I grew up on a farm with my brother and sister. Every Sunday I went with my dad, brother, uncle and cousins to feed the cows at our other farm yard. I spent most summers riding my bike with my brother, 3 male cousins and another male friend who lived near us. I was expected to take my fair share of household chores including dishes and mowing the lawn. I had Barbies, Lego and an entire box of farming toys. I was given every opportunity my brother had.
Many of the sports teams I played on comprised mostly of boys but I never felt excluded or less valuable because I was a girl. I was a member of the GirlGuides which provided me with a lot of opportunities to learn everything from sewing to cooking, camping and knot-tying. In fact, my team and I won the overall award at a local event that included many scout and guide troupes and involved compass and map work, hiking, critical thinking and problem solving activities. I was the only girl in my high-school woodworking class and received an award for passing with 100%.
My entire life I’ve been surrounded by amazing women. Women who are smart, creative, successful, positive, independent, hardworking, thoughtful, leaders, empowered, sensitive, caring, driven and powerful. Women who are the best in their field. Women who are paramedics, jail guards, teachers, early childhood educators, nurses, entrepreneurs, accountants, sales people, doctors, farmers, welders, mechanics, truck drivers, admin assistants, lawyers, personal trainers, bakers, chefs, yoga teachers, stay-at-home mums, caregivers, musicians, managers, clerical staff and business owners.
Most men I know respect women and treat them the same as they would a male coworker or friend. I work for a company that believes in gender equality. I’m given the same respect and opportunities as any other person, male or female, and work with men who treat me as their equal. I work hard to prove I’m good at my job. Not good for a woman, just good.
Today was just like any other day for me. I went to the gym. I ran some reports for work. I took the garbage out. I folded laundry. I didn’t wear red. I didn’t attend a march. I didn’t participate in “A Day Without Women”. (Men would be fine. My husband was no worse for wear after my month vacation).
So why, after everything I stated above, am I writing a post for International Women’s Day?
Because when I was in university a girl I knew was raped. I found her. The
guy asshole acted like it was no big deal… “she didn’t say no”. She wasn’t awake when I found her, had no recollection the next day and I know for a fact that she was not coherent enough to say “yes”. We went to get a rape kit done the next morning and the hospital told her that the only way they could do one was if she was going to press charges. Reluctantly she agreed – because it was her body and she had every right to know what happened – but the case never made it to court and charges were dropped due to lack of evidence.
Because a few years ago when I took a managerial job in a male dominated industry, I heard through the grapevine that many men thought there was no way I could be successful as a female manager and that the business would close its doors within the year.
Because I know other men are appalled when they ask my husband “what’s your wife making you for supper to today?” And he tells them that he is cooking as I’m on the road for work. Again.
Because it’s ok for a guy to not want to take parental leave but as soon as a woman suggests it might be a good option for her, people act like she’s crazy.
Because I’m very fortunate to have so many opportunities but there are women all around the world being oppressed by men. Women who aren’t strong enough to stand up on their own to those who control them.
Because I believe that everyone needs to be equal. I think career opportunities should be based on skills not gender. Women should start taking the garbage out and know how to check their oil. They should learn how to change a tire and operate power tools.
Because I want to be the hardest-working/best/nicest/smartest/most successful/strongest … without the tag line “for a woman”.
Because why the hell would I want to grow my hair 70 feet long so a prince could come rescue me when I could just kick the damn door in myself.