I'm a woman. That should come as no surprise. But recently I had yet another experience of being condescended to, ignored, and plainly pushed aside by a man who didn't consider me to be important enough to communicate with when it came to setting up for an event we were playing at.
I can't tell you how much this grates on me. How much this kind of treatment isn't acceptable. How much I have had to work through to put myself in the spotlight as a woman, leading a band of (excellent) guys, working to make a splash in an industry that shouldn't need to be, but is generally male dominated. I was shaken after the event - having been so surprised by and affected by the treatment I got that it threw off my performance.
I'm a woman.
And I'm also a mother to three girls.
Sometimes this is daunting, and not for the usual reasons. It's not because I worry about the teenage years, when everyone expects hormones raging, mood swings and rebellion. I worry for a different reason, and it's hard to verbalize how exactly to describe it.
I'm trying to write a song about it. It's coming along, but I'll admit that it has been in the works for many months. Some songs flow out of me in a week. Some in a few hours. Some, like this one, groan and writhe and complain and suffer their way into existence.
Initially I thought this song was about feminism.
This is going to sound wacky and oooo-doodly-wooo artsy fartsy, but I feel sometimes like songs have a bit of a life of their own. Or that the writing process is far more than just me making something up that makes sense. Sometimes it feels downright inspired, be it by GOD, or by my soul, or a mixture of things. Sometimes it feels like the song isn't satisfied with itself, and it's more my job to listen than it is to force it out. This is one of those songs.
It's not about feminism. It's not an indirect anger lashing out at Trump - that was another theory.
Our daughters are 5, 9 and 11 years old. Throughout their childhoods we've been working at teaching them as fiercely as we could about love of all people, acceptance of humans of all shapes, sizes, colours, creeds, leanings, orientations, levels of goodness or evil. We've talked about body shapes and abilities, and that no person is better or more beautiful than another based on their body. We've talked about evil characters in history, and how in spite of their horrible acts, that they were human, just like us, who had a mom and a dad. We've talked about being okay with not being able to tell if someone is a girl or a boy, or a woman or a man, because they're a human. There are so many things we've tried to teach them about love and acceptance and the way we should be in the world.
But the fact is, the world is not like this. And as much as we Canadians like to think we're above division and racism and gender bias, and all these ways we separate out the "lesser" ones and raise up the favourites, we're not. Growing up in East Vancouver, being one of the few white, Canadian-born kids in my class, many of my peers being immigrants from a rich mix of cultures from Filipino to Korean to Portuguese, First Nations to Taiwanese to South Asian, and wishing I had the beautiful, petite feet that my Japanese friends had, and wishing I could complain about having to go to Chinese School after regular school got out. These things made up my childhood, and it makes me beyond angry to stand waiting at my daughters' classroom door with the other suburban parents, seeing the exclusive way the moms interact, or don't, with certain other moms. Overhearing the comments made about the new immigrant family that speaks little English, or the way the Asian moms are just left out of the group chatter. It's unacceptable. But it's not new.
And I am walking on unknown paths as I try and figure out how to allow my girls to witness the way the world really is. It's pretty certain that parts of their hearts will break. I cringe at the thought of the first time they experience gender bias, or mansplaining. How dare anyone treat a girl as lesser than a boy? How dare they do that to my kids? And how will they deal with their own biases that will naturally exist because of the culture they're growing up in, or because of my own shortcomings? Surely I have my own ways of being prejudiced, and surely they rub off on the kids. How will they go forward in life? What will I feel if they are victimized? What will I feel if they victimize others?
At this point, I stand on the edge of their eyes being opened to the fact that girls and boys are not always treated the same. That depending on the paths they choose, they may encounter gender-specific pay differences, treatment, bias, and condescension. They may experience a tech guy treating them like children when they're actually the leader.
Sometimes, there is nothing that can be done to avoid the inevitable. Sometimes, all I can do is write about it. I can write a blog post. I can write a song. I can hope that the readers and listeners and audience members will hear my desperate cry, will understand it, will take up the torch with me and charge into the future with blazing eyes and a determination to do all we can to make it better.
I think I'm ready to listen now - to let the song tell me its story. And may I obediently and fiercely submit to it and pour it out for all who will listen.