It Stops with Me

When I woke up this morning, I was unaware that it was ‘Because I’m a Girl Day’. Given the way my day progressed, it seems appropriate.

Earlier today I had thought of writing a post about the way my day had panned out despite my good intentions. Rather than meeting new people, going for an energetic walk, doing the laundry and not eating any chocolate, I decided to indulge myself on the internet reading some blogs. Some I know and enjoy. Some are new and had been flagged on Google Reader to check out. Some came to light during the course of my day.

I read about Esther, a lady in the Old Testament who saves a nation. I read how one minister was slandering her and placing modern day western ideas on a middle eastern girl who lived several thousand centuries ago.

I read that Pinterest is killing feminism.

I heard about a brave girl in Pakistan who is struggling for her life after she was shot for trying to affect change for girls in her country. She was demanding that girls be offered the same access to education that boys are given.

I watched a video of my Prime Minister stand yesterday and condemn the way she has been treated by her peers in parliament. By her country. This led me to an article describing the treatment of Julia Gillard (our PM) as being discriminatory and lacking in respect.

It was eye opening.

I once told my mother that I wouldn’t vote for Hilary Clinton because she was a woman and I felt more comfortable having a man in such a position. She was horrified and started spouting all the books that she felt I needed to read immediately. She threatened to dob me into my aunt. She has also taken me to task for daring to criticise Julia Gillard’s choice of clothing, her voice, not to mention the town she comes from.

As in all things, it was not my mother’s voice that caused me to feel shame. It was not till I read the article by Anne Summers, that I began to feel ill. Every nation has its share of people with opinons that we would rather ignore. Generally they are not in the public eye and tend to spout their prejudice at a dinner party, at family dinner or at a football game and are uncomfortably ignored.

Not so much anymore. Now they hold positions of power. They probably always did. Perhaps I am naive or been out of the country too long. How is it now acceptable to speak so vilely about the person who is the head of the country? How is that it is acceptable to show her so little respect?

I have been privileged. I received an education. A good education. In fact, I was encouraged to pursue a tertiary education by both my parents and they were both proud on the day I graduated. I have never felt that I was a second class citizen because of my gender. I don’t recall having ever been discriminated against either.

However, I do discriminate against women.

I have a daughter. I have a son. I wish for success and happiness for both of them. I desire that they will be able to pursue the desires of their hearts without impediment. I don’t want either of them to be subject to discrimination … for any reason.

I applaud Julia Gillard for standing up for herself. For standing up for women. How can we be respected in our private lives if women are not respected in the public sphere. If we continually allow women to be objectified, how will they ever be safe from sexual predators?

To me, misogny is a strong word to use to describe what we are seeing in Australia, and the world, at the moment. However, it fits. The attitudes I read today display a hatred and dislike of women that is disturbing. So disturbing that we often regard it as normal and just a laugh. We need to stop laughing and start thinking about what affect this is having on our culture.

The challenge I offer myself is to speak up when I see it in my life. When those around me display a lack of respect for women in their words or their actions. When we show a lack of respect towards anyone regardless of gender, of age, of religion, of ethnicity, of ability.

It stops with Me.

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2 Responses to It Stops with Me

  1. Excellent! Because it really isn’t (only) about misogyny: it’s about how we treat others who are in any way different. It is about refusing to cave to the ‘us vs. them’ mentality. In a previous life I worked in and rose to the upper echelons of a male-dominated entity; I championed everyone who was willing to work hard for me, do their best, show themselves open to learning more. I didn’t promote women ahead of men, I promoted good people who worked hard and were willing to be part of a team ahead of lackluster people who couldn’t/wouldn’t be bothered. What I always told my staff (and wrote on evaluations) is that if you could be a contributing part of a team effort while doing your best work, you’d be recognized as a star far more readily than the go-it-alones. Television, social media and other developments make it seem ‘funny’ or ‘acceptable’ to disrespect someone simply because they are different or you disagree with their views, but that’s simply laziness, nastiness and/or stupidity. I get that as someone younger than me you didn’t want to be part of your mother’s feminism. I believe I’m between you and your mother, and I never wanted to be labeled a feminist as I believed in people (regardless of gender, race, religion, etc.); that said, when I looked around and saw so few women in the room at the higher levels (many times I was the only one), I realized the glass ceiling existed and I made sure I was fair in my standards, recognized good work, encouraged everyone and led by example. Your decision to lead by example is to be applauded, not merely by women, but by everyone.

  2. Laney says:

    Thanks for your comments, Linda. As always they are much appreciated.

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