Juhl: 'He won the war' and other quotes we haven't shared before

How does it feel to be a blind person in a roomful of gamers? How are gender debates evolving? What about sex when you’re an exhausted new mom?

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Over the past year and a bit, we’ve heard from all sorts of experts, the kind who have PhDs and the kind who understand some part of the world not everyone sees. It is a privilege to hear and share their stories, and a letdown when we can’t publish every word they’ve told us.

Here are five quotes you haven’t seen before that I’m pleased to share now.

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Bubbes and zaydes

Lili Yesovitch isn’t just a baking bubbe, she’s a born storyteller. We talked about cupcakes and working moms, the luxury of retirement and the joys of grandparenthood — which she learned from her father.

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“It was tough times (when her two children were young). We didn’t have rich parents. I wanted my kids to go to private school, so that’s why I worked. With the grandchildren, whatever they want to do, I’ll do.

My father was a Holocaust survivor and he lived all the horrors you hear about — the worst of it. He used to come to my house twice a day to kiss the girls. He wouldn’t even say hello to me. He’d come in the house, kiss the kids and leave.

To him, he won the war.”


How we see the world

Dr. Langis Michaud, a professor at the Université de Montréal’s school of optometry, would like to see eye exams appear at the top of families’ to-do lists. A common vision condition is myopia, which can be slowed if it is diagnosed early. When we asked Michaud whether myopia is a genetic condition, he said we should consider the environment we live in.

“We are animals that are adapting to our environment. We don’t need to hunt anymore, we don’t have to look at a distance. There is no potential danger for our survival — except if you cross the street, especially in school areas, which can be a challenge.

We have to read and we have to perform on computer devices and, more and more, everything is digital. You go to a restaurant, you scan your QR code and you look at the small menu on your phone. Our eyes are challenged by this technology, and we try to adapt.

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So yes, genetics plays a role, but the environment plays a major role — and this is where parents may make a difference by exposing their kids to the outdoors at least two hours a day, limiting screen time and respecting good reading distance and lighting.”


‘I have a headache’

Your body just made a human baby. Now, as you sort through feeding and sleeping schedules, hormone imbalances and diaper blowouts, your formerly top-shelf sex life might feel hard to reach way up there on the top shelf. Montreal-based Dr. Laurie Betito, a clinical psychologist with an expertise in sexual wellness, had ideas on how couples can stay connected. 

“Often, both parents are up all night. Both parents are lacking sleep. Both parents are irritable. If it’s the mom who is on maternity leave and Dad is still going out to work, Mom takes over the night shift so he can sleep. She’s definitely more fatigued — and there could be multiple children.

Two people made a baby, why should one person be solely responsible? You know you have to be sensitive to your partner’s state of mind and their physical state and what they need. Sometimes women need validation that they’re not abnormal. Please, husbands, listen to what she’s saying: ‘This is not just me.’”

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Following their lead

TikTok sensation Joanna Johnson is known for education- and politics-fuelled rants and her unique approach to teaching. We wanted to know how she integrates gender issues into classroom discussions and whether it’s changed over the past 20 years.

“When I first started teaching here (a private high school in Toronto), I didn’t even want to tell anybody I was gay because I was terrified.

My first year, I remember my kids having real, urgent, serious debates about whether it was OK to be gay. Half of the classroom is saying, ‘Yes, it is,’ the other half is saying, ‘No, it’s not,’ and I’m just sitting there in the middle going, ‘Oh my God.’

That went away in a very short amount of time. And then it became debates about gay marriage. Then they switched to, ‘Should gay couples be allowed to adopt?’ More big debates.

A couple of years ago, I had a student come to me and say, ‘You never ask kids what their pronouns are. Don’t you think we should, or they can at least write them down?’

If we are smart, which unfortunately sometimes the older of us aren’t, we’ll get out of the way of kids who are much more self-aware, who are much more educated, who have much more access and are able to stand up for themselves, articulate for themselves — we just get out of the way and let them do it.”

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Video gaming oversight

The video games industry is realizing it can no longer ignore blind and visually impaired players. But the realization has come slowly, and development of accessible games more slowly still. Visually impaired gamer Leigh opened up about how it feels to be excluded. 

“If something that takes a sighted person two seconds takes me nearly two minutes to find it and read it out … that is a lot of extra time struggling past the inaccessibility of the game and very little time actually enjoying the game.

Playing with sighted friends is definitely a top-tier reason to want mainstream stuff to play. I also do some co-op experiences with games with sighted friends where they read out the dialogs and what’s going on and we decide together what to click on. …

But there is the other end of the spectrum where I, personally, do not want to be the burden. It always feels bad at gaming night being the person they have to warp game choices around: ‘Well, Leigh’s here, so we can’t play Among Us or Phasmaphobia tonight because it’s not accessible.’

I feel like there is just a lack of awareness from top to bottom in certain situations. … You have the developers, small and large, who seem completely baffled that accessibility in gaming is even a thing, or how they’d even start to consider making something accessible to someone who is blind. It’s easiest to consider accessibility from the start, but if the developers do not have the tools they need to make things accessible … they will not do it unless legally forced to. I’m still salty over Pokemon Go being inaccessible.”

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