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Women are "persons"? Heaven forfend! | www.ed-rex.com


Women are "persons"? Heaven forfend!

The original was a couple of days early, and now the reminder is a day late. What the hell, it's still worth noting. Yesterday was the 82 anniversary of the so-called person's case, when the British Privy Council over-ruled the Supreme Court of Canada and declared that, yes actually, women were 'persons' after all.

I made note of that in last week's True North Perspective ""Editor's Notes", but now I re-post here, for posterity.

Pondering the interconnectedness of all things ...

Only in 1928 were Canadian women recognized as 'persons'

Monday, the 18th of this month, marks a little-known but symbolically momentous anniversary for Canadians. It was on that date in 1928 — only 82 years ago — that the British Privy Council (proving that imperialism isn't all bad), decided that the Supreme Court of Canada had been wrong, and that women — the half of the human race born without a penis — were 'persons' after all.

Of course, the decision did not come to women (and to Canada's men, even if many of them did not realize it at the time) as a gift out of the blue from across the pond. It was a victory, a prize hard-won after not just years, but two decades of struggle (and indeed, of more decades of work before that; the road of human progress is a long and winding one indeed.

The point has been made in this space before (see Editor's Notes for 12 March 2010), "It is all too easy to read about wars, and about injustice; about violence and hatred; and about pollution and climate change and to forget that good things have happened and are happening still."

We had thought to make of this edition of True North Perspective a special women's edition, but time and resources conspired against us — and perhaps that is not such a bad thing.

We live on a big and a beautiful planet, hundreds of countries, thousands of languages and even more thousands of cultures and sub-cultures co-existing on a fragile blue dot in the cold and empty infinity of space. To presume that the experience of Canadian women in the realm of political rights reflects the experience of all Canadian women — let alone, of all women — seems the height of hubris. And more, True North Perspective aspires, and I think, succeeds to a significant extent, to speak to and about women as full members of the human experience already.

And yet, anniversaries, however arbitrary, can serve a purpose, as a reminder that the present is different from the past and almost certainly will prove to have been different from the future.

The "Famous Five" proved that times not only change, but that they must be changed. As much as we might wish it otherwise, positive change never comes without a struggle; but if we struggle, it does come.

Now more than ever, we need brave and determined women and men to step forward and work for a world of their heart's desire.

True North Perspective will continue doing its small part in that work, by providing a window onto the world different from most of the portals available to us; by questioning received wisdom and, perhaps most importantly, by holding to account those who claim to carry the torch of freedom and democracy.

We cannot change the world or ourselves if we cover our eyes and look at pictures instead of at what is real; we can, if we remember where it is from and that from which we have come, and if we keep in our mind's eye where it is we wish to go.
Here is to the Famous Five and to all those who strive for a better world. And meanwhile, if this edition of True North Perspective seems to err on the side of emphasizing the negative, please remember that we are trying to do better.

Spread the word!


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