Monday, August 28, 2006

Status of Which Women?

The gathering momentum around de-funding the tired and anachronistic propaganda house Status of Women Canada has been a topic of discussion chez Doggerel recently.

We've been considering many of the women we know, and looking at how this agency has served them over the last 33 years. What has it actually done for the status of the women in our lives, we ask ourselves.

The radical feminist perspective of the groups funded by SoW Canada seems to centre on the idea that all women are in some way victims, whether of violence, oppression, depression, aggression, or some other -ession. Now, there are victims of all of these things in our society; some of them are women - perhaps the majority of them are women. But there is a world of difference between the statement that women are sometimes victims and the one that all women are victims all the time.

In the farmhouse at the end of our road lives a 93 year old woman. If you talk to her, she'll tell you stories of real hardship, of hours of grindingly hard work. She'll tell you of going out to milk the cows while she was in labour, because there was noone else to do it. And if you suggest to her for one second that she's a victim, she'd probably give you a clip around the ear and send you home PDQ.

In my career I've worked with many intelligent, talented, motivated and all around impressive women. They've worked hard to earn success in their careers; I've asked many of them about their experiences of working in the male-dominated engineering world. Not one of them has ever had a story of discrimination to tell; I've watched them get the promotions they deserved and I've watched their teams of male engineers look up to them with respect and admiration. Victims? Not so much.

My daughter will grow up in the knowledge that she can do anything and be anything she chooses; she has all the opportunity in the world open to her. If anything holds her back or restricts what she can do, it won' t be her gender; it's far more likely that growing up in a rural setting as opposed to an urban one will severely limit her access to schools and activities from which she might have benefited. Somehow, SoW Canada isn't seeming relevant here.

Let's suppose for one moment that the intentions of the feminists funding feminists are sincere; what do they hope to achieve? I don't think the average retail worker on minimum wage would really see the benefit of endless policy papers produced by women earning five times as much. The battered wife might think it's nice that a sociology professor included her in some statistics, but that isn't going to heal her bruises or get her to safety.

At the end of the day, whether you're a man or a woman, life, its pitfalls and rewards aren't just handed to you. You make your own destiny, you get off your own ass and you make your life happen. Some people get lucky, some don't. It's not about policy papers, it's about taking what you have and making the best you can with it. Equality for women should mean equality of opportunity; equality of attainment is then a matter for individuals to gain for themselves.

The feminists at SoW aren't just not helping many women; they're preserving them in the state of victimhood. Only by keeping other women down can these academics and think-tankers keep their own status up. Truth be told, they don't really want too many other women arriving at the top where they are, with their nice offices, BMW convertibles and nicely acceptable social circles. They want and need the retail worker to keep her minimum wage job - because only then does the feminist keep hers. And wouldn't it be interesting to see just how the SoW queen bees treat that shop worker the next time they're shopping for a pair of shoes. After all, we should all be equal, but someone's got to make my latte in the morning, haven't they?

In a volunteer position I've held in a major Canadian city for the last ten years, I've been privileged to be able to help a number of women who were victims of violence, and some who'd been raped. So it makes me incredibly angry to hear the feminists talk about these issues while the Rape Crisis phone line here goes to voicemail for at least half the day. There are victims, real victims, crying for help, and if these women truly gave a damn, that phone line would get answered 24/7.

$23 million dollars would buy a lot of shelter space and get a lot of Rape Crisis lines answered. It's not about policy; it's about getting off your ass and making it happen for yourself and for those around you that need your help.

SoW Canada serves only the status of its own women. It's time for it to go.