Saturday, May 14, 2016

Dear Sophie

There is a letter circulating Facebook today criticizing the honest struggles of our PM's wife, which I thought proved feminism is not as prevalent as it should be in the women in this country. This morning I was mad. I was so mad I couldn't even formulate an argument against people mindlessly sharing the post. I resorted to some passive aggressive sarcasm (I know, shocking) and then moved on with my life for a while. But tonight, as I dug in for some battles, I'm happy to see more comments challenging the judgmental tone of that letter than agreements with it, and I'm happy to see more women in my life sharing articles like this one than resharing that stupid letter. Normally I would find situations like this disheartening and fear the worst in those around me, but I have seen a lot of women rally around Sophie and state for the record how they find that kind of "competitive mom-ing" judgement completely offside. Maybe it's just that I've surrounded myself with like-minded, open-minded, progressive and strong women. This isn't about political leanings, this is about how women treat each other and the never ending competition and fakery on social media. This woman's comment on the letter really resonated with me and I want to share her voice.

Dear Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau ,
I don't know what it's like to be you. I don't know what it's like to have three children under the age of eight. I don't know what it's like to be the wife of the Prime Minister and represent Canada on the world stage. I don't know what it's like to be a spokesperson for multiple charities, and I certainly don't know what it's like to have everything I say, wear, or do splashed all over the media for people to critique.
I do know what it's like to be a wife and a mother, and I know that society seems to have an issue when a woman asks for help. Women are supposed to be superheroes. We're supposed to do it all and we're supposed to smile and make it look easy. We're supposed to be perfect mothers, wives, friends, employees and citizens, and we're not supposed to admit that we can't do it without a little help.
As a woman, I support you. You are the wife of our Prime Minister, and no one who hasn't been in your position knows exactly what that entails. Your life is unlike anyone else's in the country and it can't be compared to the 'average Canadian woman'. No one else walks in your shoes or lives your life, and no one knows what you do when you're not in public.
People are losing their minds over the fact that you have nannies. The thing they seem to conveniently forget is that a lot of families have nannies. Nannies are there to provide love and care for children when their parents can't, for whatever reason that might be. Your children are being cared for by their parents and by their nannies, and to me, that's what's important. Your children having stability in an unstable world is what's important, not the petty 'I don't have what you have so you shouldn't have it either' mentality that is all too common.
The same goes for your request for another assistant. You are not only representing Canada with every function or event that you attend, you are also representing the many charities that are lucky to have your voice. You also do this without payment. People are saying you don't have a job, you don't work, but they're wrong. You work every day, you just don't draw a salary for the work you do. Your work might not be paid, but it's invaluable to those it helps.
In today's online world it's very easy to sit behind a keyboard, read a story or meme and voice our opinions. It's extremely easy to be cruel and untruthful when commenting on other people's lives, and it's becoming normal. We live in an age where we want our kids to stop bullying. We want our children to never know the sting of being picked on, but as adults we sit around and use our computers to bash, critique and lie about people we don't know because we feel entitled to say whatever we want.
I don't know what it's like to be you, and because of this I support you. I know there are others like me out there, but the loudest voices in any conversation are always the angry ones.

Sincerely, A Canadian woman( written by Amanda Brennan, Greenwood Nova Scotia )

Thanks, Amanda, for even partially restoring my faith in women in this country.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Men Can Have Opinions Too

Years ago, I hesitated to define myself as a feminist, for there is a sect of feminism giving us all a bad name.  More recently, however, I have refused to let that stop me.  There's always going to be someone out there, ruining things for everyone.  Whether it's coworkers out and about, giving your profession a bad name, or members of one's religion, stirring the pot and sullying the otherwise good name of Christians.  This is the unfortunate something I've come to accept with feminism and I have embraced what I am.

This past weekend, I became embroiled in another one of my classic Facebook comment battles.  And since I'm having a hard time getting over it, I'm laying it out here to get it off my mind.

It was the strangest topic for me to participate in, given my childless state, but apparently Jamie Oliver made a general comment about breastfeeding. (tl;dr: Breastfeeding is mostly free, also generally easy and convenient and more people should do it.)  Scary Mommy picked this up and ran screaming into the night, with their pitchforks, rallying the angry mothers around their battle cry, "MANSPLAINING"!  How dare he tell us how to raise our children?  How dare he shame people who have difficulty bf'ng (which apparently means breastfeeding, and is not a verb having to do with your boyfriend)?!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but to me, it seems like carrying around bottles and formula is far LESS easy and INconvenient than if I could breastfeed successfully a hypothetical newborn.  No?  Ok, let's hear from Adele:

Adele got on board with this rage and added her own comment back, (tl;dr: Go fuck yourself, Jamie Oliver) and OF COURSE everyone agrees with Adele.  Because even though she's super whatev, no one seems to have realized that yet and her opinion on all things still matters.

Cue the angry mommy commenters:

So Ashley is agreeing with him that it is easy and convenient, but then hating him because he is a man.  And Wendy: Pretty sure no one is bullying you.  Not yet, anyway...

Now, what's troubling here isn't the sheer volume of unsexy nipple discussion, although I could do without most of that.  What's really upsetting is the number of comments I could readily find where women were not only dismissing Jamie's opinion simply because of his GENDER, but went so far as to say that no man should dare even having an opinion on any female-relevant topic.

Now, fun fact, Jamie Oliver is father to FOUR children, and they would quickly dismiss him for his thoughts on breastfeeding.  Meanwhile, I can post a million opinions on it, and I have NO children but I am female so they are legitimate opinions.  Something is wrong here.

Does this mean your doctor, if he is male, should not give his opinion on birth control, abortion, child bearing, breastfeeding, menstruation issues, etc etc?  Is this really what people think?  Parenting advice from fathers who have helped and supported their wives through early years of raising children do not have useful opinions on such topics?  Beyond that, is no one allowed to speak GENERALLY anymore??  Why must everything be taken so personally?  Sorry you couldn't breastfeed successfully, random internet mother, I'm sure Jamie Oliver was not trying to SHAME you for it.  But still, this simple comment from a public figure has caused all these keyboard warriors to trap themselves in an echo chamber of offended whining, while they all validate each other's hostility and scheme how to take down such an evil man as Jamie Oliver.

The point of this post isn't really breastfeeding, it's the constant chatter on social media, disallowing people from having an opinion on a topic.  People can have an opinion on whatever they want.  You don't have to agree with it, or take it into account in your everyday life.  You don't even have to find it relevant or useful.  I'm not even saying all opinions should be weighed on equal ground: some people are ignorant and uninformed, and their opinions don't matter to me.  I try not to pay attention to them.  Yes, it's frustrating when people spread misinformation, and those people are assholes.  And today, Jamie Oliver isn't one of them.  But under no circumstances should we be rallying around in groups advocating to block people from the right to an opinion at all.  That is very dangerous ground to be walking on.

And this is where I feel like a true feminist:

Take this debate, change the topic, and tell women they have no right to an opinion on it?  That is clearly wrong and everyone would agree.  Why do Scary Mommies get to have it the other way around?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Brad Wall

Today at work, I rushed to catch an elevator.  I succeeded, and entered an elevator full of visitors to the hospital.  Just as the doors closed, a lady in the back said, "The last person on the elevator must tell a joke."

I froze.  I racked my brain, trying to think of a(n) [appropriate] joke for the elevator full of people, ranging in ages from about 20-70.  At a total loss for anything clever to say, I just blurted out, "Brad Wall."

After a short pause, the entire elevator burst out laughing.  All but one guy (the oldest one).  He did not think I was funny at all, and he just quietly said, "I love that man."

At that moment the doors opened and I hustled out of there as fast as possible.

I thought it was funny.