Unless you have been living under a rock, in a coma or seeking seclusion in a Tibetan monastery, you are well aware of the political and cultural climate for women. It is 2018 and although we have made monumental strides towards equality, I am afraid, as of late, we have hit a plateau and in some arenas, we are facing stepping backwards. I listen to my daughter, who at 21 years of age is well in the middle of this mix. I hear her concerns, her fears, her hopes, her dreams. I raised her to be fair, to be kind, to stand up for what is right and to stand up for herself. I wanted to raise her the way I was raised. You see, I was fortunate to be raised by a loving and supportive mother and father. I was especially fortunate to be raised by a father who treated me as his child, not his daughter. It wasn’t until I went to school that I realized the differences between girls and boys. …don’t get me wrong, I knew about our biological differences, that only girls could get pregnant and carry a baby and that boys could pee standing up. Other than that, I thought we were the same, equal. I could double dutch like the best of them and could throw a perfect spiral. I could pretend I was a princess while wearing a pretty dress and imagine I was Babe Ruth whenever I was up to bat.
…before anyone gets on the soap box, I know all too well that girls and women are not the only people dealing with discrimination and adversity. Today’s tale is a focus on women and girls. I promise you, others will get their turn.
It wasn’t until I was 10 years old that I realized I would have to fight to prove I was just as good as a boy. We moved to Winnipeg, I was in grade 5 and my first day at the new school we had gym class. The teacher, a man, told the class it was calisthenics day and to start with push ups. So, I got down, assumed the position and began. The teacher came up to me, said “Oh no, you have to do your push ups like a girl.”. I had no idea what he was talking about. “Like a girl?” I asked. He said “Yes. Like a girl. Bend your knees, like the other girls.”. I looked around and they all bent their knees instead of being in a plank position. I looked at him and said “I’ve never seen that before. I don’t know how to do that. I’m doing it my way.”. To which he responded “Like a boy? Hmmm.”. When spring rolled around, it was time for baseball, my favorite sport at the time. I got up to plate and he placed a t-ball stand in front of me. I asked “What’s that for?”. He told me “Girls are afraid of the ball and can’t hit a pitch.”. I kicked the stand over, looked the him in the eye, and told the pitcher “Pitch it!”. …this is how I know there is a god, I hit that ball out of the park on my first swing. I thanked Jesus all the way around the bases.
Fast forward to high school. In Winnipeg, I was in french immersion for 3 years, so when we moved back to Ontario, I was a little lost in science. I had learned the basics in french. I asked my science teacher, another man, to clarify if I had the theory correct. As I was trying to explain I had learned it in french and wanted to make sure I had it right, I was told “Don’t worry so much. You only need one science credit. Pretty girls don’t need science.”. I was also told by a male teacher in grade 11 that “most girls get bored with computers” when I was getting lost in computer programming, a course I chose as an elective because I thought it was cool when my dad and I programmed our commodore vic 20 when I was 11.
In my sales career, spanning 25 years, men have told me;
- I ask too many questions and if I can’t answer a customer’s question, just get one of the guys. – while selling cars
- I should smile more
- I get too emotional – when a fellow sales person scooped my deal and my commissions and I dared to stand up for myself. I had an appointment booked and the customer was under my name in the system, until the rat changed it.
- “Wow! You have brains with your beauty”.
- “Better ask your husband if it’s okay that you have to work late”
- I wear too much makeup
- I need to wear more makeup
- I wear too much jewelry
- I need to wear more jewelry
- I am better being the face of the business, not to worry so much about what goes on behind the scenes.
Thanks to my stubborn nature, my need to fight for the underdog, my father raising me that I could do anything anyone else could do, my darling hubby who always has my back and a few good men that stood out from the crowd and fought for me and with me, I never let those remarks define me. Oh they stung and pissed me off to no end. I refused to let them define me. Then and now.
It’s 2018 and the fact that girls and women still hear these phrases (and worse) disgust me. Plain and Simple. Here’s the deal. In my book, you are either a good person or an ass. You either use your words to lift others up or to push them down. You are either kind, or you’re not. I don’t care if you are a man or a woman. I don’t care the color of your skin or if you believe in Christ, Buddha or the smurfs. Treat others as you want to be treated. Plain and simple.