On February 14, 1981 after the Advisory Council on the Status of Women president resigned in protest when the government CANCELED a scheduled charter debate on equality for women, over 1300 women from across Canada stormed the Parliament buildings and held their own Ad Hoc Women and the Constitution conference. They rallied for a stronger equality rights clause and a specifically worded guarantee of equal rights between women and men. Because of them, in spite of obstacles DELIBERATELY thrown in their path by the government at the time, both reforms were included in the final Charter.
Sexual assault within relationships has only been illegal in Canada since 1983.
It has happened in our lifetimes girls.
That’s how new “equality” is.
Many of us are still only too well aware of earning less than our male counterparts for work of equal value, or accustomed to seeing less qualified male counterparts promoted over us because that’s what’s expected.
Today, women everywhere are dropping from exhaustion, because instead of the choice our mothers fought for, we got all or nothing. Now we’re struggling to maintain homes, raise children AND climb the corporate ladder, all while having to be twice as skilled to earn approximately 1/3 less than our “equal” counterparts, often at the cost of our own physical and mental well being. Then our well meaning partners and husbands at home look on in puzzlement trying to figure out what the big deal is that they left a few dishes in the sink. Even today, very few of our partners struggle in the same way to balance the demands of home and career, because they haven’t been raised to feel the same sense of PERSONAL responsibility for housework and child raising that is ingrained in us from birth, or the sense of PERSONAL failure that we do when these things are not done well. Most of our loving lads were raised in households where if Dad did housework, he was “helping Mom”. That attitude persists today, with housework, child raising and maintaining relationships with both sides of the family being seen by many of our partners as something they “help with” as a favour to us, instead of as a personal obligation that they share equally.
To make matters worse, instead of being a pillar of support, our own mothers are often our harshest critics on the domestic side, all too willing to jump in and kick down the crumbling remains of our self-esteem by telling us how much better they were at it when WE were children. Very few of them ever had to contend with working a 44 hour week, plus commute and overtime, AND raise kids AND keep a home. Most of our mothers were a second income at most, while almost all of us today either share, or even BEAR the responsibility of being the breadwinner as well. (Single mothers have ALWAYS been superheroes in my book!)Many of our moms had a neighborhood network of family and/or friends to share the childcare with, or at the least a coffee kerb where they could exchange war stories and offer support to each other. Today’s women do not have that structure. We’re the loneliest moms ever. The best we get by way of mutual support is the sympathetic exchange of weary glances on the subway at 6:00am, or in line at the grocery store when we stop on the way home at 7 o’clock at night, or (my favourite) the shell-shocked nod from the woman sitting in her minivan in front of the bank, with kids crying in the backseat, briefcase open on the seat, cell phone ringing, keys in hand, and not the faintest idea whether she was coming, or going. Our moms, ever eager to step in and tell us how great they were at raising us, while simultaneously criticizing our parenting skills today, are, for the most part, completely unqualified to judge a situation so vastly different from their own experience. Why so many choose to be critical instead of helpful continues to baffle a generation of women who were counting on a little support from these pioneers of women’s liberation, and got a knife in the back instead. I thought it was only MY mom, but in recent weeks of online discussion, I’ve found this is almost a UNIVERSAL experience for women of my generation. Grandmas everywhere should be ashamed of themselves!
I’m NOT a femiNazi.
I can accept both equal and different.
But the fight isn’t over.
Support your fellow brilliant women in their endeavours, whatever the choice may be. Teacher, CEO and “Mom” are all respectable careers, with a whole lot more in between.
I wish all of you to be the very best “YOU” that you can.