Editorial: Everyday Feminism and You

  • Flipping through this week’s edition of The Link, it is obvious that sexism is rampant. Graphic Mariana Voronovska

“Because it’s 2015.”

That was Justin Trudeau’s answer when a reporter asked him during his swearing-in ceremony about the importance of his gender-balanced cabinet.

His answer made national and international headlines. It was short and simple, but it was spot on.

It’s the first time the Prime Minister has created gender-parity in his cabinet. The change has inspired many people to hope for further female-minded reform during Trudeau’s time as Canada’s leader.

While we’re lauding the government for taking steps towards equal gender representation, it’s important to turn our attention from the happenings in Ottawa and look closer at our own communities as we make a push for equality.

Flipping through this week’s edition of The Link, it is obvious that sexism is rampant. It’s everywhere—in the news, in our workplaces, in our schools and on the streets.

One of our editors, an attendant at several women’s rights protests in the recent past, was present at last week’s Take Back The Night march where he witnessed for the first time this year aggressive and offensive behaviour from onlookers.

Some leered at the crowd as they marched down the street. Others wolf-whistled. Another young man jeered at participants, laughing, telling them to go home.

This is only one small example of how female rights are not being taken seriously in our day-to-day lives.

Sure, things have gotten better. However, when making blanket statements like “women’s rights have generally improved over the years,” it’s crucial that we also specify which women have benefitted the most from the fight against sexism.

Put bluntly, things have improved the most for white women.

“Put bluntly, things have improved the most for white women.”

Consider Val-d’Or.

Nine provincial police officers were recently accused of longstanding sexual abuse against First Nations women filed last May. As the investigation is still underway, eight officers have been put on leave or transferred to administrative roles. The ninth officer is deceased. The allegations date back at least a decade meaning that for over ten years, sexual violence in Val-d’Or was blatantly ignored and dismissed.

Val-d’Or is a town only a few hours outside of Montreal and Take Back The Night happened in our very own streets.

And we can’t ignore what happens to thousands of people who are trans across Canada. They are victims of violence, threats and harassment every day. There isn’t a law protecting them from violence and assault. They can’t even go to the bathroom without being scrutinized.

We need to counteract the sexism and gendered violence in our society by making feminism a household topic of discussion. Let’s add to the momentum started by celebrities like Beyoncé, Laverne Cox and Emma Watson, who are raising awareness regarding women’s rights. We shouldn’t need celebrity endorsements to open up the feminist discourse at home, but they help.

Making a difference in our daily lives can start with something as simple as seeking out and listening to the voices of people of all genders who aren’t always given the chance to express their opinions and experiences.

When given the privilege to speak up, raise your voice for those who have been silenced for too long.

Justin Trudeau putting more women in positions of power is a good start to encouraging women to join politics. For those of us who aren’t cabinet ministers, it may be 2015, but sexist shit is still happening.

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