I was there to support and uplift women’s burning of the bras demonstrations in the old wild West (Winnipeg) in the 1960s – long before I actually needed to wear one.
So probably under the legislation being debated in Ottawa around Bill-C51, for short called the anti-terrorism bill, I may – because of my past “militant” history – fall into the too-big-a-net-for-my-liking classification of a person authorities need to watch and be wary of.
The lawmakers who make revisions and the proofreaders who check the facts, grammar and spelling before a law is carved in stone, probably would not end that sentence with a dangling preposition.
But back to the bras.
The token action by women – burning their bras, girdles, corsets, any garments constricting the body – was meant to signify women’s new-found independence and to demonstrate their right to freedom and movement.
So I’m not sure what happened to all that sentiment when Madonna arrived on the scene during her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour in cone bra and corset and a legion of young fans followed her fashion trend.
That may have pushed the Women’s Movement back a few decades.
On March 8, we mark International Women’s Day and celebrate rights we have as women today thanks to forward-thinkers who came before us, women who fought tooth and French nails to achieve some measure of equality.
However, as Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond, guest and speaker at a celebration of International Women’s Day hosted by IMSS, said so simply and eloquently Friday night:
“Much progress has been made… much more has to be done.”
She noted the event’s theme this year is Make it Happen.
“We are in a room full of women who make it happen,” she said.
Bond of course is one of them.
So is IMSS executive director Baljit Sethi, who talked Friday about coming from India over 40 years ago where there was male violence against women – then arriving in Vancouver to find the same problem existed here.
“When I came over here, I saw crying, beating and screaming.”
Universally, she said, women are central to the family unit and they are known to nurture their husbands and children.
“They are stronger,” she said.
That strength is why we’ve made progress in many areas of our lives.
I only wish I’d been there with the suffragettes to march in the streets of London, England 100 years ago to demand a voice and a vote. Or that I’d carried placards in Canada to decry the 1868 Canadian Nationals Act which put “married women, minors, lunatics and idiots” under the same disability for national status (by 1929 we were finally called people).
Certainly few women would voice her opinion in a newspaper column without risk of being put in jail century ago. Women writers were expected to write pretty poems or perfume-scented letters to their loved ones.
When I visited London in the 1990s there were still men’s clubs operating where no women were allowed entry – there still are today.
Women have come a long way from the time they were chattels or possessions of their husbands. Unless you count the ones that want to be baubles on the arms of rich men but here I’m taking your average woman.
Maybe this history is why I don’t take my rights and freedoms for granted.
I only hope that a careful review of proposed Bill-C51, finds it is not a knee-jerk reaction but new wisdom coming from a place of sound and solemn consideration. We hope that of all our legislation, of course, but this time Ottawa has to get it right – for all of our rights.
Canadians, women particularly, have played the game of Snakes and Ladders most of their life and now is not the time to slide back down when we should be climbing the ladder of success.