gables and sets a grim mood to the show.

Anne copes with post-traumatic stress disorder flashbacks, which reveal the trauma she has endured at the hands of her previous foster parents. Although this adaption is different from the previous light-hearted depictions of Anne, it sheds light on the challenges that children in the foster care system face.

The second season delves into other important topics, such as racism, homophobia, and misogyny. We are introduced to the show’s first Black character Sebastian ‘Bash’ (Dalmar Abuzeid), who Gilbert befriends while working on a ship together. We get to see Gilbert develop into a fully fleshed-out character who has a life beyond being Anne’s love interest.

At the same time, we see Gilbert learn what it means to be an ally to Bash against the racism he faces. Queerness is examined through the role of Diana Barry’s aunt Josephine who had a partner called ‘Aunt Gertrude.’ Aunt Josephine holds a queer-friendly party which sets the scene for Diana Barry, Anne’s closest friend, to grapple with her feelings about her aunt’s sexuality. The show also flirts with feminism by introducing the new teacher, Miss Stacy, who breaks gender norms by being single and wearing pants.

Anne with an E dives into our cherished novel and updates the classic tale with vibrant new characters and themes. The show does not shy away from exploring painful topics which is what sets it apart from previous adaptations.

Is doing a work study worth your time?

A cost-benefit analysis worthy of any Rotman lecture

Is doing a work study worth your time?

The Work Study Program at U of T offers students paid on-campus jobs that are meant to strengthen knowledge and skills by giving students the opportunity to apply classroom learning to a real-life setting.

Further, work-study positions can count toward your Co-Curricular Record (CCR), which is an official document that keeps track of your extracurricular involvement at U of T and can be an excellent addition to your résumé.

However, the question remains: are work-study positions worth your time and energy? As a student who currently partakes in the program, I would firmly say “yes.” However, here are some pros and cons that I would advise everyone to consider before committing yourself to a position.

Pro: The unique experience

Doing a work study opens the doors to a plethora of opportunities. I decided to take a position as an intern at the Multi-Faith Centre since I thought a job that related to culture and religion would pair well with my studies in international relations.

So far, I’ve learned so much about the services and support that the centre offers and had the opportunity to see the administrative side of organizing faith-related events. Furthermore, I’ve been able to network with members of religious groups on campus, with many of whom I share similar interests and goals. This has opened the doors for collaboration between my colleagues at the centre and other faith organizations to set up inter-faith events and workshops.

Con: Having a bad supervisor who gives you menial tasks

The purpose of the Work Study Program is to allow students to explore how their academic studies can be applied to a career path and enrich their university experience. Unfortunately, your work study experience can vary greatly depending on what kind of supervisor you have.

A good supervisor will give you a varied set of responsibilities that make use of your skills and help you reach your learning goals. However, a bad supervisor would constantly give you ‘grunt work,’ like answering emails and doing paperwork, or, even worse, giving you nothing to do. Although these duties are an integral part of administration, they should not take up all your time since they don’t help you much in reaching your learning goals.

Pro: Getting some extra cash

A work-study position is an excellent way to fill up your CCR and get references while also making some extra cash on the side. As university students, most of our time is taken up by our studies, which allow us little time to get involved in extracurriculars. Additionally, we are usually short on cash. A work-study job bundles together both the benefits from part-time work and from extracurriculars.   

In my opinion, my work-study job is better than the alternative — which for a lower-year undergraduate student would likely mean a minimum wage job at a fast-food restaurant — since it is a university-affiliated job that deals with my genuine interests. The $15 an hour payment is also above the Ontario minimum wage of $14.

Con: Having a cap on how many hours you can work

For most work-study positions, students are only allowed to work a maximum of 15 hours a week, for a total maximum of 200 hours for the fall and winter semesters. Often times, 15 hours of work is not required since there are not enough duties to fill that time.

Thus, if you’re only looking to make money by working a job with high shift-availability, a work-study position may not be suited for you because you are limited in how much you can work. However, most students who apply to the Work Study Program do so for the experience and value that it brings to their CCR. The money is just a bonus.

And… the final verdict:

There are several aspects to consider before committing yourself to a work-study job, however, the benefits outweigh the downsides. You have to apply and see for yourself whether you’ll like the experience or not.

Theatre review: Hart House’s The Rocky Horror Show

A timeless classic hits one of Toronto's favourite stages

Theatre review: Hart House’s <em>The Rocky Horror Show</em>

She brushed past me, wearing half a black sparkly bra and half a gold glitter dress. She was clearly wearing a wig — impossibly thick, black, and curly — and when I looked at her heels, my feet ached for her. She would be going on stage any minute, but right now, she was walking down the aisles, laughing with the crowd before the sold-out performance.

Welcome to The Rocky Horror Show.

Nowadays, in a world of RuPauls, the idea of men in drag seems like just another Friday night binge. But when The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a cult-classic musical by Richard O’Brien, was released in 1973, the sight of Dr. Frank-N-Furter declaring himself to be a “sweet transvestite from Transexual, Transylvania” would have been enough to make more than a few jaws drop in theatres.

The story follows the chaste and clean-cut couple of Brad and Janet as they get engaged, then stranded when their car breaks down in a storm. They go to Frank-N-Furter’s castle, where they’re greeted by other Transylvanians who pull the couple into their web of sexuality and debauchery.

There’s a lot of lingerie. And fishnets. And platform heels. And in Jennifer Walls’ Hart House production — just in case the original costumes weren’t camp enough for you — the lingerie glows in the dark too.

Minutes before the show began, I became acutely aware of how out-of-place I was and how much I wished I had a feather boa. Though most of the audience dressed normally, I paid most attention to those who followed the show’s website’s suggestion to “dress to impress” and partake in the spectacle.

The woman to my left wore black Mary Jane high heels with rainbow-striped knee-high socks. The girl two seats to the right of me had on fingerless leather gloves. I was wearing a black cardigan and jeans.

I felt like such a Janet.

From the first number “Science Fiction/Double Feature” alone, it was clear that Walls didn’t limit her actors’ space. Rather, she told them to use the whole auditorium as their stage. She made clever use of the background actors called the “phantoms,” who filled the aisles and cheered to the song, riling up the crowd. They were one of my favourite parts of the show. I could call them transformative, but that would be an understatement.

As the subtly manic Brad, played by Will Mackenzie, proposed to a frustratingly clueless Janet, played by Katie Miller, the phantoms hovered behind the cutout church prop, jumping out with jazz hands.

In a sense, they were the set itself. Arms became windshield wipers. Bodies became doors. Thighs became the holster for a particularly bold penis-shaped water gun — don’t ask, you have to see it for yourself.

The Rocky Horror Show is acclaimed for its blatant disregard for anything within the sphere of ‘normal.’ Normal is drab. Normal is a word that deserves a sparkly silver stiletto to the head. But Walls didn’t just lean into the insanity of the storyline; she threw herself in, full-force.

Strobe lights showed off the glow-in-the-dark lingerie. When Frank-N-Furter, played by Chris Tsujiuchi, spoke, phantoms collapsed to the ground and shook in ecstasy. We found out that Brad wore strawberry boxers.

However, my biggest dissatisfaction is that, greedily, I wanted more.

Tsujiuchi embodied the nonchalant confidence of Frank-N-Furter exceptionally well, but there were moments where I wish he drew out the audacious snap of his character more. He tended to stay in the realm of dry humour, but that left an unsatisfied craving for the uninhibited sexuality and boldness of Frank-N-Furter. I wanted more self-indulgent vivacity, more of a saunter in his performance.

The show was strongest when it did what it does best: shatter the fourth wall in a self-aware fashion. And it did so glamorously.

As Columbia, played brilliantly by Becka Jay, went manic in a tap-dance frenzy during “Time Warp,” she screamed, “Look at me! Are you not entertained?”

Some questions you don’t need answered.

In true Rocky fashion, audience members were also encouraged to yell at the stage. I had never seen anything like it. During the storm, Janet yelled to Brad, “I’m coming with you!”

Somebody from the audience yelled back, “For the first time in your life!”

Sure, I could also dive into some of the deeper themes of the show here. The oppression and reclamation of sexuality, like when Brad and Janet took off more clothing as the show went on, until Janet ended in a bra and underwear and Brad stunned us in a sheer pink robe.

Or maybe I could talk about the celebration of being the other, of being unique, irreverent, and from Transylvania. But out of all the running gags, the one that’s the hardest to forget, the one that had the most spunk, was all the penises.

Props, of course. But nonetheless, it was like The Stag Shop was a silent partner. Dildos encircled the top of the control panel that built Rocky. Laser guns had mushroom tips. Because at the end of the day, yes, this was a ‘very professional production.’ The actors were all exceptionally trained, nobody missed a beat in comedic timing, and the dances were all snappily choreographed. But behind all of that, this was sheer, unadulterated entertainment at its core. And everybody on stage made sure you knew it.

Out of everything though, my favourite memory remains when the show ended and the cast all took their bows to a standing ovation. But as if our absurd campy experience wasn’t enough, the next thing we knew Tsujiuchi was asking us if we wanted to do the Time Warp again, and who were we to say no?

So the music queued up and we danced, albeit awkwardly with a limited range of movement, but together. I laughed with every pelvic thrust, every jump to the left, every step to the right. And even when we stepped out of the theatre into the cool, quiet night, I was still grinning like an idiot.

Because at the end of the day, you can say whatever you want about The Rocky Horror Show. But you can’t say that it wasn’t pure fucking fun.

Book Club: Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things

Both familiar and separate, Roy highlights the restricted life of South Asian women

Book Club: Arundhati Roy’s <em>The God of Small Things</em>

Having been educated in a postcolonial British school, the works of Western writers, from Kipling to Dickens to Twain, dominated my academics. It was only after coming to U of T to pursue an English degree that I realized how this limited syllabus of works had restricted my worldview.

So I began a journey to read more diverse authors, beginning with Arundhati Roy’s phenomenal novel The God of Small Things, widely considered a staple of South Asian literature.

The novel follows Esthappen and Rahel, twins living with a multi-generational family, made up of their doting, conflicted mother Ammu; their half-English, half-Indian cousin Sophie Mol; and great aunt Baby Kochamma, who is set on making sure everyone is as unhappy as her. Set against the backdrop of Kerala, a state in southern India, the novel explores how the lives in a family can be complexly changed from one inexplicable instance.

Readers are given both present and past perspectives: in the present, the twins are grown up and return to their childhood home after multiple tragedies have rocked the household. In the past, we follow the events that come after the arrival of Sophie Mol and how the characters’ actions influence the future.

This unique plot, which is coupled with stunning prose, may be why Roy became an overnight sensation around the world and went on to win the 1997 Man Booker Prize with this novel.

The world of The God of Small Things is quite removed from mine, but startlingly familiar. Examples of similarities are endless: the jibes that Ammu receives for being a free spirit rather than succumb to the restrained behaviour that is expected from South Asian women; the special treatment that Sophie gets for being part-English and for being so much more sophisticated than the twins; and the way the twins are forced to memorize Shakespeare and Dickens because a knowledge of English correlates with intelligence in a postcolonial society.

Readers of this book will find that it does not matter whether you can predict what will happen or receive a spoiler. The nature of its complex, intertwining plot is just one of the aspects that makes this work a masterpiece, as readers are also given astoundingly visual imagery and prose that almost reads like poetry. I found myself rereading and highlighting entire passages because of how beautifully they were written.

If readers are looking for any author for inspiration, they should not look further than Roy. The God of Small Things is witty, thought-provoking, and should definitely be the next book on your list.

Why cutsleeve are the next band you should fangirl about

Cutsleeve: unapologetically female, queer, and Asian

Why cutsleeve are the next band you should fangirl about

It’s 2:00 pm on a Sunday. I’m speed walking through Alexandra Park, feeling anxious and a little wired because I’m both late for my interview and I just took a Prozac. I find the five-piece band cutsleeve at a picnic table by the skate park, after initially mistaking a group of teenage boys for them. The spot was chosen because it’s close to the band’s practice space at the Rehearsal Factory — and because I didn’t think we could find a coffee shop with a table for six people.

The first thing I notice is how they’re all wearing darker colours, like punk rock vampires. I’m immediately intimidated. One after another, they introduce themselves: drummer Lian McMillan, lead guitarist Hannah Winters, bassist Hillary Fong, lead vocalist and keyboardist Chanel Fu, and rhythm guitarist and backup vocalist Amanda Wong.

Finding inspiration from artists such as Paramore, Le Tigre, Moaning Lisa, and Wolf Alice, cutsleeve describes themselves as alternative rock but clarified that they’re “still trying to find [their] sound.” Moreover, even though cutsleeve’s members are all indisputably talented in their own right, their personal backgrounds in music are still diverse. Their experiences vary from the classically-trained McMillan to the self-taught Winters, who says she got her start at 14 when her dad bought her a guitar for Christmas.

“I’d sit in my room after school, just going through the pages, playing those old songs like ‘On Top of Old Smokey,’” she said, “and I felt like I had a Joan Jett moment where I was like ‘I don’t want to play these nursery rhymes, I want to play rock ‘n’ roll.’”

Evidently, the girls of cutsleeve are a self-possessed and badass group of young women. As such, they have an appropriately badass name, the origin of which, I soon discovered, has its roots in an East-Asian legend.

“I found out about this Chinese folklore story,” Fong explains, “about an emperor who was sleeping with a partner, and he wanted to wake up and get water or whatever — you know, go to the washroom, self-care.” At that they all laugh, and, smiling, Fong goes on to explain how the emperor noticed his lover sleeping on the sleeve of his robe, and, not wanting to awaken him, cut the sleeve.

“It became a euphemism for queerness,” she says, “and it’s just a reminder that queerness is always in our history, no matter what.”

And this is a history that is important to cutsleeve, since their music stems from their shared experiences of being queer and Asian in Toronto. They are all familiar with alienation from the white male bands that dominate the Toronto music scene.

As McMillan explains, “When I was playing with guys specifically, especially white guys, I just felt super alienated and intimidated, and a lot of imposter syndrome, so I specifically went out seeking these lovely people.” She motions to her bandmates, “especially queer people as well, because that’s been a really big part of my life, and I was like, I don’t really know that many queer Asians and I need to go find them, and now I think I know every single one.”

If you’ve got durian eyes / I’m tired of being fetishized

“Once you find a few you find them all,” Winters said, laughing.

This message that queer people have always been  — and continue to be — an integral part of both the East-Asian and punk community is something that the members of cutsleeve find important to convey in their music. Moreover, cutsleeve uses their music as a tool to express their discomfort with discriminatory behaviour toward them. For example, their songs “Durian Eyes” and “Yellow Fever” address the fetishization of Asian women.

It seems as if being East-Asian and queer is the perfect double-whammy of fetishization.

“The key lyric [in “Durian Eyes”] is ‘If you’ve got durian eyes / I’m tired of being fetishized,’” says Amanda, a testament that holds true for many East-Asian and queer women, myself included.

I remember the anime-loving white guys who told me they only like Asian girls — one of whom pointed to a Japanese schoolgirl outfit in a store window and said, “Damn, you’d look good in that!” — and the guys who yelled, “Yo, you give head?” at me on the street, and after I responded that I did but “not to men,” yelled back: “I like that! Get over here.” It seems as if being East-Asian and queer is the perfect double-whammy of fetishization.

cutsleeve satirizes the objectification of East-Asian women specifically in their song “Yellow Fever,” the chorus of which goes: “Yellow fever / yellow fever / the doctor diagnosed her with yellow fever / and I don’t think I can be the cure for her.”

As McMillan explains, this song was more about “dating expectations and being fetishized and just kind of noticing a pattern in terms of people’s dating history… like when I’ve hung out with my guy friends and I’ll be like ‘who’s the new girl you’re talking to?’ and I’ll just notice a pattern. I mean, I’m not going to say anything, but… you’ve got yellow fever.” McMillan continued, “When you want to take an East-Asian studies class at school, and you go in and it’s just filled with white guys like trying to like, you know…” She trails off, but we all know exactly what she means.

However, it would be wrong to presume that cutsleeve’s music is just a reaction to prejudice, as it is also an exploration of identity. As Wong explains, “Durian Eyes” was inspired by a friend’s art installation of a giant durian, and that song came together through their multiple perspectives and shared feelings of being lost in the Asian diaspora.

“It’s kind of like you’re in this in-between place,” says Wong, “where you’re not technically from here [or] there, and it’s just kind of like trying to figure out who you are around expectations that the world from both sides have on you, but that’s not necessarily indicative of who you are.”

This refusal to be defined by stereotypes is what makes cutsleeve a truly unique and valuable new addition to the Toronto music scene. By committing to the ownership of their identities, they are making space for queer East-Asians in Toronto, like myself and many of us here at U of T.