Maybe it’s time to rally women instead of divide them

Have you ever noticed that our society loves to pit women against each other (especially mothers)? It seems to focus on creating binary realities in which women take one side and judge the women on the other side.

For example, consider these examples:

breastfeeding bottlefeeding
assisted birth natural birth
stay-at-home mum working mum
pro-vaccination anti-vaccination
co-sleeping separate sleeping
disposable diapers cloth diapers
fat thin
public school homeschool

The lists go on.

I have to wonder why society is like this. Maybe if we keep women fighting against each other they won’t band together and fight against systems that oppress women as a whole.

Maybe it’s time to change that.

Like a girl

It’s seems to be trendy to create viral videos with messages designed to empower women.

The most recent video was produced by Always:

It’s a great message, one that touches me as a father of 3 girls. The downside to the video is that the message of empowerment has to be tied to a company.

As a result, my girls and I made our own, undefined by corporate greed:

Lethbridge needs to abandon “alderman” for “councillor”

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A group of citizens will present to Lethbridge City Council this Monday, advocating for changing the usage of “alderman” as a term for city council members to “councillor”. I support this change.

The equality of women has become more important to me as I have been back in school. I have taken several courses that discuss women’s right and feminist theory, and it is clear to me that while we have made strides in women being treated better than in the past, there are still institutional changes that need to be made before the hegemony of our patriarchal system is gone.

There has been quite a bit of discussion regarding this proposed change, and there are a few common arguments I wanted to address:

This will cost too much money and that money could be spent on more important things.

The costs of this change in terms of money and time is negligible if the change is done when the next council is elected and most of those changes have to be made anyhow. Also, calling the equality of women unimportant (or at the very least, less important) does nothing to further their equality.

“Alderman” is a term that has come to refer to both men and women. It makes no difference what they’re called.

If it makes no difference, then why is there even a debate? The fact that people consider a male-dominated term like “alderman” to be acceptable for both genders is further evidence of how embedded the hegemony is in our society. Additionally, if the term doesn’t matter, then I assume supporters of maintaining the status quo would be fine with using “alderwoman” instead to refer to both male and female city council members.

There are more pressing issues requiring the time and attention of city council members.

Certainly there are issues requiring more of the attention and time of the city council. This is precisely why this non-issue should be dealt with. It will take hardly and time, we can be done with it, and city council can move onto the so-called more important issues.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The problem is that it is “broke”. Period.

Supporting the change is the socially responsible thing to do. There is no compelling reason to keep the archaic “alderman.” The Municipal Government Act uses “councillor,” and so do many communities across Alberta, even many smaller and more rural than Lethbridge.

Facebook memes and sexism

I like to think I have been sensitive to gender equality, violence against women and the like for some time, but I have to say that the women studies course I took this past semester hammered a lot of things home.

I see sexism and discrimination against women in places I previously would have overlooked and in things I previously would have found funny.

This past week has been pretty hard for me. I have seen many of my friends participating in Facebook memes that denigrate and objectify women. When I do try to stand up against such, I am the one labelled as being insensitive and told I should lighten up.

I am very fed up this week and I am disgusted more each day that goes by to the point I feel sick to my stomach and my hands shake.

Here are a few of the images my friends have posted:

This one tries to make light violence against women. Strictly speaking it’s spousal abuse period, but since I am a man and the friend who posted it is a man, I saw this as directed at women. Besides, as the saying goes, it’s a dog is man’s best friend, not human’s best friend. It is never okay to laugh at the idea of stuffing one’s own spouse into the trunk of a car.

This is sexist in several ways. First it treats men as prizes (You’re all mine if you plan to marry in the temple. It treats women as objects of desire (if you aren’t going to get married in the temple, you don’t get me). It trivializes the sacredness of temple ordinances.

This perpetuates the stereotypes of women being emotionally unstable, and it ties so-called manhood to men being accepting of emotional abuse.

This objectifies women and glamorizes sodomization, both of which together promote sexual violence against women.

Yet another one objectifying women. This one goes even further by presenting women as objects that can be eaten. And why is it women have to wait for men to come along; why can’t they initiate relationships?

Finally, this one is sexist on several fronts. First, it promotes emotional instability in relationships. Second, it promotes the idea of women being owned by men. Finally, notice how the male progresses from boy to gentleman, but the female in the relationship remains a girl? Also, notice the female in the relationship is a girl, but the females outside of the relationship are women.

What disturbs me the most is that those who post these images are completely oblivious to the sexism contained within them.

And the sexism isn’t confined to just these images either. Every day, it seems, someone I know posts similar photos. New photos. The cycle continues: Someone promotes violence and sexism in their images and other perpetuate their messages by sharing them.

In all sincerity, what is there that can be done?