I would like to thank a recent commenter here on DWR for the placement of a tidy swarm of bees squarely in my bonnet. The honour, of course, goes to Godless Cranium for this nugget of wisdom shared on a previous thread:
“And I’m not saying sexism doesn’t exist or doesn’t play a factor sometimes, but I don’t think it’s as pervasive as you think, and I certainly don’t think all men are oppressors like patriarchy theory demands we believe.”
Before you can say “not all men…” check that thread for my response, I have it covered – but I think such a clearly stated denouncement of the patriarchal nature of our society requires a response with a little more… hmm… vibrancy than just a text based reply.
As chance would have it, current political events in my dear home province of Alberta have served up a glorious(?) example of the sexist and patriarchal attitudes that continue to flourish in our society.
The political event that I refer to is the leadership race for the Alberta provincial Progressive Conservative party. As of November 8th, the women who were in the race have both dropped out citing extensive misogynistic threats and physical and social intimidation.
“The only two women vying for the leadership of Alberta’s PC Party have both dropped out of the race.
Sandra Jansen and Donna Kennedy-Glans — socially progressive voices within the party — both gave notice on Tuesday that they were withdrawing.
Jansen, the PC MLA for Calgary-Northwest, cited intimidation and harassment for her decision.”
“In all of that time, I have never before experienced harassment like that which occurred up to and including this past weekend in Red Deer.”
Hmm. What is going on in the upper political echelons of our political class?
“In the release Jansen said she has been harassed online and her social media feeds have been “filled with filth.” The final straw in Red Deer was when “insults were scrawled on my nomination forms.”
“Volunteers from another campaign chased me up and down the hall, attacking me for protecting women’s reproductive rights, and my team was jeered for supporting children’s rights to a safe school environment.”
Hey now, politics is a rough and tumble affair, one should expect to face slings and arrows – it is a part of the process. I mean male politicians get the same calibre of flak, right?
“Sandra should stay in the kitchen where she belongs.”
“What a traitorous bitch.”
“Now you have two blond bimbos in a party that is clueless.”
“Dumb broad, a good place for her to be is with the rest of the queers.”
Let’s listen to what she has to say about the harassment she, like other women, face every day.
“Jansen was highlighting an issue that is bigger than her experience, according to Nancy Peckford of Equal Voice Canada.
“The vast majority of elected women are encountering some sort of misogynistic behaviour, online bullying, or harassment on a fairly regular basis,” she said.
“I think what’s very disturbing for Equal Voice is the misogynistic and sexist undertones and explicit commentary that’s used to diminish women’s contributions to public life and also undermine the confidence and the leadership female elected officials are offering.”
The misogyny she is experiencing is systemic, it happens everywhere all the time. Watch as Ms. Jansen explains her motivations as to why she made her speech. It is a damning look at how patriarchal our society actually is.
“Other women have also spoken out about the sexism they encounter in public life, including Conservative MP Michelle Rempel.
“The everyday sexism I face involves confronting the ‘bitch’ epithet when I don’t automatically comply with someone’s request or capitulate on my position on an issue,” she wrote in a National Post opinion article in April.
“It involves my ass being occasionally grabbed as a way to shock me into submission. It involves tokenism. It involves sometimes being written off as not serious when I’ve clearly proven I am.”
“That combination of the immediacy and the anonymity means that it’s sort of exploded into a new culture of pretty vicious, vitriolic attacks,” she said.
“Unfortunately, the attacks are particularly vicious toward women, and the attacks against women aren’t just violent, they’re sexualized violence. So it’s quite disturbing to see that some people will behave in this way, and it’s a challenge for our political culture to respond effectively to it.
She hopes more and more people will come together to condemn misogyny in politics and said it’s important for party leaders to forcefully and unequivocally reject the attacks.”
Yep. Misogyny needs to be addressed and kept in the spotlight, not only as the struggle for this generation but also the next generation of women and girls to show that having political aspirations (or professional ones) doesn’t mean facing a constant stream of harassment and misogyny.
But wait! There is more! Let’s go to another profession and and listen as Danielle Campbell describes what women have to face if they want to join the Police.
“Danielle Campbell walked into the canine unit 20 years ago as the first female graduate of the Edmonton Police Service dog handler program.
She faced insults, taunts and the reek of urine on her belongings.
“When I was in the unit they drew Xs on my eyes and they drew cocks around my face, a whole bunch of them … they would urinate on my gear.
‘It was ridiculous,” she said, referring to how a picture of her and her dog was defaced. “The sergeant in charge did nothing about it. Nothing.”
Campbell, 51, is no longer a police officer with EPS. She ended her 27-year-career in August 2016 when she resigned as deputy chief of police, the highest rank achieved by a woman within the city’s police force.”
The common saying is that women have to work twice as hard to get half as far ahead in society. Danielle Campbell is the embodiment of this, as her hard work and dedication – her proficiency at the job – eventually fought her way to the level of Deputy Chief of Police.
“A high-ranking officer in the human resources division told her she had to sign a document saying she wouldn’t get pregnant.
She was also told she could never become a dog handler because of her gender due to concerns over her menstrual cycle affecting the dog.
“I burst out laughing. But he didn’t laugh with me, he was dead serious,” she said.
“I just stood up and I said ‘This conversation is over. You have absolutely no empirical data to support that. That is just ridiculous,’ and I walked out. And to be honest with you that’s when I thought I was going to be fired.”
She wasn’t fired and neither was the officer or officers who sent her a Barbie doll in the mail, noose around its neck with the note: “No split tails in the dog unit, take a hint bitch.”
So yeah, I’m thinking there might be something to it when women say there is a culture of harassment and misogyny that makes their careers and lives more difficult than it needs to be.
“I really believe that so much has improved, and there’s so much more support for diversity and inclusivity and gender equality.
“But we’re not fully there yet,” she said, adding what she sees happening in the United States and, closer to home, in Alberta politics, is concerning.”
Please note the sentence – “we’re not there yet”. This is the key right here. Liberal dudes are so very quick to say the need for feminism is over, or sexism isn’t that bad, or that prevalent. Dudes… *you* don’t get to say any of that shit. When we hear it from women, then, and only then, can we declare sexism to be ‘over’ and no need for feminism.
It’s not your call. Stop trying to make it your call, it isn’t always all about you.