Waste not, want more

No variations on a theme.

Today, I’m spouting the F-word

In celebration of International Women’s Day, I’m giving a quick shout out to feminism in all its stripes. A great deal, too much maybe, has been said about feminism. I can’t pretend that I will add anything of use to the commentary, but I’ll write all the same. It’s too important and I silence myself too often (cause ladies do that sort of thing). Consider this the pablum/coles notes version of my perspective on feminism. Maybe if I use the word feminism enough, people will stop going into shock when they  hear/read it – ambitious, I guess.

Feminists are accused of being man-haters, or impliedly worse, lesbians at one extreme (when all else fails, throw in a little homophobia) or passé people stuck in the 60s on the other. Here comes my radical thesis: men and women have not reached a place of substantive equality in Canada or elsewhere. Until they do, anyone who cares about the gap can call themselves a feminist in my opinion (p.s. This includes men!). While the social and economic gap between men and women is starker in other countries around the world, it is still very alive here in Canada.

1) First I’d like to touch on the 3 part myth  of women, oft perpetuated in literature, TV, and our own peanut-sized brains. Women are often portrayed as either

  • the mother: wholesome and nutritious, good for feeding and cuddling
    • undertone: boring at parties, unattractive
  • the virgin: virtuous and innocent, good for marrying and bearing offspring
    • undertone: stupid, easily led astray, frigid
  • the whore: dirty and knowing, comes out at night, good for sex and seedy pleasures
    • undertone: can’t take her to business functions, diseased and depraved

No person is this one-dimensional yet these myths continue to shape our thinking. The law still often relies on these myths. Which takes me to my next point:

2) Sexual assault. It sucks and nobody likes to talk about it, but it happens. And sexual assault (which in Canadian law includes rape but means in essence any unwanted sexual touching) is very  much a gendered thing. Overwhelmingly, it is women that experience sexual assault. For me, this is the most obvious reason why feminism has a ton of work left to do. Only because women are more socially vulnerable and seen as less worthy of respect do they experience the brunt of sexual violence. Feminist women and men have to do a much better job talking about why all sexual violence is unacceptable. I should leave this topic to people who are much more convincing, but I can’t without also mentioning that sexual crime is horrifically unreported arguably in large part due to the legal system’s willingness, accompanied by the general public, to blame the victims of sexual violence (the “she was asking for it” defence):

3) Many people have heard about the gender wage gap. In Canada, despite more women becoming executives, filling other high-paying positions, and attending post-secondary institutions in record numbers, there remains a gap between the average woman’s wage and the average man’s. Some would say that this is because more women stay home to raise children and do lower paying work. Both of these things are true. Though there are many problems with those arguments, I will only raise a couple here. Maybe part of the reason women are more likely to stay home with children is that they don’t make as much money. If a two-parent family is going to make a choice, it is often on that basis. Secondly, work that is traditionally done by women is undervalued (child care is a fine example). And,  unlike in some jurisdictions, families in Canada receive no incentive to equalize child care responsibilities between women and men. Some have said that access to child care for low to middle-income families is one of the biggest barriers to equality (note: I am not suggesting that anyone who chooses to stay home with their children is doing anything wrong, but I can’t ignore that among the poorest Canadians, this choice becomes very difficult).

This British video does a fantastic job of touching on some of the ways that women experience the world differently than men:

It almost softens me to the fact that the Bond franchise uses women like a sexual circus side-show. There I said it. It’s good to get that one off my chest.

Advertisements

March 8, 2011 - Posted by | Brackets, Childhood Complaints, Doing it the hard way, Irritated, Law, News | ,

3 Comments »

  1. I love Rose’s rampages.

    Comment by Katie Chipman | March 8, 2011 | Reply

  2. Another much better articulation: http://www.straight.com/article-378775/vancouver/alison-brewin-100-years-international-womens-day-and-glacial-change-canada. Thanks to the reverend for putting it on the ladies.

    Comment by Rose | March 8, 2011 | Reply

  3. […] statements I’ve made against James Bond and Malcolm Gladwell could be seen as controversial if anyone had cared/commented I hazard a guess […]

    Pingback by 7 Ways to Leave Your Lover Wondering What You’ve Been Doing with Your Time « Waste not, want more | January 5, 2012 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: