From October 22-26, The Wanderer Online is participating in the “Who Needs Feminism?” Call to Action Week, which you can read more about here. Throughout the week, we’ll be posting 2-4 articles per day where writers answer the question “I need feminism because…” If you’re interested in writing something, please send us your piece at email@example.com. Keep in mind that you are totally allowed and encouraged to write anonymously, if that works better for you.
Most days, I arrive home by seven or eight o’clock, throw my satchel on the ground, grab a bite to eat out of the fridge and relax on the couch for a few minutes. When I arrive home, my two brothers tend to be there, and if they’re not, they’re on their way. This is the routine, and it’s comfortable and reassuring. It’s good to be home. There’s nothing better than approaching your home after a long day, knowing that you’re several minutes away from a tasty supper and some much-needed decompressing on the couch in front of playoff baseball or your favourite sitcom.
Much to my dismay, my mum doesn’t have the same luxury. Every day, while I’m out for a run or on the bike in the basement, my mum heads out for work. By 8 am, she’s out the door, and she doesn’t return until 9:30 pm. This is the routine six days per week, with only Saturdays off. I can’t tell you how much this bothers me. This is not how things should be.
Why is this the case? Well, when you’re a single mum with three boys (each of which plays sports and consequently eats a lot), food costs are pretty high, and sports fees roll around several times per year. What happens is that a 37.5 hours per week job doesn’t suffice. Nor does 45. Or 50. Or 60. Something more akin to 70+ hours does the trick, which in my books, is far from healthy.
What bothers me more is that my mum is very smart and extremely energetic. I tend to be a pretty non-stop person, always having something on the go, filling the day from 5 am until 9 pm. But my work ethic still pales in comparison to my mum’s. Even after returning home from a day working two jobs, she does everything that we inevitably miss (or complete in lacklustre fashion): dishes, clothes, lunches for the next day, the garbage, etc.
The thing is, it doesn’t matter how hard my mum works. As great as her company might be, it’s an Old Boys Club. While several women work diligently, completing everything on time and then a little more on top, the men are doing the typical male business-club things: golf, fishing trips, travel compensated by the business, etc. Essentially, this boils down to better pay and more perks for men. No matter how you put it, this isn’t fair. No matter how hard a single mother works, she’ll be destined for average pay, the same job; at the same time, men receive large bonuses and spend considerable time out on the links.
I see the same thing in politics, and on the lists for the most powerful CEOs in Canada. Several months ago, I was flipping through a major ranking of the top 100 Canadian CEOs, and guess how many were white males? Ninety-nine. There was one white female on the list. Pathetic. In politics, we’re still nowhere near reaching an equal participation rate for elected MPs or MLAs. Moreover, though there are now more women than men in North American post-secondary education, it’s the latter demographic that controls academia. If someone tells you that there’s no reason for feminism in today’s ‘advanced’ society, they’re wrong.
So why do I need feminism? To start, if I have girls one day, I refuse to let them grow up in a world where this inequality still occurs. By removing these artificial barriers, however, we increase all of society’s potential. Boys, girls, men and women – you name it. Everyone benefits. What happens now is that businesses are often controlled by the traditional white male elite, thus perpetuating a stale, boring way of thinking. As boards become more diverse, that leads to the clash of new ideas, which brings innovation. This is the way we need to move forward, but it takes conscious effort from all of us. When people ask me for recommendations for who I believe should run for things like the Students’ Union, who should join honour societies and so on, I’m used to recommending men, despite the thoughts that I’ve outlined so far in this article. It’s a bad habit, and it takes deliberate reflection for this to change.
Therefore, I recommend that we all reflect on our natural biases and work to build better habits one decision at a time. Meaningful change is happening, and plenty more is on its way, but we need to press on forward for this to continue. By the time us university students are in our 30s and 40s, we can smile knowing that feminism continues to enhance the way we think.