April 2002
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Women's Rights
By Sarah King, SNN Senior Editor, Ascension Collegiate, Bay Roberts, NF

Women’s role in society has become quite a different thing throughout the last century. We have come from homemakers and wives to lawyers, doctors, even construction workers. Thanks to our foremothers, a woman can do anything she pleases in today’s society. Or can she?

Imagine this. It’s 1923, you are a woman. You wake up Monday morning and you begin to prepare for your day. What will you wear? A business suit? A stylishly tailored dress perhaps? Not even close. You put on a plain, somewhat frumpy everyday dress. Why? Because you are a plain, somewhat frumpy full time housewife and mother. You do not have a job outside the home. You can’t vote. You really don’t have any rights. So, you go downstairs to the kitchen. You turn on the radio. The announcer says “And, our feature story this morning…. Ms. Nellie McLung and some of her friends “the suffragettes” have marched to Parliament Hill, in Ottawa this morning, demanding equal rights for WOMEN!!!” He starts to laugh, and you furiously turn off the radio. You have had enough. You’re tired of not having the same rights as your husband. You think, “Bravo Ms. McLung. You’ll save me some day!” And you begin to prepare a meal for your family. But in your heart, finally, you feel some hope. At last someone wants the same things you’ve always wanted.

Now it’s 1940. Canada is at war in Europe. Your husband has already left for overseas. There aren’t enough men left in the country to fill all the jobs necessary during wartime. So, what will the government do? Call on the women of course! You have to provide for your family so you apply for a job at a munitions factory, and you are accepted. It feels good to make a genuine difference in the world. You think that maybe you could get used to this work outside the home business. Your thoughts return to that morning when you first heard about Nellie McLung’s battle for women’s equality. You realize that she must have been successful in her war with the government, or you wouldn’t have this job, contributing to the war effort for your country. “Super! Way to Go Miss!”

Finally, it’s 1979; your granddaughter has her first part-time job. She’s working at a service station as a mechanic. She’s so proud of her first cheque. She comes to see you and she says “Look, Grandma… Look at the money I made.”

You look at the cheque, proud of her, and you feel a little nostalgic. You think about all of the differences that there are between her life and yours. You tell her your story, about your personal battle for equality. She can’t even IMAGINE a life like yours. She says “WOW! The world’s really changed hasn’t it Grandma?”

Has the world really changed enough? Even now in 2002 there are still misogynistic people, who think that women are inferior to men. What can we do to change the opinions of these people, to show them that women and men are equal? The answer? We must change their mentality. In my opinion, we cannot just tell these people that their opinions are wrong. We must let them figure that out for themselves. We have to prove to them, with concrete evidence that both sexes are equal. Someone told me about an article she read in a magazine. It states that men and women think differently. (This article is referring to the “typical” male and the “typical” female. Not all men/women will approach the situation in this way.) If you take a group of men and put them on a mountain and a group of women and put them on the same mountain, to get to the other side, men will immediately start to climb the mountain, using their own brute strength. Women, on the other hand, will examine the situation, think about all the possible scenarios, and then circle the mountain. Both groups will finish at the same place, but they use completely different techniques to achieve their goals.

Maybe women DON’T have the same amount of physical strength that men have, but that does NOT make us the weaker sex. We have a greater mental capacity to think things through and figure things out.

To change the thinking of misogynistic people? We must use solid, concrete proof to make them change their own opinions of women.

Yes, the world has changed. But it hasn’t changed enough.

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