Categories
Life Memory Lane

The Fight for Equality

When I entered the workforce in my late teens/early twenties, the fight for equality was just starting. When I think of where we are now, it seems almost unbelievable how far we’ve come. Women entering the workforce now have almost no idea what it was like in the 70’s.

I’m going to relate a couple of situations that I experienced back then.

The first situation was when I got a part time job pumping gas. There were no self-serve gas stations back then – attendants pumped your gas, checked your oil, and cleaned your windshield. You never even had to get out of your vehicle to pay; attendants came to your window to accept payment. I was hired by the guy on the evening shift. I looked like a young lad – short and thin, when a very short hair cut. Until you looked at me up close, which the owner did one day. He felt it was unsuitable to have a “girl” pumping gas and I lost my part time job. Funny how it because suitable when self-serve gas stations opened. (Interesting fact – did you know consumers were promised cheaper gas by pumping it themselves? Funny that never happened, isn’t it?)

A similar situation happened when I got a part time job as a DJ. The owner of the disco company reluctantly “allowed” me to play at weddings and parties, until one night they were stuck and needed someone to cover in a club. Then it became my second full time job. When the owner went on vacation, the vice president of the company promoted me to area supervisor and I started helping to install discos and train DJs. Until the owner returned and was very upset about that turn of events. When I lost that job, I went to New York City and ended up employed by Juliana’s Sound Services in Manhattan, a predominantly female DJ company.

The Good Old Days?

When I started working in an office, dresses or skirts were mandatory. There were rules – so far below the knee, so far above the ankle, no bare midriff, no halter tops, no going bra less (I always wondered how they tested for that). When tellers at the Bank of Nova Scotia were given the right to wear slacks to work, it wasn’t long until most women were given the same right. The first step towards equality.

Outside the office, women were discriminated against as well, in the increased cost of products and services. Let’s take razors as an example. Razors for women were more expensive, despite being almost identical. The only main difference is the handles were pink. Must have been expensive pink.

Besides products, services were more expensive as well. The one that irritated me the most was dry cleaning. The cost of dry cleaning for women was almost 30% more. It irritated me so much, I started to lie to my dry cleaner. Here was a typical conversation when dropping things off:

2 men’s pants, 3 men’s shirts, 1 dress.

“These are women’s pants.”

No, they aren’t. They’re my brothers.

“No, the button is on the other side.”

Ha! I wonder if my brother knows that.

“This is a woman’s shirt”

No, it isn’t. It my husband’s.

“The buttons are on the wrong side.”

Wow, I guess my husband didn’t notice that.

“The material is really soft too.”

Yeah, he likes soft materials.

Staring war ensues until he gives in.

Reluctantly.

But I hated having to do that every time I had to drop off dry cleaning.

Equal doesn’t mean looking the same

It’s worth mentioning that my shirts were not the frilly kind. I’ve never been the frilly type – in the 70’s and 80’s I was too busy believing that emulating a man would help my career and let me be taken more seriously. So, you have to picture me in white business shirt, short hair, and tailored pin stripe suits with padded shoulders. No frills.

By the 90’s, friends were calling me a feminist. No, I’m not a feminist I would say; I’m an equalist. Why should I be treated any different. If a man had a rough day at work and stopped by a bar to relax with a drink on his way home, that was acceptable. But for a woman to do the same was not. If a male manager raised his voice to a staff member, he was “authoritative” (considered a good trait at the time), but if a female manager did the same, she was a “bitch” or maybe it was “her time of the month”.

I now realize that I’m more than an equalist – I am a feminist. As all women should be. It’s amazing how far we’ve come. We can do the same jobs, we have the same rights, and those who feel that a woman’s place is in the kitchen are quickly becoming a minority.

But we’re not there yet.

So, what made me think about this now?

A bra.

Actually two bras.

I bought two bras at a Giant Tiger store in Sutton, Ontario. Signs around the store hanging from the ceiling said “Don’t try clothes on”, so I tried them on at home, and they didn’t fit.

When I went to return them, I was told I couldn’t. It was “unsanitary”. It was a young lady, who told me that they were like underwear. I had an email from Giant Tiger’s head office, stating that “Bras, and swim tops such as tankini and bikini tops are not to be classified as undergarments and will be refunded.” The sales clerk phoned the manager, who said I could return it “this time only”.

I’m not trying to slam the store. This Giant Tiger store actually does a lot of good in the community, and I love Giant Tiger. I love the one in Newmarket, in Stouffville, in Lindsay, and the two in North Bay. But here we have a store that hires predominantly pretty young women, who tell me that returned bras (still on hanger with all tags) have to be thrown out when they’re returned because they’re unsanitary.

Despite being a franchise, I was told they could make their own rules, that they didn’t have to follow the rules of their head office. I think they should read their franchise agreement again. I’ve seldom seen one that includes that clause.

I asked why they were considered unsanitary – I’m way too old to be a lactating female. What is the difference if a man returns a t-shirt? What if I returned a t-shirt that I tried on without a bra? No answer.

Because there is no answer.

There are still those who feel that it’s acceptable to have different standards and rules for men and women.

There are still those who believe that it’s okay to pay women less than men, or to deny them promotion opportunities because they might take time off to start a family.

There are still those who feel it’s appropriate to treat a woman as sexual object – the sex trade illustrates that.

In the Euro 2021 beach handball games this year, the men’s team wore shorts and tank tops. The Norwegian women’s team wore thigh-length elastic shorts during their bronze medal match against Spain in Bulgaria, to protest against the regulation bikini-bottom design. They were fined 1,500 euros total ($1,700) for “improper clothing”. Women are required to wear midriff-baring tops and bikini bottoms “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg” and a maximum side width of 4 inches, according to International Handball Federation regulations.

Norway beach handball team fined for wearing shorts, not bikini bottoms

Pink has offered to pay the fine. I should listen to her music more because I admire her standing up.

I’m standing up by writing this and by refusing to visit the Sutton Giant Tiger location until they change their policies. I’ll do the same for any other store or business with the same attitude.

Because that’s what we all need to do. Stand up. Women are not “less than” a man. We are more than sexual objects or cheap labour. We are equals.

All this rant because of a bra. And because of what it signified – we’re not there yet.

“Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.”

Susan B. Anthony
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Categories
Poetry

Growing Pains

A poet deaf, a poet blind,

Just writing poetry of the mind.

It really doesn’t mean a thing;

A poem to write, a song to sing.

A woman strong, a woman tall;

A woman tow’ring over all.

She doesn’t know now what to say;

She just grows stronger every day.

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Categories
Life

Reinvention

Do you ever get to a point in life where you look around and decide to reinvent yourself? When I was in my twenties, I reinvented myself a few times. I was on a journey of self-definition. As years go by though, one can have the tendency of becoming stagnant. A fait d’accompli – this is just who I am.

But is it? Sometimes life has a way of kicking you in the pants and forcing you to re-evaluate your life. To maybe re-invent yourself.

If you could re-invent yourself, what kind of person would you want to be?

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Categories
Life Memory Lane

Timeless Advice 

I recently turned 60, and it’s been a surreal experience. I tell myself that I’m not “really” 60, and then I look in the mirror and realize that yes, sadly I really am.

I thought I would commemorate this depressing occasion by sharing a story from my youth, that helped me to terms with growing older. You see, I had always been terrified to grow old and I actually never thought I would. I made a deal with myself to stop at 30. Life was very painful for me back then, and I was struggling to exist on a daily basis.

When I was 16, I read a newspaper article about a woman who was turning 100. I couldn’t imagine anyone living that long; why would anyone want to? Being the weird person I was, I looked her up in the phone book, found her address, and mailed her a letter, explaining my fears and asking to meet her. Imagine my surprise when I received a letter back, inviting me to tea. I donned my nicest clothes and went hoping to hear some wise advice about growing old without fear. The fact that she invited a complete stranger to her house, a street urchin no less, gives you an idea of the kind of person she was.

Louise Tandy Murch was an amazing lady; she lived alone in a huge house that looked dated, as did she. Her face was etched with deep lines that reminded me of the Sahara desert.  She carried in a large silver platter that held a tea service and some scones that she had made herself. I offered to help her carry it, but she insisted she was fine. As we sat drinking tea and eating scones, she shared with me some information about her life. She did yoga every day, despite having pins in both her hips, and she was a pianist. Her husband had been an orchestra conductor and together they had traveled the world. He had died several years before but she said she didn’t have time to give up on life or get depressed (yes, we discussed depression) because she was just too busy. She was currently trading music lessons with a young man in return for free gardening work.

I told her that I liked to play guitar and sing sometimes, so she played the piano for me and invited me to sing. When I started singing, she punched me in the stomach (in the diaphragm) and told me that’s where it had to come from. By the way, that was NOT a gentle punch – it got my attention. She reached into her piano bench and took out a music book with country songs and gave it to me. She told me she didn’t enjoy playing country music but she thought my voice was perfect to sing country. I’m still not sure if that was a compliment or not. 

It was a very different type of afternoon, one that I have never forgotten. All these years later, I still have that music book, and I often remember this incredible lady and her timeless advice for living at all ages. Her secret for living so long was because she was simply too busy to die. I’m fairly sure her advice has had a lot to do with how I’ve lived my life – keeping busy (often too busy), staying involved, trusting others. In a moment of remembrance after my birthday, I decided to “google” her name and found out that the National Film Board has a short film about her life that was directed by Deepa Mehta in 1976. It also looks as if something was in the works in 2014 as well

http://www.hollywood.com/movies/at-99-a-portrait-of-louise-tandy-murch-59211080/credits/.

I never knew I was in the presence of someone famous, I just knew I was getting some timeless advice about living and aging. Thank you Mrs. Murch, for the lesson and for the example.

By the way – if someone “googles” your name in the distant future, what do you think they’ll find? 

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Be Healthy… Stay Well

natural-health-concepts

In this post, I’m going to share with you a story and tell you about a series of events to led me to discover a health professional who has helped me to find my way to a healthier self.

First the story.

A couple of years ago, I started experiencing some disturbing symptoms. My blood pressure would occasionally spike and my heart would start racing. A couple of people I work with have had heart attacks, and two actually passed away. Since I have a lot of problems with stress, (and people my age can start to have problems with hypertension), I went to see my family doctor. In his usual dismissive way, he simply said “It’s all in your head.”

I did a bit of research and came to the conclusion that I was probably having anxiety attacks. So I went back to my doctor and shared my suspicions with him. He agreed and said that was what he meant when he said it was “all in my head”. His solution was to take antidepressant medication. Really? They prescribe that shit for everything, don’t they?

I  believe in dealing with health problems in a more natural manner. If I need to change something in my life – diet, exercise, whatever – I’d like to try that first. So I decided it was time for me to give naturopathic / homeopathic medicine a try. And that’s how I met Ashleigh Higgins, ND.

What follows is an unsolicited recommendation. She doesn’t even know I’m writing this.

Right away I liked her. She has a warm, inviting personality, making it very easy to share my fear, doubts, insecurities, etc. In other words, I opened up! One of the biggest things that impressed me about Ashleigh was she didn’t try to sell me any supplements. She made recommendations, and told me I could find them at most health food stores, such as Nature’s Emporium in Newmarket.

Ashleigh suggested I try two things: a St. Francis herb called Strest and a homeopathic medicine called Calcarea Carbonica; both were inexpensive. We also talked about some digestive problems I have (IBS and diverticulitis) and she suggested I stay away from all dairy to see if that would help and she suggested I rub some warm castor oil on my stomach and relax and let it soak in.

Fast forward 6 months. I’m calm, not having major anxiety attacks, and able to control the minor ones. I’m sleeping very well, and able to plan and put things in perspective. I still have digestive issues, but I’ve seen some improvement and she’s made other suggestions for me to try. It’s a journey.

I have a different health philosophy now. If I break a bone or contract some terrible disease, I’ll see my family doctor, because traditional “healthcare” is really “sick care”. It’s reactive, not proactive. For almost everything else, I will seek the guidance and advice of a “wellness” professional like Ashleigh Higgins.

nature

Ms. Higgins has an office in Keswick, Ontario, as well as in Cannington, Ontario. Here’s her website:

http://www.ashleighhigginsnd.com/

She can bill your insurance company directly and you can book appointments online. I’m so grateful I met her, and I highly recommend her. What do you have to lose? (except whatever is making you sick).

Life’s short – be healthy – stay well

 

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Who’s on Trial?

Is this abuse?

I’ve been following the Jian Ghomeshi trial and have an admission to make – when I listened to the evidence provided by his lawyer about the first two accusers, I thought “Who sends flirtatious emails to someone who has attacked them?” Immediately I doubted their credibility.

Then I thought more about it.

Isn’t that like asking an abused woman why she stays with her abuser? Let’s use Ray Rice as an example. The woman he beat very publicly has since married him. I don’t know why; I cannot fathom marrying someone who has hurt me for ANY reason. The fact that she married him though does not mean he did not beat her. Like millions of other people, I saw the video, it cannot be denied.

Who’s on trial?

So, if I use that same logic and reasoning, does the fact that Lucy DeCoutere sent emails, even flirtatious ones, to Ghomeshi afterwards mean that he didn’t abuse her? One of them, sent just a few hours later, expressed a desire to have sex with him and his lawyer Marie Henein said those dispatches prove the attack never happened. The former Trailer Park actress (turned armed forces captain) claims that she was trying to “normalize” the situation. I can understand this. Did Lucy DeCoutere think that his rage was caused because they DIDN’T have sex? I think as women, we are conditioned to be people pleasers and when unpleasant things happen – whether it’s the break up of a relationship, abuse, infidelity, whatever, many of us automatically start doubting ourselves. What did we do to cause this? What did we do to set him off? Maybe I just need to try harder, be better, be careful.  Only once we are away from the situation, in distance or in time, does the fog lift and we start to see it for what it was – abuse.

The fact that a woman would remain in contact with someone who hurt them speaks more about our lack of self-worth than it does about absolving the abuser of his (or her) actions.

Abuse comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s someone who puts you down, constantly criticizing you for your looks, your weight, your cooking, your cleaning skills. Someone who makes you feel like you’re not good enough in some way. Sometimes it’s someone who takes advantage of you, cleans out your bank account, steals money from your purse. Sometimes it’s someone who lacks the ability to be supportive or empathetic. Sometimes it’s someone who manipulates you to doing things during sex that you’re really not comfortable with – I think almost every woman has heard the line “but if you loved me…”. Sometimes it’s someone who hurts you physically.

Is this abuse?

Abuse takes many forms.

I remember when I was younger and just starting to work, not only was I subjected to what I now consider to be abuse on a couple of occasions, but I continued to work in those situations. I would face these people every day and act as if nothing had happened. I thought maybe I was giving off the wrong signals. I was trying to “normalize” the situation.

Where have we heard that phrase before?

There were enough women who came forward with allegations about Jian Ghomeshi, women with no previous connection to each other, each telling a similar story, enough to make me remember the phrase – where there’s enough smoke, there’s gonna be a fire. Ghomeshi admitted he liked rough sex and he claimed it was consensual. All of these women say they never gave consent. He showed the CBC photos of a woman he’d had “rough sex” with, complete with bruises and broken ribs. Can anyone really consent to that kind of abuse? Do any of the accusers have a history of liking rough sex? Sometimes it wasn’t even sex – Lucy Decoutere did not have sex with him. So what does that make it? Come on… connect the dots.

Let’s remember who’s on trial here.

 

#ghomeshi #cdnjustice #ibelievelucy #IStandWithLucy #truthmatters #rapeculture #cdnjustice

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