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Last weekend I was in Montreal. I had arranged to go for work, and then for my family to join me, specifically so I could be there for Montreal Comiccon. I have never gone to a con outside my own city before, never even really considered it, but there was a draw I could not escape.

David Tennant, the tenth Doctor, would be there.

It was his first con in Canada and while it is possible that he will come back, and maybe even come to Ottawa someday, I decided it was worth the small expense to see him this time. For he is my Doctor. Everyone has their favourite, and Tennant is mine.

(Squee)

Now, this does not mean that I don’t like other regenerations. After Eccleston I was sure I would have trouble getting comfortable with Tennant (nope), and when Tennant left I was positive I would never like Matt Smith for the simple fact that he had replaced 10, but he grew on me. I am actually shocked at how much I like Capaldi. I find his humour pretty great. On my shelf of Whos I even found space for the War Doctor.

And now, just a few days after I met my favourite Doctor the show is making news – Jodie Whittaker has been cast as the first female Doctor.

We knew the announcement was coming. Capaldi had already said he would leave after this year’s Christmas special. Twitter was buzzing yesterday morning as people waited for the BBC to tell us, finally, who would be number 13. And I knew in the back of my mind that if it was another white man I would be disappointed. It would feel like a missed opportunity. There have been growing calls for a person of colour or a woman to take on the role. Names from Idris Elba to Tilda Swinton had been mentioned, although both of those actors might be too big for the show.

Finally they posted the video, a figure in dark clothing walking through a forest. A hand reaches out. A shot of part of the face. And it was a woman. It was a WOMAN!

I may have actually whooped for joy. I could not contain my excitement. Eventually there were tears. I didn’t know it mattered so much until I had it, there in front of me.

Of course there was backlash. Of course. White men who have had something that they’ve always had taken away from them. People saying that this destroys the show, that they won’t watch, that a female Doctor just can’t be.

And last night it occurred to me, very peacefully. If you think that having a female Doctor ruins the show for you, then you never understood the show in the first place. Of course the Doctor could be a woman. Of course a woman Doctor will have the same gravitas as a male one. She’s THE DOCTOR.

I’ve gone through this with so many things now – When Rey was the lead in the new Star Wars, when they made an all-female Ghostbusters. Why can’t you let us have something? Why? Why can’t women (and men!) be excited about these things without having idiots declare that it’s not fair or not right or whatever else they are butt hurt about.

Today I have my nails painted Tardis blue, I am wearing one of my Who shirts, I am ready and willing to buy all the 13 merch. Because when I told my daughter that the new Doctor was a woman she was excited too.

 

No Limits

April 4th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal | Women's Issues - (Comments Off on No Limits)

I got some good advice from a friend a little while ago – That maybe instead of focusing on how frustrating it is to feel fat and useless, instead focus on the things my body can do and what other women like me can do.

She had some recommendations – great, fit, strong women I can follow on Instagram or Facebook. I’ve been following a few and Annie helped me find a few more. One of those was Louise Green, who has written a book – Big Fit Girl – that I have only started reading and am really, really enjoying.

I have felt rather more at peace lately, realizing that my body is my body and it usually does what I ask it, even if I push. That maybe it’s okay for me to eat what I enjoy and do exercise I enjoy and be healthy without overdoing it or trying to be something I will never be.

The idea that I have about what a fit body has to look like is wrong. I can be me without limits. I can program my brain to believe in myself.

I need to stop thinking that I can’t be something. I need to start reminding myself that I can do anything. No matter what my brain and my biases try to tell me.

Further Reading:

8 Secrets from 8 Curvy Women Who Love Their Bodies

7 Assumptions People Make About Plus-Size Women in the Gym That Are Just Wrong

 

In the name of love

September 9th, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | Personal | Women's Issues - (Comments Off on In the name of love)

The other day at the park, after her first day back at school, the kid was fly around the monkey bars and talking a mile a minute. She was showing me her tricks and demonstrating her strength and also telling me how good she is and how she taught one of her friends a better way to do the monkey bars too.

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And I had this instinct. This unfortunate instinct that I squashed down.

I almost told her not to be so cocky. I almost suggested that her friends won’t like it if she’s so confident.

What a stupid thing to think.

This kid is strong. She’s strong and she’s been practicing for years. She’s been doing gymnastics and working hard at it since before she could walk. She practiced the monkey bars over and over again until the day she finally got all the way around. I remember that day and her smile was so big I almost cried, as she ran towards me telling me “I did it!”

She’s worked hard and practiced and why would I take that away from her, ever? Why shouldn’t she be confident about something she can do well?

And if she were a boy, would I have had this whole conversation in my head? No, probably not.

This kid is an athlete. She loves to exercise, she loves to run and stretch and bounce and play. When Daddy asked her if she did anything fun at gymnastics today she declared her love of burpies. Nobody loves burpies.

She’s an athlete and for the rest of her life people will tell her she’s too confident, they’ll place her behind the men in her sport, they’ll say she’s not dedicated because she likes fashion.

I will not be one of those people.

So YOUNG and So BOSSY

October 22nd, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues | Women's Issues - (Comments Off on So YOUNG and So BOSSY)

I woke up this morning to a beautiful sort of Twitter essay from one Michelle Rempel, newly re-elected MP for Calgary – Nose Hill. If you watch any of the political panel shows then you know Rempel. She was one of the only spokespeople the Conservative Party sent out to respond to issues on those shows.

She is generally respectful, well-spoken and knowledgeable. I found it almost impossible that she was so prepared to talk about so much during the campaign day by day.

Last night Rempel took to Twitter to express herself a bit on the messages she’s been getting as a woman in politics. While some people are encouraging her to run to be the new leader of her party, some are sending her an entirely different message. A message she wouldn’t be getting if she were a man:

I cannot express how much I loved to see this strong, powerful woman speaking out like this. It means so much. Perhaps more knowing that Michelle Rempel is one of Megan Leslie’s very good friends, despite the differing party stances. Knowing that makes me respect both of them more, because those are the kind of politics we need. Women lifting other women up.

I hope we hear more soon. We need women like this standing up. And if you think we don’t, you’re wrong.

Feminist harping, apparently

July 21st, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | Personal | Women's Issues - (Comments Off on Feminist harping, apparently)

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There was a discussion in one of my Facebook groups today that I didn’t want to get involved in. There’s something about community Facebook groups that just seems to bring out the worst of everybody. But after hemming and hawing a bit I decided I had to say something.

The thread was started by a father who saw a teenaged girl wearing short shorts while out to eat with his daughters. He shared with the group that he had taken the opportunity of this young girl’s outfit to explain to his children why they should have more self-respect than to wear such things that show off body parts he felt should not be for public viewing.

Following his lead, many people agreed that yes, that was the right thing, and these girls who walk around dressed like that, how dare they?

The thread went on as people pointed out  that the only reason this girl would have for wearing that sort of thing was to attract attention from boys. Well, the original commenter said “trying to bring all the boys to the yard,” which is a really lovely way of putting it.

I pointed out that it is unreasonable to assume, based on the length of her shorts, that this girl lacks self respect. Moreoever it is a terrible thing to teach your children to judge others based on what they are wearing. I also pointed out that it is very possible that she was hot in the 40 degree humidex and decided to wear shorts, because she likes those shorts, or that maybe she just likes her ass – heaven forbid the teenager have body confidence.

People talked about this being inappropriate and we need to teach our kids that there are appropriate things to wear to school or work or whatever. Again, this girl was in a fast food restaurant. You have no information about what she wears when she’s doing anything else, nor is it any of your business.

And then the original dad tried to explain to me that this doesn’t have anything to do with feminism or women’s rights. Which, but the way, is bullshit. Any time you decide to go to a public forum and shame girls and women because you think that they’re being inappropriate that has something to do with feminism. I’m looking forward to this guy trying to teach two daughters to be proud of their bodies no matter what but not to display it lest random dads at the Subway see you.

It’s all been said much more eloquently that I can say it by the Stay at Home Feminist here.

Yes, Facebook Dad, you can teach your daughters what you see is appropriate, but using a random teenager that you know nothing about to start that conversation teachers your daughters to judge others based on their appearance, and that’s not cool.

(Photo via Creative Commons).

Women in Canadaland

July 3rd, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues | Women's Issues - (Comments Off on Women in Canadaland)

I had been impressed with some of the work Jesse Brown was doing on Canadaland so far, but this morning Twitter is full of people talking about Brown’s claim that women from the Globe leaving their jobs because of sexism in the workplace… and the actual women from the Globe who have left for better jobs, not because of sexism, asking why he put them in this story without talking to them.

So I’m forced to wonder how you can critique the job that journalists do if you can’t do good journalism yourself.

Saying that you contacted these women and they didn’t comment when you haven’t done something so simple as tweet at them to get the right email address and then amending the blog post to say that you didn’t actually contact them and they didn’t actually have a chance to comment? Come on.

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Indicating that all of this list of women you name left the Globe because they couldn’t take the environment anymore when in fact a majority of them left for different (and better) jobs? That’s just more sexism.

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You can’t be a good media critic if you then try to do journalism and cock it up to this degree. You get things wrong and then when the people you were wrong about speak out you then ask them for a real comment and update your story?

That’s not good journalism.

If you want a great stream of consciousness on the topic, go see @Scaachi

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It’s frustrating because we do need media critics in this country and there is a problem with sexism in journalism (just like many, many other industries). But when you do the reporting badly that takes away from the story that could actually have been told here.

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As cynical as I am, I still believe in the power of good journalism. This was an opportunity wasted.

Further reading:

Vidya Kauri: Sexism in Canada’s media industry

Melissa Martin: The Problem with the Problem

Early Childhood Education

April 29th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Women's Issues - (Comments Off on Early Childhood Education)

When my daughter started preschool I managed to accidentally join the executive at the school. It’s a co-op so all the parents are involved in different ways, and we all had duty days when we spend the afternoon at the school helping the teachers.

As it turns out being on the executive and doing duty days at school were a truly awesome experience. I got to know other parents, I got to know the teachers really well, and I got to have conversations with them about the school and their training and curriculums and new things they’re learning about early childhood education.

As far back as high school I remember learning how important early childhood education could be. Taking care of young children can set them up for life. Studies have shown the kids who attend preschool or some other form of early childhood education are more likely to finish high school, less likely to be involved in crime, they have better social skills, they have more ability to focus, the list goes on and on. The fact is that the more funding you put into early childhood programs the less you’ll have to spend on an array of other things as these children age and the better off society will be.

So why don’t we focus on early childhood development?

This is an election year, and day care is part of the conversation. But a national day care isn’t the whole solution. We are failing so many kids.

There is a major problem with school attendance in the north, and I heard it put very simply recently while I was attending Progress Summit – the schools are in disrepair, the supplies are second rate.

If we don’t invest in those things to demonstrate how important education is, then why would any of those kids consider it important?

A good start in school can change everything about a person’s life. Everything. Starting at the beginning can change everything about our country. That’s the kind of long term thinking we need to see this election year.

Further reading: 

This American Life: Three Miles 

Dropping out

March 12th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Women's Issues | Work - (Comments Off on Dropping out)

After one year of maternity leave I was ready to go back to work. I was very, very ready. I had put us on my city’s centralized waiting list just after I found out I was pregnant and with just a few weeks left before my return to work we had yet to receive a space. And so I started looking on my own.

We were very lucky with the space I eventually found. It was relatively inexpensive ($43 per day) and the caregiver was absolutely wonderful. She loved our daughter as much as we do. But she also kept business hours – 8 to 4 – which made life difficult sometimes, especially considering I was working 7 to 3 and my husband was often traveling for work.

In 2011 my work changed drastically. We became the official opposition and then my boss died. Everything got much harder for me at work and my family became increasingly important. And so in 2012 I became a statistic.

I was one of the women who dropped out of the workforce to stay at home with my child. All I had to do was make half as much working from home as I had going into the office.

The blog post says: “So what caused the decline? It’s not retirement and it’s not fertility — the biggest declines in workforce participation were middle-aged women aged 40-54, and declines were recorded in every province across Canada.”

So what’s happening?

Women, facing years of pressure from caring for their children are then faced with helping to care for aging parents. The money doesn’t make up for the stress of trying to balance everything they’re responsible for. It’s just too much to ask.

That’s my theory, I’d love to hear others.

Balancing: It’s an Act

March 5th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Women's Issues | Work - (Comments Off on Balancing: It’s an Act)

Scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day came across this tweet:

https://twitter.com/CBCNews/status/573554187373539332

A professor at Dalhousie is concerned about a trend of companies offering to pay for women to freeze their eggs so they can delay having children until later in life. Reading the article where she talks about things like having school and work schedules somehow work together, like having subsidized daycare. In the article she makes sense. In the tweet they say she’s urging “work-life balance.”

She isn’t, and here’s why: This professor is a powerful woman and she’s surely realized by now that work-life balance, when it comes to women who have children, is a myth. It’s bull. It’s doesn’t exist.

If you work and you have children you have choices to make every single day about what is going to be the most important thing to you right now. Some days it will be your child, some days it will be your job, some days it will be your marriage or even yourself.

But this idea that you can find a balance, where things are taking care of and everyone is happy is something that’s totally unfair to young women.

It leads to young mothers thinking that other women have it all handled and they’re the only ones that are failing.

What the professor actually talks about in the article? Those are the things we need to talk about, and not just for women’s sake.

“The workplace hasn’t thought about why the work schedule doesn’t accommodate the school schedule,” said Baylis. “What’s happened to subsidized daycare, aside from the province of Quebec? If society really thought it was important for women to have the same opportunities as men, they would be looking to make social policy changes.”

#SheWillRun

March 1st, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Women's Issues | Work - (Comments Off on #SheWillRun)

Last week I had the pleasure of attending an event put on by my university’s Equal Voice chapter. The event was called #SheWillRun: Women on the Campaign Trail and featured a panel of three female MPs and one female candidate.

The panelists were (from left to right as they sat on stage): NDP MP Mylene Freeman, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Liberal candidate for Ottawa Centre Catherine Mckenna and Conservative MP Susan Truppe.

Given that I’ve been studying women in politics this semester it proved to be a very interesting talk.

We are in an election year and approximately 30 per cent of the nominated candidates so far are women, which is about the same as it was during the 2011 campaign. There is a movement for a debate on women’s issues (You can sign the petition at UpForDebate.ca). The NDP and Liberals have already put daycare on the agenda, and the NDP is talking about political reform, which could lead to gender parity in the House of Commons. (During the #SheWillRun conversation, Elizabeth May was the first to bring up the problems with Canada’s current system).

The discussion went on for about two hours and many interesting points were raised. All four women raised the point that male candidates may go out canvassing alone but female candidates always have someone with them for safety. And each of the women had to be asked repeatedly to run before making the leap.

Elizabeth May said something very intriguing – she told the audience that NDP MP Craig Scott had once told her that he had started making a list of ministers of the Crown who are the best at actually answering questions in Question Period, and as he went along he realized that the whole list was made up of women. She also quoted another male colleague who told her that he prefers committees that have female members because he knows there will always be more consensus.

All of them agreed that Parliament would be a better place with more female MPs in the mix, and that more diversity is always better. (As great as it is to talk about elected more women, the Canadian parliament is sorely lacking in representation of visible minorities).

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