#NotOnMyWatch - The Days after the Million Woman March

Entering into 2017 we are presented with a number of opportunities that will allow us to “look away.”  This conjures up the image of the Three Wise Monkeys: Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil monkeys.  However, in today’s times I don’t think this is a “wise” course of action.  This past weekend I marched in Calgary in solidarity with women around the world in the Million Woman March.  I did not view this as an anti-Trump rally.  I was there for a number of reasons, protesting Trump was not one of them. Protesting the direction that I see society going is 100% why I was there.

I was there because we have made the term feminist to be a negative term.  If it wasn’t for feminists we wouldn’t have the right to vote or even be considered persons (1921), we would be able to own land, or have maternity leave, or be able to have jobs... thank you Emily Murphy. Nellie McClung. Henrietta Muir Edwards. Louise McKinney. Irene Parlby (Famous Five).  

And we still have work to do around wage parity, healthcare and reproductive rights, rape victimization and many other social issues that directly affect women.

 Famous Five

 

Photo taken at the #MWMCalgary, Jan. 21, 2017 by Gena Rotstein

#NotOnMyWatch

 

I was there because women on PEI, until recently, did’t have access to abortion doctors.  In a country where universal healthcare is a standard and a right, access to reproductive medical care, regardless what province you are in, falls under this umbrella and women have the right to have access to this type of care.

 

#NotOnMyWatch

 

I was there because we have seen an increase in hate crimes around North America in the name of Trump and that racism, bigotry, and misogyny is now “okay” again.  My gender, religion, sexuality is sacrosanct and I believe that we have an obligation to protect those who may not be able to protect themselves. The Southern Law Poverty Centre and the Elie Wiesel Foundation are two thought leaders and “doers” in this space.

 

#NotOnMyWatch

 

I was there because while the media was covering “Crowdgate”, President Trump pulled the US out of the trans-pacific trade agreement.  This is going to have economic ramifications that will have effects for years to come.  Whether you are on the side of the trade agreement or not, the fact that the media did not spend equal time on the TPP speaks to how distracting perception vs. reality can be.

 

#NotOnMyWatch

 

Which brings me to my next thought -

 Tim O’Brien’s ‘The Little Golden Book of Alternate Facts,’ via Facebook

What is an alternative fact? It seems that in society today, around the world, perception is reality.  Perception is NOT fact.  You can’t call someone a liar based on their perception.  This means that we have to be diligent about what we are stating as fact.  In order to do so we need to be investing in our investigative reporting.  We need to be doing things that support our public broadcasters and mainstream media outlets. We also need to be teaching our students how to dig into a topic beyond their silos, read long-form articles, and write in complete sentences.  Twitter and text are good for sound bites, they are not good for in-depth analysis.  We have an obligation to make sure that we know who the sources are, why they are legitimate, and how to hold to account those who state perception as fact.  Organizations like the Knight Foundation are examples how private philanthropists can ensure that our media is acting in the best interests of a democratic process.

 

#NotOnMyWatch means that we will not stand idly by when we see injustice, discrimination, and access to information curtailed.  

 

I also believe we don’t have to create anything new.  We need to find the organizations, businesses, agencies, and groups who already exist and could use our Time, Talent, Treasures and Ties to bolster their efforts.  They exist, it is now up to the millions of to find the ones that fit our value-set and support their work.