We Can Do It… But…

I know I promised last week not to do a lot of Op/Ed pieces, however this one sprang quite organically from the constant emailing Sue and I do back and forth and so Sue and I happily share writing credit on this one.

It started with Bomb Girls.

The television show has brought a lot of discussion between myself and Sue in regards to the continued existence of sexism.

In the series, we revisit 1940s Toronto as women move into the factories to work on munitions for the troops. This was a job, the factory worker,  traditionally, before and after the war, that was held by men.

Gender should not be a reason for stopping anyone from accomplishment. It has waned but there are things that are still lacking Opportunity and Support.

It came to the fore of Sue’s mind when we were chatting with gifted actress Charlotte Hegele who plays Kate Andrews in Bomb Girls. Once we were off mic, Sue mentioned how some of Bomb Girls put her in mind of the film A League Of Their Own, which caused Charlotte to light up and say that should have been on her list of fave movies. What followed was a quick chat about how fun the film was, but also the underlying attitudes of the 40s. These women could play professional ball in uniforms (albeit skirts – that’s important, we’ll come back to that later) and yet despite having come that far, the continued battle of not only sexism but racism continued.

For the most part, I thought we, as a society, had come a long way since the 40s. Though let’s be honest, women were still fighting for equal pay for equal work, and women’s rights into the 80s.

But wait… it’s still here!

I like to think that everyone deserves the same opportunities to excel with the same backing and support. Which actually leads me into the finer point Sue and I started to make…

“There’s no crying in baseball!”

A NHL game will sell out, even here in TO where the Leafs don’t do so hot, not an opinion, just a fact. But you could get into a woman’s hockey game any time. Why is that?

I honestly believe that if contact was ruled out in a competition game between men and women, that the women would out skate and out shoot the men every time. Why, cause they have to develop their game on puck-handling and skating. This is not me saying that there isn’t skill involved for men’s hockey, of course there is. BUT when in doubt, it’s ok to check or take a swing at somebody.

Sherman, set the way back machine for the 2004-2005 NHL Season… oh wait. There wasn’t one. Well let’s take a look at the events around it.

Due to the inability of players and management to reach a monetary agreement, they cancelled the entire series, including the playoffs. The idea was presented that the Women’s Hockey League should be able to play for it, to say that this idea was unpopular amongst hockey fans is an understatement…

The original creation of the Stanley Cup was to be open to the BEST amateur hockey team in Canada, but since the early 60s, it’s been deemed for the NHL only. But with a cancelled season, should it not have been rewarded to the most deserving team…

No, of course not.

They would rather have no Stanley Cup champion than have it bestowed upon a team of professional female players for a year.

In North America, every little boy hockey fan grows up dreaming of playing in a Stanley Cup game and every little girl hockey fan grows up knowing she never will.

I honestly believe that if they ruled out contact in a playoff game between men and women’s teams and based it on puck-handling, skating ability and scoring, the women’s team would win. Men’s hockey has almost devolved into a breads and circuses mentality of body-checking and brawling. Don’t get me wrong, they do have skilled players, but when its all about bringing violence to the ice instead of a well-played game, we’ve regressed and lost part of what made the sport amazing to begin with.

No one goes to watch women play any sport, let alone pay scads of money to watch them play. But they’ll pay through the nose to watch men play. Consequently, the men are the ones who get the incentives, the attention. It’s business.

But if they would shift the focus to ability as opposed to gender, we could see a shift…

Instead… young women like 13-year old Chelsea Baker a baseball phenom if there ever was one, has detractors who say she should play softball, and leave baseball for the boys. Despite the fact that she sends the majority of the boys back to the dugout (in tears) after she strikes them out.

They say the boys are embarrassed that they are being struck out by a girl? Why is that? Shouldn’t they revel in her talent and cheer her on?

I mean can’t girls do anything boys can do?

It’s one thing to logically think something and reason it out…

Girls CAN do anything boys can do. Totally true.

BUT they don’t. And when they try, there are a million reasons for why they’re not allowed. No one will SAY “because you’re a girl,” because no one is ALLOWED to say that. It’ll be you’re not strong enough, it’s dangerous, dirty, demeaning. Or you haven’t been here as long, so your salary is lower. You’ve been here TOO long and the pay structure has changed since you started, so new hires get paid more to start now.

Because boys can’t hit girls, so they can’t play all out like they can with other boys.

Girls play slower, it’s boring and low scoring and not as exciting.

So people won’t buy tickets to watch so girls teams don’t get funded as much as boys teams. There’s no money in it. So even if they do get funded, they get less than the boys.

There are loads of reasons.

And perhaps reason is part of the problem.

Men pride themselves on logic and reason, and yet here we are… centuries of keeping women at a lower status in every form of civilized society. Women are TOO emotional, TOO soft, yet they have an extraordinarily high pain tolerance…

The qualities that are most valued in societies are not always found in women as a whole. Speed, strength, cunning, wisdom… hunters, gatherers, philosophers, warriors, leaders, kings and emperors. Yes, they existed, and it’s a fairly sweeping general statement, but it’s more often true than not.

It all comes down to one thing.

POWER.

The world covets it. Worships it. Strives to gain more. Value is placed on those who have it, and those who don’t are ridiculed. The scrawny teenaged boy in any high school can tell you that.

And power is not what women are. Not in the classic or traditional sense of the word.

The word was created by men, The Word was created by men. In every religion, in every class… every system of rule and civilization through the ages has been primarily ruled by men. Patriarchs. Women have always been the exception.

The only way to change it is with a shift of power, a global shift. And apparently lots and lots of time. Especially if the Olympics are any indicator…

Women’s boxing has now been made an official event… but they may be required to wear skirts…

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ken says:

    First off, I want to say that I am in no way saying that your point is ‘wrong’, I just wanted to bring up a few topics that I feel need to weigh in on the discussion. And OK, I am going to call you ‘wrong’ on a couple of points….
    Traditionally, and I’m talking from the time humanity took it’s first erect steps onto dry land on two feet, men have been hunters and women have been nurtures. They were made that way, they evolved that way, they each got quite good at it. Women even developed what we now call ‘maternal instinct’, and that has been the root of many good things. Women are also the only ones who can bear and nurture children. Physically, there are MANY differences between males and females, almost all of which support this distinction.
    Now, as for socio-economical factors, some may remember a time not all that long ago when the average family was a man with a job and a woman at home, possibly a child or two, maybe a dog or cat. The man would obviously be making enough money at his job to support his family, and the children grew up for the most part well adjusted, well fed, did their chores and homework under the watchful eye of a nurturing mother. Then, this thing came along that we call ‘the War’, which forced men out of their homes and jobs to go fight in another country, and many women left their homes and their children to go work in factories to support the war machine. Some would say that this was a necessary happening, and maybe it was… the problem I think needs more looking into (however futile it may be, I imagine it is WAY to late to effect any real change…) is when the men returned home from the war and the women started their movement to continue in the workforce. Now, this is the point where you have to seperate the sexist aspect of what I am saying and look solely at the math. At that point, the available workforce effectively doubled, while the number of job openings remained essentially the same. This of course very quickly leads to the economic situation all too many of us know now; employers can pay less for a job because if you won;t do it for that money, there are several people behind you who will. Samw with the housing market, when there’s more houses for sale than people buying, prices take huge hits. It al boils down to supply and demand, and since in the job market demand has outweighed supply for quite some time, we now live in a horrible economy. Then there’s the ‘home’, and the whole idea of ‘family values’. It would be difficult to present a factual argument to say that ‘home’ and ‘family’ are fine these days, wouldn’t it?? I see the Rogers Home Security commercial now that says “now you can see that your kids arrive home safely!!” as they show a person viewing a camera on their front door on their iPhone as their child comes home. I don’t know about you, but my mom had an even more reliable way to know when I got home safely… she was there!! Not only that, if she felt I wasn’t arriving home safely at a reasonable time, she would damn well go find me!!
    Now, I’m not saying that every parent would all of a sudden become perfect if mommy stayed home and daddy worked, and every child would grow up perfect and there would be no evil in the world… but I will say that it probably helps.
    Oh, and I did mention that I was going to point out a couple of points I feel you were indeed wrong about. First off, women’s tennis and beach volleyball are both very well attended professional sports. Also, there have been many non-contact hockey games played between men and women’s teams, my hometown used to do it as a yearly event, and the men always beat the women by a significant margin. Men are typically stronger skaters than women, especially in short bursts. Although, a glace down the current world record speed skating times shows that men are consistantly stronger skaters across the board, even at distance.
    Anywho, I enjoyed reading this (now that it’s finished!!) and it is certainly a topic that is well deserving of thought and discussion, as long as those discussions can avoid being arguments!!

    1. TD Rideout says:

      I think that’s one of the reasons Sue and I posted it, to generate thought and discussion, without arguments.

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