Leah McLaren’s Frank Trash Talk

When I was lucky enough to get a staff column at The Globe and Mail in my 20s, the flow of harassment did not stop. [Incidents] were so legion as to seem almost unremarkable. They were the air I breathed, the ground I walked on. They were, quite simply, the world.

There was also the media gossip rag whose idea of “satire” was demeaning young female journalists in aggressively sexual ways. They spread rumours about my romantic life and speculated giddily about whether I’d been abused by one of my high school teachers. They relentless sought to humiliate every female journalist who ever raised her head above the parapet. One issue, they depicted my face on the cover super-imposed on the metal-bikini-clad body of Carrie Fischer as Princess Leia held in the clutches of a lascivious Jabba the Hutt.
–Leah McLaren, Maclone’s, Oct. 18, 2017.

My mission: to find a bathing suit that is cute, on trend, and doesn’t make me feel like a bowl of Jell-O hurtling down a gravel road in a pickup truck when I walk. Bathing suits at Solé are organized according to cup and back size like bras, as opposed to the regular swimwear sizing crap shoot of small, medium, large. Buying one thus becomes a precise science, rather than the usual vague misery. By determining proper size, you spend less time being disheartened by the sight of your body sausaged into too-tight bottoms or failing to fill out sagging triangle tops.
–Leah McLaren, Bikini or bust, Globe and Mail, May 24, 2003.

[T]here is one thing I cannot get properly worked up about any more, and that is boobs. Breasts, bangers, mams, funbags, knockers, whatever you want to call them, are suddenly all the rage again. It doesn’t matter to me if they droop or bounce or perch rigidly at attention like a pair of plump, pointy-beaked partridges under a sweater. Side boob doesn’t excite me, nor does underboob, cleavage, wardrobe malfunctions or Beyoncé’s nipple costume.
–Breasts of burden: On the utter, inane boobishness of boobs, McLaren, Globe and Mail, Oct. 21, 2000.

‘Boob job…finding the right bra can be almost as tough as finding the right guy’…”
–McLaren, Flare Magazine, July, 2001.

I am standing naked in front of the mirror, taking notes. From top to bottom, this is what I see:
Boobs not perky, plus too big for frame. Left noticeably bigger than right (resulting in high-school nickname “Biggy Small”). Stretch marks.
–McLaren, Globe and Mail, Mar. 8, 2008.

I agree that the endemic objectification of women in the media is a problem. But would it really be solved if those girls in just underpants simply put on a bra? Is Canada any less sexist than Britain because our Sunshine Girls cover their nipples? I don’t think so.
–McLaren, Globe and Mail, April 26, 2013.

I leaned over and gingerly picked him up and then sat down in a chair to give him a cuddle. He felt gorgeous in my arms, all warm and lumpy and milky-smelling in the way small babies are. Somehow, my pinky finger ended up in his mouth and I was astonished at strength of his sucking reflex. “C’mon lady,” said his eyes. And I suddenly knew what he wanted. And I of course wanted to give him what he wanted. The only problem was, I had no milk. But would it be so bad, I wondered, if I just tried it out – just for a minute – just to see what it felt like?

I looked at the baby monitor as if it might be watching me, but thankfully this was before monitors had cameras.

Then slowly, carefully so as not to jostle the infant, I began to unbutton my blouse. Just as I was reaching into my bra, a shortish man with in a navy suit walked into the room.
–McLaren on trying to breastfeed Michael Chong’s son, Globe and Mail, Mar. 27, 2017.


  1. How about a compromise? Franksters, you stop “satirizing” poor Leah. Leah, you get a job in a florist’s shop and promise to never write another cretinous word.

  2. For one so self-centred, one would think that she would be more self aware…and be totally wrong.

  3. While it is so heartening to see Ms. McLaren add her voice to the #MeToo campaign, I confess I would have found this piece considerably more powerful if she hadn’t made such a habit of letting predators off the hook when the victim isn’t her.


    Don’t misunderstand me, I thoroughly enjoyed her potshots at Globe brass. Her re-hashing of the Carl Wilson Christmas office party saga is a little tiresome; Mr. Wilson, indeed, had a habit of getting a little handsy with women after drinking enough alcohol to conveniently forget the matter the morning after. Mr. Wilson, however, has been suitably chastened, mortified and, by all accounts, reformed.

    Ms. McLaren, on the other hand, has branched out from confessional columns and into predator apologia.


    On the latter piece, I’ll note, Leah had a hell of a time getting Star sluggos to talk. But eventually someone ponied up Raveena’s damning final emails — the same ones I presume you have? How do Raveena’s own words line up with the narrative presented in McLaren’s piece? I see a few whoppers, myself.

    Ms. McLaren had some unkind words for you, too, Frank. And while I can’t condone some of your pettier attentions toward her, I have to ask: Would the world be a better place for scumbags if we had to rely on Woke Leah, instead of Frank?

  4. The “flow” of harassment? “Fun bags?” “Biggy Small?” Surely this woman will soon be teaching a writing seminar at Algonquin College.

  5. Her attempt to dry-nurse a stranger’s baby suggests Leah herself has problems respecting other people’s boundaries.

Comments are closed.

Previous Story

Frank History of Canada: Photo Phunnies Passim #6

Next Story

Bury My Heart At Arowhon Pines, Part Deux!