Lots of things about being female that irk and irritate me, but none piss me off more than everyday sexism.

I have spent all but a few years of my life railing against the limitations, inequalities, dangers and outrages visited upon me simply because I am not male.

Decades of my life. Quite literally.

So it stands to reason that I am very interested in varying takes on the subject that appear in the news and on the social media.

Yesterday, a conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Michelle Rempel, who also happens to be the immigration critic, wrote a piece which appeared in The National Post, detailing her ongoing struggles with the daily hassle of trying to represent her constituents while being female.

I’d like to report that the Canadian Parliament is an enlightened bastion of gender equality, and that Canadian men are not sexist Neanderthals in the workplace, but sadly, I cannot.

Here is some of what Ms. Rempel had to say on the subject:

The everyday sexism I face involves confronting the “bitch” epithet when I don’t automatically comply with someone’s request or capitulate on my position on an issue, confronting assumptions that I have gotten to my station in life by (insert your choice of sexual act) with (insert your choice of man in position of authority), enduring speculation and value judgements about my fertility, and responding to commentary that links my appearance to my competency. It involves my ass being occasionally grabbed as a way to shock me into submission. It involves tokenism. It involves sometimes being written off as not serious when I’ve clearly proven I am.

I’m fortunate, though. I haven’t had to overcome obstacles that many other women face. I have a romantic partner who isn’t emasculated by my success, and enthusiastically encourages me to pursue my aspirations. I’ve worked for and with employers who have done the same. I’m in a position of authority. I haven’t had to raise children as a single woman. I haven’t had to raise children, period. I’m cisgender, straight, and white. My body mass index doesn’t exceed 25. I’m not an immigrant. I’ve never been in an abusive relationship. I’m fortunate enough to have had a steady job throughout most of my working life. I could go on, and on, and on.

It’s a laundry list of not only the dismissive attitude men in the workplace still harbor and act upon, but it also highlights that being very privileged isn’t the shield some might suspect.

At the end of a day, what a man sees when he happens upon women in the world – wherever it might be – is someone who is not his equal. Someone he is free to not only make assumptions about but to give them voice. Someone he can fondle, leer at, proposition, and belittle because he is the man and the man is allowed.

It’s 2016 and the. man. is. allowed.

Let that sink in.

Then ask yourself, why is that?

In my opinion, some of it stems from the fact religions and out-dated cultural beliefs and practices still have too much influence in the world, but it also stems from the reality that women are a diverse group with differing and competing ideas/needs concerning what equality should be.

Regardless, I am firmly on the side of those who believe  the root of the problem is men. Their attitudes. Their unwillingness to let go of a status quo that suits them just fine because it asks/expects so little of them.

A gentlemen on Twitter responded to one of my tweets about Rempel’s article by saying he flet responding with a positive when a man behaves in a sexist manner is more likely to prevent similar behavior in the future than scolding or outrage.

Generally, I would agree. I spent too many years slowly luring teenagers to the trough of knowledge to not recognize the wisdom in such an approach.

It doesn’t mean, however, I am not bone weary fucking tired of it.

When after a conversation a man says to me, “You are a lot smarter than I thought you were.” My reaction is no longer “Thanks.” As it would have been when I was young.

Now, I say nothing.

Because there’s nothing to say to something so incredibly insulting the mind boggles he thought it was okay to say this out loud.

And grabbing my ass is grounds for slapped fingers. Or losing the whole hand.

Not that I have to worry about being groped anymore. My ass is too old to entice anyone but my husband. That or men save this kind of extraordinary personal space invasion for younger women because they instinctively know older women will hurt them.

Like Rempel though, I haven’t experienced sexism in a way that held me back during my education or kept me from employment or advancement after I graduated.

Though I have been physically threatened at different points when I was a young girl and woman, I was never hurt and was never trapped. I would point out that fear leaves its own marks but how we deal with them is an individual thing that can’t be easily quantified.

While I have been a single mom, an immigrant and “too large” to qualify for inclusion in what passes for “beautiful”, they were not obstacles for me either in the sense that they are for many.
I have been lucky and lucky, as most of us are wise enough to realize, is simply another way of saying “privileged”.

And she makes several good points about privilege when she writes,

The everyday sexism that I experience is grating. It angers me, and it makes me roll my eyes. Sometimes, when it’s bad enough, it causes me to second guess myself. I address it. I speak out about it. That said, I’ve never lost a job because of it. I’ve never experienced violence because of it. I’ve never had to worry about feeding my family because of it.

So, who am I to tell other women how they should combat everyday sexism? In fact, who are any of us to do the same?

There is no one sizes fits all solution for everyday sexism from a women’s perspective and, in my opinion again, there is no solution at all until men are willing to share privilege with us.

Because equality is really about leveling privilege.

And I don’t see that happening.

We’ve come a long way since the days we were not allowed to vote and were passed from father to husband like chattel. But we still owe the progress that been made more to the largess of men than anything. And unless we speak up, insist and address the daily insults and outrages, little is going to change.

So it’s incumbent upon those of us who are in the position to do something to do it. Like Michelle Rempel does in Ottawa. Like I do when I radicalize my daughters with knowledge, encouragement and being embarrassingly outspoken.

We need to push. We need to call out. We need to remember that women are still not equal and it’s way past time we were.


English: Hannah Montana aka Miley Cyrus on the...

English: Hannah Montana aka Miley Cyrus on the stage of Hannah Montana Tour Français : Hannah Montana alias Miley Cyrus sur la scéne de la tournée de Hannah Montana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several birthdays ago, Dee received one of those Hanna Montana barbie-like dolls. She was probably at the zenith of her Hanna love. She wore Hanna to school and to bed. She watched Hanna. She wondered “what would Hanna do”.

To be clear, she understood that Hanna was a fictional character and could distinguish her from Miley Cyrus, who she has never shown the slightest interest in. Dee just loved the idea of an “ordinary” girl with a secret identity that just happened to be completely outside the realm of what could possibly be considered normal. And she’s a sucker for slap-stick.

But, as is the fate of most dolls in our house, Hanna was rarely – if ever – played with. After her initial new novelty wore off, she was sentenced to life in the box of forgotten dolls.

Until this last Saturday.

Dee’s new BFF, Pai, was invited to sleep-over. Like most of Dee’s friends, past and present, she is enamoured of the dollhouse that Rob (aka Santa Claus) crafted for her several Christmas’s ago. It is a house of beauty, and it’s massive. Dee and her friends are only just able to see over it and it takes up a good deal of bedroom floor real estate.

In addition to the doll mansion, Dee’s amassed quite the impressive collection of Barbies and paraphernalia. The latter in no small part is thanks to Edie and Mick, who bequeathed her their late 80’s/early 90’s accessories of which many would be completely new and novel to Dee’s friends. Naturally, they all want to play Barbies, and it’s about the only time Dee herself will sit and play with her collection for literally hours on end. Dee is a cardboard box, scissors and Scotch tape kind of kid. Barbies don’t make her top ten list of ways to pass time. Unless her friends want to play.

At some point in the late afternoon, Hanna Montana was discovered and one of them noted that she seemed evil and perhaps even – alive with evil.

Thus came plan A. To catch Evil Hanna in the act of animation. And to this end, Steve Jobs came to the rescue.

Both girls are nearly as welded to their iPods as the average teen’s eyeballs and thumbs are ensnared by their smart phones. Hanna was left on the lower bunk caught in the cross-hairs of two lens with video rolling. If she moved, they would know.

But, both iPods mysteriously stopped filming after 12 seconds.

“There is no way that could have happened,” Dee told me later.

And Hanna, again quite mysteriously but certainly with sinister intent, flipped from her back to her tummy.

“She moved,” Pai said solemnly.

“She did,” was Dee’s saucer eyed concurrence.

Plan B was clearly needed, and this involved “caging” a now trussed up with ribbons Hanna in a mesh pop-up hamper. Surveillance was once again employed, and the girls went about their merry way.

Fast-forward to bed-time and despite the wicked Hanna’s lack of obvious escape attempts, neither girl felt able to sleep in security as long as the malevolent hunk of plastic molded by underpaid Chinese  was in the room.

A defcon level plan C was hatched on the fly and Rob and I, who were showering off the day’s asphalt roofing material, heard the patter and scurry of feet down the basement stairs. Mood killer that it was, I dried off, donned robe and went to assess.

I found the two of them in Dee’s play area and Pai was attempting to tie a cloth belt from an old swimsuit of mine around the play dishwasher while Dee perched on the mini-trampoline, clutching the stuffed bison she picked up in Yellowstone last summer holiday. A thin cloth ribbon tied around her wrist was looped around Pai’s waist.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

They both looked at me as though it should be plainly obvious to all but the most mentally defective.

“We can’t sleep with Hanna in the room,” Dee said. “So we are caging her down here.”

“I see,” I said, “and you are tied together why?”

“Stuffies will protect you from evil,” Dee explained. “So I am holding Bice and Pai is protected as long as she is tied to me.”

Which is what best friends do, selflessly risk corruption by unspeakably evil Mattel products while you have their backs.

“It won’t tie,” Pai piped up.

“Let me help,” I said.

Which is what Moms do, we humor children who have needlessly hyped themselves up to irrational levels of imaginary fear.

After Hanna was secured, I ushered the children back up to Dee’s bedroom and told them I’d check back when I came back up to bed for the night.

By this time, Rob was out of the shower and upstairs and I updated him of the latest in Hanna control to which he rolled his eyes and shook his head.

“At least we have proof that they actually have imaginations,” he sighed as if that were the only lemonade that could be squeezed out of this mushroom cloud of escalating terror.

Before bed, I peeked in Dee’s room again to find both girls in the top bunk, ringed in by every stuffie Dee owned.

And, of course, I had to ask.

“Stuffies can be used as a force field,” Dee said.

“This way,” Pai continued, “if Hanna gets loose, she can’t get to us.”

“Good thinking. But if Hanna gets loose, tomorrow we are going to have Dad chop her up with the hatchet and burn her in the fire pit,” and with that I wished them pleasant non-Hanna dreams and went to bed.

I was reading when Rob slipped into the room, closing the door behind him and grinning like an evil Hanna Montana doll.

“What’s funny?” I asked.

“You should have seen the looks on their faces when I asked them why Hanna Montana was sitting in the hallway.”

“Way to give them nightmares, Baby,” I told him. “I told them if the doll got loose in the night, you’d chop it up tomorrow.”

“What did they say to that?”

“Pai asked if she could chop the head off.”

The next morning found Hanna still secure and the girls decided that more permanent measures for her ultimate containment were in order. Armed with stuffies, they retrieved evil incarnate from the dishwasher and with only YouTube vids as their guide, they constructed a cage out of old pizza boxes and a drink carrier from A&W. An hour and a half, water-colours, and tape later, the Hanna was neutralized for good.

“We taped her arms and legs together and then taped her to the bottom of the cage,” Dee said. “She narrowed her eyes at us, but she can’t get out.”

Last night, Dee slept soundly, even though Hanna-bot was under the bed.

“I have Bice and as long as he is touching me I have a thin force field around me for protection.”

And so, once again, the power of little girls, stuffies and arts/crafts has vanquished the sinister forces of the world. Rest easy.


A speed limit sign entering a school zone, alo...

School zone sign in U.S. In Alberta, the speed is 30km or about 22 mph – Calabasas, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I am starting to believe that people who rage at other motorists are simply embarrassed about their own dickish driving behavior. Those who thumb noses at speed limits, consideration for safety when passing and view treat stop signs like yields and yields as though they were invisible are perfectly aware that they are cunts and resent having it pointed out to them.


Few things will provoke a fellow road mate to rabid rage like honking at them when they cut off your vehicle or pull out in front of you. It’s not that the driver didn’t know he/she was committing a transgression. He/she is angry at you for not ignoring it. You are supposed to just “take it”.


I drove Dee to school this morning because I’d been guilted into volunteering to help chaperone her field trip to the annual historical festival at the local museum. The trip was short parent volunteers and despite the fact that my loathing of field trips pre-dates even my years teaching middle school, it was important to Dee. So I sucked it up and said, “yes”.


Upside was sleeping in. Downside was driving her to school.


The elementary school is located on a rather well-used road in the older part of town. The speed limit during school hours is a mere 30km, which is even lower than the U.S.’s 25mph, and during the morning rush, you can see steam hissing out of the ears of every driver crawling past.


It invites stupidity as commuters jockey and nudge each other to go just a tad faster and knowing what a clusterfuck it can be with angry workers off to their day job slog, parents trying to drop off students and school buses pulling in, off-loading and pulling out to vex the already late for work – I am in extreme slow and cautious mode.


Traffic was slow today even before I hit the school zone and cars pulling from the side streets did so with a whip-it turn and gun it that speaks volumes about how spatially challenged most people are. Therefore, I was watching the side streets carefully and it’s a good thing because a car raced up, barely slowed and then pulled out in front of me.


So I honked.


Which is where I went wrong because Princess already knew that she’d pulled a fast one and was basically expecting me to be fine with it. She was in a hurry after all.


We were barely two blocks from the turn into the school parking lot and Princess, not being able to see Dee in my backseat, likely assumed I was on my way to work. Her reaction to being chastised for being a dick driver was to slow down and slow down and then finally – slam on her brakes.


Did I back off? No. I was never in any danger of hitting her. I was under the speed limit to begin with and her wedge manuever caused me to slow even more. But, I am in a truck and she is in a little hatchback-ish thing and I probably looked closer and more menacing than I was.


And as if attempting to get me rear-ended wasn’t enough, she flipped me off.


So I gave her the finger back.


“You what?” Rob asked when I related this to him.


“Gave her the finger,” I repeated. “Why not. She was being an asshole, trying to teach me a lesson by causing me to get rear-ended. There are somethings that need to be commented on with profanity.”


And then she sped up and signaled to turn into … the school parking lot.


I’d have given a lot to see the look on her  face when I signaled to turn there as well.


She quickly whipped into the aisle leading to the drop off lane while I went to the back row of the lot to park. I kept an eye out for her and was amused to note that she parked in the drop off and stayed in her car until Dee and I had walked half-way to the building before she started up and darted down the center aisle of the lot. I watched her roll slowly past and even turned around and walked backward as she queued up to exit. I was tempted to wave. No, not with my middle finger. There were children in plain sight who aren’t mine and I am only allowed to corrupt my own child.


Lately, I haven’t been shy about using the truck’s horn. I don’t sit patiently behind someone as they fiddle with their smartphones and the light has been green for longer than it takes to blink slowly several times. I am not patient with semi-drivers who think it’s okay to pull out in front of me because they are larger and are “working”, which allows them some sort of road dispensation. I don’t suffer idiots to endanger my life with their precarious passing prowess because – their lack of brains and spatial awareness should only rid the world of them and not me too.


There was an interesting conversation on a local radio station a few weeks ago about the so-called “passing lane on the major roads in Edmonton. It’s a widely held, though completely wrong, belief that the far left lane is for the “fast” traffic. And by “fast”, they assume that means license to exceed the posted speed limit by a margin and a half. When the on-air host pointed out that technically the speed limit is exactly the same in all three lanes and that the far left is only for those to use to get around traffic that is moving slower than the limit – he was roundly and soundly dismissed.


Which just proves that there are a lot of stupid people being given licenses to drive. Like Princess this morning. And that they don’t appreciate it when their self-serving disregard for others is brought home to them. More often than not anymore, I am disinclined to care.