Tag Archives: women’s rights

3 Things That are NEVER Funny

I consider myself to be a person with a hefty humour, and I like a good sarcastic joke. But something that I have been reflecting on as of late is the misogynistic jokes that have found their way into my relationships with guys, and I let them slide because I didn’t want to be “That girl.” You know that girl, the one who is a little too intense about women’s issues, the girl who takes every opportunity to share her opinions about women’s rights.. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.  But if I don’t take the time to speak these truths, then I am doing a discredit to the fiery passion for human dignity and empowerment that is written on my soul.

Here are three recurring jokes that I can pinpoint throughout different times in my life that are NEVER acceptable, EVER.

1.Violence

I have actually had guys jokingly threaten me when not happy with something I am doing or saying. “I will punch you in the face,” “I will kick you,” “I want to choke you right now.” I am not kidding. At the time, I would just jokingly return in kind, saying that I would hit them back or kick them in the balls. Now that I reflect back, I am horrified that I ever spent time with these people. It is NEVER funny to joke in this way. A guy who is genuinely concerned about your safety and cherishes you wouldn’t find this funny or acceptable in any situation.

2. Numbers

Believe it or not, I actually had a guy give me a score on my “Wife-Abilities.” There were categories such as Cooking, Appearance and Mothering… The list goes on. I kid you not. I know what you are thinking, “Where in the world do you find these guys, Ehjae?” You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I cannot express the damage that was done to my soul in this experience. While it is the most extreme case that I’ve experienced, sadly it is not the only one. I have heard guys describe women as numbers in different categories more times than I care to repeat. “Her face is a 4, but her cannons are a 10”
Women struggle with perfection and comparison on our own. We always feel like we fall short of the standard, and are gloriously reminded that this is the case with the barrage of media reminding us to stay fit, but not too fit; to be nice, but not too nice; to be successful, but not too successful; and to be the perfect mother/wife. If a guy ever, EVER removes your dignity by describing you OR ANYONE ELSE by a number, walk away. No, RUN away. It will never change, and you will forever feel like a prisoner trying to be freed from the prison of “Not Enough.”

3.“WOMAN”

Have you ever been called, “Woman” by someone? It’s always said in a mocking voice, “Woman, make me a sandwich; Woman, bring me a beer.”

 MY NAME IS EHJAE.

Calling me “Woman” tells me that this is all that you see. You see my breasts, and the opportunity for conquest between my legs. I can hear some of you protesting- that’s not the case. So what is the case? What is the pressing need for you to diminish our worth? The sake of a joke? I can tell you that no one is laughing. And further more, why would calling me “Woman” somehow grant you power, as if to say that a woman is weaker and must submit to your request?

The verdict is out, and the joke is on you, misogynistic men. Women are strong. We are courageous, and we are not going to be treated like this. “It was a joke.” is NOT a reasonable explanation to ever do any of the above. Having let people speak to me, and treat me in this way for much too long, I hope that it will take some of the beautiful women out there less than a quarter century to stop enabling these destructive language and patterns. It starts with us, ladies.  We must stop joking back, and start walking away.

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Girls Games

Have you heard about Mo’Ne Davis? The 13 year old has taken the world by storm. She became the first girl to pitch a shut-out in the Little League World Series, and earn a win! I read her story, and it was actually the story of Maria Pepe, who carved the way for girls like Mo’Ne to play in the Little Leagues who truly inspired me and triggered the emotions for me.  In 1972, she was a threat to her male competitors who asked her to be removed from her Little League team because she was a girl. That began a long legal battle which eventually led to the Little Leagues allowing girls to play. Hearing about Mo’Ne makes the younger version of me excited for the future.. As a young girl growing up who loves sports, you always feeling like the opportunities are limited for you simply because you were born a girl.  Women play for the love of a sport, because what chances do we have to get paid or become a professional?  That aside, the opportunities to even learn certain sports are limited.  Hearing Maria’s story of adversity and fighting for girls’ rights to play, leading to Mo’Ne’s incredible accomplishments is what drives me to write today.

I play for a women’s tackle football league in Canada.  It is the highest level of women’s tackle football available in Canada, yet every single one of us pays to be here.  We do so willingly, and will continue to do so for years because we love the sport, but also because we believe in competitive women’s sports.  I think I speak for our whole team when I say that playing women’s tackle football does not just resonate in our souls and ignite a passion within us; more importantly, it feels like we are pressing forward in an unseen battleground, building a forward momentum for the girls who come after us. When I was 13 years old, playing tackle football in the schoolyard (when the teachers weren’t watching) I remember a sad thought that cycled through my head.  “I wish there was a girl’s football team in high school, I wish I could play on a girl’s tackle football team.”  I look at the dream that has literally come true for me, and I am not ashamed to say that it brings proud tears to my eyes to see how far we’ve come.  Last year, our city introduced girl’s flag football to the high schools, and 16 teams participated! When I was in high school, I never would have imagined I could play on an all-girls football team of any kind in high school,  let alone with the prospect of going further after high school to play with our WWCFL tackle team, the Valkyries. I know this is only just the start, and it’s not about football.  The momentum that is building is that girls deserve these sports opportunities too, and to be respected in their pursuit of sports excellence.

So I guess I’m just writing to say thank you:  Thank you to the women out there who have gone before me, fighting hard and working hard to see a world where girls can play; and they can play hard and strong and fast without compromising. Thank you to the men who have joined the journey and teach us with integrity and excellence and respect.  I’m also writing to say that I’m committed: I’m committed to fighting hard and working hard to see the world continue to change and grow so that the opportunities keep arising for those girls coming after me.

I’m not sorry for what I’m about to say.

There’s a part of me inside that is wanting to curl up and hide somewhere instead of writing this post. But another part of me has been screaming loudly, boiling my blood, reminding me that words like these must be spoken, no matter the hour, no matter the potential loss. I’m shaking as I write this because I’m scared of how this could be taken.  But I’m writing it because I’m scared of a world where we don’t speak up.

Earlier, I was out with some friends at the bar. A young woman walked in wearing a beautiful sundress, walking in heels. Some of the people seated at my table made faces at each other, and when they saw me catch their gaze in disdain, the justification was this “She wanted us to look at her if she came the bar dressed like that.”

Shock.

Anger.

Hurt.

Disappointment.

Silence.

Deafening Silence. I couldn’t say a word.

So the only logical reason that she was dressed up was for your visual stimulation? Since when are women only allowed to wear what you’ve dictated as “suitable bar clothing” without “inviting” lewd eye gawking and stupid comments? And dressing nicely suddenly means she’s a slut, or asking for attention? We’ve definitely come a long way in our modern era.

1 in 4 women are victims of sexual assault or know someone who has been a victim.

Common statements made by the perpetrators?( http://project-unbreakable.org/)

“It wasn’t rape, you were being such a tease.”

“You know you want it”

Now some of you are thinking, “Whoa, it’s just a girl at the bar. It’s just some dudes admiring her from afar. This isn’t rape.”

You’re right. It’s not. But it also isn’t really admiring her, because what was said to me revealed a lot more than what they thought of her appearance.

What that statement is doing is perpetrating the mentality that women are inviting disrespect and degradation in how they act or how they dress.  In fact, a person’s inability to honour a human being as a human being and not as a piece of meat tells me that they aren’t much more than a piece of flesh themselves. Let me tell you something about rape. It’s dehumanizing. It leaves the victim feeling completely worthless. The biggest struggle? Self-blame. Shame. Guilt. Self-hatred. Where does this come from? hmm.. I wonder. Perhaps it is this idea that a violating action or a debasing comment is somehow NOT the violator or the speaker’s fault because it was somehow provoked.

Let me ask you this, is it OK for a human being to ever be degraded below their fundamental worth? Because when I listen to you tear apart a girl because “her face isn’t hot, but she’s got great cannons” it shocks me. Then it disappoints me. It used to silence me because I didn’t want to be labelled as that girl who is “too uptight” or “takes things too seriously.”

I’m done letting people talk about other human beings like that.

I’m done being silent.

I’m not going to apologize for taking human worth “too seriously.”

So I’m not sorry at all.