Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult. [Charlotte Whitton]
This Sunday we begin Daylight Saving Time. But do you know what other day it is – and why the two have something in common? I'll tell you.
This Sunday is International Women's Day. If your reaction to that fact is, “Why do we/you need a day?” let me give you an illustration while the story is fresh in my head, the taste tart on my tongue.
Yesterday I read a headline that infamously inflammatory radio broadcaster Rush Limbaugh called the possible upcoming US Democratic race between Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren a “Bitch Battle”. That's what he called it; that's what these two respected political figures are to this air bag on a golden microphone. Two women running for the leadership of a political party, and possibly the presidency of the United States, are simply bitches. Just as a college student fighting for birth control to be covered under health care is, to him, a slut. Bitch. Slut. Words that burn my tongue just saying them, and they're the ones I CAN say.
I'm neither shocked nor surprised at the latest bile to emerge from Limbaugh; I lost any respect I had for him as a human or a broadcaster decades ago when he called women who believe in equality with men – equal rights, equal pay and most of all, equal respect – Femi-nazis. How threatened do you have to be by a woman with brains and character and strength and ambition to add the horrific suffix “nazi” to the word “feminist”?
But enough about Rush. Let's talk about us. How I wish “feminist” wasn't such a weighted, tainted word. What is “feminism”, anyway? According to Wikipedia:
Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.
Because my career has been built in a field dominated by men, I've always tried to remember my place. Having been raised with only sisters (three of them), though, I was never introduced to a double-standard: the idea that boys and girls would have different curfews or privileges never occurred to me. Raised by a mother (and a gentle but often absent father), the only examples I had of women were the ones in our family: strong, opinionated and unafraid. Never was a hand raised to my mother or her mother; never was she told her thoughts weren't valid, her expectations not reasonable.
Yet, all my career I've shied away from realizing that I, myself, am a feminist, lest someone point a finger and call me something that I am not. I'm not a bitch, or a slut. I'm not a man hater or a ball-buster. I'm a woman who's managed – through hard work, patience, skill, luck and the support of both men and women throughout my life – to enjoy success in her career. I don't think it's wrong, though, to want the climb to be easier for my daughter. I want her to be able to choose what she does or does not want to do with her body, without somebody (usually a group of men) making that decision for her. I want her to make the same money as a male counterpart and be afforded the same title or respect. I want her to appreciate the rights she has in this country (like education) and to continue to build upon the rights that she deserves. I want to her to live in a time when a missing Aboriginal girl is treated with as much urgency as a missing traveling missionary or journalist.
Those are my dreams for my daughter. And they're why this Sunday it's important to stop and think about who we are, where we are and where we can be. Because March 8th is not just about putting our clocks ahead. It's about putting our hearts and minds there, too.