A few years ago, I had a professor explain the history of women’s inhabitations of space. We weren’t talking about outer space; stars, galaxies, and whatnot. We were talking about physical and intellectual space.
Historically, women’s outfits were designed to physically inhabit large spaces (think Victorian era ballgowns) and to draw attention to a woman’s appearance. These outfits took hours to put on and prepare and while they physically took up space (drawing attention to women), women were still restricted by them. These outfits physically restricted women and limited them to inhabiting physical space as opposed to intellectual space.
Sound confusing? It kind of is.. Instead think of it as that saying people used to (and sometimes still) say about kids; “children are meant to be seen and not heard’ and simply replace the word ‘children’ with the word ‘women’. Better?
I struggle with this idea because I find that these ideologies are still far too common in every day society. Women are expected to dress up, look pretty, look cute, wear this, wear that, talk, but don’t talk too much, speak up, but not too loud. We’re supposed to blend in, become a part of society, compliment those around us and not stand out too much; unless of course we stand out for being so beautiful, but even that can only occur in small doses.
I think it’s time for all people to feel comfortable inhabiting more space; we should all be comfortable and content in voicing our opinions and encouraging others to do the same, there should be no societal restrictions on my voice (or trust me, it will just get louder), and I should be able to define and inhabit whatever space I choose.
I will be seen AND heard.
I may not be American, but I recognize that American politics and issues have (and will continue to have) fairly significant impacts on Canadian politics (which still infuriates me to no end). I apologize as you read this, in fact maybe stop now. I seem to get progressively more and more angry as I think about this more..
I fail to understand why and how someone like Mitt Romney can be chosen to represent an entire political party and given the opportunity to speak in front of large crowds (for anything other than entertainment) when he so clearly fails to represent a significant portion of the population – women. When someone can make such horrendous comments as were made during the second debate, I can only hope that his representation ceases.
Women – 50.8% of the population of the United States – should not be ignored. Women are not some obscure painting to be taken out of storage only for show, women are an equal, qualified, educated, MAJORITY of the population. Having equal female representation should not be a task or a chore, it should be a given that women have a fair share of positions in all levels of all employment sectors. You shouldn’t need a “binder full of women” to find qualified women, you should be working with women and working for women on a regular basis.
On top of that, you should learn how to cook, because if you think that women need flexible work schedules to take care of their family and get dinner on the table, you are part of the problem. You are part of the reason that women work a double day: the solution to women’s double work day is not to give them more job flexibility to do more housework; it’s to give ALL employees EQUAL job flexibility to have an EQUAL share of housework. You should be supporting men in taking parental leave and in taking time off work when their kids are sick.
In addition to that, single parents are NOT the reason that people walk around with weapons, the lax gun laws are the reason people walk around with weapons. We have plenty of single parents in Canada (I was even raised by divorced parents) and yet our gun violence is infinitely less of a problem here: why? Because we don’t walk around with handguns for ‘personal protection’. Maybe if you associated with single parents or really anyone other than white, upper-class Americans you would know that. Or, if you really want to have less households with single parents, increase sexual education, maintain access to abortions, and allow same-sex marriages! Why is that so hard to understand? I mean, I get it, and I was raised by divorced parents (which apparently means I should be violent and be carrying AK-47s around), I don’t have a university degree (yet), oh and I’m a woman..
Who knew that simply HAVING some of those items in the image to the left could be grounds for being arrested? I sure didn’t, but it seems that authorities in several cities in the USA disagree with me.
When I saw in the news that aid and health agencies were handing out condoms to sex workers to help minimize the risk of HIV and STI transmission (as well as the risk of pregnancy) I thought; “that’s amazing! Finally moving past stigmas and making decisions based on basic human health needs.” Then I saw that police and public authorities were confiscating those condoms essentially giving women the option to hand the condoms over or go to jail and I was enraged. I was even more enraged when I found out that this was happening in the USA – which in my opinion is a country that is quickly and systematically removing basic health and rights from women. What is most sad about this, is that I wasn’t even surprised to hear about it.
What I find worst about this scenario is that possession of condoms isn’t illegal, yet authorities are making women scared to have condoms, scared to use them, scared to have safe sex. Instead of protecting women and allowing safe sex options and transitional methods to give women alternatives to sex work, authorities are making sex work even less safe and even harder to get out of.
People should be praising women around the world who make the effort and insist on condom use, yet women are being punished for trying to protect themselves. So everyone who has access and ability, use condoms, be safe. Not only are you protecting yourself, but you’ll be sending a message to authorities worldwide who seem to want to limit women’s access to safe and affordable contraception.
The irony of this situation is that Washington D.C. – one of the cities where Human Rights Watch has documented this ridiculous condom possession and jail scenario – is actually hosting the 19th Annual International AIDS Conference.
Today marked World Population Day and the focus was family planning! There was a conference in the UK today discussing the importance and benefits of family planning (aka reproductive health, contraception, information, and access). At this conference, they pledged 3.6 billion dollars a year towards family planning that could drastically improve the state of maternal and women’s health.
I’ve recently made a twitter account and I have to say I’m learning to love the way information is shared on it. I find that I’m able to scan and see way more data than I ever would have otherwise. Knowing my passion for gender equality and rights, I’m sure its not surprising that I focused on these topics. I came across this infographic and I have to say that I was a little bit startled to see some of the ratios and data regarding gender equality. Canada is currently ranked 17th among the best/worst places to be a woman, and that indicates a fall of 3 places from the last time these indicators were compared. What is most interesting, is that much of Canada’s failures regarding women’s rights and gender equality can be directly correlated to their relations with the Aboriginal population. Check it out, and tell me what you think.
Gender Gap of Women Voices in Broadcast TV, Radio & Print | 4thEstate.net.
Check out this awesome infographic. It really highlights some of the issues in the USA, and I can’t help but wonder if it spills over into other nations as well.