I was stumbling around the internet this morning and noticed this article: Where is the best and worst place to be a woman in Canada?
Alright. Now before I make my case, I need to make a few disclaimers: 1) I know this isan articleabout Canada and therefore it isn’t representative about the female plight all around the world and 2) I am aware that the people who write articles like this aren’t trying to compare their situation or the situations of western countries like Canada to the rest of the world. Even though it seems like it.
I am so tired of being told how terrible it is to be a woman in Canada in comparison to a male. There, I said it. I understand that over the past 100 years, women have made great strides to where they are today. If it wasn’t for the female suffragists and people like Nellie McClung who made it possible for woman to vote, work, and wear pants without being stared at, then I probably wouldn’t even be writing this note today. I am so thankful for all that women (and men) have worked for to make us equal!
But then when I read articles like this, stating the inequalities there are for women throughout Canada, I am frustrated because I remind myself how good I have it. I have never felt oppressed in my country for being a woman. Some may say it’s because I am a caucasian young woman from a middle-class family and I’ve been lucky enough to escape the discrimination that some others have felt and yes, maybe that is true. Maybe I don’t really know how good I have it in comparison with others around my country. But, what I do know is that all of us in Canada have it so much better then so many others around the world!
Writing in a public forum is tricky because you don’t want to hurt or offend others around you or make broad speculations or generalizations. So as long as you all know I’m not trying to do that then I will continue writing.
I am tired of hearing the complaint that women are not treated equally when around the world, women are suffering and dying from their inequalities. In sub-Saharan and Northeast Africa women are dying from female mutilation. Wife-beating has become an epidemic in many middle-eastern countries (for example, in Afghanistan 87% of women admit to being victim to it). Women are bought and sold into prostitution all around the world without their consent, forced into it through addiction, or complete helplessness, without the ability to escape. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, rape is so common that the UN has called it unprecedented while in Nepal early marriage and childbirth has left 1 in 24 dead because of pregnancy (more on these claims at http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2008/03/08/ten_worst_countries_for_women.html).
These statistics devastate me. They are only the beginning of what women face around the world and so when I see articles written about Canada and the inequalities that we suffer within the nation I want to scream out: “Who cares, who cares! We have it so good now! Why don’t we write an article about how blessed we are in comparison to other nations? Why don’t we do research about that?! Why don’t we take all of our time, effort, and money to help others around the world who are completely trapped and can’t get out at all. They are the ones who matter!”
It is important to recognize the effort that has been made over the decades to equalize that status of men and women in Canada and like I’ve said before, I’m thankful. I’m not suggesting that we now abandon the female movement altogether because that may lead us to go back to where we were before and now that we are equal (or pretty freaking close to equal), we need to stay here. But I also think that we need to wake up a bit and look around us. Who cares where it is better to live in Canada…Quebec City or Edmonton! Because although each city continues to work on maintaining equality between men and women, well, we need to realize that we have it a whole lot better than the majority of women throughout the world. We are blessed to be from Canada and we are blessed to come from a line of women who built up the status of females for all these years. We are blessed to be in the place that we’re in and to have the ablity to write terrible articles about a women’s status in Canada when our neighbours in Iraq, Sudan, Guatemala, Mali, Pakistan and so many other countries would only wish to write an article such as this.
I could say so much more about this topic it’s crazy and you know what, I might just do that. I am going to close for now by stating this: I am a feminist. I advocate social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men, just like the definition of “feminist” states in the dictionary. I want all of that and I’m pretty sure the majority of people in Canada would agree to be a feminist based on this definition too. But I also think we have accomplished these feminist goals in Canada (look at the post-secondary education statistics for example: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/more-women-than-men-have-post-secondary-education-1.1358656). By continuing to dwell on what women don’t have let’s talk about all they do have! Let’s celebrate the distance women have come! Furthermore let’s be realistic about Canada and realize how fortunate we are to be from such an amazing nation! Let’s think before we speak and realize that we have it good. Feminists around the world unite! Canada is doing great so let’s turn our efforts towards freeing up the oppressive societies of today like those in the middle east or Northeast Africa! Let’s all work together to gain equality internationally, because this is what really matters!