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January 17 2017

Along With Beer, Toronto Bars Offer Lessons in Consent, Sexual Violence

Heat Street
Jillian Kay Melchior

Order a beer, get a lesson about consent, gender-based violence and sexual harassment– at least in Toronto through Jan. 22.

On Monday, at least 15 of the city’s bars kicked off the “On the Table” campaign, where they’ll distribute 10,000 message-bearing coasters.

Funded in part by the City of Toronto’s Arts Council, the project was created by Aisle 4, a “curatorial project that initiates and promotes socially engaged artwork.”

Aisle4 did not respond to Heat Street’s repeated requests for an interview.

According to the project’s website, “each work generates a nuanced conversation around what constitutes respectful behaviour, empowering audiences to take part in advocating for safe, inclusive, and equitable spaces for all genders.”

The Aisle4 website also includes recommended organizations, resources and readings, as well as information about the coaster artists’ perspectives. For instance, artist Hazel Meyer says her coaster acknowledges “the primary force behind incidents of gender-based violence, patriarchy.” Meyer recommends the writings of a feminist activist who, under the pen name “bell hooks,” wrote about “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”

Aisle4’s coaster project focuses especially on establishments that serve alcohol—and so have the Toronto city councilors. In November, they adopted a motion that mandates bar staff and servers receive training about how to recognize sexual harassment and violence, and how to intervene.

Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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