I am a white, middle-aged, middle-class, over-weight man. I grew up in a solidly middle class family. I live in Western Canada. My options for what to do for a living, for what to do with my life, have been limited only by my own limitations, self-imposed or otherwise. If I wanted to be a lawyer, I had only to apply myself and go get it. The same is true for just about any other job. I am a privileged person. I live in a wealthy country, I am white, and I am a man. The world , at least the part of it I live in, is geared for me to achieve whatever I want. That is just true. I don’t know that I have thought about this all that much in my life.
I am thinking about it now though. Why? Because I have 2 daughters. I want for them to see a vision for their lives and apply themselves and go get it. If one of them sees herself as a Neuro-surgeon, I want her to be able to see that and to be able to achieve it. Or a Welder. Or the CEO or COO of a corporation. I want for them the opportunities that I had. I didn’t do much with my opportunities, but they were there. I want them to be there for my girls. Use them or don’t use them, I want them to have every opportunity and the choice to use it or not at their disposal.
They don’t really have the same opportunity though, do they? There are only 48 Fortune 1000 companies with female CEOs. 48! It is rare and hard to achieve. One of my daughters would like to be a Film Director. Wikipedia lists 114 Female Canadian Film Directors and 429 American Female Film Directors. I gave up counting the Male Film Directors. It is possible, I am not saying it is not possible, but the road is harder. Why? Why is is harder? Is it because less women want to do this? I doubt that that is so? I really do.
I am not sure that I have spent any time at all making sure women did not get ahead, or fought against a women being my boss, or being promoted. If I have, I surely don’t remember. What I know though, is that I haven ever actively said, “you know what, we have a double standard and it is not right!” We need to though, we all need to. My daughters are just as capable, just as amazing as any young man I have met, actually they are better! They are outstanding, amazing, smart, funny, hard working young ladies who can be anything, they need to not only know that, they need others to know it too. You see, the problem is not just about them limiting themselves, the problem is their chances are limited by others. They have fewer role models to follow, fewer people to show them the way. They must not just see a path, they may have to carve a new path, and I hate that.
They can do it, I don’t doubt that, but I wouldn’t have had to, any career I might have chosen there were other men, who had done it first, I had only to see what they did and do the same thing. I think my daughters should have the same thing, a role model who shows them how to be what they want to be. I am a feminist because I know that all people, regardless of sex, colour, race, sexual identity, size, (or whatever other way we make people “US” and “THEM”) are equal. Not the same, God bless the differences, but we are all equal, or deserve to be.
We all deserve to go for it, to be able to achieve it or not based on who we are, not on who you are. We deserve to succeed or fail based on our own abilities and limitations, not on imposed abilities and limitations.