Council of Women

Niece the eldest was at dinner on Sunday night, and she was talking about her Human Geography class, and more specifically she was talking about Christy Clark’s Council of Women.

Which the class had agreed was unfair unless there was a council of men.

:: blink ::

There are so many places I could start with this and if I’m honest, I wanted to take her into my kitchen and shake her until her teeth rattled.

I thought about starting with an obvious point – telling her that there are already council’s of men, they are every Board of Directors (where men will make up 86% of a corporate board of directors), they are every C level suite at a major company (where men will make up 70% of executive), they are our government (where men make up 75% of our Member’s of Parliament).

I thought about telling her about the times in IT, where I am the only woman at the table. And as good as the men I work with are (and I work with a lot of the good guys), I still have to tell them that there I don’t want to hear about blow jobs or their wives, and I still have to fight to make them believe I’m not dumb, and that they should listen to me.

I thought about how I tell her that all of these years into my career, if we are in a situation where someone needs to scribe, I never, ever volunteer, because I’m a woman and people will assume that I’m the secretary.

I wondered if she would get that I don’t tell clients or work colleagues that I live with Mr. California, because someone, somewhere would assume that I’m sleeping with him, and they would wink and nudge his arm, and it would destroy my career because I would be a slut.

I have to be just a little bit tougher than the guys. But not too tough, because then I’m a  ball busting bitch who hates men. And if I have a bad day, it’s because I’m hormonal, not because I’m tired and you aren’t listening to me.

She lives in the safer environment of a university, and that’s what she should do. University is the place to try out new thoughts and ideas. University is a place filled with experiments and concepts. She’s 19, if she isn’t young and determined to make a better world, heaven help us all: at the end of the day, I’m tired and my feet are killing me, and I just want to collapse on a couch somewhere and eat cheese, and if she doesn’t save us, we are in deep trouble.

More than that, I believe she can and will effect change. I believe the world is changing, and she will be the vanguard. The world my mother worked in is not the world I work in, and the world she worked in won’t be the world I do.

And maybe that world will be more gender blind. Only more. Not totally.

If you are still with me, I finally hearkened back to my poli sci days and talked about collective vs. individual rights. I talked about histories of systematic oppression, and pointed out that in our neighbour to the south, there was some discussion about whether or not she had the legitimate right to control her body.

Women are more equal than we ever have been, but the statistics I started off with, my own experiences tell me we aren’t there yet.

And I asked her, given this, how did a council of men make things more fair for anyone?


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3 Responses to Council of Women

  1. loribeth says:

    *slaps forehead* Oy vey.

    Well said, Mrs. Spit. I’m all for youthful optimism & idealism — but I’m afraid she is in for a rude awakening when she enters the “real world.” No, we’re not there yet. We’ve made great progress, and the sexism is perhaps not as overt as it once was, but we’ve still got a long way to go (nevermind fending off those who would love to see us return to the days of Mad Men & Leave it to Beaver).

    The young girls in my office couldn’t believe it when I told them I was taken aside during my first few weeks at work & told that “we (women) don’t wear pants here, dear.” (I didn’t believe it at the time either… after all, it was 1986, not 1956.)

  2. Needles says:

    The thing is it isn’t just the women who suffer from sexist behaviour. Witness many women’s reaction to Movember being over last year and comments that they found it ‘skeevy’ and a lot of other assorted unpleasant things, things which if applied to women, or been expected of a woman by a man, they would have considered heinous. Or how most people would look askance at a man who stayed at home while his wife worked outside the home (which is not to say that he may or may not work from his home, it is the mere act of staying at home which would be attended to.)

    I’m not saying there are not problems, but I am saying that we have a little tending to do in our own opinions as well.

    I suspect it is part of the human condition, that we will never fully understand some things about the other sex or be able to penetrate the truth of it all. We would have to morph into one for a while to really know.

    PS I am much encouraged by womens’ reactions to Movember this year. The wearing of a mustache was such a great idea.

  3. a says:

    I’m all for fairness, sure. But if you’re not taking into account why a Council for Women would be necessary, you’re ignoring the history that you are then doomed to repeat (or however that saying goes). Good thing for Niece she has you to give her a realistic perspective on how far things have come and how far they have yet to go.

    (I have worked in very sheltered environments (as far as gender equality goes) since I got out of college 20 years ago, but it’s still pretty easy to see that my fields (chemistry and forensic science) overall have been male-dominated. All I have to do is attend one professional meeting.)

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