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The Status of Women in 2012?

While I have been pre-occupied with the state of my health. Another fight has been taking place on Twitter. Perhaps fight is not the right word. I’m thinking “joust”. My sweet but fiery friend @amirghtfolks took on some rather Neanderthal members of the gamer community. Not that I want to pillory the gamer community. This sort of bully seems to exist in many communities. Lurking somewhere near the surface and emerging in a blaze of childish insults, threats, and word twist games every so often. Just to remind us ladies, that no matter how far we come as equal members of an equal society.  We ought to remember our place, and be grateful they let us think we’re equal so long as we never forget that place.

I’m a chef. I’ve been at this for a long time. When I started there weren’t that many females in professional kitchens. I have a repertoire of funny stories I will often tell to illustrate the battle. When I share them we all laugh, and wasn’t that awful and on we go. Truth is it was not a time I would ever like any other young woman to live through.

The women of that time of new independence and limitless opportunity were often humiliated and expected to laugh along with the assholes, hell-bent on making us into jokes, before chasing us back home where we belonged. It was OK to be a salad prep but know your place woman. We dug our heels in and made it clear we were staying. We loved what we did and I still do. We saw no reason why we shouldn’t stay, and we said so.

We mostly had to surrender our femininity at the door. Cuss and spit like one of the boys, drink them under the table. Oh, and laugh at their jokes. You would then begrudgingly be accepted into the club. I was good at that game back in the day. I’m not sure why I was so willing to play that role except that I knew I belonged there. Like so many women in so many careers, it felt right. Since time long past, women have found a way to be who they knew they should be. Examples abound of women in history becoming what they were told they could not be. The Momma Bear instinct runs deep & doesn’t always mean kids so much as being driven to be what we know we must be.

That was a different time. More than thirty years ago. Gloria Steinham et al told us we deserved to be judged equal. We were fresh faced young women demanding our rightful place in the social structure and it seemed like we were getting it. Our little sisters were being told that they could be anything they wanted. No door could be closed in their faces. It was all free love and rock and roll and recreational drugs. We worked hard as hell and partied like idiots. The sides of that road were littered with the bodies of the fallen. We women were achieving something real. Our choices were more than enhanced by our fight for reproductive rights. We could suddenly decide how and when and even whether we would be the “little women” men said we should be.

I have often mused that women today do not have a different role because of the battle we thought we fought and won, but more because the economy made it necessary to let us in. If you are lucky enough to be a stay at home Mom, you are more often than not partnered with a spouse in a high paying job. I say lucky, not because I think that means you get to be free from the work force but because it means you don’t have to do 2 full-time jobs. We won the right to work alongside them in the work force but they still didn’t seem to think they should assist in the home.

I know that many who might read this will bridle at these comments because the folks I interface with most tend to be enlightened. The guys appreciate the role of partner as a term that implies equality in its most literal definition. They take a very active role in their children’s lives. They wash dishes and vacuum and change diapers without a single thought that it’s somehow undignified to do “women’s work”. So maybe someone can tell me how this goofball gamer got the idea that it was cool to create a game that involved punching a woman in the head. Complete with bruises and flying blood spatter. Why is it that all these years later woman continue to have to fear violence. Now, apparently, we have to fear virtual violence too!

Abuse of women continues to be a serious problem in our society. This week we all  breathed a sigh of relief when police finally made an arrest in the York University area where attacks on women had seemed to reach epidemic proportions. Relief was short-lived when a woman in that area awoke to find an intruder in her bedroom in the early hours of the morning just a few days after the arrest. So just what the hell is going on. The religious right is fighting tooth and nail to repeal our rights to our bodies, and seemingly, gaining ground . We find we still, after 50 years of fighting, are paid significantly less than our male counterparts in the same positions. An, apparently, young man finds humour in attacking women online, and indignantly justifies it as his version of equality!

Much has been said about what caused this attack, who the specific woman targeted was, and why her innocuous actions angered a sub group of the gamer community. My fiery friend Stephanie, justifiably, initiated a Twitter “pile on”. The outrage went viral, the young man found himself on the front page of his local newspaper, and Steph has been under attack ever since, right up to and including a death threat, for heaven’s sake. I don’t think it matters who the woman initially targeted was or even why she  was targeted. I don’t think it matters who the young man is. As much as I love Stephanie, I don’t even think it matters who the young woman who fought back is.

What matters to me, is that in this day and age, with the world in economic and political chaos. With governments trampling our rights into the ground a hundred years and more after we fought so hard to win them.  With the need for us as right thinking free citizens of the world to band together and remind these so-called leaders that they are only where they are because we put them there. We remain a divided society where too many men still think it’s OK to laugh at tasteless jokes made at our expense, stare at our bodies like hungry jackals, and commit violent acts, both physical and mental, real and virtual against us. Safe in the knowledge that far to often no one will call them on it. They get away with this behavior far too often and it has gone on for far too long. The boys club is still way to active.

No one has the right to tell me what I can or cannot do with, or to my body. In this insane modern world there is very little we can call our own. If we can’t even have faith in our bodies, what’s left? How hard is it for a few young men to recognize the right of anyone, male or female, to their own opinions. Is it really necessary in 2012 to tell some fool that it isn’t cool to perpetuate violence on a women? Hell, it’s not right to do it to anyone. Ever. Period.

I am not a religious person. But I believe that whoever actually said “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” had the right idea. No one passes judgement on a woman more effectively than another woman. Those boys learn their attitudes at the feet of their Moms. They’re either taught a sense of entitlement by their Mothers or their Fathers teach them they need not have any respect for their Mothers. Either way it is woman doing a disservice to women. We MUST give and demand respect. We must all recognize we stand beside not behind our men.

There’s no point to the non stop back and forth with these moron’s. They will never get it. Not because they can’t, because they won’t. There is nothing so determined as one who KNOWS they are right. It is more important that we as woman learn to demand to be treated with respect. As long as we have girls still getting pregnant to keep their boyfriends, and women who fall so easily into victim mind sets, and women who can’t bring themselves to report assault, and women who look down their noses at the women who fall into these categories. We lose. We all lose. If we want things to change we must start by being kind to each other. Just kind. How hard is that?

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