So, this is going to be an unusual post for me. I have avoided writing anything that may be seen as political or feminist since I started this blog, not just that i’m worried at the attention it would get but that I feel that I will not do the topic justice. But there are times when I have an opinion that won’t stay quiet in my head. I myself, am not a political person, and for the longest time never considered me a feminist… yet lately, especially the past year or so i’ve noticed more negativity towards women, especially in the internet universe.
It really all started a couple of years ago when a friend introduced me to Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency webpage and in particular the vids she had created on the Women vs. Tropes series. I was impressed and blown away at the video’s and the relevance in pop culture. Anita’s videos were well-organized and her topics always seemed well researched and communicated. I then sat down and watched all her other videos that day, if I remember correctly. It got my mind thinking in new directions, as an aspiring writer I began to fear that i’ve been writing poorly designed characters or that I’ve been using these age old tropes or plot devices without really thinking about them. I was also surprised at how many shows, movies and comics still used those tropes (The Smurffet Principle and Women In Refrigerators were the real eye openers for me).
I don’t think I need to go into any detail when I saw what Anita had put up with when she released her kickstarter for her new video series. Seeing what she had to go through, the comments, and hate surprised me. I mean really I was in shock to see such mean things happening to a women who really wasn’t hurting anybody. I myself didn’t understand where all this hate was coming from, I didn’t understand why people were so upset at the video series, I mean, c’mon, just don’t hit play if you don’t like it!
And this is when it really hit me that such narrow minded and hatful thinking still existed in the world. Whenever I had heard Feminist before, I always go back to the vote, and how women struggled to obtain the vote in their rightful countries. Being from Canada there were a number of amazing women who stood up and took the stand for equality, and in history class we are taught that they won. After all growing up there were women working in any career they wanted, so to me in my innocence didn’t think it was still an issue.
Of course, now I see that I was mistaken.
But, why? Again, I struggle to try to understand why there is a lack of respect in the world, and begin to ask my parents questions about how I was raised and why I never felt discriminated against because of gender. I love talking to my dad, the two of us have a great understanding of each other and I always feel open to ask him anything, and we can get into some amazing conversations and debates on a number of subjects without me getting flustered and tongue tied as I do with others. I began to ask my dad about how he and my mom raised me, and how I never felt like a feminist but that I never considered myself hindered in any direction of my life.
He then told me about how he was raised. A farm boy, on a poor farm, my dad was the second youngest of eight kids. He told me how he saw his older sisters work hard and were able to get into top universities and managed to work in some amazing careers. I have an aunt who worked for the Government of Canada, an aunt who is a Patent Lawyer, and an Aunt who works with Chemical Patents. With such humble roots, my grandparents always made sure to give their kids the opportunities that they did not have. Because he saw this as a child, he knew that women could become anything and applied that potential in me when I was a kid.
We continued to talk about my mother’s upbringing too, she had similar humble roots, perhaps even more poor than my father with all of his siblings. My mother lost her father at a young age and had to watch her mother struggle to learn how to live independently with three young children. Of course they had a very supporting community to help them out, but there seemed to be that worry instilled in my mom about having to learn to be independent, that she passed on to both my brother and myself.
Now, we bring those two different backgrounds together to create my own childhood memories. Yes, as a girl I did have Barbies, and dolls, and several fairy tale books to read as well as TV with all of their subliminal messaging. However, I remember also getting boys lego and spending hours with my brother in a sea of mix match lego from several different sets creating who knows and playing together. I also have memories of helping my dad build the deck, hammering nails, playing street hockey, soccer and baseball. Even when I got older my father taught me to use the band-saw, scroll-saw and other hardware when I asked for it or if I had a project that I wanted to do. LOL, i learns how to hammer nails before I learned how to sew!
It’s more than that too. Both my parents worked full time jobs, and if my mom was working late, or on weekends, my dad would look after us. He would make supper, do dishes, clean the house and other ‘feminine’ tasks. I remember when I was really young he actually went to my grandmother’s house for her help in baking a birthday cake for my mom. (He says he did it all himself, with my grandmother giving pointers).
Basically what I’m trying to get at is that I grew up in a household full of equality and respect. There was no one chore that only my mom or a girl would do. It was more to the point of whomever was home and free at the time to do the chore got to do it. Because of that openings, and respect my parents gave each other, I myself never felt that I couldn’t do something. Both my parents made sure to keep my potential and interests open and free to explore whenever I felt like it. And because of that, I never felt the discrimination that I’ve seen on the internet lately. Maybe I lived a sheltered life, or maybe I was brought up in a way that respect towards others is second nature to me.
It brings me to my two cents that I wanted to share. Throughout the sites i’ve read, the videos i’ve watched, many seem to point to societies shortcomings, of pop culture, hollywood and other media as a contributing factor to why such hate and misunderstandings, lack of respect and misogyny is still active today. I do agree to a point. I believe though that some of this could be traced back far deeper into the upbringings of these individuals. If there was no respect shown to women while they were growing up, why would they think any differently? I’m not trying to blame parents, but they do say the first five years of a child’s life is the most important, and I also believe that the home environment shapes the child’s frame of mind.
I just think that there is more to this then changing media, movies and the like. I really think that if we do want change, we need to start by talking to our children.