/Cuts and bruises

Cuts and bruises

By Emily Stonehouse

“It is literally impossible to be a woman.” 

And so begins the monologue delivered by America Ferrara in the movie Barbie, that graced theatres this past summer, and rattled hearts, bones, and the fragile egos of some select men who have been cruising down easy street all their lives. 

I have taken pride in identifying as a woman my whole life. And I am one of the lucky ones. I was raised in a household where the glass ceiling had a skylight built into it by my parents. They were the first to crack the window and tell me I could fly as far as I wanted. 

And as I sat in the sticky heat of the Fish Hatchery this past week while Maryam Monsef spoke for an hour about her journey as a Muslim, an Afghan, a woman in politics, I realized that it doesn’t matter if that glass ceiling has a crack. It’s still there. 

“Even if you are in the process of breaking a glass ceiling,” she said, “there will certainly be cuts. There will always be bruises.” 

As I navigate this world, raising two young girls and staying up at night wondering what their future will hold, sometimes it seems like there is progress. 

Nowadays, we have a professional women’s hockey league. As I watched the women don their helmets – preparing their armour for not just a game, but to break through the glass ceiling – I thought about how myself, one of the only girls on a local team growing up, was sent to get changed in a broom closet, next to the furnace. That inner-child saw those women skate onto the ice, and watched as people around the bar swiveled in their seats to watch these heroes play. Finally. 

And then, the bartender changed the channel to showcase an NHL game instead. Two American teams. Apparently more important than the homegrown women who just graced the screen. 

When Barbie came out this past summer, I listened to the conversations that sprouted around it. The dialogue that evoked emotions in all of us, that made us, as women, feel seen, heard, validated, understood. Finally. 

“You are so beautiful, and so smart, and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong.”

And then, we have an awards show that was tuned into around the world, and the host casually saying that the movie is based solely on “a plastic doll with big boobies.” 

One step forward, 100 steps back.

It is literally impossible to be a woman. 

As I watched Monsef speak, I watched the fire burn in her soul. She spoke of her immigration story. Her arrival in Canada. Her treatment in politics. Her desire to make her community, her country, her world, a better place. 

But as a woman, so often, that glass ceiling is a mirage. Even if the window is cracked, it’s a trap. 

Monsef spoke about how resilience in a woman has a tipping point. There is only so much we can withstand before we throw in the towel. We can only be shoved in a corner, spoken over, defeated so many times. Because it is literally impossible to be a woman. 

But when we feel this way, my hope is that we join together. We lift one another up, we pull out of the shadows, we find a seat at the table, we use our voices to not only speak, but to shout, sing, and scream from the rooftops what we deserve. 

Because while we may be cut and bruised from smashing through that glass ceiling, once the glass is cleared, we can all fly free. Finally.