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#MeToo - an historical perspective

1) While other Canadian history teachers taught the facts of history such as who was Canada's first Prime Minister; I taught social history as seen through novels such as Grain by Robert Stead dealing with prairie settlement.

2) If grandpa approaches you with this question I told students; 'bet you don't know the name of the first Prime Minister of Canada?' and you don't, expect this type of reaction: 'dumb kid and an even dumber teacher'. So ask him politely, 'What is the function of the Prime Minister in government, grandpa?' Don't be too surprised if his hearing aid fails him at this point with a muttered reply of 'smart alecky kid' and a 'commie teacher'.

3) In harvest season, any available male whom could do the work was hired with the farm daughter to deliver the meals to them under the sharp eye of the farmer whom was not against turning his shotgun against any worker whom kept nosing around afterward and using it if he thought necessary.

4) If young spriggins came courting, he better be sure that the wagon was clearly visible to all the neighbors otherwise that better be a proposal of marriage.

5) The automobile along with dropping the wearing of a girdle had many farm parents fretting as ducking down for the 'submarine races' was now possible.

6) In brief, women were not safe from male predators in this society nor were they trusted to be although many were 'safely married' by age 17.

7) The city environment which displaced the rural one began developing after WWI. Independent female school teachers were the envy of young girls with their independence which one and at the same time, were considered a threat by the farmers in 'eddicating them off the farm'. School Boards kept a close watch over these 'free spirits' with their own money.

My elementary school teacher mother in the 20's and 30's in small rural B.C. areas was part of that story.

8) My outgoing  farm bred French Canadian wife with 5 brothers was not a push-over although some men construed her friendliness as such. Miss Piggy of the Muppets is her hero with her dangling ear rings, classy dress and ability to reinforce a 'no' with a whack of the arm. At age 15 she was well endowed much to the temptation of a 'funny' uncle whom she slugged on one occasion, much to her mother's chagrin, for having his hand in a forbidden place. 'But mother, she said...did you see where he had his hand?' The mother was wise enough to say nothing.

9) Some employers sought to take advantage of her whom also received short shrift. The dangerous ones were the frustrated men in a bad marriage. (I sometimes wonder how we ever produced 2 sons under these circumstances...hey, wait, you are not going to tell me that I was supposed to do the dirty deed more than twice, are you?? ...son of a gun!)

10) In the 50's in the small Quebec village where everybody knew each other, she was escorted to the church dance and returned by her older brother.

11) In the 60's, she would go nightclubbing in Vancouver with another woman; the two to stay together throughout the evening which was common at that time.

12) At UBC, first year female students had their own dorm with a matron and a curfew of 11. Later, male escorts were added to return female students from the Library along darkened paths to the dorms.

13) So where am I going with all this background? Compare it to today where women  hook up with strangers on the internet and visit them in their bedrooms. No wonder we have marches of women 'winning back the night'.

14) I remember a few years back when columnist Kimothy Walker spoke out about being raped at age 9 and kept quiet out of concern for her own daughter. Her horrific story is retold in the Ottawa Sun Sept. 29 p.19 spurred on by the Kavanaugh story  in the U.S. What we are not told is whether she came from a home of divorced parents or a single parent and whether she was married. In brief, what kind of oversight was there? She was raised in the affluent Glebe.

15) 90% of single mothers live in poverty and are forced to live in tenements alongside male predators. Their task is next to impossible to protect their children. Identifying one predator when there are so many in these tenements is a frightening proposition. Unfortunately, I have no answer nor do I know anyone whom does.

16) The world, in short, has always been a dangerous place for women; it is still necessary for them to take basic precautions not common to men. No, it shouldn't be that way but it is for the foreseeable future.