In a comment on yesterday’s post, Iwona wrote, “The timing of this post is uncanny given the resurgence of news about the RCMP’s class action lawsuits and the release of the special report by former Justice Bastarache on the long standing “mysoginistic, racist and homophobic attitudes” within the RCMP. Equal rights. Equal voice. Equal opportunity. Maybe one day, maybe.”
I wish it were just the RCMP where such attitudes and behaviour persisted.
It happens everywhere. Not always to such a blatant degree as the report found in the RCMP, but throughout our world. As Justice Bastarache says, “The problem is systemic in nature and cannot be corrected solely by punishing a few ‘bad apples.’
We must Rise Up. Speak Out. Act Now.
Many years ago, I worked as a stockbroker. (I know. Seriously? Me?) I only lasted 4 years in the business.
In part, because I was good at longterm portfolio planning. Terrible at day-to-day trading, the bread and butter of the trade.
And also, because I grew weary of the misogynistic attitudes many of the predominately male brokers held, particularly those of ‘the older generation’. Like my VP at the first firm I worked at. He offered to share his ‘book’ with me (a book is a list of client names and contact info – gold to a broker) if I had sex with him. “I can make your life easy. Or make you wish you never set foot in this office,” he tsaid. He went on to inform me that whether I accepted his offer or turned him down, if I told anyone, no one would believe me – “I’m a VP. I make this firm a lot of money,” he said. “You’d just be some little chick looking to either sleep her way to the top or stick it to ‘the man’.”
I stayed silent and left the firm. It felt like my only recourse.
A few years later I was working for a technology company as their Director of Marketing. A counterpart in the US office kept making sexual innuendoes on the phone. My response was to laugh and pretend I didn’t get ‘the message’. I treated it as a joke. Until one night, while we were at a conference together in Dallas, we happened to be the only two people in the elevator at the end of the day. The elevator stopped at his floor first. The doors opened, he turned to me and asked, “So? You coming with me?” And once again, I laughed it off. He turned and walked away. The doors closed and I thought that was the end of it.
He didn’t agree.
The next day, where once he treated me like the golden child of marketing, suddenly, everything I did was crap. And he made no bones about telling everyone how incompetent I was.
Even the president of the company noticed. In a meeting one day he asked me what was up. I told him the truth. His first response was one of disbelief. “You sure he wasn’t just kidding?” Eventually, he shrugged it off as ‘boys will be boys.’ The solution – say nothing. Pretend like it didn’t happen.
I am not alone as the Me Too movement and others so clearly illuminate.
In my response to Iwona, I wrote,
“I get so tired of what some days feels like ‘same old, same old’ misogynistic, racist, homophobic practices all packaged up in some worn-out patriarchal suit.
To raise myself up, to find my balance and calm my pounding heart down, I must write and paint it out. It is there, in the creative field that courage draws me out to face my fear that these ‘things’ will never change.
And they will if we continue to speak up, act out, and raise our voices above the fray so that those who have been bullied into silence can find their voices again.”
May’s Woman is the reminder I need – Silence is the adversary of change.
Silence allows disbelief and make-believe to overcome truth and reality.
To change the world, to make a difference, we must speak out against the practices, policies, social mores and discriminatory laws that disenfranchise, minimize and segregate people into ‘haves and have nots’, ‘worthy and not-worthy’ of being treated as human beings worthy of dignity, respect, kindness, fairness, equality and justice.
It is just one century-in-time since most women were enfranchised in Canada (Asian Canadians and Indigenous Peoples had to wait a few more decades.)
The roots of patriarchy that kept us ‘in our place’ run centuries deep.
We must keep digging them out with our hands, our feet, our bodies, our voices. We must keep working together and stand up tall for what is right, just and fair, again and again.
And we must not allow our silence to be heard as a vote of confidence for the voices who would tell us to not ‘worry our pretty little heads about the state of the world.”
It is those voices that have created the state of the world.
It is our voices united, calling out for justice, rising up in a song of freedom and equality for all, that will make the difference that will change it for the better and make a difference for everyone.