I’m so busy in the kitchen cooking and writing up recipes that I almost forgot. This is the day set aside for us. Women. You know, the other half of the population. The invisible half.
Invisible?! I hear you cry, as images of air-brushed models and superstar women dance before your eyes. Yes, invisible, I said.
Worst of all, we aren’t supposed to moan about it. We are just supposed to “get on with it”.
Years ago when I was doing performance art – with a feminist edge – and ranting about women’s equality every chance I had, another woman chastised me by saying: “The difference between you and I, is that you complain about it while I just get on with doing it.”
Oh hello sister, thanks for your support. I’d do it if I had the financial resources and a little support. And miraculously I have done it from time to time. Click on the link for one example of ‘getting on it with it’.
I think we were on a panel, or at some sort of panel discussion. It might even have been an ACTRA meeting in Montreal or Ottawa. ACTRA – Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists. Yeah – well – if you’re a man there’s plenty of on-camera film and television work, if you’re a woman? I shudder to see the current statistics. Interestingly enough, women are getting a considerable amount of off-camera work, so why aren’t they on-camera?
Watch 90% of drama on the box or silver screen and 90% of the people you’ll look at are male. Okay – these are NOT statistics taken from research, these are figures I’ve pulled out of thin air – but the point is, women are invisible when it comes to the box and screen. There is precious little work for women actors – and once you hit 30, forget it. Yes, it has improved but there is still more work for older men than older women, and British TV is nowhere near as bad as North American. Meanwhile, we have men of all shapes and sizes, ages and degrees of ugly (or handsome) yet the women we get are young, pretty and invariably sexy. It’s not fair. It’s really not fair. Heterosexual men and lesbians should be protesting. They are being deprived of equal opportunity for fantasizing.
Perhaps I should look at some hard stats rather than just bitching, eh? It’s even more depressing.
After I wrote the Color Out of Space Absence of Mature Women Artists Trilogy, at about the same time as I published my 1987 Rise and Fall of Masculine Generic Trilogy, a (male) friend commented that I had better write about something else or people would think I’ve nothing new to say.
Please listen to audio tracks in the upper right hand corner of this page for the “something new to say”!
But hey, wait a minute…do not reset the dial, do not change the channel, do not click ‘x’ and surf to another page: women the world over get a raw deal. We are paid less, and once we hit 30, they start discarding us. Yes, there are some women who break through, and some who keep going, but the numbers who do are far fewer than their male counterparts and that folks is what we are bitching about. Not the ones who get through and keep going, it’s the ones who don’t. The ones who are ignored and discarded.
How come all the women we hear from are amazing? While a good 2/3 of the men we hear from are merely mediocre? Or is it that women like Sarah Palin do such a good job speaking for mediocrity that we don’t need any more women to do it?
And something that really irks me is how people distract our attention from the inequality at home by pointing out how much worse it is elsewhere. Yes, we need to liberate women in other countries from the atrocities served upon them – everything from clitoridectomy to stoning and burning, being sold into sex slavery, working long and hard in the fields for food, walking miles to get water for drinking and cooking, and washing clothes in a stream, rubbing them on rocks (oh thank god for the washing machine) but don’t you think we need to also make sure the women at home are treated equally? Shouldn’t we get paid as much as men? Why are traditional women’s jobs paid less? It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It’s not fair.
…and as my psychologist said – all those years ago, as I passed into my 30’s, woke up to the gross inequality, and went into a melt down:
“Alison, where did you ever get the idea that the world should be fair?”
I’m not a Darwinist, that’s where!
When I lived in Victoria, I won first prize in a screenwriting competition run by Media Net. The script was a feminist statement. The person who was going to direct the film was a man – who in my experience had revealed himself to be very sexist in his opinions and behavior. I withdrew my script. Maybe I cut off my nose to spite my face, but I couldn’t bear the thought of him directing the script. I knew he would do it all wrong. I knew he would change the script’s intention.
Recently, I offered a voice track to a collaborator. He mixed it and sent it back to me. What had been a powerful feminist statement had been reduced to something verging on pornographic. He had rearranged my words and left out key phrases that radically changed my intention. After several attempts at unsuccessfully remixing, I withdrew my vocal track. Judging the current pop scene maybe I should have let it go. Verging on pornography seems to be driving the industry.
I could go on with more examples, but I think you get the picture. That’s why most of what I write on this blog is about food. That’s why I let other women do the writing about ‘issues’. Not to mention the fact that in the last 5 and 1/2 years my biggest struggle has been keeping a roof over my head. And without a stable home, there’s not much a person can do. Even Travellers have more stable homes than I’ve had – they have portable homes, whereas I keep having to give everything away and squish a few things I can’t part with into a suitcase. How do I do it? I’m The Invisible Woman!
By the way, Google’s new ad settings read me as 20 years younger than I really am, and a male – based on what I click on! – and no, I’m not clicking on pics of alluring women! Though I do confess at now and then being so stunned by the images they use that I do click on them to get a closer look to see how they’ve been photo shopped. The point I’m making is, if Google reads me as 20 years younger and male, what does that tell us about how I think and the kinds of opportunities I’m looking for? And trust me, I am very hetero.
- Women MPs outperform their male colleagues (nation.com.pk)
- Happy International Women’s Day and Feminist Coming Out Day! (sarahoverthemoon.com)
- As feminists, united we fall apart – divided we may yet succeed | Zoe Williams (guardian.co.uk)
- Females reluctant to hire women who have children or are of child-bearing age (dailymail.co.uk)
- International Women’s Day 2012 (petitefeministe.wordpress.com)
- International Women’s Day: We can’t be complacent, there’s a lot still to do (leftfootforward.org)
- This year let’s celebrate … the US backlash against sexism | Jessica Valenti (guardian.co.uk)
- International Women’s What? (timesunion.com)
- Blog post by deZengo (community.humanityhealing.net)
- Women are Leading But Where’s the Power? (intentionalworkplace.com)