I am not one for using this blog to express my own thoughts on current events or issues but, with all the disparaging comments I have been hearing and all the biased news stories that I have reading aimed at women, I just had to use this forum to express my thoughts and say “What would your mother have said about your behavior?”
Let me first examine the statements made by the FOX news anchors in response to a female fighter pilot from the UAE – comments which I cannot bring myself to repeating but which you are probably most familiar with by now. Yes, Maj Mariam Al Mansouri is a woman. Yes, she is the first female fighter pilot in the UAE and she fought hard to achieve her dream. However, first and foremost, she is leading the Arab emirate’s air force in airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq who are not only a threat to the Middle East and to the world but also a threat to Islamic women’s rights. She is part of the coalition fighting to control this threat and therefore she should be given the same respect as all military personnel.
So I call out co-anchors Greg Gutfield and Eric Bolling of FOX news and ask them “What did your female family members think of your inappropriate and sexist remarks? Were they as disgusted as I was?”
Secondly, what is this obsession about leaking photos of nude women – private photos, photos that no one has the right to steal, photos that try to demean the women in them. Recently hundreds of these photos were illegally obtained by hacking accounts of celebrities, mostly women naturally, and then releasing them publicly. They are now “out there” in the webosphere and, although most people have condemned the leaks and the people who share the photos, many others are still being hacked, posted, and shared. This is not OK. This is a violation of a person’s basic right to privacy.
This is theft, this is criminal and you will be found. I ask you, whoever you are, “How will you explain this to your wife, mother, grandmother and especially your daughter? Will you still feel proud of your actions and they way you humiliated these women? Will you still feel powerful when the steel bars of your jail cell are what keep you safe?”
Next there is Thérèse Casgrain, a Canadian suffragette and icon in the movement to achieve the right for women to vote. She later went on to become the first female leader of a political party in Québec in 1951 and later was appointed to the Canadian Senate. Until a few years ago she had two distinct honours for her achievements: the Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award, which was started by the government in 1982, and her image on the $50 bill. In 2012 her image was removed from the banknote in a redesign. Then, earlier this year it was finally made public that in 2010 the award was replaced by the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award, a decision made by the current government.
My question to you Prime Minister Harper is “Why? Why was it so important to erase this woman’s contributions? She was one of the activists that helped your mother get the right to vote so why did you feel the need to obliterate her memory?”
Then we have Emma Watson who is the global goodwill ambassador to UN Women and gave an inspiring and moving speech about gender equality and introduced the #HeForShe campaign at UN Headquarters in New York. A campaign that promotes equal rights for men and women and aims to remove the negative connotations associated with the word feminism. As Ms Watson says in her speech “It is not the word that is important it is the idea and the ambition behind it”.
This speech and the campaign were received with high accolades by most but, within hours, there were campaigns on social media against the movement. To them I say “Would your grandmother’s, mother’s, and/or sisters’ lives not have been easier had they been treated equally; had they had equal pay; had they had equal rights?”
And, just when you think it couldn’t get worse, a 26 year old woman in Iran is due to be executed by hanging because she protected herself from being sexually assaulted. Ms Reyhaneh Jabbari was arrested in 2007 for the murder of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence who she says tried to rape her. She was placed in solitary confinement for two months, where she reportedly did not have access to a lawyer or to her family, and was sentenced to death by hanging by a criminal court in Tehran in 2009.
This man, Sarbandi, took a young girl, just starting out as an interior designer, to a location that he claimed was an office he need renovated and then preceded to allegedly assault her. A scuffle broke out, she stabbed him, and he bled to death.
Ms Jabbari was supposed to be executed last April however the government postponed the execution. The case of this young women has sparked worldwide outrage, with over 190,000 people signing a petition to save the woman’s life. As of October 1st, 2014, she was granted a 10 day reprieve thanks to the online campaign.
I fail to understand why a young woman should die because she defended herself and did not allow a rapist to brutalise her. What would a man have done had someone tried to rape his mother, his sister, or his daughter? In most cultures, he would have defended them. So I ask “Why a young woman should not be allowed to defend herself from being sexually violated?”
Note: Unfortunately Ms Jabbari was executed on October 25, 2014 and left this heartfelt message for her mother.
I know that these are only a handful of stories and that there are many more out there. However, until such time as gender equality is a way of life and not just a dream; until we all believe that we are equal; and until we all take responsibility for our actions, there will unfortunately continue to be injustice, violence and inequality towards women.
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