It’s 2021. Some of us had hoped, by now, for the realization of gender equity in the workplace and the social sphere. Boards that include women perform better. Countries like Finland – led, as it happens, by Sanna Marin, a woman, have equalized family leave for each parent. These are signs of progress, to be sure, for both women and men.
Yet, Covid-19 has brought about what is being dubbed a “she-cession,” with women suffering greater economic disparity than their male counterparts, the latter of whom more often hold the types of white-collar jobs that survive staff cutbacks – indeed; they are likely the ones dispensing the cutbacks – while women are more likely to have been laid off (disclosure: myself included), depend on “essential” yet low-paid, front-line work such as cashiering at the grocery store, or shoulder a disproportionate burden for care of children or other family members in need.
But I don’t even need to tell you all this, because you’re probably aware.
More to the point, we still need feminism in 2021 because attitudes and dismissals like the following persist. This from a conversation about housing in Metro Vancouver and attendant population movements:
A transcription of the conversation follows, for accessibility.
Our friend Vladimir, who is not known to me personally, blames feminism for the falling birth rate in Canada. He may be joking, or serious, or trolling – it is so difficult to say in the online world, where tone fails to convey meaning. Yet that is immaterial. Rather than engaging in the dialogue, as do the other respondents, Vladimir declines to acknowledge other factors which may result in the outcomes he blames feminism for, namely reduced birth rates and the inherent collapse of the social system as a result. No pressure, ladies.
Apparently for Vladimir, we are simply concubines, population-pumping machines who somewhere got the silly notion that we have two brain cells to rub together in our feeble minds.
Whether serious or silly, attitudes and comments like Vladimir’s persist, and denigrate women of all stripes, accomplishments, and persuasions. Rather than focusing on the good we might accomplish, and the contributions we might make to society, we are left expending emotional and intellectual energy simply proving, pleading, and insisting on our right to occupy the space we do, apply our gifts and talents in the world, and be justly respected – and compensated – for them.
Vladimir may or may not be joking, but his words have an effect regardless.
This exchange is minor compared to what some women face – but this is where it begins, where it becomes enabled. When women bold enough to stand up for themselves are assailed, it frightens the more tenuous into timidity. This is unacceptable. It is a weak person who feels the need to oppress others.
I don’t mean to slander Vladimir’s character. After all, I don’t know him, and he may be a lovely human being and an equalist whose humour failed to come across. But he is unfortunately a very apt example of the kind of discourse and dismissal that needs to stop.
I did not dignify his remark with further response. But such commentary ought to be outed and exposed for what it is: misogyny. No one demeans “masculinists,” after all: men are routinely given the benefit of the doubt.
To be sure, there are excellent men in the world who do hold women as equals. Would that more of them would come to the party.
Equity is not a zero-sum game; it is a circumstance that benefits men and women alike. Let’s make 2021 the end of misogyny, starting with the low-hanging fruit that is chauvinism and frat-boy humour.
Do you have a solution for challenging prevailing attitudes and creating greater equality for all genders? Let me know in the comments!
This conversation transpired following an article posted in a forum discussing the housing crisis in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Copied as posted, including typographical and grammatical errors.
Teresa: “Without immigration, there would be no growth in Canada’s millennial population.” They leave me in suspense. Are Millennials simply equalling the replacement rate, or are they defecting elsewhere? Or perhaps it’s an existential challenge to spread Millennials’ relatively thin resources yet further? Thoughts on this?
Steven: Teresa I would take it one step further. Without immigration there would be no growth in Canada’s population. But I think this is the same situation in most developed nations.
Sam: Teresa, one idea is that in developed countries people are having less children and later in life. This is due to more opportunities especially for woman. Most family are having less then 2 kids which does not replace the aging population.
I have noticed that in Vancouver some friends are choosing to not have second or delaying second baby due to cost and stuff. However, I have not heard of such things in Calgary.
This also doesn’t related to daily stats…
Vladimir: You can thank feminism for that!
Teresa: I agree with you both [referring to Steven and Sam], but I’m not sure why they singled out the Millennial population as not being replaced. If it was specific to Vancouver, I could absolutely see Millennials moving away to start families, but it says Canada. Perhaps it was a moment of shoddy reporting.
Teresa: Vladimir I’m not sure I understand your comment.
Vladimir: Teresa rise in feminism has led to decline in berth rates and declining populations. To prevent social security systems collapse and to keep the real estate ponzi scheme going, government has to add people via immigration.
Teresa: Vladimir correlation is not causation: increased education also leads to reduced birth rates. I suggest that feminism is a red herring – and caution you against chauvinism. Lack of job security, livable wages, affordable housing, family support and out-sized student debt loads are more likely among the culprits. And immigration – it’s as old as history itself. Nothing new there.
Vladimir: That’s what feminists believe… 🙂