An interviewer on the radio this morning was talking about a campaign to change family laws in Canada in order to prevent men who rape women from getting access to the children born out of that rape. (I could write an entire post in response to the five-minute segment I heard…)
Then I flipped open my beloved Geez magazine and read an interesting, though somewhat depressing, article about feminist theory. I learned that, according to the United Nations, poor girls and women are the group of people most disenfranchised by war, economic recession and environmental degradation, and that poor women, women of colour, and transgender women in the U.S. are “the most brutalized by patriarchy.”
A couple hours later a friend posted a link on Facebook to a blog called MasculinityU, where I read an article written by men and calling all men to start speaking out against domestic violence and challenging those who say domestic violence is a women’s issue; it’s not because, in many ways, it’s more of a male problem than anything. Apparently 1 in 4 American women will experience abuse by men in their lifetime.
These provocative topics have sabotaged my thoughts today and gotten my feminist tendencies all worked up, but what really puts them into perspective are the last two evenings I’ve spent in the company of some fantastic women. (I swear I don’t usually have a social life this impressively busy.) Monday night was the Christmas cookie exchange that I wrote about earlier — more of an excuse for a group of women to get to know each other better than an actual requirement for cookies, but hey, whatever it takes to get a group of women together for an evening of uninhibited conversation! Tuesday night was Ladies’ Poker Night, 2nd edition. I’m a very new poker player (and I really emphasize new), so it was a bit intimidating to sit down at a table with girls who have played Niagara Falls and Toronto ‘underground’ after-hours games.
The two events were rather different environments, as you can imagine, but that didn’t matter one bit. Whether cuddling a newborn on the couch while sipping hot chocolate and talking about birth stories, or polishing off a bottle of red wine while working on my (non-existent) bluff and sneaking peeks at the cheat sheet, a group of women can always find somewhere to connect. I hung with a midwife and self-professed feminist (yay!), a funeral director, fashion designer, restaurant owner, real estate agent, a nurse, a domestic abuse support worker, all of us mothers. From Japan and Greece to Newfoundland and northern Ontario, somehow all of us have found ourselves in this little corner of the world and are living our lives and raising our families. What I love most of all is how profoundly different we all are as individuals: our various life experiences and ages and pasts have collided to create the people we are and the unique approaches we have to life.
Back to the issues cited at the beginning of this post, I am coming to understand more and more how important it is for women to spend time together without men around. Women need safe, open spaces to talk about the issues that confuse us, thrill us, concern us, fulfill us. I think often women feel self-conscious about asking certain questions and we all wonder about definitions of normalcy. Not that I advocate that man-hating stance held by harder-core “femi-nazis,” as I’ve heard them called, but women will find strength in each other in a way that men cannot provide. Women need each other and the more we stick together, the stronger we can stand against the many threats that should not exist in today’s world.
Philosophizing aside, I’m still recovering from not getting enough sleep for two successive nights, but I’ve been out having so much fun! I have to admit, I can’t remember the last time 10:30 has come and gone and I still feel indomitable, as if I could keep going for hours on end. It brings back memories of my university years… Alas, the children continue to wake up at 6:30 a.m., with no regard whatsoever for my evening social life, so I’ve been yawning my through the days, aided by a few strong cups of coffee.
So if you’re reading this with a cup of coffee in hand, please raise it to women sticking together! And then drop me a line to share your thoughts on feminism, society, or whatever’s flitting through your mind right now.