Last month after a few too many drinks with a good girlfriend, I uttered the four words that are unthinkable to any feminist: Women don't deserve equality. My friend looked at me in shock, and demanded I explain myself. Between shots of tequila I managed to slur out my drunken explanation: The vast majority of women of our generation simply aren't fighting the good fight for equality. Having completely forgotten -- or merely having never learned -- about the women's movement, women today are not only refusing to demand equality, they blatantly accept to be treated in a substandard fashion.
I went on to justify my point that I am in no way a supporter of gender-biased policies, but that I was progressively becoming more annoyed at the women who idly stand by and perpetuate the cycle of sexism. Weren't these women the minority, my friend asked? I laughed and replied that these women aren't just limited to the Barbara Kays and Lynn Trottas of the world; rather, these women exist in profusion, and everyone is sure to know a few.
They are generally the same women that are "Team Breezy" members, (or at the very least are vociferous in their pleas for society to just leave him alone), who always precede the word feminist with angry, militant, or radical, and love "Mad Men" for all the wrong reasons.
My friend haphazardly conceded to some extent, but I couldn't tell whether it was because I was becoming increasingly loud and obnoxious or whether it was because she actually saw my point of view. Either way, I chalked it up as a win, and we went about our night.
However, the next day, I woke up with a moral -- (in addition to my regular) -- hangover. How could I have even thought those things let alone say them aloud? Had I turned into a flip flopper of the very worst kind? Of course women deserved to be equal in every sense, that's what I have believed my whole life, and continue to believe today. I felt awful. Over pancakes and bacon, I repented. I reaffirmed my allegiance to the sisterhood, and hoped that when I would one day be telling this story to unrequited homegirls, Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinhem, they would be able to forgive me.
Except I didn't think repenting to myself was enough. So I am repenting to you, dear reader. I am sorry I thought those things, and even though there are still thousands of women out there who like to pretend that there is no need for feminism in this day and age, they shouldn't be my focus. Instead, I should be putting the spotlight on some facts to bring them some enlightenment. Facts such as:
- Even though this is the 101st anniversary of International Women's Day, it is merely the 83rd year that women have been considered legal persons in this country.
- Canada places 40th in the world in terms of women representation in political office.
- Reproductive rights both here and south of the border are under constant attack. But I suppose everyone knows that. Ok, so here's a little less known fact: PEI doesn't offer abortions at all and New Brunswick only provides abortions with the written approval of two other doctors, stating that the abortion is "medically necessary." If you guessed that these are both in direct violation with the 1988 Supreme Court decision of R v Morgentaler, and Section 7 of the Canadian Charter, you would be absolutely right.
- Canada has the 4th largest gender wage gap amongst OECD countries.
- Just last year, Manitoba Judge Robert Dewar blamed the victim of a rape for giving her rapist mixed signals and describing the rape as "inconsiderate behaviour."
- In what can only be described as an attempt to not be outdone on the chauvinist scale, a Toronto police officer advised young girls to not dress like sluts in order to avoid being raped.
So, to those who think feminism to be an antiquated notion, I suggest you face the facts.
Nevertheless, I am obviously fully aware that there are much shoddier places to be born a woman than Canada. Similarly, I don't mean to trivialize or take for granted every opportunity that I have been afforded, thanks to the men and women who fought the good feminist fight.
But on days like today, when the op-eds and general social commentary all converge towards the general notion that there is no longer a need to celebrate International Women's Day since equality has been achieved, try thinking of the little Indian girl being sold into sex slavery, or the girl in PEI who can't make her own choices about her body.
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