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.



  1. End of Match 1, Patriarchy to Paula: “Touche.”

  2. Thanks for this Paula..
    People need to begin to begin to understand that not all forms of sexism will be drastic and overt. There are many between the range of one who tries to deny women’s rights entirely and the nagging radical female that has become synonymous with the word feminist. The difference between them has many fine lines of ignorance, inequality and perceived benefit. So thank you for identifying a line that has been crossed and helping those interested and disinterested in navigating a healthy way through it all.

  3. I am SO proud of you.

  4. Hello my name is Peter and I am not an alcoholic. Nice introduction. My wife said I should have been born female as I agree with feminism, the image Al Turnbull posted makes my skin crawl, I really hate anything like that. I don’t find it funny, I hate the expectation of men to expect women to open that extra button on their blouse just for them, I hate with a passion pornography, I walked into a mens clothing store here in the UK and for every Saturday for a month they had a female cage dancer, the two female staff were cringing, I asked them what was the point and one woman told me that head office thought that it would bring in more customers, she went on to say that its been their worse sale day since they opened, which was well over two years ago.

    I complained to the company, they apologised with a £10 gift voucher and they said they withdrew the dancer after many complaints.
    Now I was telling a female friend about it all, she said that I had by complaining possible did the girl out of a job, yes I possible did, but I also felt really bad for the two very embaressed women, when I say women they seemed to be younger then the cage dancers, in their very early 20’s.

    I open doors for women, men also, I will stand up when a female enters a room, I will give up my seat, I gave a female my seat on a bus some years ago and this guy who was also standing, I heard under his voice saying “so much for feminism ” I whispered to him ” so much for respect”, I was just being polite, it wasn’t because she was a woman, she was loaded down with bags and looked exhausted and if it was the guy in the same situation I would have gave my seat to him. Now if that was my wife, she would have told be to sod off and rather stood, she is strange like that.

    If a female wishes to dress in short skirt, cleavage hanging out and stiletto heels that her choice. I have spent most of my working life as a photographer and have photographed everything from riots to babies and quite a few exotic images, but I have refused the few really adult image jobs, one job offering me £1500 for an afternoon shoot, its not that I am a prude but as I have said before I dislike that sort of stuff, but if a woman wishes to do that work that is up to her. There used to be a photographer who had a studio 30 miles from me and did adult work, it turned out he was (he died a few years ago) one of the worlds top adult photographer, so as well as doing innocent family portraits in another room he had a studio set up for adult work. Another 20 miles further north is a university and the majority of his new ‘models’ were from the Uni.

    Women have a God given right not to be harassed in any way from men and occasionally female attention just because they are showing a little more leg than the next or wearing a little more makeup then the next. Women should not be expected to wear high frill collars and ankle length skirts, but if they wish to wear skirts short or long, its their right and allowed to live their life anyway they wish.


    1. Thanks for your thoughts Pete!
      I appreciate you taking the time to share your relationship with feminism.

      1. Your welcome :-)

  5. This is some first post – congratulations. You’ve got a tremendous grasp of language, my only qualm is that it’s taken you this long to start blogging!

    1. Thanks odwyermused! I appreciate your kind words.

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