Being a feminist is by times admittedly exhausting. Like any other perspective or point of view it’s open to interpretation. Just like every other situation in life, I can’t please everybody. I can only focus on how I perceive things, and how I break down and analyze all sources of information. I draw on my own personal experiences and the barriers I’ve faced, the roadblocks I’ve barrelled through and setbacks I’ve endured. I’ve experienced the seemingly benign but insidious means an organization can use to discourage females from not only applying for, but feeling welcome and supported in a traditionally male dominated profession. I’ve worked for a major organization and later found out my male counterparts got paid more than I did for doing the exact same job. This organization has had to be taken to court and was forced to pay women that were affected retroactively. I sill hear to this day, “women don’t want to work on road construction. It’s dirty and hot.” My immediate thoughts go to our service women that dig holes in ditches and give up their life, or the life they know, engaging in combat roles for our country. Comments like this keep me pressing forward. Just the other day I was looking up the definitions of strength for a blog I was writing. Just for kicks I looked up the definition of woman. The very first definition I came across on my phone defined women as being the “weaker/fairer sex.” When I still see accepted practices of discrimination against women I am going to push back. I’m going to push back hard. Whomever is on the other end of this metaphorical push is going to feel it. They are going to feel the intensity and insistence of my passion. I am undeterred, despite the criticism I’ve received from feminists that hold a more extreme view than I do. I’m not feminist “enough” according to some. The basis for this claim is because I am open to discussing women’s issues with men. I’m in search of equality. I don’t believe that alienating the gender that holds most of the power, wealth, and political representation the world over is a good idea. I think non-confrontational dialogue is essential to understanding the issues that women are trying to bring to light. Men are not our enemy. They are certainly not mine. I feel fortunate to have the women I do in my life, but I’m equally grateful for my male allies as well. Than there’s the flip-side of the coin. To others, I’m too feminist. I bring up women’s issues too often. I hear the laughs and notice the barely restrained eye rolls when I bring an issue to the table. I’ve felt the frustration directed towards me for bringing women’s unacknowledged contributions to attention. I look at it like this: if we all embraced apathy, willful ignorance, or leaving the job to someone else, women would never have gotten anywhere. It’s not like the rights that we’ve fought hard to win, were going to be relinquished to us without serious and sustained effort on our part. I acknowledge that we have come a long way, and I’m encouraged by that, but it certainly seems as if some people are tired of hearing about women’s issues, or are feeling threatened by the #metoo movement. The way I see that is, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. If you are raising boys, they have nothing to fear. Teach them respect and boundaries. Educate them about personal space, and the fact that no means no. Teach them that without a doubt a girl that is passed out drunk, or unable to walk without assistance, is not able to give consent. She is off limits. I’ve raised a son and I’ve taught him these very things. I shared with him the pain of my experiences. I have no worries that anything will ever come back to him because he was taught to be respectful. He’s raising a toddler on his own. A single father of a little girl. Not only a girl, but a Maliseet girl of the Wolastoqiyik First Nation. A girl of colour. If anything, women’s issue are at heart of him raising my granddaughter. He’s surrounded by feminists in our family, of both the male and female persuasion.
If anyone ever felt the searing flames of the fire, it’s the late, great Carrie Fisher. She sizzled in her iconic bikini for her role on the 1983 Stars Wars film, “Return of the Jedi”. For me, Fisher brings different things to mind; such as her views on feminism and her openness about mental health struggles. One of my favourite quotes from Carrie Fisher is a excerpt from an interview she gave to Elizabeth Johnson from the Herald Tribune in 1993. “Stay afraid, but do it anyways. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” I believe this to my very core. I have to do this all the time.
The following is a vlog I posted to my Facebook page, Jen Smith The WordSmith, where I discuss a range of issues about feminism, #metoo, and mental health awareness.
#metoo #mentalhealthawareness #survivor #womensupportingwomen