It’s the Women’s March day worldwide today. Theses marches were triggered by the inauguration, as President of the United States, of an over 40-year old white man. The norm for the greater majority of the past 241 years.
The major difference this time, is that the most underqualified male candidate ever, won over a superbly politically qualified woman.
Although other candidates in the past have been racists (hello slave owners!), misogynists and anti-gay men (e.g., President Obama only declared is support for same-sex marriage in 2012), this particular winning candidate enjoys fuelling hatred and violence against “others” in a way that weakens tolerance, collaboration, and understanding at all levels of society.
The Marches offer women (and the men who care for them) an opportunity to stand up and say, “we’ll fight for ourselves, our bodies, and our rights”.
This is nothing new, of course. I’ve always known, thanks to the stories in my family and my own experience, how different things were for women than men.
My paternal grandmother was forced by the church and her environment, to give birth to 21 children. Yes, twenty-one, this not a typo. She only learned to read and write in her fifties when her kids were all grown up.
She was forced again, by the state and the church, to take care of her violent and alcoholic ailing husband who had deserted her and her 12 living children. This, until he passed seven years later.
On the day my mom was born, neither her, nor her mom, had the right to vote in their home province. It would take another 5 years for that right to finally be bestowed.
Mom also had to leave school in the 6th grade to take care of her ailing mother, because that was what girls had to do in the late forties.
My aunt was raped and forced (should I mention the church again?) to carry to term her baby. All heart, her mom adopted the boy as her own, a pretty rare occurrence. Nonetheless, my aunt never recovered from the terrible way society viewed her.
Myself, I was followed, harassed and assaulted (I’ll leave the darkest parts for another day) and spent my whole working life being underestimated, patronized, and skipped over for opportunities and promotions.
In 2000, the avant-garde organisation I worked for did a salary review. The results gave me and my female colleague a lump sum of $21,000 to compensate for continuous, discriminatory under payment in salary.
I was 46 years old before I finally got to work for an organisation led by a woman. I had then been in the job market for 28 years. 28 years.
Through all of the memories of the past and the development of my personal situation, I never, ever thought that young women would still be fighting for themselves, their bodies, and their rights in 2017.
I am heartbroken.
All the talks, all the progress, all the advances (Canada now has a 50% female Cabinet for instance), mean so little in the end.
By the way this new President is normalized and presented by citizens and network media, the self-professed “greatest country in the world” (per Hillary Clinton, Barrack and Michelle Obama just a few months ago (!)) is telling women to go back to the kitchen, keep silent, condone sexual harassment and assault, and just smile and look pretty.
Marches like the ones of today, are loudly and clearly telling the world that engaged citizens will not stand for it.
So here’s hoping (once again) for a better future.