QUEBEC — I was reminded yesterday — the day before Women’s Equality Day — by someone on Facebook that I do not have equal rights as a woman, and that the patriarchal system very much wants to keep it that way to greater or lesser degrees around the world.
Without any prior discussion, Facebook deleted one of my postings there promoting GoTopless Day rallies, claiming someone had complained about it. It was the entry that wondered if any Canadian politicians would show up at one of the events across the country, and it had been shared on the Facebook page of the Montreal GoTopless group. The post had a photo from the U.S. GoTopless organization’s home page of a bare-chested woman holding a leaflet promoting Top Freedom — that is, the right to go topless in public settings where men are permitted to do so.
No doubt, somebody who saw it on the Montreal group’s page did complain — some right-wing conservative-minded individual who sees our breasts as nothing but objects of sexual desire and feels he or she has the right to dictate the parameters of women’s lives. And Facebook supported that individual, thereby putting all women in their unequal places.
Yes, it is a small example of the inequality we face as women. There are far, far, far worse examples around the world, of course. Even in countries like Canada, where the leaders of the Conservative and NDP parties refused to participate in a debate on women’s issues on this Women’s Equality Day. Do you think they would have refused to discuss men’s issues?
“We still have the wage gap. Rates of violence against women, they’re not going down,” said Jackie Hansen, a women’s rights campaigner for Amnesty International and a spokesperson for Up for Debate. “We need a stand-alone debate because it’s clear that in the mainstream debates these discussions aren’t happening.” Up For Debate has highlighted three main “themes” it wants addressed: ending violence against women, eliminating gender-based pay inequality, and support for women in leadership roles.
In the same report:
“This Conservative party is not comfortable with notions of equality as a public priority … They’re not interested in what they’d call social levelling or social engineering,” said Sylvia Bashevkin, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, recalling that in 2006 the Conservative government controversially removed language about equality from the mandate of Status of Women Canada.
Inequality is something most females learn about at a very young age — again, to varying degrees around the world and, on a micro level, within each household. But more and more today, many transwomen who have essentially given up the male privilege that comes with the patriarchal system are experiencing the same sorts of discrimination other women are forced to endure — and then some. Transwomen probably encounter more violence on a per-capita basis, as well as inequality in the workplace, if they can even get jobs.
So the fight for women’s rights is transwomen’s fight, too. Indeed, regardless of one’s path to womanhood, we are all one in this fight for equality.
In fact, the quest for women’s rights should be the concern of everybody in the LGBT community. Because we all face discrimination from right-wingers who feel they should have the power to dictate the parameters of all lives on Earth. Make no mistake about it: some of those right-wingers would slaughter the LGBT community in ISIS-like acts of genocide, and would treat women as little more than sex slaves and kitchen workers.
I experienced a small bit of gender discrimination yesterday when Facebook put me in my second-class place.
It made me angry. It gave me a small taste of what so many women experience around the world. It gave me an idea of how they feel.
(Credit: Top illustration from Wikimedia Commons)
“Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life.” — Alice Bailey