It is International Women’s Day 2018. This day means so much to me, not only as a feminist in the bell hooks-defined tradition, but as a woman raising children to be successful, proud, fundamentally good people. I was raised to believe that in Canada, I was equal, and that I didn’t have to worry about civil rights like “they” did in other parts of the world. There was no longer a need for feminism, there was no longer racism… and I believed this. I went to university, believing that this was true. I truly thought that we were all equal. I was wrong. That was my privilege. Being a white-appearing, cisgender, heteronormative female, in a fairly socialist country, with married, successful parents who provided me with a good education, I did not face the challenges that impact women in Canada and globally, for the most part. I thought stereotyping, and gender expectations, and a lifelong virgin/whore moral fear was just part of womanhood. I was assaulted, I was catcalled and told to take it as a compliment and that that was just something women had to deal with. I was constantly anxious. I was depressed and fearful, I assumed that I would be attacked anytime I was alone. And then I woke up. I woke up to the realization that while I lived a sheltered, Anglo-Christian, Canadian life, this was not the reality for most women. I woke up to the realization that a stranger grabbing me in public was not a cause for me to feel ashamed. I woke up to the realization that being perfect was unrealistic. I woke up to the realization that maintaining my virginity until my wedding night was not something to be proud of – it was a patriarchal construct to ensure that women were denied a sexual self and that created further shame surrounding sex. I woke up to the realization that I would be raising small humans that would look to me to learn how to act and how to treat others. Most importantly, they would look to me to see how they should allow themselves to be treated. I needed to reevaluate my thoughts. I needed to turn my shame, depression, fear and moral insecurity into action, advocacy and global citizenship. And so I am trying. I am doing my best. And I am honouring women.
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