Sexism


Horwath is spot on. Brown’s leadership is up to his caucus and they, who know him, won’t have him. That speaks volumes.
According to the news trickling out, Brown’s reputation for preying on young women is well-known, and reporters have been trying to piece together leads for a long time. This is not as sudden as the apologists and conspiracy nuts would like everyone to believe. And we need to remember there is never an upside for women who come forward. Never. Which is why women don’t make accusations public lightly because they are victimized for doing so.

The inspiration for allegations these days is Me Too and Time’s Up. Women see positive responses and real action being taken and they feel more secure. They know more and more people are going to finally believe and support them.

Whether women come forward the day before an election, or two years before one, isn’t the point or the problem. Our political system is rife with systemic issues of sexual harassment and assault, and it’s time for a close examination of who our parties are presenting as candidates when some of them come with baggage of barely concealed patterns of abuse of power.

 
And it’s disgusting when the default for some is still “women are liars”. Brown’s own right hand people quit. Just quit. His party tossed him within hours. Does anyone think there’s nothing to the allegations when that’s the response? Who skips carefree away from a leader they chose to follow? Thought was the answer to whatever the problems were. Who does that? No one.
 
Contrast the Ontario PCs with the Alberta UCP’s now. Their response to Jason Nixon, leader Jason Kenney’s top lieutenant in the legislative, is informative in the Me Too era. Nixon fired a woman in his company back in 2005 when she reported being sexually harassed. A claim that has been proven valid. The UCP? Crickets mostly until they trotted out the “he was young” and the “times have changed and he certainly wouldn’t respond like that today”.

Of course he wouldn’t but most likely because he couldn’t get away with it, and that’s just depressing. Doing the right thing because not doing isn’t a viable option is not an inspiration.

VOTE FOR ME BECAUSE I DO THE RIGHT THING WHEN I KNOW I WILL GET CAUGHT IF I DON’T

For too long that has been one of the foundation stones of politics. These bad actors hide in plain sight in our parties and in our governments. The bar couldn’t be lower.

Me too is not just something Americans struggle with. It’s coming for Alberta. Sooner than later. Just watch.


On Saturday, January 20th, women marched. Again. With them were men and children, friends, neighbors, coworkers, strangers. People with whom they agreed on varied issues, and people they didn’t agree with so very much.

Women all over North America planned and organized marches and rallies that drew millions in total.

But not everyone saw the point.

 

There is a lot to unpack in those few sentences, and between their lines, but we’ll stick to the words.

In the United States, unlike Canada, women are not specifically included in the Constitution or The Bill of Rights. An attempt was made to add women as women rather than “all men” back in the 1970’s, but anti-feminists successfully fought that in a lengthy state by state battle, and it’s not been revisited since.

Women’s rights in the US are largely a series of court rulings, between the line readings of the Constitution, and individual pieces of legislation that are only as good as those willing to enforce them. They exist on paper but could disappear with the stroke of a pen.

Men and women have always had the same right to rights, but the reality is that women’s access is fairly new and not everyone is keen about that.

The election of an openly sexist man to the Presidency of the United States, the most powerful nation in the world, was a wake up call. Complacency, which should never have been an option, cannot be a comfy corner of denial any longer.

And women marched. It was a rallying point. One that has launched more women than ever into politics and activism.

There isn’t a single purpose because women’s lives are made up of more than single issues, but there is an overarching theme. Time’s up.

Time is up on sexism in the workplace, education, religions and their institutions. No more hiding behind reasons that never made any sense or had much validity in the first place.

Time is up on misogyny. The casual violence of words used to silence, defame and wound. The physical violence that is still too often dismissed or ignored. The use of sex as a weapon to demean, instill fear, and dominate.

Time is up on the exclusion from politics and governance via systemic sexism which everyone can plainly see, but even in 2018, we still accept for reasons that have no validity if we really do believe that men and women have the same rights.

It takes fire in the belly to organize a march once, but doing it a second time requires clarity. Acknowledging that a year has gone by with successes and failures and with still much to be done. Being able to create an atmosphere that allows anyone who wants to participate the space to do so.

Organizers and marchers, by the millions, all across the continent showed up, marched, spoke, connected and became for a moment in time peaceful communities. They acknowledged each other and the importance of the many aspects of democracy and community activism they’d been involved in since the last march. To insinuate this lacked clarity is a bit of an insult.

But I understand where that impulse to dismiss comes from because once upon a time, I shared a disdain for the need to be a feminist. I wouldn’t call myself one. I played that silly word game of “I believe everyone is equal, but I’m not a feminist”. Except I was.

I can think of dozens of examples in grade school alone where I all but stood atop a desk and declared war on Sr. Walter Marie’s attempts to make a “proper lady” of me. I could never have been other than a feminist.

But as a young woman, all I could see was the hard work of being a feminist compared to the seemingly more cushy existence of not, and it wasn’t until I was out working on a career and running into roadblocks that my male peers weren’t that it dawned on me that feminism was just this. It was the blatant unfairness of being passed over for jobs that I was the most qualified for in favor of a male colleague who golfed with the principal or coached the football team of a superintendent’s son. There were too many boys’ clubs in too many aspects of life and being the most accomplished or hardest worker was never going to grow me the penis I needed for entry.

Privilege, and I never forget that I have a lot of it these days, makes agnostics of many. The need to believe and fight isn’t so much when bias and bigotry don’t affect your existence all that often. And so many girls are still brought up as objects rather than individuals with dreams and talents of their own that the acceptance of everyday sexism has to reach deafening levels to break through that training.

It’s hard to understand, but there are women who preferred the old way because they believed it benefited them more, and they were willing to make the compromises and personal sacrifices to play along with that game. There are still women who are fine with it and would like to turn back the clock regardless of how that affects other women.

In North America, we like to say that we all have the same rights. We are all equal in the eyes of the law. We all have the same opportunities. Even though we know this isn’t always true because of bigotry and bias, we are mostly united in the belief that we are striving towards that and making good progress.

The Women’s March was born out of the angry realization that we’d erred in our belief that good progress was good enough.

Women’s March of 2018 was clearly stating that we know there is more to do, and we are still committed to doing it.


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.