At first blush, the recent decision of the Canadian government to shift its foreign affairs focus from diplomacy to servicing private industry came as something of a shock to many. We have become just another nation interested in building up its own wealth at the expense of being an effective influence in the larger struggles facing the globe -- poverty, climate change, localized conflicts, and a general breaking down of democracy's legitimacy.
When women engage me in my community, in Ottawa or across the country, they talk to me about the economy, about health care, about child care, about housing, about the environment. Simply put, all issues are "women's issues." But as Status of Women critic, I also ask questions about challenges specifically facing women.
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and construction was my family's mainstay. I have been around it my whole life and truth be told, my happiest place on earth is on a roadbuilding site with machines pushing and swinging dirt and people all working hard. Sure, being a girl in construction came with the standard issue nuisances you would expect -- naked pin-up girl pictures in the tool trailers, having to use disgusting man outhouses, getting hit on steadily, getting tolerated and not taken seriously -- but I just kept my head down and got to work. This got the people who make decisions to know that I was not just a little blonde token strutting around the job site but that I was watching and thinking and had value.
Noting gender, when gender is irrelevant, happens even in the most progressive of milieus. The soundtrack of my current leave of absence has been my beloved CBC, and yet just this week, I heard a newscaster refer to Ontario's Premier Kathleen Wynne and another politician as "the two women." Really? How about "the two politicians," or "the politicians" or even just "the two"?
How do you react when faced with stress in the workplace? Do you take a step back to study the situation or do you charge full steam ahead? According to a new study, most female executives apparently retreat to analyze their options while their male counterparts charge right ahead and take charge. The study suggests that the approach women leaders take is detrimental to their career.
Beyonce's Mrs. Carter Show tour caused all sorts of feminist handwringing in February when it was announced that she would be titling after her married name. But after seeing the show, I can say that no amount of throwback visuals or wifey proclamations could change the fact that even if girls don't run the actual world, they sure do run the Mrs. Carter tour. So while some might see the use of "Mrs." as regressive, Beyonce is just saying that yes, she is married and no, she doesn't feel the need to overcompensate about it because she's in a relationship of equals and doesn't see the superficiality of a married name undermining the reality of her life.
The startling realization of "Work With Me: The 8 Blind Spots Between Men and Women" suggests that despite all of our progress, men and women still do not know how to act around each other. Can we reduce the lack of advancement of women in the workplace to a colossal case of misunderstanding? Perhaps.
International Women's Day is all about pausing to reflect on our achievements in the long-standing effort to create equality between men and women. For over a decade, Beyonce has been singing about girls and women being independent. However, when I found out last month that the megastar and girl power proponent was calling her tour the 'Mrs. Carter Show' I thought I was going to short circuit.
Progress for the world's women has proceeded in fits and starts in the past century, but 2012 saw some clear advancement on numerous fronts and in diverse locations. But while global advancements on gender issues were escalating, at home, in Canada, the record remains decidedly mixed. Canadian women are presently losing ground on everything from pay equity to childcare, from poverty to homelessness. Canadians must come to terms with the irony of witnessing the advancements of women's rights on a global scale while at the same time dealing with the reality that this country has been steadily declining in international rankings of gender disparity.
A spokesman for the Ontario Human Rights Commission has finally admitted what was obvious to any thinking person from the very inception of the Human Rights Code: namely, that the code would eventually start generating numerous problems over so-called "conflicting rights." The admission can be found in this Toronto Star article: "Woman denied haircut goes to Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario."
An article published in Scientific American this week demystified a commonly held colloquialism -- Rachel and Ross knew it, Monica and Chandler certainly knew it: men and women can't be "just Friends." Nomenclature aside, men carry certain chromosomal differences from women. It's why our balls drop and our voices get deeper. It's not why we get to be douchebags and blame Darwin for our douchebaggery.
It's been called the Games for everybody. But, this is not true. Women are not equal to men in the Olympics, and it needs to be fixed. It can't be lied about, or glorified for what it isn't. The Olympics are not equal, and to insist they are is insulting to equality and women. We've made strides, but not enough. If it's only a good start, then it should only be reported as a good start.
When people around me learn of my profession in pornography, they immediately start asking morbid questions. I'm used to this: Society has always tried to control our sexuality. But I'm not so much concerned with society. I'm more concerned with what I'll say when my daughters ask: "Mommy, what is your job?"