Wednesday, July 12, 2006

FEMINISM AND THE '20-somthings

I did blog about Kathy Reich's book CROSS BONES, but it seems to have been lost in the ether, so I'm sorry to have been so long between posts. Summer, with it's blue-bowled skies over the prairies has been a siren call to us, whenever the heat hasn't been 33 degrees. Then the kids and I stay in with movies and the window air conditioner blowing full blast. I just dropped off our golden retriever to get shaved down so she doesn't suffer so much in the heat.

I read a very good article in CHATELAINE magazine by a 22yr old university student about being a feminist, how it affects her girlfriends ("I'm not a feminist but..."), and how she was smart enough to dump a loutish boyfriend who guffawed at her and her friends discussing "women's studies" as the best class they took that semester. He batted her on the behind, called her "wench" and told her to go get him a beer. At least the girl has a sense of self-esteem, never mind being a feminist.

So, why do so many women of all ages, go around saying "I'm not a feminist but..."? She's right; we didn't even get the vote till after the First WW, weren't recognized as persons till (I think - this wasn't in her article) sometime in the Depression, still weren't making a living wage even when we all went to work in factories in the Second WW, weren't on TV as anchors till Diane Sawyer and that's within my living memory when I went to college hoping to break into television in 1977 - told I wasn't good looking enough because I wore glasses - that was Greek for I wouldn't sleep with the Producer who was interviewing, I kid you not, it was 1977 after all and before sexual harrassment was a big thing. When I finally got "a job in TV" I was hired in the Film Department for $7500.00 per year and basically ran the department AND the Newsrooms cameraman/reporter schedule - when I left two years later after complaining of sexual harrassment I was making $8300.00 and got one months wages as a severance. Because this idiot wouldn't leave me alone.

I'd say feminism has brought us a long, long, way from suffragettes, and 1997. If I had a boss who tried that with me now, I'd end up with a nice, fat, settlement. I knew an OPP cop who did, and she went back to work until she got pregnant, took her maternity leave, came back just long enough to rack up the time to get pregnant again, took her maternity leave, and then got out. She told me, "All the joy of police work was lost once he did that too me, and I had to fight so hard for my settlement. So, I just used the system to my advantage. If they didn't like it that I got desk duty for all that time, too bad."

Aside from my basic interest in police work, I swore I'd never earn $8300.00 a year again. I did government work that took me up to $23,000.00 a year but I hit a ceiling when I wasn't bilingual, which in Canada means you have to be French and speak passable English. If you're English and can speak passable French, fuggadaboutit. My sisters were married and had a bright future with double incomes and I wanted a bright future too. Feminism got me that, in an environment where they had to pay me the exact same wages for the exact same job, much as the other cops might not like it.

And it's the "old pioneers" like me and Diane Sawyer who paved the way for the proliferation of female news reporters/anchorwomen on TV, and the 50 policewomen back on my hometown force, when I was the only one in 1984/85 till they hired a second one.

Bravo for that 22 yrs old girl who already knows that a political mind-set, ambition, and willpower will take you a long way in life. Self-actualization is a goal to be reached and some of us never get there. Feminism isn't a bad thing - it doesn't make you a bra-burning, card-carrying lesbian. (unless you already are one, and then, that's ok). It means you're a woman who can take care of herself, believes in herself, can protect herself from scavengers and predators of the male species, and contributes all that's beautiful about being a woman to the world around her.

And doesn't that sound like the heroines we're all trying to write about?


Bailey Stewart said...

I think the problem is the old stereotype of a feminist. The term needs to be updated. It's great that you were able to open up some doors.

Your links look right now.

Bailey Stewart said...

Oh wait, I just took another look - they're fine at first and then space apart. Weirdness. I don't know what's going on.