April 12th, 2024

Let’s Chat: My journey with feminism

By Linda Tooth on March 20, 2024.

When I started a new job six months ago in the non-profit world I was looking forward to learning about feminism and what that looked like within a feminist organization.

To complement my new job, I decided to enrol in a gender studies class at the college to help my learning. The terms feminism, gender inequality, patriarchy, discrimination, masculinity, sex segregation and sexual harassment are just a sample of the terms I am becoming familiar with. I have realized this world is in dire need of help as we strive for equality for all people regardless of gender.

In my class, we were tasked with drafting a paper on gender oppression within Canada, but as we know, gender oppression is a worldwide problem so we could also look internationally to help with our discussion.

Child brides was the topic about which I would write.

According to UNICEF, child brides or child marriages are defined as “any formal marriage or informal union between a child under the age of 18 and an adult.” In most cases, this involves a young girl marrying a much older man.

Does this problem exist in Canada? Yes, it does. I decided to look at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) polygamy group living in Bountiful, BC.

This radical polygamist sect believes in men having multiple wives with girls being as young as 13 years of age married to men who are as old as 54. Alissa Koski is an associate professor at McGill University and she published a report in 2021 on child marriages in Canada. She found that 3,700 children had been married in Canada.

The United Nations believes child marriages are a violation of human rights and has a goal set of ending child marriages by the year 2030. This is part of its Sustainable Development Goal. Poverty, poor education and health care are contributors to this global crisis.

When I started researching this topic, I wanted to know how gender oppression began against women. Now I know this may offend some people but history tells us the oppression against women began in the Bible. The New International Version of the Bible, 1st Timothy 2:11-12 states “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be quiet.”

Excuse me while I go take my blood pressure medication! OK, I am back. Are you kidding me? I can guarantee everyone who reads this, there has not been a day in my life where I have been silent. So, gender oppression against women is not something new. We know that all women in Canada did not get the OK to vote until 1960 when First Nations women were finally allowed to vote. I need a microphone or pen to paper to shout out how bloody wrong this is.

When asked why I wanted the job at the non-profit organization, the image of a four-year-old family member popped into my mind. I answered, “I have to make the world a better place for her.”

Cats and feminism are my passions moving forward. Have a Meowtastic Day.

Linda Tooth is a communications instructor at Medicine Hat College

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