Sunday October 11, 2020 | ISLAND & MAINLAND, BC
Editorial by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
In the last 24 hours there has been a flurry of support for one candidate in the current BC provincial election who has found herself the target of sexist, old-thinking attitudes about women in leadership. And from another woman in politics, no less.
This editorial purposely does not mention names or party affiliation for all players in this episode that has found legs on Twitter today. There was an apology followed by diversionary tweets on other subjects, and then a statement of “this isn’t about me” from the female politician who was targeted — as she explained the bigger picture.
Not a new problem:
For centuries women have found themselves woven into a patriarchal belief system in which they achieve enough benefits by not resisting. As a result they have put up with the oppression. The subtle insults, the closed doors to success, the rapes and attempted rapes that go unreported, the economic exclusion (like promotions being given to men with young families instead of single women, because ‘they have more mouths to feed’), and the “how dare you” comments when women do (or attempt to) strike out of the mold into the fray.
The solution to all this is through socioeconomic change, with politics being the mechanism by which to achieve that. Politics might seem ferocious, but it’s a peaceful way (compared to protest, rebellion, violence or war) to achieve a shift in society.
Women need to be involved in politics as part of the fullest possibility for change. No matter how empathetic men may be to women’s rights, they cannot possibly know the road that women have travelled. Meanwhile, good on governments that seek to achieve gender-equity — though just having women in an equal number of seats is not the full solution.
Along with the labour movement (which since the late 1800s has fought for economic rights), the women’s movement has fought its own battle for women to finally surface with full human rights. Both movements still have a ways to go.
Thankful for women’s advancements:
This Thanksgiving weekend is a heck of a time to delve into these political issues. Everyone would hope to take a break.
But perhaps today we can give thanks that the outrage in social media over this incident shows that ‘enough is enough’ is rising as the appropriate sentiment.
Women of all ages in business, in politics and society overall still need to stand firm against the subtle and damaging oppression of old-thinking and the interwoven economic and capitalist benefits to women who resist the necessary change (perpetuated by both men and women when it suits their cause).
Defaulting to a man supporting a woman (in a sense of economic dependency) denies the woman her right to choose her own lifepath. Needing a man’s support in compensation for the protection a woman needs during pregnancy is from caveman times.
Nowadays, the government provides maternity benefits and society should provide a range of acceptance and supports for both women and men to live their lives with full rights regardless of reproductive circumstances or choices for emotional-bonding relationships. Underlying all this possibility for change is full access to public education, for all.
Yes women have rallied against the challenges and the oppression, but now there seems to be a shift — a point of critical mass — where a wider range of people are willing to speak up about this abuse of women (and by default, their families). Men lose out too! When women are damaged by oppression it makes them less able to be the fullest happiest partners they could be in relationships, business and community.
Impact on the current election:
That the leader of one political party was taking part in the online town hall where the incident happened — and did nothing to try and change the direction of the chat — is a high-profile example of put-downs (and worse) that women in business and public life encounter daily. Thankfully the lifeless structure that men set up for themselves — particularly to take advantage of the economic boom after WWII — is now changing. No doubt this will cause problems for the political leader who has his candidate to deal with now, and this issue, with only 13 days to go until the October 24 BC general election.
Keeping an eye on the ball:
Today there is gratitude, on Thanksgiving, for all the women who have championed the causes that serve to deliver equality for all in our Canadian culture (and to anyone of any gender, political party or cultural affiliation who supports them).
The causes are many, including the right to vote (that was only 104 years ago in most of Canada, and only 64 years ago in Quebec), equal pay for equal work, equal access to a quality education, reproductive rights, and more.
There is more to do, but today’s skirmish on Twitter is a good sign that the fight is alive and well. ~ MPB
===== About the writer: Mary P Brooke, editor and publisher of Island Social Trends, has a long career in business, politics and raised a family on her own after divorce. There are many stories of how this battle has been long and frought with systemic socioeconomic oppression for striding forward within the principle of the right to equality and freedom of expression.