Archive for the ‘Featured Feminist’ Category

Featured Feminist: Lindsey Van (Ski-Jump Champion & Winter-Olympics Challenger)

Are you getting into the Winter Olympics? I haven’t been following every event (who has?), but I did manage to see quite a bit of speed skating and mogul skiing. (So far, Canada has 5 medals in total – 2 gold, 2 silver, and 1 bronze. Woo – go Canada!)

Now let’s get on with the latest Featured Feminist profile.

Lindsey Van

Birthday: November 27, 1984

Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan (USA)

Claim to Fame: At the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 2009, she captured gold for her performance in Liberec. She also secured 8 Continental Cup victories.

Why You Should Care: She’s one of the female skiers who’s actively fighting for gender equality within the sport.

Now, I don’t follow many professional skiers, but Lindsey Van is one I recently started paying special attention to. Why? According to Time:

“Lindsey Van holds the record — among both men and women — for the longest jump off of Whistler, B.C.’s normal ski jump, built for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.”

It’s impressive alone to hold a record, but to compete with both genders and still come out on top? Now that’s something to brag about. You’re the cream of the crop. And clearly she’s ambitious – at just 25 years old, she’s been ski jumping for 19 years! Crazy!

If you’ve been keeping up to date with the news, you’ve probably heard that although Lindsey Van is certainly a qualified skier, she wasn’t a ski-jump competitor in the Vancouver Winter Olympics. And neither was any other woman.

Start the feminist fire – things are gonna get hot!

The International Olympic Committee has kept ski jumping the sole Olympic sport that remains men-only despite numerous women ski jumpers petitioning since 1998.

I’m sure that you’re as curious as I was to learn exactly why women aren’t allowed to compete in ski jumping. There must be a logical reason, right? Wrong! There were lots of excuses, but the ‘funniest’ one I read was a 2005 statement made by Gian Franco Kasper (the FIS president and International Olympic Committee member) who thought that it “seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.” Really? Sounds like someone’s been studying medical textbooks from the 1800s. I wonder how he explains how she kicked serious ass and held a record among both women and men.

Watch this MSNBC video to hear from Lindsey herself and other ski jumpers on this issue. You’ll get lots of additional background information on gender discrimination in ski jumping. It’s just 10 minutes and 43 seconds long, but it’s worth watching the whole thing.

Why I Consider Her a Feminist

She’s fighting for what’s right – gender equality. And that’s something to be commended, not condemned. If her skiing achievements don’t floor you, it’s her desire to not only see, but contribute to a change in the world. We can all be armchair feminists and point our fingers at what’s wrong and what needs to be changed, but if we never physically act upon it and voice our opinions, that change may never come about.

Passion is one of the qualities I always look for in my friends and people who I admire. She seems to have it in spades. In sports, there’s a disproportionate number of women compared to men, so it’s especially important to have a frontline woman challenging the status quo. It’s inspiring!

For a dramatic visual that really gets the message across, please check out this 57-second YouTube clip that illustrates how women have to really fight for their right to compete in sports that men already get to compete in:

But for those of you who don’t want to watch it, I’ll summarize its message. Women and men have been allowed to compete in Olympic Winter Games events at different times. Women are only approved to compete at a much-later date:

  • Speed Skating: Men (1924) & Women (1960)
  • Bobsled: Men (1924) & Women (2002)
  • Ski Jumping: Men (1924) & Women (2014?)

The clip ends by saying, “Let’s not just bridge the gap in 2014. Let’s jump over it.” Well said!

But like every strong woman, she has strong opinions. According to Wikipedia, “she alienated many supporters when she characterized the Canadian legal system as ‘weak’ and said the International Olympic Committee was ‘like the Taliban of the Olympics.'”

Whether or not you agree with her on either points shouldn’t make you lose sight of the bigger picture – she’s fighting for gender equality within the sport. That should take precedence. And that’s why I chose her for this Featured Feminist section.

I don’t choose people for this section because they are saints or say politically-correct things to the media. I don’t choose them because they always do the right thing. I choose them because they’re doing some good. Big difference. Everybody can fall, but not everyone can get back up.

Thank you, Lindsey Van, for putting women on the ski-jumping map. And thank you for putting yourself on the line for women’s rights all over the world!

Featured Feminist: Elsie MacGill (Queen of the Hurricanes)

GlockomaFor those times when we want to fold like a bad poker hand, we desperately need inspiration to help us realize that we can pull ourselves out of the quicksand.

Inspiration can hit you between the eyes when you’re not looking (or even when you are). And now it’s gonna be aiming for you. Don’t worry – it won’t hurt. Actually, it’ll feel really good. And it doesn’t reek of rotten tomatoes.

I’d like to introduce you to the latest addition to Glockoma. Featured Feminist is a section I’ll use to post true stories about modern women and famous women in history who exemplify what feminism is all about. This will include writers, inventors, politicians, and  musicians, just to name a few. Feminist messages that help the women’s movement advance are everywhere if you look for them.

Since I believe in a school of feminism that encourages the involvement of and interaction with men, you’ll sometimes read about feminist men in the Featured Feminist section. This is very important to me because in all forms of media, we’re shown male chauvinist pig after male chauvinist pig – it gets more tiresome than a drunk pick-up line.

Let’s get to our very first profile!

GlockomaElsie MacGill

Nickname: Queen of the Hurricanes

Birthday: March 27, 1905

Birthplace: Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)

Claim to Fame: First woman in the world to design an airplane

Why You Should Care: She paved the path for many women in a field that is traditionally dominated by men. During WWII, she developed, designed, and tested aircraft as an aeronautical engineer.

And, according to Wikipedia,  she was the first woman to achieve a lot of other impressive things, too:

  • 1927 – First Canadian woman to earn her electrical engineering degree (University of Toronto)
  • 1929 – First woman in North America to earn her masters degree in aeronautical engineering (University of Michigan)
  • 1938
    • First woman elected to corporate membership in the Engineering Institute of Canada
    • First woman to hold the position of Chief Aeronautical Engineer (Canada Car and Foundry)
  • 1946 – First woman to be the Technical Advisor for the International Civil Aviation Organization
  • 1947 – First woman to chair a UN committee (She was the chairperson for the United Nations Stress Analysis Committee.)
  • 1953 – First woman outside the United States to be named Woman Engineer of the Year by the American Society of Women Engineers (She also was made an honourary member.)

Glockoma

GlockomaSome Other Awards & Recognition

  • 1941 – Gzowski Medal from the Engineering Institute of Canada for her paper entitled Factors Affecting the Mass Production of Aeroplanes
  • 1967 – Centennial Medal from the Canadian government
  • 1975 – Amelia Earhart Medal from the Ninety-Nines
  • 1979 – Gold Medal from the Ontario Association of Professional Engineers
  • 1983 – Inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame

GlockomaWhy I Consider Her a Feminist

All of the above already indicates that she’s clearly a fighter who came ready with her boxing gloves. And I bet they weren’t pink.

Well, there’s more to the story that illustrates her strong drive to succeed despite the obstacles.

Case in point: the doctors told her that most likely she’d be wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life after she got polio. But did she take the news sitting down? No. Instead, she taught herself how to walk with the support of metal canes.

And doctoral studies weren’t cheap. Don’t think that she got handouts for her education. During that time, Elsie MacGill financially supported herself by writing articles for magazines about planes and flying.

GlockomaWhy She’s Known as the ‘Queen of the Hurricanes’

When she worked for Canada Car and Foundry, she was chosen to build the Hawker Hurricane fighter aircraft for the Royal Air Force. She also came up with new ideas for how to winterize the aircraft.

GlockomaElsie MacGill Was a Feminist Activist

In the 1960s, she focused on women’s rights issues and was the president of the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. In 1971, she received the Order of Canada for her work as a member of the Ontario Status of Women’s Committee.

(The Order of Canada was concieved in 1967 to “[recognize] the achievement of outstanding merit or distinguished service by Canadians, through life-long contributions in every field of endeavour, and who made a major difference to Canada, as well as the efforts made by non-Canadians who have made the world better by their actions.”)

Elsie MacGill seems to have been a proud and vocal feminist, which I think is important. She was quoted saying, “I have received many engineering awards, but I hope I will also be remembered as an advocate for the rights of women and children.”

It frustrates me when some women are afraid to call themselves a feminist because they’re too lazy to deal with any societal backlash to the often-stigmatized label. Kudos to the Queen of the Hurricanes for not shying away. May we all be so brave.

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