Friday, March 12, 2010

The F word


I don’t take any of it for granted. Ever. My equal rights under Canadian law.

Once upon a time, you see, I didn’t have them.

I didn’t have them in Ireland where I grew up. Upon leaving college I was one of several women hired for the very first time as an accountant in a national organization. Great, you say? Well, the work itself was great, I enjoyed it.

Thing was, I was paid on the ‘female’ scale of pay. Yes, you read that right, all you born in the last 40 years. The ‘female accountant’ wages were half that of men. Even then, working for those 50% wages I was criticized by some (mainly those of the female persuasion) for taking the job over a deserving man.

And another thing: most days I was subject to verbal sexual harassment and double entendres by a few of my more primitive (and usually married) male colleagues. And complaining to the (male) boss was treated jovially, mockingly and could be summarized by the following phrases: “You should be flattered” and “Suck it up”. Par for the course. And I wasn’t alone, as my friends in other workplaces were harassed also. We would try and come up with strategies to minimise it, knowing we could never eliminate it.

It took until 1982 to have equality of the sexes enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 1982!

And who fought for those rights taken by so many young women for granted today?

That dirty F word. Feminists.

Definition of feminist:

Someone, male or female, who believes in social, political and economic equality between the sexes.


A word that has been taken and smeared and re-formed into “militant” and “bra-burner” and “lesbian” and “man-hater” by the patriarchal media to terrify women into becoming their old submissive selves.

I, for one, believe we are all born equal: male, female, gay, straight, cross-gendered, trans-gendered, black or white and all those wonderful variations between,

And I never take equality for granted.

And I will protest peacefully for equality, yours and mine and ours, till my dying day for the job is far from over: look towards the third world, look to any country which has a powerful religious stranglehold on the government - (Hello, Ireland and U.S.A!)

And I will speak out when I see injustice, prejudice and inequality based on gender, race or sexual orientation.

Feminist? Hell, yeah!

30 comments:

  1. ... and would we (sic!) be humanists (sic), there would (probably) not be need of femininism.
    We would not need (struggle for) women's right, childrens' right and ...
    ah! In order to mind the other F word I stop here.
    Sorry about my rant? Ha, nah! I did not even start.
    Fully agreeing with you, by the way. :)
    The peace of the night.

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  2. Twain:
    We should sing it loud and sing it clear!
    XO
    WWW

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  3. Sean:
    It goes without saying I am a humanist and none of us should ever be treated as second-class citizens. We have a long way to go though and sometimes I do get discouraged!
    XO
    WWW

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  4. I, in my own modest little way, consider myself a feminist and a humanist too, of course, but we all need to be equal rights fighters first, much to my despair. There's so much work left to do, even in so called civilized countries where people get called 'wetbacks' for being hardworking illegals.

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  5. GSW:
    I so look forward to the day when we can all be just humanists getting each other's backs when needed.
    But I am forever grateful to the feminists who fought long and hard to get us the vote and equal pay for equal work and for women's shelters and the freedom to choose whatever kind of woman we wanted to be.
    XO
    WWW

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  6. Amen!
    I am acutely aware of how much I and my generation (and the ones which follow) owe to everyone (women and men) who fought, physically and mentally for the rights and freedoms that I currently enjoy.

    And whilst there is still a long way to go, it does say something that in the 'chain of command' in the NZ Ministry where I work, whilst my immediate manager is a man, the four people above him are all women, right up to the Minister in charge of the department. The glass ceiling may not have disappeared completely, but it does have large cracks in it!

    I just hope that we do not start to take these things for granted, and that we can keep on fighting for equality across the board; gender, race, religion, age, political persuasion and health.

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  7. As I said on my post yesterday: I believe we are all of equal value and should be shown the same level of respect. We each have our own talents and they all combine and contribute to the coat of many colours that is life.

    My reason for refusing to call myself a feminist is because of those women I encountered who used the term for the wrong reasons and actually do more harm to the cause.

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  8. I well remember those days when it was OK to pay women less just because they are women and for men be able to be able to say any smutty thing they wanted.without any consequence.
    We have moved far, thankfully.

    Nuts in May

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  9. Hear hear! Feminism has made great strides but still has a lot farther to go. There are still huge inequalities in terms of housework, work, salaries, sexual violence and all sorts of areas. The percentage of women MPs in the UK is so low it's behind Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. The cradle of democracy, huh?

    Grannymar, some people will always misuse the term feminist but that doesn't mean you shouldn't claim it!

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  10. i am proud to be a feminist. always have been, always will be.

    i remember when i worked at the duluth paper as the librarian. they were promoting me to copy editor and searching for a new librarian.

    the editor came into my office and said, "how's the search going?" and i said, "there's a guy downstairs right now, taking the test."

    and the editor said, "a guy? hmmm. i wonder what we'd have to do about the pay."

    i never forgot that.

    and the "guy" didn't get the job. they hired another woman, on teh cheap.

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  11. Jo:
    Your awareness is the gift in fighting any erosions in the freedoms women (and men) have fought for so long and hard. And attempted rollbacks are a constant threat, one only has to look at Roe vs Wade in the states and the child victims of rape in Ireland who are refused abortions.
    XO
    WWW

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  12. GM:
    Please don't throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. We need to honour the women who put their lives on the line just to get us the vote not to mention property rights and changing the inheritance laws in Ireland for starters!!I've known radicals in all walks of life not only feminism, I take what I need and leave the rest...
    XO
    WWW

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  13. Maggie:
    Where would we be without sexual harrassment laws?
    I am also grateful for the many enlightened men who proudly declare themselves feminists who cross my path, my ex-husband being one of them.
    XO
    WWW

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  14. Nick:
    Yes, we are only scratching the surface but I was greatly heartened to read of one of the few good things to come out of the Rwanda massacre and their resulting nearly all female government (men were massacred in the genocide). They immediately changed the sitting hours of parliament to accommodate child care needs. Another YEAH!
    XO
    WWW

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  15. Laurie:
    I can relate to all the 'clicks' we get as women when the evidence is right there in front of our noses we are being completely devalued. I was lucky in that my very first click was really, really early in my life when my father said, genuinely, sadly, that it was "unfortunate my brains were going to be wasted as I was a girl".
    One of my (feminist) brothers witnessed that and said that I should have had the education he had and he always felt bad about that.
    XO
    WWW

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  16. I remember those bad old days only too well, WWW. So you can imagine how I felt when, during my mature student days, I heard young women in tutorial sessions badmouthing feminism and swearing they wouldn't need all that "stuff" to succeed. Coming from young women who dressed like trollops and flirted outrageously with male profs, it made me want to scream. Any time I spoke up, warning them they'd learn when they got out into the working world, they just sneered at me, as a relic of the past. I often wonder how they fared in later years, whether they ever wised up or kept relying on their feminine wiles to get by.

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  17. I guess a lot of us of a certain age have such memories, and it is kind of annoying when younger women take their rights and freedoms for granted. It was not always thus! F***-Yes for the F-word.

    I used to have to swallow my anger a lot though because I was a single parent raising two boys, and it was a fine line between making them aware of discrimination without making them feel like I blamed them for it.

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  18. Tessa:
    Feminine wiles only last so long and one wonders why young women devalue themselves so much, perhaps the media has a huge influence?
    One only has to open a Cosmo or the 100s of such shallow mags.
    XO
    WWW

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  19. Annie:
    Yes, mothers (and fathers) of sons have a huge responsibility in making them more aware of their responsibilities as feminists and humanists.
    As long as discrimination of any kind exists we are not complete.
    XO
    WWW

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  20. [Suprpessing another F-word here, as I let vanish a comment in the somewhere ;) ]

    Hm, the thought I could have put my thoughts in a misunderstandable way, does not let sleep me.
    Thus, just to (hopefuly) make sure:

    Children, women and men are not equal.
    I am glad I am able to discriminate that a boy is no flower, a girl no tree, and a woman no man.
    There is no need of children's, women's or men's right.
    There's need of justice!

    And as long as there is no justice I'll raise my voice - be it for children, be it for women, ... or for men.
    The peace of the night. :)

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  21. Excellent post! And we still have a ways to go to true equality.

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  22. Good post, WWW - but then, they always are!

    I feel much like Grannymar about the F label, but I do agree with everything you've written.

    Labels always gather assumptions and stereotypes after being used for a decade or so. This is what puts me off any label or -ism.

    I've just finished a Howard Spring book (Fame is the Spur). He describes, in one part of it, in vivid detail the horrors experienced by sufragettes in England, when fighting for the right to vote. His writing had me in tears, and I'm certain his words came from talking to people with real-life experience.

    Count me in, WWW!

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  23. Knatolee:
    Far too much for my liking, sometimes I feel I've only scratched the surface, Canada is still way down in the list of developed countires in the matter of equal pay for equal work.
    XO
    WWW

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  24. T:
    I must read that book, I've made a note of it. I've like Howard Spring haven't read him in years.
    Yes, labels tend to box us too tightly but in the case of feminism, until we are all humanists it is the only place to start.
    XO
    WWW

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  25. Terrific post WWW. It's nice to have someone to maintain the rage with.

    I was refused a mortgage for my first house because I might get pregnant. I said, 'how is that possible? I'm not even married!' 'Ah but you might get married,' I was told. 'Well then my husband can pay the mortgage,' I replied. It didn't help.


    Eventually I got a mortgage from a building society whose board of directors included my then boss. This was in 1978.

    In Australia, women earn 82% of a male wage and have $3 in their superannuation fund for every $10 held by a man. We are paying for men to have a comfortable retirement while our own is spent in poverty. Nice.

    xxx

    Pants

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  26. You see Pants, the possession of ovaries hinders the ability to honour one's fiscal obligations.
    And it goes without saying, that a stale crust and gruel are standard fare for ovaried pensioners.
    XO
    WWW

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