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Society Today. It Puzzles Me.

October 3, 2012

If you were looking for a hockey post, this is not it. Typically I stick to the sports (mostly hockey), the outdoors (canoeing/camping, yardwork etc.) and local happenings.  This post will not cover any of these things, although it may touch a bit on local events. You have been warned.

Several months ago, a friend of mine took me to a presentation of the documentary Miss Representation. I was both intrigued and dismayed at just how negatively society views women and how poorly we portray ourselves in the media.  In fact, we sabotage girls from a young age and, as they grow up, continually bombard them with images and role models which say ‘we are objects and nothing more.’ We stereotype ourselves.  Miss Representation not only shows this, but also provides some positive female role models and some ideas on how to stop the cycle.

Some months later, I stumbled upon the Everyday Sexism Project. It turned up in my Twitter feed one day, an anecdote from a fellow Twitter user – “gave blood, nurse expressed surprise that a woman could be an engineer.” This irked me, as both I and my sister are engineers, and because being a female engineer still appears to be an anomaly!  As I look about my workplace, there are definitely fewer female engineers than male, but there has been an increase in the past 3 years I have been in the department. It is still hard to get some of the older engineers (male) to take younger, female engineers seriously.

As the author of the site states:

The Everyday Sexism Project exists to catalogue instances of sexism experienced by women on a day to day basis. They might be serious or minor, outrageously offensive or so niggling and normalised that you don’t even feel able to protest. Say as much or as little as you like, use your real name or a pseudonym – it’s up to you. By sharing your story you’re showing the world that sexism does exist, it is faced by women everyday and it is a valid problem to discuss.”

At one point, on or about International Women’s Day (March 8), I read or saw something along the lines of “why do we need a Women’s Day? Is there a Men’s Day? What’s the point?”  The two projects I mentioned above, and the examples and anecdotes that are not from deep in our past, but are today’s media messages and current events, are the reason we still need Women’s Day. We as a society have not progressed as far towards equality for men and women as some seem to think or we could wish.  A friend of mine wrote the following rant Geek Girl Angry, Geek Girl Smash about the way she was treated as an object instead of the fangirling, geeky graphic novel follower of note that she is.  She knows her stuff and is rightfully resentful of those who would reduce her to a ‘token’ anything.

These are just the mild examples of sexism. There is evidence of more rabid sexism (i.e. various anti-abortion/birth control/rape definition issues in the US), however, I choose to refer to only the ones I have more personal experience with.  It doesn’t mean that other women don’t experience these and more.  The idea is that we need to experience them less frequently to not at all. I mean that girls need to grow up in an environment that encourages them to be ‘anything’ and ‘anyone’ they want to be and doesn’t pigeonhole them into someone else’s idea of who they should be and what they should look like.  Allow them to be that adventurous girl that speaks her mind, chooses a career in something she loves, wears whatever she likes and doesn’t have to explain her choices to anyone.

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