Archive for July 25th, 2014

We’ve come a long way baby!

That is what was going through my mind, sitting at a football game … while two (very young … maybe 20 years) of the cheerleaders were walking up the stairs peddling their calendar (not one of the football team, but one of the cheerleaders).

We’ve come a long way baby!

That line, a selling tag to women, for Virginia Slims cigarettes, in the 1970’s, still hangs on in our society. But, more frequently it has been used in reference to how far the rights and freedoms of women have come since before the feminist revolt in the days of Gloria Steinem.

So, how far have we come … baby?

Well, in Canada, women were allowed to vote, in 1918/1919 (except in Quebec, where it wasn’t until 1940!).

And AFTER that, on October 18, 1929, women were declared to be (legally) ‘persons’. Hey, at least those women from Quebec, who could not yet vote, were considered non-voting ‘people’.

In 1960 women in Canada had full rights to run in any election.

In 1928, women are given permission to compete in Olympic games.

In 1955 the Canadian army and navy began recruiting women.

In 1974,the first female RCMP recruits were accepted.

In 1977 the Human Rights Act promised “equal pay for work of equal value”.

In 1985, women cannot be discriminated upon in the right to divorce or child custody.

In 1992, Canada sent it’s first female astronaut into space.

In 1993, Canada had it’s first female Prime Minister (for less than five months).

Wow! We really have come a long way! And what I included was only pertaining to Canada, and only a few of the many advances in the rights of women.

Oh, but I forgot a couple …

In 1923, the first woman to sit on the ‘floor’ of any Canadian parliament (the New Brunswick legislature) was also the winner of the first ‘Miss Canadapageant.

In 1915, the highest paid woman in the WORLD was, Canadian, Mary Pickford (at $4000/week … 96 years ago … I am in the wrong field).

Hum … so Miss Canada, a pageant winner (her achievements then, I might presume, were her beauty, her body, and her charm) was the first woman to sit on the floor of any Canadian parliament … what exactly qualified her over … say, a woman with interest in the running of a province or country?

And Ms. Pickford (her successes were as a silent actress and she is most noted as a ‘pin-up girl’ of WW1 …), an actress made more money, 96 years ago, than many hard working people make today!

Sounds like, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Or maybe it’s one step forward, two steps back?

I recognize that with freedoms, comes choice. And I recognize that my choices are not necessarily the choices of others. But, seriously … please do not call ‘post-teenage’ girls ‘dancers’ simply because they are moving together, in sync with the music. When they are wearing the equivalent of a string bikini, what they are doing is not dancing, but ‘entertaining’. And the entertaining they are performing, is usually (thankfully) reserved for seedy bars, clubs and motels.

And worse, was watching the men watching them. I recognize that the visual interest that was provided only naturally makes for opportunity for men to view … that is natural. But when men my dad’s age (65+) are looking at young women (my daughter’s ages) in a predatory way … that is NOT natural … that is ugly! And why is it okay when men, in their twenties and thirties are watching, pointing, whistling and gesturing to those scantily clad girls on the field, and it is okay, but, in their workplace, in their schools and universities, and on the streets, they could be arrested for their actions?

Oh wait, it is even worse than that … I was sitting beside my, young teenage son! My desire was to share a football game with him … not have him view an example of what I have, and will continue to teach my one and only son … that women are not objects, to be used, but treasures to be treated with honor and respect and dignity.

I left that football game, wondering so much. I wondered what thoughts were going home with the men in the crowd … thoughts of the game, and the exciting last five minutes, or other thoughts? I wondered what those young ladies, who could be my daughter, thought of themselves, when they were alone with their thoughts? I wondered what their dads and brothers (and moms) thought, when they came to see a game?

“We haven’t come a long way, we’ve come a short way.

If we hadn’t come a short way,

no one would be calling us ‘baby’.”

Elizabeth Janeway (American social critic)


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