You are relevant to democracy

Mary's Note: Whereas a large amount of my readers are American, I must tell you that the Canadian and American political systems are VERY different. In the Canadian system, you do not merely vote for your leader, you vote for the leader of your area, and they win a seat. Every party tries to get the most seats in the house, and the one that succeeds gets to elect their party leader as prim minister. This is where the cheesy title comes from. I am not able to explain it efficiently here, but ignore the specific terminology because this applies to you too, and all you other countries out there. Except Denmark and Germany apparently... you guys keep it up!

No one wants to admit that democracy is just an abstract idea.
We're always just so busy fighting for it, you know? Never mind the whole Cold War issue and that time when we tried to impose it on Africa and how we still continue to yell "undemocratic!" at everything we don't like. Sometimes we forget to take a minute and look at what it actually means. Definitions of it are quick to use words like equality, but this leads to a problem... does this mean that the dictionaries have too idealistically defined democracy, or does this mean that what we have isn't it? There are a number of reasons equality is still not in our government, but I'm going to talk about one that you personally can solve, dear readers.

You are not running for government.

Although I write this for everyone, I speak specifically to the younger girls. I speak to them because I know that they have strong opinions and values and morals that maybe anyone isn't listening to right now. Or maybe people are listening to you. Maybe you're like me, and had one of the most supportive and inspirational role models you possibly could in a family. Maybe your grandmother who ran for federal government always encouraged and begged you to hold true to your strong opinions. Maybe you come from a family of independent and hard working women, but somewhere, somehow along the way society has, whether intentionally or through the traditional patriarchy of most societies, has instilled a sense of modesty within you that makes you think that you are not good enough to hold a position of power.

There are more women involved in the Afghani government than there are in the Canadian House. I won't pretend the job isn't difficult. I had the honour of sitting and watching several great female politicians speak of their experience in the federal government, and with all the shouting and yelling it can be hard for girls taught to "be polite" to actually raise their voices and be heard. Alongside, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, backed up by Glenn Pearson, claimed the heckling and booing that occurs could constitute abuse. PMS jokes and subtle sexism only add to an intimidating male-centric culture. And of course, if a woman is to have a family, she is likely a primary caretaker with many duties and responsibilities. For her to take on a position of such power would indeed require breaking some standard gender roles within her family. It takes someone strong to deal with all of these things, but here's the thing: I know you guys are strong.

Women should not be blindly elected to beef up any number count and make us look more presentable to the United Nations. As Elizabeth May put it on Wednesday, "Who would we rather, a house full of Stephen Lewises or a room full of Sarah Palins?" Indeed, being a woman does not guarantee you are acting in your sisters best interests, but I am assuming none of you reading this are Sarah Palin. Women do not need to be forced into positions of power, they need to be elected like anyone else... if only they'd run. A house full of men cannot best represent the interests of 52% of the population: girls.

This is why I challenge you. I know you are all activists in your own ways. You are saving Darfur, you are reading the newspaper, you are raising money for cancer, you are making a difference. There are many women political columnists, journalists, pundits, writers... This is all very good, and your interest is fantastic, but why would you talk about other people's power when you can grab it for yourself? International issues, problems with current government, and especially your reproductive rights are all things that need critiquing from many different perspectives, including yours. I know you are already a political girl, so why not become a female politician?

The voice of the world is not a middle aged white males, it is a chorus variety. So why is theirs the one we hear above the others? Speak up. Sing out.


This post is for Anna and Lee, both of whom should especially take this to heart.


Isabel said...

You are a beautiful human being.

Vincent said...

I think women don't run because they're smarter than men.

I don't mean that in an ironic way, or some sort of sycophantic suck-up full-of-male-guilt way, I really think that the system is sufficiently insane and busted that women look at the available options and wisely turn their backs on it.

I suppose the real irony is that the system would probably be a little less insane if we could get more women into government positions.

I suppose it's worth noting that parliamentary 'democracy' isn't really democracy at all. (Even more technically, we're living in a Constitutional Monarchy, I guess.) Not only do parties with considerably less than 50% of the vote form the government, individual candidates with less than 50% of the vote are consistently elected. We probably shouldn't get started on all the ways that should be different.

Ryan said...

Did you know that you're sort of my hero?

Can I email you sometime? I need some advice regarding Darfur activism and Public Relations majors.

Anonymous said...

You're the smartest girl I know.
Love, Amelie.

PS: I hope you're not mad at me. I'm doing bettter than I did before.

Peaches said...

"The voice of the world is not a middle aged white males, it is a chorus variety" and "I know you are already a political girl, so why not become a female politician?" are for realz my new favorite quotes ever.

Rebel Girl said...

Thank you so much! No joke, you're my hero. I agree that we hear the middle-aged white male's opinions louder than anyone else and I think that in this way it's hard for a lot of girls to find themselves represented in politics and the news. The treatment of the whole Sarah Palin thing kind of shocked me, not because she was a good candidate (uhh no), but because there were so many blatantly sexist insults made to her and GIRLS WE AGREEING. I kind of want to cry every time I hear a girl say they don't want a female president because "what about when she's on her period??"

But anyway, thank you again, and you know you're definitely my role model.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post especially about women and their power for change! I really like how you brought up the whole sexism issue. As I'm getting older, I notice it more, and it bothers me..such as my growing resentment towards men and their sexist comments..

I really liked how Hilary Rodham Clinton ran for president. I remember reading some political article how the next female candidate should have a head of a rhino or something cool like that. :)

Faux Naif said...

i like you. i like you a lot. i have much to say about this but i do not want to compromise my anonymity (i am, after all, a WOMAN OF MYSTERY).

(i almost just wrote anonymousity).

perhaps a facebook rant.

you're cool.

├×omeline said...

Thank you.

Women need to stand tall and speak up, just like you are doing.