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I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

"I'm an independent contractor that feels like an employee"

Oct. 30, 2017 "I’m an independent contractor that feels like an employee": Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail:


I accepted a project-management position as an independent contractor but they tell me when and how to do my job, even down to what shoes to wear. It's really a full-time employee position. I have been challenging them on this, and they are now threatening to terminate the contract.

Daniel Lublin
Partner, Whitten & Lublin Employment & Labour Lawyers, Toronto

Mischaracterizing employees as contractors is the biggest façade in workplace law. Many contractors are such in name only. Workers and their employers have agreed to portray themselves in this fashion in a mutual attempt to avoid payroll taxes, government remittances and other statutory liabilities.

However, when the relationship breaks down, the individuals sometimes contend that they were legally employed, in an effort to gain a right to severance. Many have a case.

A true independent contractor has actual autonomy over how and when to perform the job and essentially is operating in a business of their own. These workers are not owed any severance pay. On the other end of the spectrum is an employee, with all concomitant rights to termination pay.

There is also a recognized middle ground, referred to as a dependent contractor.

Dependent contractors have key features that resemble employment in important ways.

They usually work for only one employer, for long periods of time, and they are told how and when to perform the job, to name only a few factors. Dependent contractors also often perform the same or a similar job that other employees of the organization perform, the only difference being that they invoice for services and pay their own taxes. Canadian courts have ruled that dependent contractors have severance rights – and often the same rights to severance as actual employees.

In your situation, if you are laid off, fired, constructively dismissed or otherwise forced to leave, you can make a claim to your provincial ministry of labour to try to obtain statutory termination or severance pay, or for larger cases, you can sue your former "employer" in court.


Kyle Couch
President &CEO, Spectrum Organizational Development Inc., Toronto

There is a world of difference between being hired on as an independent contractor or as a consultant. While your other clients may value your ability to provide insight and perspective, your current employer is simply seeking out your functional capability.

Many progressive organizations are taking a contract approach for the majority of their work force – allowing the companies to be far more nimble in their ability to change the makeup of their in-house skill sets as their business needs change.

This approach ensures tremendous upside for the company, but it may make things more challenging for the workers themselves who must rely on their ability to remain current in their skills as free agents as they move from contract to contract.

Your role in this new gig economy is to understand which part of a business's life cycle you fit into, and market yourself appropriately. This way, you can guarantee yourself continuous stable employment. As a project manager, you should have noticed the lack of project charter, and realized you were being handed a job description.


"There is a world of difference between being hired on as an independent contractor or as a consultant." Is there a typo here? Aren't "independent contractor" and "consultant" synonymous?

2 days ago

Scope of Contractor's work is clearly defined when the contract is signed, whereas a Consultant's promised deliverable is a not so easy to define magic bullet.

Tol de Rol
2 days ago

Could the Globe please use proper English? I'm an independent contractor WHO feels like an employee. Who for people, that for objects. Thank you.

Allen Ginsing
2 days ago

The GM hires people for their radical ideology of feminism. That should explain a lot.
8 Reactions

Dr. Howland Owl
2 days ago

In reply to:

Could the Globe please use proper English? I'm an independent contractor WHO feels like an employee. Who for people, that for objects. Thank you.
Tol de Rol

That’s OK as a rule of thumb but it’s not a real rule. Besides, we've been using ”that” as a relative pronoun to refer to people for centuries. Grammar Girl reports finding its use in Chaucer. Give it up, man.

Tol de Rol
2 days ago

If you want to talk like Donald Trump, go ahead. Listen to American politicians: Trump uses that, Obama uses who. One is edumacated, the other not.

Tol de Rol
2 days ago

In reply to:

That’s OK as a rule of thumb but it’s not a real rule. Besides, we've been using ”that” as a relative pronoun to refer to people for centuries. Grammar Girl reports finding its use in Chaucer. Give...

Dr. Howland Owl

And yes, I'm quite aware of how far it goes back in England. So it's a curious story. The Americans use it because they imported it 250 years ago and it never evolved. In the case of this word, they speak 18th century English. In English, however, as written speech evolved, the distinction was introduced, and it's a nice nuance and provides a nicer tone to the language. (Who enjoys hearing an American say "My girlfriend that works in a store"?) So, curiously, Canada was more tied to the evolution of British English, and "who" took hold here more generally than in the US, where it is used largely by an educated elite. But now, as our language is under ever more intense assault by American English, people like the teenaged headline writer here aren't even aware of the distinction or the difference between spoken and written English, or the need to match the tone of the Globe. Sad!
1 Reactions

Ned Ludlum
2 days ago

This is interesting to me personally since I teach at Ontario colleges (which are currently on strike --- I'm on lay-off due to the fact that I teach too many hours to be in the union). 

To make ends meet in one year I often teach at multiple colleges (depending upon the semester) and I've been billing trough my consulting firm whenever possible. I and others have recently been told that all future work will have to be through a T4 because of rule changes by the CRA.

I don't know i that is true or not. The management at the colleges love to play games with the rules.

2 days ago

Sounds like your consulting work will be taxed at source and you'll have to prove employment expenses and apply for a refund. It's not a crime to claim something you believe to be employment related, so cast the net far and wide and go all out on employment expenses. Also, be sure standard payroll deductions, such as EI, etc. have not been applied to your Consulting income.

1 day ago

In reply to:

This is interesting to me personally since I teach at Ontario colleges (which are currently on strike --- I'm on lay-off due to the fact that I teach too many hours to be in the union). To make...
Ned Ludlum

If you're commuting between colleges during a single 24 hour period then you should submit expenses-against-income for car mileage and/or transit costs and meal expenses between jobs to the CRA. I don't know if it'll be approved, but worth the try. Also, to freshen up between jobs get a membership at a decent community centre with a good deli, sauna, hot-tub and gym, and claim it as an expense: It's a legitimate expense because it can only improve your performance (aka taxable earning capacity) and personal self-esteem at the second job where your energy reserves are potentially lower than they were at the first job.

a word
1 day ago

In reply to:

This is interesting to me personally since I teach at Ontario colleges (which are currently on strike --- I'm on lay-off due to the fact that I teach too many hours to be in the union). To make...
Ned Ludlum

Since you are in Ontario, treating employees as “contractors” will be illegal (legislation currently in second reading), so that is likely why T4s will likely be issued but you will be entitled to the same things as the employees. In fact, you will be an employee, with all that thst entails.

2 days ago

While employers should behave appropriately, this case goes to the other extreme. If you don’t want to be a contractor, don’t accept a job that clearly says as much, right at the outset, and then complain about it after the fact.

2 days ago

Most people who accept jobs under such terms do so because they need to eat and have a roof over their heads. Many also have families to support.
1 Reactions

a word
1 day ago

Many people hired on contract would prefer to be an employee, but companies have made the choice to go this route (although it seems to contradict their goals of attracting and retaining talent). The idea that contract work is a first choice for everyone in order to avoid taxes is misleading.

Surprising that neither response mentioned that Ontario is currently in the process of making treating people on contract as employees, without providing the same benefits, illegal. It is part of the legislation to raise the minimum wage.
We see the political consequences in the U.S. of believing there will be no pushback from workers no matter how desperate their lives become if corporations solely on shareholders and profit at the expense of people.

2 days ago

So the second answer indicates the independent contractor was being handed a job description which means to me they are an employee with all the protections of the Min of Labour including severance in the event of dismissal.
1 Reactions

User profile image
2 days ago

One of the main problems of employment contracting is that employers do not pay the contractor for the business risk they take on by being contractors. If they did there would be less incentive for them to do so.

To a certain extent this is a management fad and false economy. However, as long as the bean counters control things there is not likely to be much change.

In the example it is unclear to me the scope of the project management work. If the job involves full time hours then I think the worker has a point. However, management is not likely to change its position.

If he/she is only working part time hours then they should find another contract position to complement this one. That may give them more leaverage.

2 days ago

Readers might be interested in the 2009 Ontario Court of Appeal decision of McKee v. Reid's Heritage Homes: a person hired as a contractor was actually an employee and entitled to severance of 18 months pay in lieu of notice.

You can find the full decision here:

It's 64 paragraphs.

Nov. 6, 2017 "Do I have to accept a new- and reduced- pay structure?": Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail:


My employer is trying to coerce me into signing an agreement on a new pay structure, which is a reduction of $50,000 from my current pay – a commission-based plan with earnings of $250,000.

Am I forced to take this new plan or am I entitled to my current pay structure, which shows no expiry by contract? I have been avoiding signing the new agreement, but don't want to be terminated over resistance to it, which they seem to be threatening to do.


Eileen Dooley
Vice-president, VF Career Management, Calgary office

Find out why the employer is wanting to implement a new pay structure, as chances are it is not just you who is affected.

Times change, and along with that go the jobs people do, and the compensation packages they receive.

There could be legitimate reasons for needing to change the pay structure, such as reworking the main revenue streams or calculating how much sales are expected going into the new year(s). The point is that many factors could be at play here, with your employer wanting to keep you, but needing to revisit the terms.

In addition, if they want to negotiate, so can you. Perhaps work in a compensation review in 12 months or an increase in commission after a certain point of sales. Either way, there could be a win-win here if both sides understand where each other is coming from, and where they want to get to.


Bruce Sandy
Principal, Pathfinder Coaching and Consulting, Vancouver

I understand your concern. No one wants to feel coerced by their employer into a new compensation agreement. Be curious with your employer about what is the reason that they want to change your compensation – e.g. because of a downturn in the sector or the economy or because of performance-based reasons.

Are they doing this with all your peers (e.g. throughout the company) or are they singling you out for this compensation change?

If this is happening with all your colleagues and you want to stay with your employer, then you will have to be prepared to negotiate regarding compensation levels, including bonuses and timing.

But if you are being singled out, then you will want to see if they are open to negotiating and talking about how to improve your performance. If they are not, then you will want to seek advice from an employment lawyer, polish up your résumé, start networking and looking for other employment opportunities.

Do not leave or quit until you find another opportunity and/or your employer offers you a package. An employment lawyer will advise you about this and how long you can operate under your current contract.

Lamont Cranston
20 hours ago

As soon as I saw "commission" in there, I see territories, etc.

Companies do this all the time, especially as they go from being new in a market, to becoming more stable...If for no other reason, there is the potential internal embarrassment of a high performing sales rep making more than the President (in straight salary, stock options, etc., are another thing)..

Generally you can waste a lot of time trying to "fight it", but you likely will not win.
Two courses - learn to live under the new structure (since all commission structures are designed by humans, you will find other ways to make up your income)


Move to another company that better fits your income desires - with a caveat
Some people who think they are 'sales stars" move to companies with more open commission structures - only to find that probably better to be on a larger, winning team, that the "rain maker" on a smaller one.
2 Reactions

10 hours ago

Commission structures can be negotiated by both parties. I've done it before. After a few years, I finally got it : profit margin is the big decision maker. It does take some time and skill, but that's what separates the men from the boys. Unless you have an as shole boss, profit makes you money.

20 hours ago

The advice in this article is bad. The question needs to be answered by a lawyer, not some HR coach. Basically, one first needs to look at the employment contract to see what language is used about wages. Next look to relevant employment law statues. Last look to the common law to see how the statues have been interpreted. This person probably at least requires a certain period of notice for a pay decrease, otherwise a court may find this to be constructive dismissal.
4 Reactions

2 hours ago

This commission based sales person seems to be doing very well with an income of $250K. He/she must be a top performer. In consequence the company may be very reluctant to let them go but be facing issues not mentioned in the story but described by other posters.

All things considered, if this person likes their job they should think hard about the offer. The $50K they will lose is subject to a 50% marginal tax rate so the loss in income is half. Giving on this issue may lead to new opportunities with the employer.

If on the other hand if they work in an industry where sales people are highly mobile and their normal income levels are in this range they should consider other employment options.
As with so many issues presented in this column context is everything and there is not enough said about it here.

17 hours ago

If your pay structure is documented by contract and your annual earning (base and commission) have been consistently at $250k, then, yes, this is a problem and could be considered constructive dismissal. Generally speaking, a downward pay adjustment of more than 10% (Ontario) would fall into the contructive dismissal realm. In this case, they would at least need to provide notice (1-8 weeks). If you choose not to take the cut and they dismiss you, a strong severance could be expected. The law doesn't care too much about your company's internal structure and whether you are making too much; it cares about what is in your contract. See a good employment lawyer. The only caveat to this is whether you are having performance issues and whether they have been communicating those issue to you.
2 Reactions

On-Line Reader
1 day ago

If you are being "downwardly compensated" and the company otherwise doesn't seem to be under any fiscal stress, you have to wonder if the HR department hasn't been reviewing things and discovering they are being too generous with you.
Or if you are the only one being asked to take this new pay structure, are you being 'unofficially' demoted?
Either way, it might be money well-spent to talk to a lawyer to find out what your legal standing is.
And dust off your resume. Absent any solid reason to do this, the company may not be all that great a place to work in going forward.
4 Reactions

"Retain the next cohort of leaders"/ Recent grad's job search

Nov. 1, 2017 "How to recruit and retain the next cohort of leaders": Today I found this article by Linda Blair and Miyo Yamashita in the Globe and Mail:

Linda Blair is managing partner, Deloitte Ontario; Miyo Yamashita is managing partner, talent & workplace, Deloitte Canada, and member, Deloitte global board of directors.

The Canadian economy is providing reason for optimism. A surge in full-time work has fuelled 10 consecutive months of net job gains. Against this powerful growth, Canadian organizations are competing for talent. The pressure is on to attract and retain top talent in order to compete globally.

Now, more than ever before, leaders must make deliberate and bold changes to how they recruit to meet the needs of the next cohort of leaders: millennials.

The headlines are familiar. Millennials, born after 1982, approach the work force differently than their parents. Millennials have been called job-hoppers, fickle and narcissistic. But we see it differently. We know they do not define their work by their paycheque alone.

Instead, work is about corporate social responsibility, fairness and the opportunity to give back. It's about having a purpose and building a career out of it. In other words, we found that millennials are serial impact-seekers. This, in turn, has challenged businesses to adapt recruitment and engagement tactics.

Here is how we are recruiting, engaging and retaining millennials. These principles are also a benchmark for qualities that millennials should keep in mind when choosing an employer and cultivating professional experience.

Enable and encourage leadership at every level

Individuals want to grow and have meaningful opportunities to advance their capabilities. At our firm, we're committed to rapidly growing the world's best leaders, so that they can achieve the impact they seek at an accelerated pace.

According to our annual Millennial Survey, more than three-quarters (76 per cent) of the millennials surveyed regard business as a force for positive social impact. And to achieve this impact, millennials require leadership skills.

Skills such as active listening, analyzing, collaborating, influencing or, in the management-consulting business, asking difficult questions and presenting a contrary point of view, are all critical to tackling some of the most complex, and entrenched, business and social challenges.

We believe that leadership skills can be taught. We teach these skills on projects with our clients and community partners, and at Deloitte University, our leadership development locale. We also believe leadership development should start as early as the recruiting stage.

This summer, we hosted the Deloitte National Leadership Conference (DNLC), which brought together more than 100 of Canada's top students studying subjects that range from chemical engineering and computer science to commerce and the arts.

The conference provided participants with a chance to strengthen their communication, leadership and teamwork skills all while learning how a firm like ours tackles real-world business challenges.

We saw a purposeful work result when the students came together with our senior leaders to solve a business challenge for a non-profit organization.

The students were not afraid to ask questions and to challenge our leaders' assumptions and practices. Their rigour and tenacity were at times unexpected.

In addition, the students challenged how we see ourselves and it resulted in a better outcome – both for us as and for the non-profit organization they were helping.

Flexibility and autonomy: Your work, your way approach

Our study also tells us that millennials feel accountable for many issues in the workplace and in the world. However, it is in the work force where they feel the most impactful.

Millennial empowerment requires employers to offer greater flexibility and autonomy. We call this "your work, your way," and it means empowering our people to work in the ways that allow them to thrive – professionally and personally.

This means measuring results over face-time and impact over chargeable hours, as well as regular time off for passions ranging from volunteer work, to achieving health and wellness goals, to having control over time spent with friends and family.

Increasingly, flexible work forces have meant agile workplaces and offices without assigned seats. Greater flexibility may also include sabbaticals, new approaches to learning and performance management, secondments to charitable organizations and job rotation programs. When millennials are given the chance to work in this manner, higher degrees of personal accountability, engagement and retention are the result.

Greater diversity will define a strong Canada: leverage the 'inclusion generation'

Millennials are the inclusion generation. They place a much greater emphasis on inclusion, which they define as part of a company's corporate culture in how an organization listens to you and your generation.

Millennials see inclusion as a reflection in varying ideas and work styles versus a representation of equity and fairness based on demographic and socio-cultural traits. We, like many Canadian companies, are working to achieve the benefits of an inclusive and united work force.

A precondition of this is to ensure we have highly talented and engaged people with a diverse set of views, backgrounds, education and experiences.

At our DNLC this summer, we asked attendees about what the term inclusion meant to them. The most common definition underscored the importance of having all opinions heard and considered. Millennials said they wanted to feel part of the decision-making process, and want their opinions to be valued and respected.

These responses tell us that employees seek a deep sense of belonging and the assurance they can bring their "whole self" to work. For us, this means all ideas are on the table – we want our people to feel included and inspired every day.

When an organization brings together people with different backgrounds, skill sets and mindsets – and helps them feel deeply included as unique individuals – it achieves superior financial performance, improved talent retention and greater capacity to innovate.

There is an opportunity to improve engagement and retention among millennials – and build a stronger and more inclusive Canada in the process. Both shareholders and the inclusion generation await.

"Seven reasons to not get involved in your recent grad's job search": Today I found this article by Peter Caven in the Globe and Mail:

In 1980, there were 65 degree-granting educational institutions in Canada; there are now 246. Almost 300,000 university graduates enter the Canadian job market every year; in 1980, the number was 100,000.

You made a significant investment in your children’s education, ensured that they attended good schools, helped them with countless projects and assignments, met with dozens of teachers, participated in school events, supported them emotionally and likely contributed significantly to the $60,000 cost of a four-year university program. If they attended an independent high school, you can add another $100,000 to your investment.

And after all that, your son or daughter is unemployed or one of the 56 per cent of Canadian university graduates younger than 24 who is underemployed – working in jobs that don’t require a university degree.

They, and you, are frustrated and discouraged by their inability to start their career. Their self-esteem has taken a nosedive and they have fallen into a downward spiral; their lack of success has discouraged them from trying.

If they do get a job interview, their lack of self-confidence knocks them out of contention. They don’t know where to turn or what to do. They have taken to sleeping until noon and partying too hard.

You want to get involved. You are their parent – it’s your job – and you’ve been successful in helping them in the past.

Despite the urge, beyond providing emotional support – don’t do it. Here’s why:

Your involvement will likely contribute to your children’s angst. Your child will not take your advice, no matter how good it is; it is the mandate of twentysomethings to ignore their parents’ suggestions.

Your involvement will likely be resented and become a source of conflict that will spill over to other aspects of your relationship. Your relationship with your spouse could suffer. Conflicts can arise over career strategies and tactics, financial support and how this situation came about.

You are not an appropriate career counsellor – therapists don’t treat their own children – as your expectations may be part of the problem. Your purview is likely too narrow. In most cases, your knowledge of options available to them is restricted by your experience.

You may be knowledgeable about the sector or industry in which you work, but not much beyond it. There are brand new sectors such as artificial intelligence that didn’t exist just a few years ago.

You don’t have the skills and knowledge. What worked for you when you started your career no longer applies. It’s an entirely different ball game; the competition is intense, and the rules have changed.

There are things you can do:

Be supportive. It is a challenging job market. In 1980, there were 65 degree-granting educational institutions in Canada; there are now 246.

Almost 300,000 university graduates enter the Canadian job market every year; in 1980, the number was 100,000.

The growth in the Canadian economy since 1980 has been less than half the growth in the number of university graduates.

Offer advice when asked but don’t dictate; you aren’t a career counsellor, so don’t try to come across as an expert.

Finally, don’t be an enabler. You shouldn’t expect them to put their shoulder to the wheel to launch their career if their financial and other support is unending.

"Woke vs. weak"/ "Stylin' and profilin'"

Aug. 11, 2017 "'Woke' vs. weak": Today I found this article by Alexa Peters in the Edmonton Journal:

About a year ago, I was at a house show full of buzzed 20-something artists and activists. As the band played, a woman leaned in the doorway to the living room. A man, looking to get another Rainier, grabbed the woman’s waist as he made his way to the cooler in the back yard.

The woman called to him over the rasping guitar amp. “Hey, can you not touch women when you walk by, please?” she said. The man looked back, aghast. “I just wanted to get by,” he responded.

“That isn’t the point,” her friend said.

The tension mounted. The woman he touched told him he was being inappropriate, and another guy in the hallway said: “Look dude, you did a bad thing, just admit it.” I was compelled to join in. “You need to stop and listen to why they’re upset,” I said.

It was too late. He sputtered defenses. Red-faced and exasperated, he went to find his coat.

Afterward, I was on fire, feeling vindicated and uneasy. This guy had been too forward and he refused to listen to criticism of his behavior. But would driving him off the premises change his behavior toward women?

Obviously, the practice of calling someone out someone for being inappropriate or prejudiced has existed for decades.

As call-outs cropped up in cyberculture during the mid-2000s, they allowed for marginalized people to point out the degree to which a person was culturally aware — or “woke” — while still under the protection of the Internet’s anonymity. Call-outs were designed to hold people accountable, not drive them from the premises.

Yet with the rise of social media sites like Reddit, Twitter and Facebook, a more self-congratulatory, shame-perpetuating style of call-out has emerged. As “wokeness” becomes a badge to be earned, call-outs are no longer a reliable barometer of a person’s social progressivism.

This was Lindy West’s recent argument in the New York Times. “What we could really use [from men] is some loud, unequivocal backup. And not just in public, when the tide of opinion has already turned and a little ‘woke’-ness might benefit you — but in private, when it can hurt.” Meaning men might get made fun of for standing up for women.

Accordingly, activists are now advocating for the use of “call-ins” — a more personal and private correction than a call-out. “Call-outs are supposed to be personal. You’re not supposed to be going around calling out people you don’t care about. You call out people when you actually care about their development,” said Anthony Canape, a 24-year-old gay man in Seattle. “It’s hard to have that level of care with a person you’ve just met, like on a date.”

But what defines a private interaction nowadays? With the rules of the Internet pervading everyday life, we’re all vulnerable to a public call-out at any time. As media theorist Jason Adams notes in his book “Occupy Time: Technoculture, Immediacy and Resistance after Occupy Wall Street,” as far back as ancient Greece, leaders were expected to embody moral norms through private moderation and public virtue.

Nowadays, Adams argues, social media has made us all into public figures, thus subjecting us to high expectations all the time. By extension, some savvy daters feel they must project an appearance of righteousness to impress their partner. Emphasis, in my experience, on the word appearance.

For instance, it’s not uncommon for me to question whether the 26-year-old computer programmer I’m having drinks with is really a social progressive, or if his behavior — wearing that #StayWoke shirt, marching in a Black Lives Matter protest — is just put-on virtue to get me into bed. After all, I have encountered more than one guy who sidles up to the bar waxing poetic about toxic masculinity, just before he touches my thigh without my consent.

“You have to learn the specialized vocabulary … you have to understand what intersectionality means,” said Henry, a 28-year-old engineer in Seattle who spoke on the condition that only his first name be used. 

“Being ‘woke’ is the new vogue thing, and if you want to be successful in a dating arena, you have to be up on what’s popular.”

Now that biases or bad behavior get called out so often, some men can be so terrified of being labeled a “mansplainer” or worse that they become passive or apologetic before anyone has mentioned a misstep.

Fearful of being called sexist, he doesn’t flirt or reciprocate interest, even when he is interested. He doesn’t even crack jokes because he’s petrified of possibly offending someone.

To some extent, this hypersensitivity is a positive change. But the hopefulness I feel wanes when I realize how many single men change their behavior merely to decrease the potential of a date-ending call-out, not because they actually care to empathize with my position as a woman.

When I’m out with a man who’s timid for fear of being called out, it’s just more fakeness to sift through as I date.

With daters of different races, it can get even harder to determine who’s genuinely woke and who’s just afraid of being called racist. “I’ve been on dates with dudes that are white, and they are afraid that I’m going to call them out for something [racist].

And they’re very nervous, and they almost call themselves out for being racist, even when they haven’t been,” Canape says. As a result, he thinks that woke culture is “ruining the authenticity” of dating, when the point of dating is to be yourself. “Maybe you do end up insulting me, but then I know more about if we would make a good match,” he says.

Some daters have created litmus tests to determine whether a person is woke enough to even consider as a prospect. “I’ve been on a date where, I just was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to ask you a question because I need to know if I’m wasting my time — All Lives Matter or Black Lives Matter?

When he said Black Lives Matter, I knew we could continue,” said Eva Walker, a single 28-year-old woman who’s the lead guitarist of the black power rock band, the Black Tones.

She says she strives to stay empathetic. “I’m trying to remember that people are brought up a certain way and only know what they were brought up around. They have the right to exist, as I have the right to exist, as the people of Black Lives Matter have the right to exist.

It’s like, how do we exist together? I need you to understand that this is happening. But if no one recognizes it, police violence against black Americans won’t change.”

As Walker told me this, I thought about the guy from the house party last year. We didn’t see his right to exist, only his actions as something potentially dangerous. 

Now that he’s been publicly humiliated by feminists, will he be loath to believe in feminism’s goals? In the end, doesn’t this just breed more mistreated women? And more lonely and self-involved millennials?

One thing I know: Empathy is not a finite resource. We can be “intersectional feminists” while also understanding that many of the white men we date have no idea how to be of use to movements like Black Lives Matter or how to advocate for reproductive justice, even when they want to. I don’t see how anything can improve — be it unfulfilling love lives or more severe social issues — if we can’t even begin by recognizing each other’s humanity.

"Stylin' and profilin'": Today I found this article by Jonathan Elderfield in the Edmonton Journal:

Like male peacocks showing off their magnificent plumage to attract a mate, some men on dating sites post topless mirror gym selfies.

Not such a good idea, according to dating experts. Women, they say, tend to swipe left when they see gym selfies.

Likewise, dating sites are full of women's selfies taken from an elevated vantage point, highlighting their cleavage.

"Some women think, 'If I show a sexy picture, he's going to think I'm sexy.' If you show a sexy picture, he's going to want to hook up," says online dating expert Julie Spira, founder of

Her advice instead: "Anything that you wouldn't want your children, your parents or your boss to see, doesn't belong on a dating profile."

So what does make a good photo for dating sites and apps?

The profile photo is the important first impression, and "it should be friendly and approachable" as well as attractive, says Alex Williamson el-Effendi, head of brand for the Austin, Texas-based dating app Bumble , where women make the first move by initiating the chat after a match.

Ideally, the profile photo also should say something about your life: "Good photos show what you're passionate about and show your potential date what life could be like if they were dating you," says Spira.

That doesn't mean including other people in the picture.

"One of the biggest mistakes you can make is your first photo being you and a friend, or you and a group of friends," says el-Effendi.

Shruti Shah, 30, who works in public relations, blogs about food in New York and is on dating apps Hinge and Bumble, concurs. "It's a red flag for me if every single photo is a group photo. It kind of makes me think that he's not comfortable with who he is in being able to stand alone and put himself out there," she says.

Jamie Madnick, 27, a preschool teacher in Philadelphia who met her boyfriend of over a year on OKCupid , says she didn't like seeing "a guy in a picture with a girl or all girls. It's intimidating."

For her own photos, Madnick says she always included "a full body, because I don't want it to be deceiving," and she included travel pictures "because that's a big part of my life. I want to show them if you are going to be with me, expect adventure and expect travel."

Keeping the photos focused on you is important in "creating that attraction," says another online dating expert, Laurie Davis Edwards of, based in Los Angeles. Don't waste time with images of sunsets or anything else in the brief period of time you have. "If there's one photo that's kind of questionable to them as far as attraction is concerned, they're on to the next person," she says.

Good photos that show you and your life are conversation starters.

"You're giving people prompts and tools they can work with to ask you questions," says Shah.

Oh, and remember to smile.

"I definitely like seeing a guy who's smiling in most of his photos. It just kind of makes me think he is a little bit more approachable and down to earth," says Shah.

Some other photos do's and don'ts from the experts:

Do have images that are well-lit, in focus, and not noisy or grainy.

Do have a close-up of your face as well as a full-length image, so daters can see your body type.

Do use captions to identify family members if they're in your pictures.

Don't use filters, which can be distracting and make you hard to see.

Do allow potential matches to see your eyes. No sunglasses.

Don't be so small in your photos that you can't be seen easily, and don't wear clothing that covers you head to toe, such as a ski outfit.

Don't show yourself drinking in every photo, unless drinking all the time sums up who you are.

Do edit the choice and sequence of your photos; some dating apps auto-load the first handful of images directly from your Facebook account.

Do consider whether you want to have pictures of your children on your dating profile. Yes, you want to let potential matches know if you have kids, but sharing their pictures might be better after you have matched.

Jonathan Elderfield, The Associated Press