OpEd

Feminism – the Other ‘F’ Word

I wasn’t going to touch the whole subject of feminism with a ten foot pole. However, after my last post I was called a ‘dumb feminist’. When I read this I laughed out loud! A few moments later I knew – I needed to say something. It was time I stood up and was counted…

To be abundantly clear I am NOT a feminist! I recently had a chat with a friend and asked him what he thought it meant to be a feminist. His take – it’s about equality between men and women. I buy that; more importantly I support that! But let’s call that what it is – equality. I would argue that in this day and age in a great and glorious free nation like Canada, the days of fighting for women’s rights are far behind us. Thanks to hard fought battles of the suffragettes in Canada and the US during the 1910s women finally obtained the right to vote and were recognized as persons under the law. To the women who faced hunger strikes, arrests, and stood in protests through the bitter cold winters I offer a deep and passionate ‘thank you’. These women fought so that today I can move through the world as an equal. They were warriors. No disrespect to Jennifer Lawrence (I love your acting) but writing a little letter about a pay gap in Hollywood hardly counts. The modern ‘feminists’ are messing around in a league in which they can never even hope to obtain membership!

Ever since I was 13 years old I’ve had a signed picture of The Right Honourable Baroness Margaret Thatcher in my workspace. Her life story has been one of the greatest inspirations of my life. A woman who spent a lifetime smashing through glass ceilings; she rose to the highest office in her nation to become one of the world’s most respected leaders. In her climb, she never angrily stomped her feet and cried about a lack of parity between herself and her male counterparts. She just worked hard, strategized and focussed on her mission. You see, women who accomplish the truly great things don’t spend their lives pontificating about getting someplace because (or in spite) of the fact that they are women. They just do it. And that’s what I call equality. In Canada and similar nations around the world no young girl born needs to slump her shoulders in defeat and say, “Well I guess I can’t do this because I’m ‘just’ a girl”. True, women, we are still checking off the boxes of ‘firsts’; that will keep happening for some time. Those moments will always be worth celebrating in the spirit of human achievement. We’ve come so far…  

We’ve come so far that I’m actually ashamed that my country still feels the need to have a special department in the federal government dedicated to women (where is the Minister for the Service of Men?), or more importantly that having a gender balanced federal cabinet even makes the news. Because it’s 2015? Because it’s 2015 (now 2016) I don’t want a woman to have a job just because she’s a woman. Positions should be held because an individual is the best person for the job. Imagine professionals and tradespeople are like the girders in a skyscraper. Each one responsible to do their part to maintain the strength and safety of the structure. Does any one of us want a girder selected for any other reason than it is the one necessary to achieve our objective?! I sure don’t. If we are truly seeking equality men CANNOT be told to take a backseat simply because they are men. That’s not equality. It’s nothing short of a revenge mission by a gender that is still harbouring a bitter grudge. It’s a waste of our time! Let’s get on with the business at hand – building a wealth of opportunities for our children in a safe and prosperous Canada! 

Part Two (where the other shoe drops) 

The elephant in the room. The big pink pregnant elephant in the room. Men and women are fundamentally not equal. I stand by everything I’ve said so far – in the realm of achievement men and women at present have the same access to the same tools to achieve the very same things. That’s where the parity ends and where my further loathing of the Feminist Archetype continues. See, along with the glories of 1960s and 1970s feminism a generation of women decided that rather that just working hard and being the best – they were going to burn their bras and scream from the rooftops, ‘We are women! Hear us roar’. And along with this movement and plaintive whine they alienated our brothers. And they robbed my generation of the culture of gentility; a time of gallant and chivalrous men. Here it comes – you’ve been warned some of what I’m about to say might make you shake your head in disdain. The gallant manners and behaviour of men have absolutely nothing to do with women being fragile or less capable creatures. It’s about survival – the survival of the species. ‘Women and children first’ isn’t about some antiquated view of inter-gender relations. Ultimately the survival of the human race is our collective goal. Whittled down to it’s most basic recipe that requires healthy sperm, ova and a woman with a healthy uterus. Please note the last ingredient. Whether we like it or not our medical community has not yet found a way to create an independent human life without a woman with a healthy uterus. (Despite what I understand to be copious efforts to grow a fetus sans womb) This means wipe out all the women you wipe out humanity. Wipe out all the men, in the women and children equation our species will carry on! So you see, fellas, gallant behaviour is just as much about you as it is about us. Putting the safety of women as part of your daily practice ensures that we ALL carry on.  

A while back, as I was racing through a day of appointments, I decided to pop in at Starbucks to replenish my energy stores. As I approached the man in front of me held open the door and said ‘after you’. I smiled inside and out and thanked him for his chivalry. As I’m a fairly social creature we ended up having a little chat while we waiting in the line to order. The summary of our exchange boiled down to this – ‘Treat your man like a hero and he’ll have a reason to be one.’ Ladies I’m looking at all of you now! For far too long we have made men the beasts of burden in this equation. Equality in achievement now rests on our collective shoulders – the suffragettes handed it to us nearly a century ago. We have to quit shrieking like silly harpies at men. Treat them with the same respect we expect. Revel in their heroics a little, it doesn’t make you less than. It helps to forge the relationships between the genders that will only make our species stronger. 

As I write this post I can’t help but ponder the millions of women around the world who do not yet enjoy the same gender parity as Canadian women. My heart grieves for those who do not have the freedoms I enjoy. As Canadians I urge us to train our efforts to nations and cultures where the war, for women’s freedom, is still being waged. And certainly let us never ever stand for this any trace of this insidious threat on our soil. 

  

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