Jockeying for Equality
Imagine you're a jockey. Imagine you work at the country's leading racetrack. Imagine that for the past two years, you have been the leading jockey at that racetrack. Imagine that the most prestigious, most important race of the year is coming up. Would it be reasonable to expect that as the leading jockey of the last two years, you might be picked to ride one of the favourites? Apparently, if you're Emma-Jayne Wilson and the race is the Queen's Plate at Woodbine racetrack, this expectation is so unreasonable it elicits soothing statements from other people in the business about "it's a matter of when, not if" and in the meantime, just be patient while they put the leading jockey of the last two years (or did I mention that already?) on a longshot while vaguely talking about politics, but in such a way that it looks like anybody else would have been in the same position. Shall we briefly imagined this happening to say, a male jockey who isn't white and expect that no one would be able to see the racism? Politics, my arse! Let’s call it what it is – sexism. How eminently satisfying then that Wilson and her longshot streaked past the favourites and won the race. Ha!
Then there is the recent article in the Toronto Star talking about sexual harassment, more specifically the question on when looking becomes a leer. The article spent some time outlining definitions and examples, presenting the points of view of women, quoting several who’d been subject to that nauseating feeling - because, if you are a woman, you know exactly the difference between a look that is discreet, appreciative and respectful and one that makes you want to take a shower for about a week – and in general does a pretty good job of presenting the issue (check out Hollaback Canada for a particularly satisfying look at women taking the power back from men who leer). Of course, the end of the article negates all that when the concluding remarks quotes the opinion of a construction worker who thinks that women should just "take it as a compliment" and wonders if the particular woman wandering by used as an example by the reporter is single. Furthermore, there is a prominent sidebar with a number of quotes by a sociology professor at MIT who claims about harassment that "We can agree that men should be respectful of women and not behave badly. But there is so much that's wrong in the world – child abuse, etc. Do we really want to give our attention to the relative harmlessness of a leerer? Clearly this is a bad thing and we need to educate men. But why not put the energy into working in a shelter for abused women?". Right. So leering and harassment are completely unrelated to abuse. Not surprisingly, this eminent expert is a man. He is professor emeritus and his name is Gary Marx. I may write him an irate email.
If you have not yet seen Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End, stop reading now and skip straight to the comments because I am about to ruin a big part of the plot/ending for you.
Really, I mean it...
OK, here goes. So Elizabeth, our plucky heroine, who has clearly been fated from the very beginning not to get stuck in the narrow role set out for women at the time of the events in question, has become king of the Pirates and has commanded an entire fleet of pirates (about as easy as herding cats) against Beckett's armada, soundly trouncing the Endeavour and sending the rest of the armada scurrying for cover (while marrying Will in the middle of the battle, although I don't understand why she would, as they clearly have no chemistry, but that's besides the point) and now it's all over and… while Jack Sparrow is last seen off on an adventure to find the Fountain of Youth (in a dinghy, because Barbosa has stolen the Black Pearl. Again), Will strides heroically of into the surf to steer the Flying Dutchman on its mission to guide the souls that died at sea to the hereafter, Elizabeth will apparently spend the foreseeable future on a sandy beach taking “good care” of the chest containing Will's heart while gazing off into the sunset, waiting for her beloved to return. Can I just say how very much this bothered me? The entire trilogy actually had some pretty good messages for girls and then the ending completely blew that, firmly placing her exactly back in the very role she started in, when the entire series has been about her finding out that she was a pirate at heart, off to have adventures on the high seas. The third instalment of the Pirates series is not a terrific one, but I still had fun until that last moment and I am severely tempted to write Disney, demanding my money back.
I hate being patronized.
p.s. Apparently Haloscan, which I use for comments, is having some problems. Figures. On a post that might generate some invigorating debate and listings of patronizing arses who piss us off (which I was, quite frankly, looking forward to), the comments go kablooey. Sigh. Hopefully, they'll return soon. Please check back later.