I know I have posted and reposted this before but it still seems appropriate today. May the voices of my daughters be heard and respected. And may they never be treated with the disrespect that Greta Thunberg has received simply because her opinion comes from the mouth of a young female.
March 8, 2018: I want to acknowledge international women’s day and express my respect for all women, not just ones of great accomplishments and ones who are noteworthy role models but also the billions living ordinary lives, because truly all women must live their lives subject to the restrictions that society imposes on them. Those restrictions may include driving and education in some countries but may be evidenced by more subtle cultural bias in our own more egalitarian society. As we are recently reminded even the most successful of women continued to be subject to sexual harassment and other forms of life and career limiting discrimination.
Although in my youth I could get excited about discrimination against different sectors of society and economic exploitation of other groups, like many people my idealism became secondary to earning a living and for many years I contented myself that I would treat all people equally and with respect regardless or gender, race, ethnicity age or orientation. I have tried to do so but cannot claim perfection but I have worked on the belief that I cannot change the other six billion people on the globe but should work to improve myself. This of course is an easy attitude to have if you are an educated white male in Canada. I do not have to deal with discrimination ever.
Having four young children has caused me to change my sense of responsibility to include that my children learn to be respectful of all people and not discriminate. I must say that that is going well and I am proud of my children’s attitudes
But I recognize that this is not enough. I must do more. Having two young daughters has made me much more observant of the limitations and unnecessary challenges that women face even in egalitarian Canada. As a small point I find myself starting to avoid restaurants where the female staff are required to wear short skirts and low tops, in favour of restaurants with more modest dress codes or where female staff are allowed to wear what they wish. I find myself asking myself if in a few years from now if I would be happy to have one of my daughters working there and subject to that dress code. The answer is no. Goodbye Cactus Club and dozens of other restaurants.
Does the me too movement surprise me? I think it exposes a realty that we all knew or suspected but thought that all we can do is govern our own behaviour. Well obviously that is not enough and I should not have to have daughters before I pay attention to the obvious discrimination.
I resolve that I must do more. Trying not to be part of the problem is obviously not enough. I need some of the radicalism of my youth to work to be part of the solution. Not just on issues relating to discrimination against women and other sectors of society but on working towards social justice for indigenous and other groups. God help me to work towards making a better world for my children.
Photo by Pamela Palmer
GERALD EDWARD PALMER, LLB
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