Sunday, 19 March 2017

gRow up, Ladies

This article has bothered me for days.

Bothered.  Itched.  Tingled.  I've watched on twitter as women shared and retweeted it, saying they could name the men and wishing that more women would be so brave as to expose the sexual misconduct alleged in the article.

Is this really where feminism is right now?

Let me tell you a story.

I was 19, and living in Niagara Falls.  I was crossing Clifton Hill one night, and darted too closely between cars.  A guy in a car grabbed my arm and pulled me roughly towards him, and I ended up leaning against the car, his hand on my arm, and him breathing down my neck.  He asked, "has anyone ever told you you have a nice set of tits?"

This was in 1990.  I didn't look around to see who saw and didn't see.  I didn't wonder if one day this man would decide on a job for me or not.  I didn't wonder where he worked or who he was.  I didn't worry that I had had some alcohol earlier in the evening.  I just jerked my arm as hard as I could, slapped him and asked, "has anyone ever told YOU that you are very rude?" and walked away.

I've had men touch me without my consent, I've had rude things said to me, I've had people look at my body that made me uncomfortable. I'm just not going to label those things "sexual harassment" or "sexual assault".  They were drunk guys, most of the time, trying to push boundaries.  And it was easily solved by saying "stop".  If it continues, then it is sexual harassment.  But if you don't stay stop or it's the first time, it's not harassment.

This woman's stories, generally, don't get me that mad.  Some older guy saying "she's worth leaving his wife for" is not sexual harassment.  Having someone stare at your boobs when you're wearing something that sets them off nicely is not sexual harassment.  Someone touching your bum during a photo that may or may not have been accidental is not sexual harassment.

And I guess that makes me upset is that this is where women are right now.  Instead of confronting  men - so worried are we about jobs or reputation - we write vague accusations on a website story, making all of womanhood seem weak.  The article, in my opinion, gives men permission to treat us like this - because we'd rather keep silent than risk..  what, exactly?  A job on the hill?  The next promotion?  

Even the story about the media person who touched her boob.  I would have gone back to my table and told everyone.  What would have happened?  A he said she said fiasco?   Not getting the right press for your candidate next time?

Ladies, grow up.  Don't put up with men overstepping bounds but don't label them as sexual predators either.  Just say no and put them in their place.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

smaLL-f feminism - a view

It's 6:19 a.m. on International Women's Day.  A Wednesday.  A workday.  I've looked at twitter and checked my email. I've helped my husband get ready for work by making him a smoothie and cup of coffee.  I've fed the dogs and gave them water.  Poured my own coffee, posted a tweet.

There is a spattering of spinach leaves on the floor that spilled as I tried to put the container back into the fridge.  I'm still debating if I'll clean it up or let the dogs eat the spinach.

I'm wearing my pajamas, a sweater of my husband's, and my reading glasses, sitting at the kitchen bench, getting ready to start my workday.  And I thought, "exactly what does today mean to me?"

There seems to be a lot of hype around IWD.  I've seen everything from the organization of women's strikes to someone boasting about what they might buy themselves as a gift.  For being a woman?   Next thing you know, some manufacturer of greeting cards will start cashing in.  They might do that already.

I'm a bit put off by the militant feminism.  As a small-f feminist - one who believes firmly in equality and equity - I don't want corporations cashing in on today's importance and I want to make sure visibility is given to women that continue to struggle and what needs to be accomplished on our planet to make it equitable for everyone.  I really don't want to see the type of feminism that views men as oppressors, either.  Or endlessly plotting against us.

I read an article last night that said that if the liberal media had taken seriously the sexual assault complaint of a Swedish women in 2010 that Trump would not be in power now and somehow ran it all together as a misogynist political theology.    It was lauded as "smart", somehow implying that if you, like me, went "what?!?!" that we aren't very smart or somehow aren't clever enough to see the machinations of our male oppressors.

I'm inclined to believe that isn't true and that I'm plenty smart.  A sexual assault complaint that some friends of the man accused did not immediately believe is not misogyny or the political floodgate that started Trumpery.  And I won't be manipulated into believing that I should absolutely believe every accusation of sexual assault from every women.  We lie, too.

And as much as I'm put off by the militant feminists who claim today and have already made fun of our PM's wife for her suggestion of celebrating our allies (read, men), I'm equally as put off by the corporate world of presenting high profile speakers to "encourage and inspire" us.  Seriously?  Fortune 500 companies have 4% women in executive positions worldwide, so excuse me for not being very inspired by some condescending talk about how I can maybe one day get there, too.  This, while 1 in 3 women are abused and women in developing countries don't have access to education or healthcare.  The whole "being smart" thing means I can see through this corporate nonsense.

Which leaves me somewhere in the middle, viewing today as an opportunity to highlight what still needs to be done in our world to make it equitable and fair.    How can I educate others?  How can I partner with my resources?  How can I, small-f feminist in Canada, change the world without condescension or victim-hood?

Here's a good start.  The UN has some great infographics and information about where women stand in today's changing world of work. Today, as I notice that it is IWD, I won't "celebrate" so much as mark the day and consider what I can do to promote equity in our world.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

chRistian does not mean conseRvative

Two years ago today, my cousin died.  She was a blossoming flower, a girl in her early 20s who was growing up and growing into herself.  I used to watch her instagram account, laughing at her creative use of hashtags (#scrublife being my favourite) and commentary on life.  I often think of her and wish I had knew her better; her death continues to be a ripple in my spirit.


I got up this morning and checked my email, as is my habit.  There were things that happened between getting up and checking my email, but they aren't central to the point of this essay and have been yadda yadda yadda'd into the background.

One email surprised me.  It was an email from someone I know socially at church, with whom I haven't shared much personal information but have a rapport with from working on the team to support the two refugee families, locally.

The email was a political rant, essentially asking us to pay the $15.00 to join the Conservative Party and vote for one of two men that are pro-abortion and anti-gay-and-trans and contained the amount of misinformation that this type of email typically employs.  You know of which I speak:  the type of rambling about being charged with a hate crime if you use the wrong pronoun for someone or teachers being forced to teach a gay agenda in the classroom.  And of course a ticker-tape count of the babies who died for women's rights.

First of all, the sexual education curriculum is provincial and will hardly be affected by the election of an anti-gay candidate to run the conservative federal party, but thanks.  Secondly, that's not at all what the bills are for - that's militant christians banging out their fears as truth to get stupid people on board.

Thirdly, even if all this was true and it turned your crank enough to pay and vote, you're still not going to fix anything because by choosing a candidate for a political party that is anti-gay-and-trans as well as pro-abortion, means that you've made your party virtually un-electable and will ensure the party you dislike - the one who has the audacity to actually treat people with respect - gets another majority.

And most importantly -  do NOT assume that because I am a christian that I am conservative or respond to the dog-whistle type politics of the religious right.  If one chooses to read one's Bible, and indeed concentrates on the words written in red, one would quickly surmise that the red lettering looks suprisingly more like socialism than conservativism.  Jesus does not, to my memory, remove rights or legislate morality.  He does not discriminate.  He does, however, encourage us to move toward a more loving, sustainable, accepting table that includes everyone.  We do not have "rights" because we are Christian and our country, no matter how often one says it, was not founded as a christian nation.

Ugh, it's all so repellent.