I had to stop reading the paper today until I calmed down. Despite there being so much about which to be sad, with the devastating events in France, ongoing economic concerns, and a far less important but disappointing Raptors’ loss, the last straw was the title of Margaret Wente’s column in The Globe and Mail. No doubt it was purposeful, intended to engage and to provoke. Wente’s title: “Advice to younger women: Man up” did just that.
Wente’s title implies that to be strong, to push through, women must be more like men. Wow.
To be fair, Wente comments that “women are not weaker vessels. That is the fundamental premise of feminism, as I recall. We have discarded that belief as discriminatory and patriarchal. We’ve tried to raise our daughters to be strong and independent, confident and secure- resilient, resourceful, tough-minded, able to deal with what the world throws at them. That is the road to equality.” And further, Wente says “Like it or not, the world beyond academia is teeming with guys who take up too much space and occasionally act like jerks. Sooner or later, you will have to learn to deal with them.”
Having said that, standing up and dealing with inequality, disrespect or abuse is not about ‘manning’ up, it is about speaking up.
Why the gender assignment to what is fundamentally about voice?
At St. Clement’s our mission is to develop outstanding women who are intellectually curious, courageous and compassionate. We want our girls to have the courage to speak up and to speak out. It is a complex but critical skill in life that will afford them the ability to challenge situations and assure them the equality they deserve.
Our girls and young women don’t need to ‘man’ up, they need to speak up.