Skip navigation

Category Archives: media

Via feministe: The arguement for paying moms less

The fact that mothers are under scrutiny for how much time they ‘waste’ while at work (taking phone calls from kids and having to pick them up on snow days etc) is itself sexist. Why don’t we ask how it is men can be productive, considering how constantly distracted they are by sex? Why don’t we ask how it is smokers can be productive? I repeat: the focus on women parents is sexist – and I’m not even tackling the inherent hypocrisy in pretending that we as a society care about families, while offering to pay those who do the family work less than others, thereby making it necessary for them to work even longer hours to make the money needed to cover the costs of working etc.

Only women are under this kind of scrutiny: how they dress, how much they weigh (overweight women make less money), how assertive they are or aren’t, how they choose lower paid jobs naturally (without consideration to why the jobs women choose pay less or what influences job choices), if they have children can they be as productive as those without children, if they don’t have children they are going to take maternity leave. Only women face these stereotypes; only women are always found wanting, found to be the makers of the sexism that prevents their success.

Yet, there are literally thousands of ways to ‘waste‘ time at work. Read More »

Advertisements

Thanks to Antonia over at Broadsides I have become a fan of Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times columnist.

The beating and assault of a woman in Calgary has the police repeating the same old messages: women should use caution when unescorted or unchaperoned. (via Lillith Attack)

It is so normal that women are considered fair game that when one is attacked the police use the moment to remind women that they need to restrict their freedom of movement. If they do not, they can forfeit their right to expect safety as a general rule.

Is the message garnered from a bank robbery and shooting that victims need to exercise caution and listen to their instincts when they enter a bank – as if by instinct a person can know a bank is going to be robbed or that a man is going to jump out from behind a bush and rape. Do we tell a man whose car was stolen that he should not have been driving it down the street alone in so flagrant a manner, or that parking in a public parking lot was asking for it? 

It’s a neat corner women are backed into: we are accused of playing the ‘victim card’ when we ask for political action on an issue concerning women. Then, when we go about the world as if we have a right to safety, we are told to act the victim, forever vigilant, using emotional and mental energy to predict when an attack might happen and where.

Nevermind that rape/sexual assault can happen anytime, anywhere, most frequently in our own homes, by people we know.

I have two daughters who love listening to the sugary soundtrack from Mary Poppins and so I’ve had much more opportunity than some to re-learn the song lyrics as an adult, wonder at what is packaged as children’s media and shake my head at the ubiquity of rape myths. 

So, do gentlemen rape? 

No, according to Mary Poppins as she sings “Jolly Holiday”. Gentlemen do not rape; rape is the province of the lower classes. 

It’s subtle but it’s there. Bert has just sung his part of the duet about what a wonderful person Mary Poppins is – practically perfect, indeed. She really has a high bar to reach in order to merit his praise. What does he have to do, or not do, to gain her praise? Not force her into unwanted sexual activity.

(This part reminds me of parenting: a father changes a diaper and he’s a hero, a mother changes 100 diapers and she is boring.)

It’s all there in the song. Bert’s “blood is blue” because he “wouldn’t think of pressing [his] advantage” which is, in turn, the reason that “a lady needn’t fear when [he is] near”. Add to that mix that “forbearance is the hallmark of [his] creed” and we have completed what is so special about Bert. In essence, because he is a gentleman he won’t push Mary Poppins into unwanted sexual activity; he will not attempt to rape her. 

Is my point that gentlemen do rape? Is it that we set the bar far too low for men?

Actually, I think my point is that this is a children’s song, from a children’s movie. How young children begin their schooling in society’s dominant narratives about men, women and sex.

When you buy a muffin from Tim Hortons, a blueberry muffin specifically, were ever disappointed by the number of blueberries in the muffins? So many it was too-blueberry or so few it was all cake? Were you ever mad that the one you were eating didn’t have the same number of blueberries in it that the previous one had?

Me neither.

Now how about when you picked up a newspaper: Were you ever upset that one story was longer than the other, that all the stories weren’t exactly the same length.

Me neither.

Now let me take you to a staff meeting from a few months ago.

Read More »

Early to work this morning and sitting at his desk, drinking coffee is a pale-skinned, red-headed colleague of mine who is a rarity: a journalism “lifer”.

In the business for 20-some-odd years, he’s worked at newsrooms across Canada, everyone of them, almost without exceptions, dysfunctional messes, he went on to tell me.
I’m not sure how much longer I can put up with THIS place, I told him.
He gave me a pep talk – something he has done for almost every journalist in this place. He’s that kind of guy.

Read More »

I’m invoking the P-word for this post. Patriarchy.

Because working in an office arranged around the father-knows-best and father-is-the-law ideology is as damaging for worker morale and for workplace productivity (the biz term for making sure lots of work gets done so the company can make lots of money and enough profit to keep you in a job).

And it is the kind of workplace in which I have landed.

I’m a creative, go-by-my-gut, everything-will-get-done-if-I-don’t-have-to-slow-down-for-bureaucratic-details, passionate, part-time contrarian. Which isn’t a good fit for this workplace.

Things I have recently been reprimanded for:

Read More »

I’m a business reporter. How I got here is another story for another blog; but here I am, reporting about business. It’s something I could make interesting if my editor would let me, but for some reason my editor feels that ‘interesting’ and ‘hard news story’ do not mix.

Anyway, the last two days, one of my fellow business reporters, a young man, in his early twenties, has appeared clean shaven and suited up. The reason? He’s attending two editorial board meetings (when big business people meet with a roomful of editors and reporters, get their picture taken saying important things and many stories are written about the appointment conversation, as if something actually took place).

The men he’s meeting with are wearing a suit and tie and so will he. Seems reasonable. Except I’m not certain that it is.

Read More »

I have recently discovered that I am a woman.

Don’t get me wrong: physically I have always known I am a woman. But I have always considered myself different. Not a man, quite, but different: someone to be taken seriously.

Except that I am a woman. And that which is woman is not taken seriously, is it?

I have just discovered that the things I like are actually woman-things: conversation, connection and cooperation. Which makes me, not-man and in a field still dominated by men, an outsider.

Here’s how I discovered my gender.

Covering the second day of hearings on a subject that is not very dear to my heart: the operations and rate-change projections of energy utilities , I was the only female reporter in the room, a fact I didn’t notice until today – when another female reporter walked in.

A woman! I thought. It was novel. Read More »

It’s the end of the work day. I am writing my final story when my editor approaches. He has a copy of another story I have written in his hand. When he had asked to see a copy of it, I honestly didn’t expect to see it again. That’s the way he works.

This time he stops by my desk and drops a heavily penned copy of the story on my desk. Briefly he bends toward me and explains why he has made the corrections. He does not look me in the eyes: he has been somewhat intimidated by me since I realized that many women’s fallback position of “smile and be nice” doesn’t get me anywhere in this particular relationship. He shuffles away and I look at the paper briefly and put it aside without much thought; he has done much worse to other stories for less reason. A colleague of mine whom I don’t know very well; much younger, male and restless, leans toward me.

“What a misogynist,” he says. “He only does that to women.”