Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No One Showed...

Warning: I'm going to be very vague, as to not call out any specific organizations. Also, the title of this blog is a huge spoiler alert, so my apologies for that in advance.

This week, a local organization which focuses on encouraging diversity and ending hate, is hosting its annual educator's conference. Today's theme was civil rights issues. Earlier this month, the girl-serving feminist organization I work for was approached about being doing a workshop on the topic of gender. A coworker, Lora, and myself volunteered to conduct this workshop, as we both feel passionately about feminism.

So, Lora and I each devoted a good amount of time preparing for this workshop...really putting our hearts and souls into it. Today, we arrived at the conference site early and set up our room. The entire time we were discussing gender topics (one of my favorite pastimes, and I sense one of Lora's too.) We were excited, we were passionate, and we were

...stood up.

Ok, not really stood up, per se, but it sure felt like it. You see, no one came to our session. There were only half of the conference attendees present today, but nevertheless, the other option was chosen over ours by 100% of them.

I don't want to bash the other session that was available for the attendees, so I won't even mention what it was. It is, however, another extremely important social justice topic and I am happy that people paid it attention.

I'm not happy that gender was paid NO attention.

It echoes how I feel about the current state of gender. I feel like the common consensus is that we really do live in a "post-feminist" world and gender isn't that big of a deal anymore. I mean, I get it. Women can vote. Women are a majority of college graduates now. There are protections against workplace discrimination and harassment. There is so much we should be thankful for. But does this mean that the world is really "post-feminist?" I'm going to drop a few statistics that would have been shared with our audience today, had anyone showed:

v 70% of the 855 million illiterate adults in the world are female.

v While women produce nearly 80% of the world's food, they receive less than 10% of the agricultural assistance.

v 75% of 85-year-old Social Security recipients are female and why women are almost twice as likely as men to spend their later years in poverty.

v Over 50% of Americans are women yet only 22% of American senators are female.

v 84% of spouse abuse victims were females, and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse at were female.

v Women working 41 to 44 hours per week earn 84.6% of what men working similar hours earn; women working more than 60 hours per week earn only 78.3% of what men in the same time category earn.

I think you can pretty clearly see that the battle is not over. And needless to say, Lora and I were very disappointed and just plain bummed about the whole thing. I don't consider it a waste, because we plan on using this as sort of a gender sensitivity/awareness 101 for other groups of adults in the future.

But I can't help but think about it over and over. The fact that no one thought the topic was important enough to investigate, is exactly WHY we should be talking about this in the first place.

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