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ronalda walsh

Ronalda Walsh: 50 Shades of Debate

Ronalda Walsh.JPG Maurice Fitzgerald Photography

Ronalda Walsh is a former journalist and currently a communications professional in N.L.

If you haven’t heard of the best selling trilogy “50 Shades” you must have missed the news and entertainment reports for the past six to 12 months. Forty million or more books have been sold. The book is written entirely from the female perspective. Too bad it is probably one of the worst written pieces of literary work you may ever lay your eyes on. Despite its poor composition, it does have a way of drawing the reader into the world of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey and has caused women to giggle, gasp, snort in disgust or run (or send their husbands or partners) to the nearest adult store to buy some of the sex toys written about in the book. No doubt, for those who enjoyed the book, many a partner will reap the benefits of this book in the bedroom. The online joke is that there will be a “50 Shades of Grey” baby boom in the coming months. I’m sure researchers are already lined up.

From my own personal experience, 50 Shades has polarized women to levels of intensity I’ve not witnessed before over a book. While on vacation in this summer, I casually asked people poolside why they read the book, canvassed colleagues and friends, and listened to the debate that came up during board meetings. Yes, I said board meetings. When I wrote a final exam this summer the exam invigilator was reading the book. I found it distracting though because I was more interested in gauging her facial reaction to the book than I was writing my test! Everywhere I went this book was there. And so was the debate.

In the UK, there were groups publicly burning the book in protest. Burning something in effigy is hardly a new approach to protest, but it emphasizes just how wide the spectrum of debate. At the other end, sex stores are having a hard time keeping the items in stock and the book is flying off the shelves in book stores. Those I’ve spoken to recognize the relationship has its “challenges” (likely an understatement). Others appreciate what they referred to as “the love story”, some were interested in the raunchy sex and then there are the groups that say it is a complete waste of time and isn’t worth the energy to read it.

I can’t reference the male perspective because I couldn’t find one guy who read the book or who would at least admit to reading it. The women I chatted with told me that the book has been a catalyst for people to feel more comfortable to talk about relationships - in and out of the bedroom, as well as sexual health, more openly. They also told me that it was a good conversation piece to get into discussing the intimacy in their relationships with their partners. For those who did not enjoy the book, some found it offensive, others felt it was so poorly written they couldn’t get past the first chapter. Then there were others who felt it encouraged acceptance of unhealthy relationships and would spark young women to think it was OK to be treated the way the main character, Anastasia, was treated.

What these people may not realize is that they’re talking about sexuality and what constitutes a healthy or non-healthy relationship. How often do we do that?

Having something in pop culture create a stir or cause a debate is nothing new. Why we’re so closed off about talking about sexuality and relationships in 2012 is somewhat disappointing. But do we really want to use this book and the relationship it portrays as the basis for this discussion? It’s true that this experience will open doors to more open discussions in the future, but what other books should we be talking about that would lead to a more realistic discussion. What do you think?

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Ronalda Walsh: A hockey mom's dilemma

Ronalda Walsh.JPG Maurice Fitzgerald Photography

Ronalda Walsh is a former journalist and currently a communications professional in N.L.

It's in the news almost everyday: hockey player has concussion; hockey player out for weeks due to serious head injury. The latest incident galvanizing fans is that serious hit levelled against a young Montreal Canadien, Max Pacioretty, by Boston's Zdeno Chara, leaving Pacioretty with a broken vertebrae.

I'm not a nervous Nelly, but as a hockey mom the things that frighten me the most are the head shots and fighting. I know some of you are asking "what's left?" if those elements are lost. Well, there's a lot left of the great game to enjoy.

Hockey is a physical sport and when checking is done properly, it adds to the intensity of the game. My son is 13 and has been checking for the past few years. This year, he's 5 feet 10 inches tall and fills out a striking frame when he's dressed in his hockey gear and skates. I can't say I'd want to meet him head on in the middle of a game.

As his skating and stick handling improved over the year, so too did his understanding that he can put his body to other uses on the ice. He can skate well and body check. These hockey skills have helped him earn a place on a local Bantam all star team. I'm proud that his checks are clean, he doesn't try to hurt anyone and he keeps his cool on the ice.

We've had a scare or two - he's been injured, he's also delivered some checks that have hurt others. It's nerve-wracking. He's had to learn how to manage his physical presence and keep his wits about him while on the ice.

I know where this is heading. As he grows in size and skill, the hits will get bigger, faster and more punishing. Already this year, two of his teammates have suffered minor concussions.

I can accept risk of an injury to my son resulting from an accident on the ice. What I can't accept is hockey's love of fighting which increases the risk of injury. Some hockey injuries can't be prevented. All hockey fights and most head shots can be prevented.

When it comes to setting an example, I think minor hockey leagues have done well in recent years with efforts to raise awareness and educate young hockey players and coaches. There are programs and visual reminders of what not to do on the ice in each corner of the arena.

But let's take a look at the big league - the NHL. Hockey fans - you know how concussions have literally knocked players like Eric Lindros and Keith Primeau out of the game. Far worse are the unknown and serious long-term health risks associated with concussions. And of course, Sidney Crosby, currently Canada's most famous hockey star, is still not playing due to a concussion suffered during a game earlier this year.

Following the incident in Montreal, corporate leaders came forward to oppose the NHL's handling these issues. I commend two major Canadian corporations taking a stand on the matter. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's response, essentially challenging one of those corporations to take its sponsorship elsewhere or the league may take its team business elsewhere, was just wrong. For me, it is yet another example of Bettman caring more about profits than players. What he doesn't realize is that the view of the game is changing among fans and players. Fewer people want to see brawls on ice. People don't want to see dirty hits or cheap shots.

Last week, the NHL decided to tighten enforcement of existing penalties and stiffen suspensions, but the league chose not to ban hits to the head. The current set of rules doesn't go far enough. The NHL has underestimated the concerns of hockey fans and parents, like me.

This is about more than ticket sales. This is and should be about the physical and mental well being of NHL and minor hockey league players.

It's time for hockey fans, hockey moms and hockey dads, and NHL players to speak up. How many more injuries do we need to see before a real change is made?

Ronalda Walsh is a former journalist and currently a communications professional in N.L.

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Ronalda Walsh: Warning, strong language

Ronalda Walsh.JPG Maurice Fitzgerald Photography

Ronalda Walsh is a former journalist and currently a communications professional in N.L.

On a typical morning's drive to work, the lyrics of today's top pop songs just wash over me. I'm usually preoccupied with the road ahead and the day ahead, not the song playing in the background. But have you listened to the lyrics on the radio these days? And I mean, really listened?

"If she ever tries to (bleep) leave again, Imma tie her to the bed and set the house on fire." - Eminem and Rihanna, Love the Way You Lie

"Hey pretty lady it's crazy you're almost twice my age. I want to dance on your body like I shake it on stage." - Hedley, Don't talk to Strangers

Try singing those lyrics as you saunter into your busy office.

Recently the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council - acting on a complaint from an unnamed St. John's resident - banned its some 700 member radio and TV stations from playing the original version of Money for Nothing by Dire Straits, which contains the word "faggot" several times in its second verse.

I couldn't agree more with the decision. The word is not acceptable and should not be used. But then again, neither are many lyrics from Top 40 artists if you stop and think about it.

Take this one:

"I think you're hot. I think you're cool. You're the kind of guy I'd stalk at school. But now that I'm famous, you're up my anus. Now I'm gonna eat you fool." - Ke$ha, Cannibal

This stuff is beyond stupidity or appropriateness. The lyrics look and sound hard in the cold, plain glare of the computer screen, devoid of the music, dress and dance to soften the blow and fool the mind. But those are the lyrics and the artist is making millions.

I feel awkward when some of these songs come on the radio while I'm with my teen-aged son. Confession: sometimes I pretend not to know what the lyrics and concepts mean to avoid an awkward conversation. Other times, I will address it head on, resulting in an "ewwww, gross" comment once he truly understands what the lyrics mean.

As you read this, you may think that I am shocked and outraged by these truly vulgar and profane lyrics. But I am neither. I suspect I'm like many people when I admit that I'm more likely to accept being a little offended if the song has a catchy tune and clever lyrics. Be honest. I'll bet there's a song or two in your MP3 player right now that has some of these 'questionable' lyrics. I'm sure you're like me and draw the line with certain lyrics and shut off the radio or change the station and have a personal gripe about how and why they let certain songs on the radio.

Even Eminem said on a recent broadcast of 60 Minutes that he doesn't allow any swearing in his house. Hard to believe, I know. Rapping, and his potty mouth, are his trademark. Who knew Slim Shady had healthy boundaries?

While I do find many lyrics offensive and do speak out against the content and messaging, the truth is - I believe the Newfoundlander who complained about Dire Straits has won a hollow victory. The ban simply won't make much of a difference to what we hear on the radio. Remember Elvis and his pelvis shaking up the world in the 1950s? This argument has been going on for generations and song lyrics haven't exactly 'softened' in recent years. Now the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has asked for a review of the ban.

I'm guessing that for some, the recent ban will feel like a victory in the "lyrical fight." My question is - what about the rest of the other offensive lyrics? Bans do serve a purpose and should be used. But there is so much content out there that is inappropriate there would have to be an endless amount of bans to wipe it completely off the radio. The answer isn't simple.

Ronalda Walsh is a former journalist and currently a communications professional in N.L.

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