Peter Honours International Women’s Day

Monday, March 8th was “International Women’s Day”, so that’s what I will be writing about, or at least one aspect of it.

Let me begin by restating how much I support the strong women whom I am lucky enough to have in my life. I admire your enthusiasm, your tenacity and your strength. Many of you have been a major influence on me, and helped me understand a lot of things that life has thrown at me, both personally and as part of a collective, be it music, work or basic human rights issues.

As is the norm, of course, there is never a shortage of “naysayers” who question the need for such a day. To me, these are at least relatives of those folks who whine about attempts to address any social issues that don’t directly benefit them. You know them, they are everywhere. You can hear their plaintive “mating calls”, “Why isn’t there a ‘White History Month’, ‘All Lives Matter’ and that most egregious of all attempts at misdirection, the effort to build a “Straight Pride” movement. Thankfully the laughable attempt to organize a rally in support in the latter “blow for freedom” was treated with the contempt it richly deserved, as only a handful of people attended the event, which was held in a major American city.

I do find it sad that there are those who seek to undermine the social rights of others and go as far as organizing others, and building a movement. Constant vigilance is mandatory for those of us who seek to allow others to have their own seat at the table of the Banquet of Life.

Returning to women’s issues, while most women around the world have the right to vote, there are jurisdictions in which gender based inequalities still exist. For example, in Saudi Arabia, it was only recently that women gained the right to drive an automobile.

Before we snicker up our sleeves because we are so “advanced” here in North America, let’s look at our own society, which is heavily influenced by underlying misogyny. Our hands aren’t as clean as we might think. Here’s a few examples.

 

I submit the treatment of Kamala Harris as my first case. Not only is she bearing the burden of her gender, but she has the added “disadvantage” of her race. Ignoring her strength, intelligence and political acumen, there are some who attack her racial origins, her past efforts as an officer of the California justice system and her previous “sexual behaviour”. (Irony is a supporter of the previous administration criticizing anyone for their “perceived” morality.) Now these attacks are mainly based on rumours and innuendo. The offensive offensive went as far as having a “news” entertainer intentionally mispronounce her name. Since January, of course, she can be referred to as “Madam Vice President”, and I am sure that even he can say that properly.

The undercurrent is also blatantly obvious in social media posts. I have frequently seen a picture posted of a female law enforcement officer, and it’s not long before the “catcalls” start to show up. “Oh, she could frisk me ANYTIME!” Of course this brilliant statement is supported by the usual “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” comments of his “adoring fans”, as the inanities trail off into the sunset. The same is true of many pictures of women posted on social media. Regardless of their talents and abilities, there are some who boil the whole thing down to the woman’s sexual attractiveness. Sad, very sad, as far as I am concerned.

Recently a picture of two Tomcats was posted. In the picture, one had collided with the other on the ground, damaging one’s wing. The fact is that Tomcats, like any machine, can break. Many factors could have caused this particular mishap. There could have been failure of the brakes or the towing gear or the throttle linkage, there could have been human error. In any case, there are a lot of reasons why this minor accident could have happened. It was posted on a plastic modelling site. The poster said in the caption that in order to give people a laugh, he thought that the pilot involved was probably female. Then he added the standard “disclaimer” that of course there are many great female pilots. Someone pointed out that they didn’t find it very funny. Of course this was met with a barrage of “It’s just a joke! “, “Where’s your sense of humour?” and other phrases of indignation and outrage that people of a certain mindset call to arms when they must defend their privilege from those pesky “libruls”.

Finally, the U.S. Navy has announced that Captain Amy Bauernschmidt will take command of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. She will be the first woman to command an American aircraft carrier, which has an attached Carrier Air Wing and is part of a U.S. Navy carrier group. In this position she will have more offensive power at her fingertips than all but a few nations. She will command around 4300 personnel as they operate a floating city which can project American power anywhere accessible for everything from “freedom of navigation ” exercises to humanitarian assistance in the event of a natural disaster.

She has served as a naval aviator and through her performance and potential has gone through tours on a squadron, as a department head, squadron command, shore duty and vessel command at sea, gradually building toward this position, command of a carrier. Don’t forget that at all times throughout her career, she has been in competition with other very talented and intelligent people and she has prevailed.

So the announcement is made, and how do you think many “people” reacted? There were the usual comments about this being “political correctness gone wrong “, and “why mention this?”. I even read snarky comments about ” yes, but wait until she has to park it!”

Whoever posted that last remark was being either woefully or willfully ignorant. The captain of an aircraft carrier is an administrator, who has overall control over the ship. Interestingly enough, as she rose through the ranks and got experience as a member of the ship’s company, she would indeed have had to “park” smaller vessels as a part of her duties as a watch officer. She would have had to be very good at it, as well. While she wouldn’t physically have to “park the carrier”, her judgment would be an integral part of the carrier’s successful completion of that important evolution. She will be under constant scrutiny during her tenure as the captain, subject to removal from her post at any time for anything which happens to go wrong. As Truman famously said “The buck stops here.”

The USS Abraham Lincoln

Yet small minded people use their own prejudices to disparage her formidable achievement. I don’t know whether they are insecure, are afraid of strong women or are sticking their fingers in their ears so they can’t (don’t? won’t?) hear the sound of progress, of the world changing, of more and more people standing up for the rights of others, working together to change people’s attitudes, to change society.

I think that every day should be “International Women’s Day “, and we should all work together to make the world a better, more inclusive place. I am proud to do my bit to help us reach this goal, and I know that you are too, or you wouldn’t have read this far.

See you soon.

 

2 Responses to “Peter Honours International Women’s Day”

  1. ….and you are “wonderman”. Lovely column.

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