Bars in Canada are using these artistic drink coasters to fight sexual assault.

You're at the bar with your friends. Over a couple of cold ones and maybe a handful of peanuts, you talk about sports, politics, and ... consent?

That's exactly what the four women behind Aisle 4, a "curatorial collective" based in Toronto, want to see more of in the world.

Shannon Linde and the other curators work with local artists to create socially-engaged artwork that lives in the real world, not on gallery walls. Finding a way to tackle the topic of women's safety in bars has been on their agenda for a while.


"This has come up quite a bit. I mean, we are four women," Linde says. "People making an effort to change the dangerous climate is not happening as quickly as you would expect."

Aisle 4: Emily Fitzpatrick, Patricia Ritacca, Renée van der Avoird, and Shannon Linde. All photos by Aisle 4, used with permission.

Aisle 4 worked with local artists in Toronto to design a series of eye-catching coasters that would spark conversations in bars around consent, harassment, and assault.

It's no secret any place where lots of alcohol is being consumed can be dangerous. From aggressive, leering Tinder dates, pushy would-be suitors, or even people following them home, women can face an absurd amount of peril for simply wanting to go out and have a drink.

The coaster project, called "On the Table," quietly reminds that "Consent matters" and implores people to "Listen to your gut."

Linde says she knows a coaster isn't going to deter an attacker, for example, but hopefully getting small groups of people talking about the issues openly will have a positive effect.

"A coaster can't change patriarchy but it can remind you that gender is fluid and empathy is imperative." By Hazel Meyer

There's been a bigger push recently to get bar and restaurant staff involved in the fight against harassment.

Plenty of establishments have been in the news lately for adopting "safe words," i.e. a woman can ask for "Angela" or order an "Angel shot" to alert the staff that she needs help.

Critics of these measures say they put the onus on someone to figure their own way out of a dangerous situations, rather than on the people who make them feel unsafe; they also point out that the code words won't do much good once everyone knows what they mean.

On the Table takes a different approach and, quite literally, lays the uncomfortable truth about safety out in the open.

"Consent matters. Listen to her." By Lido Pimienta

"What we're not attempting to do is enact massive social change," Linde says. "Because that's so unrealistic."

She says most of us live in a bit of a bubble, only talking about the important stuff with people we know agree with us. These coasters might be a chance to change that.

"Mostly men are surprised that I might have felt unsafe many times in the past month," she says. "I don't think it's as known what the experience of women is day to day."

"Men are allies." By Jesse Harris

So far, nine bars in the Toronto area have eagerly signed up to use the coasters. More will likely join the effort soon.

The coasters can't be found in the wild just yet (they're currently being printed and will be distributed soon), but Linde says the feedback on the campaign so far has been amazing, and unlike a lot of their work, it has completely transcended the art community.

"This is definitely the most far-reaching project we've done to date," she says.

"Listen to your gut." by Aisha Sasha John

It remains to be seen if the project will have the impact the women at Aisle 4 are hoping for.

But at least they've done their part by creatively trying to further an important conversation. Whether everyone chooses to listen ... that's the bigger question.

Most Shared


Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Amy Johnson

The first day of school can be both exciting and scary at the same time — especially if it's your first day ever, as was the case for a nervous four-year-old in Wisconsin. But with a little help from a kind bus driver, he was able to get over his fear.

Axel was "super excited" waiting for the bus in Augusta with his mom, Amy Johnson, until it came time to actually get on.

"He was all smiles when he saw me around the corner and I started to slow down and that's when you could see his face start to change," his bus driver, Isabel "Izzy" Lane, told WEAU.

The scared boy wouldn't get on the bus without help from his mom, so she picked him up and carried him aboard, trying to give him a pep talk.

"He started to cling to me and I told him, 'Buddy, you got this and will have so much fun!'" Johnson told Fox 7.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared