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Permission for Patriarchy. And Hello.

Hi. My name is Paula Ethans and I am starting a blog. Is that how you start a blog? I feel like I am in an AA meeting right now. Except there are no cookies and I’m alone in my room.

I need a drink.

So why am I starting a blog?

Well, for one thing, I am vain enough to think that people will actually care about what I have to say. For another, I have many opinions (perhaps too many) and I wanted a space where I could voice them constructively. Lastly, I think I’m hilarious.

So, I’m here; might as well dive in.

As almost every university-age person in Manitoba knows, The UMSU President Al Turnbull has recently been under serious scrutiny for posting controversial photos on Instagram. One photo of his, with a girl in a library used for UofM promotion, is captioned saying, “Yup that’s right, I’ll tutor you and check out your cleavage free of charge”.

I would classify this as stage-ten sexist.

But my concern does not lie with Al.

Well, it does. At the loss of all UofM students, he is a disrespectful male who is not properly advocating for half of its student body. But this is (hopefully) obvious to any enlightened human.

What upsets me even more is the support for Al that has been ringing through the grapevine. From girls. University-educated young women.

More than a handful of females have made this oh-so upsetting comment: “It’s just a joke”.

They’re right; it is a joke. And THAT’S the problem.

Every time we brush off an offensive comment, chalk it up to a “joke”, and move on, we give these people permission to continue saying whatever they please.

When we consider these comments humorous, we are saying that equality between all genders is a joke. We are saying that is it OK to exist as females for the pleasure of men. We are saying that progressing the rights of women is laughable.

And it’s not.

When I was growing up my mother always said, “people can’t walk over you, unless you lie down”. And that is exactly what these girls are doing. By not getting upset, by not speaking out, these girls are unknowingly hurting themselves.

Their absence of action actively permits patriarchy.

This continual permission simply perpetuates the destructive behaviour of these people. No one changes how he or she acts unless outside forces propel him or her to reform.

Thus, it is on our shoulders to ensure that these offensive, unenlightened and outright rude comments do not echo through our generation. It is up to us to ensure that the strides that we should be taking, that the world expects us to take, are not weighed down.

And the only way to raise ourselves up is to constantly challenge chauvinistic behaviour.

So please, next time, don’t laugh at the comment. Don’t walk away. Don’t forget about it. Turn to the person and tell them exactly how detrimental their words are. Shout about it in the quad. Rant about it to your friends. Write a piece in the local newspaper.

Whatever you do, don’t lie down.

Be louder than the idiots.

Appreciating the Crooked Path.