Self Story 4 – Gender

I have never thought of gender much until I came to University in Canada. I will be the first to admit how naïve and clueless I truly was to all of the issues surrounding “genders”. After learning about the content we have this semester it all makes sense to me. In my brain it’s like a puzzle being put together. Every topic has been a piece and although it’s been broad it still makes sense to me and I know enough to make connections.

Gender: What is it?

“How have you come to know yourself as gendered? Share one specific, vivid story. It can be from childhood or otherwise.”

My personal experience:

Most kids grow up very close with their siblings if they are close in age. That was the case for me but I also grew up very close to my Ehman cousins. For this blog post to make sense I’ll introduce you to them and refresh my brother’s names.

Liam and Alexei: My two younger brothers. (1998 & 2001)

Patrick, Bobby & Jillian: My cousins that I grew up very closely with. (1994, 1996 & 1998)

So, my dad Jeffrey is my cousin’s mother’s sister, Lisa. Auntie Lisa and dad grew up on a farm located on the Stongfield grid. Glenside, SK is a tiny village off of highway 219 about 5km south of the 219 and 15 junction. This town which is technically a village means nothing to a lot of people but to my family it’s where we grew up learning how to skate. Little did we know our childhood would be shaped around sports specifically hockey. You may wonder how this can relate to gender but if you’re familiar with skating I’m sure you can see where this is going. Our parents told us we were going to start skating lessons so we got so excited so with this, they took us to get skates. At this point I had no idea what the difference was between “boy skates” and “girl skates”. (Hockey skates and figure skates). Our parents put Jillian and I in “girl skates” and had all the boys in “boy skates” because they were going to play hockey as well. We started our lessons and had potlucks with all the families after lessons, then would play hours and hours of shinny. After noticing the difference between skates I remember Liam and I switching one night and I went skating on his skates without the pick and I loved it. It was so much easier to get around on the ice and I decided to ditch figure skating and move onto hockey. My parents didn’t care that I wanted to get hockey skates and start playing hockey they were honestly just surprised. My dad was so pumped! It sounds weird to say this now but back then women’s hockey (Saskatoon Comets) wasn’t that big. I remember it starting to blow up when I was in like Novice. It went from having two teams to six within a year it was so crazy, but good crazy! I chose to tell this story because being put in figure skating first was more of a gender “norm” and with me choosing to go against that by getting hockey skates and joining hockey I went against my gender “norm”.

I am also going to include my thoughts on two Netflix documentaries where I picked out gender related issues that infuriate me.

Heroin(e) – Netflix documentary

-prostitution for drugs

-girls are ridiculed for this

-male undercover cops

WHY aren’t there female undercover cops arresting the men picking the prostitutes up, because last time I checked that’s illegal too.

This documentary isn’t even about prostitution or gender but I noticed how corrupt the “power” and “inequality” of genders are. It is about the opioid epidemic in West Virginia and the United States as a country. A month ago I would have never noticed this but tonight I sure did.

Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution – Netflix documentary

This documentary made me sick watching and actually triggered a lot of emotions in me. Being a victim of sexual assault (I don’t tell anyone this) I can’t believe how objective women are now a days. This documentary was about spring break in America based in Florida. Anyone can imagine how crazy it is but not to the degree this documentary showed. The men interviewed were absolute pigs and I know not all men are like these ones but it just made me sick. These college guys would brag about having 5-10 different “knotches” PER night… yes, you read that right PER NIGHT! The one guy chucked saying “yeaaaah I probably have a few kids out there”. In what PLANET is this OK? How is it that we have let these issues get this bad? Why are women nothing but a piece of ass? Why is sex meaningless now? Why do men hold so much power over us women still in 2018? Why is it that girls are “losers” if they don’t engage in sexual activity before the age of 15. How hasn’t this changed? How… after all of this world’s history that women are still so “useless” in a sense? It honestly seems like that is how men see us. That we are just a “quickie” to them.

This blows my mind because the media does nothing but sexualize women and honestly due to my past I could be a bit biased but I am definitely no prude. Why am I called a prude because I find sex to be meaningful? Sure when I was in my prime at 19 and 20 years old a “hook up” after a night of partying was normal but come on. Why does this start so young and why doesn’t sex mean anything to anyone anymore? I know this blog post is about gender and I kind of got off topic but I just have so many more questions and research to do. Gender shouldn’t matter and gender does not define who we are as people. What I mean by that is there are NO superior genders and there is nothing wrong with being transgender or female… I say we all need to accept and embrace who we are. Life is too short to hate and diminish our peers.

Self Story 3 – Race

I want to say I was in the Bay or Sears and my mom had me and my younger brother Liam in the kid carts that resembled toy cars. It was in Midtown Plaza in Saskatoon and I distinctively remember the day because I got stuck in the cart. Let me tell ya, that was the very last time my mom let us in those kiddie carts! I was about five or six years old which means Liam was three or four. He was old enough to know his colors but didn’t quite have a filter yet. We were shopping around when an African woman was standing in front of us. Liam was three or four years old so he was just getting knowledge about the outside world and started being aware of his surroundings. I just remember my mom’s face when he not so quietly asked “Why is she brown”? My mom was horrified and so embarrassed but the lady had no problem with it. I think she totally understood how young he was and realized he was just curious. This is the very first time I remember noticing others have different skin colors which is weird because I was a couple years older than my brother. In retrospect I’m surprised I didn’t ask that question when I was three or four but I must have been a lot more oblivious. My mom later explained to us that night that there is no difference in people because their skin tone is different which has been how we thought ever since then. She explained that it’s because they are from different parts of the world but they are no different than us. The moral of the story, as young kids we were taught that skin tone did not matter and people are people.

I think showing children at a young age that there are people in our world with different colours of skin and different races is so important and there is not enough of that being shown. This by all means will not fix racism but I think it would help educate our youth from a young age. Ways I can see this would be having more colored people as leading role characters in movies and cartoons. I also think incorporating different races and cultures to cartoons and children’s movies would help. When Liam and I were younger our go to cartoons and movies were Teletubbies, Spy Kids, Lizzie McGuire, Barbie movies and Superhero movies. Very rarely would there be individuals of color in any of those shows and movies.

When I was younger Spiderman and Batman were the generic superheroes and they are both white male heroes. Why is it that it too Marvel till 2018 to release a movie with all black superheroes and characters? Black Panther was released in 2018 and it has been a huge hit. With all the protests going on about Black Lives Matter and the issues we’ve been having with police brutality it is about time there is some positive light being shined on the “black culture”. I also think the race issue goes hand in hand with gender issues which I will elaborate in on my next blog but why is it always male heroes? Finally Marvel made a black superhero I think the next step to evolving is making female leads as well as all races and ethnicity.

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

After reading this article I am experiencing a bunch of mixed emotions. This article definitely opened my eyes to seeing “white privilege” but there is also a lot of information I disagree with. I do believe white privilege is very much present in our society today, but I also don’t believe every white individual experiences it. I say this because of personal experience, not myself but I have friends who I know for a fact have not experienced “white privilege”.

I have always lived a great life with lots of privilege. My question is honestly, “Is it white privilege I experienced, or is it privilege in general” because I do see a difference between privilege and white privilege. I come from a farming background and both of my parents are University educated which obviously means they have good jobs. My intentions are not to sound snobby but it’s fact that I have lived a privileged life. My parent’s generation was the first generation in my family to steer away from farming although my dad still farms on the side. My mom went to University right after high school and even did a year of studying in France which is pretty lucky. Was she successful in University because of her skin color? Did she go to University because of her skin color? In my opinion, no. My mom saw herself as someone beyond the family farm so she made University a success so she could pursue a career other than farming. My dad however went back to Nutana in Saskatoon at the age of 30. Yes, you read that right my dad went and upgraded his grade twelve classes so he could get into University. My brother Liam and I were alive before our dad went to University and in my opinion, he got there with hard work and determination. I don’t think my dad went to University and was successful just because he was white. Anyone can change their life around and make themselves a better person and I think his story proves anyone can change for the better. After working on the farm and working dead end jobs throughout the winter my dad realized this isn’t what he wanted. To me that is not white privilege.

Changing gears a little bit, I had this friend throughout elementary and high school. Actually, to be quite honest we are still pretty good friends. Her name is Sarah and I think we met at the beginning of grade five. She came from a small town about forty-five minutes from Saskatoon. Her parents were divorced and she lived with her mom, little sister and little brother. Sarah’s mom worked numerous minimum wage jobs and had a drinking problem. Do not get me wrong I love her entire family and when I think of it they are part of the reason I am how I am today! When we were younger I was in every sport you could think of and played competitive hockey which is not cheap. All Sarah wanted to do was dance but her mom never had the money to make that happen so extra curricular activities were not her thing. Sure she could have played on the school volleyball and basketball teams but that wasn’t her cup of tea. Since her mom was usually always home and they lived really close to our school we would go to her house everyday after school. I began eating food there and drinking all the juice boxes and milk! In my house, I never had to think of things like this because it wasn’t an issue in my family but for their family it wasn’t easy buying milk and juice boxes. I will never forget coming over one day after school and there being no food there. I was honestly stunned. This had never happened to me before. I got picked up from my mom and I just told her how they had no food. My mom then went to Sobeys and loaded up a huge cart full of groceries. It must have been at least two hundred dollars worth of food in there. My mom explained to me that when my parents got a divorce someone did this for her at Christmas time as a kind gesture. My mom wanted to carry that onto Sarah’s family and it taught me a valuable lesson while she did it. We then drove the groceries to Sarah’s house and her entire family was in awe. It was like a magic fairy coming. This made me feel very good because I got to see how appreciative their family was and I also got to see how lucky I am to live the life I live. Poverty, no money and addictions. These are all issues around the world no matter what color of skin you have so this is why I disagree that white privilege is a privilege to every white person.

Now to the information in this article that I definitely agree with and strongly feel a connection to. Men won’t admit that they are over-privileged. This is definitely a true statement. In the work force women have to fight exceptionally harder than men to reach where they want to reach. Women also face the issue of missing out on years depending how many children they have. While women are having children men are literally gaining from their absence. Promotions and higher job opportunities come to men while women are on maternity leave but what is there for women other than having a cute wonderful bundle of joy?

Some men will admit that women do in fact have a disadvantage in our society but lots won’t even admit that and the men who do admit it won’t ACTUALLY do something about the issue. Men like having power over women and some men even see women as a “possession”. I can relate to this because one of my best friends is dating a wealthy guy. Well not exactly wealthy but his parents are! He grew up with his dad being a successful business man while his mom stayed at home raising him and his brother. In my opinion many successful men want to have a women in their life who “needs” them. Mostly financially but emotionally too. This guy I am specifically talking about is not a bad person but he definitely uses his “power” to manipulate my friend. Sam wanted to get a job and he actually got mad. I know this isn’t in every case but it is in this case which is why I am making the connection to this paper. Men are intimidated by women’s success and honestly they should be.

Self Story 2 – Being Canadian

Being Canadian is not only important to me but it is truly an honor. Living in America for three years really showed me how unique and amazing Canada really is. Canada is so much more than the stereotypes show it to be. Although we have amazing maple syrup, live in igloos and ride polar bears to work Canada has many lakes, rocky mountains, east coast beaches and the most beautiful prairies! Saying we ride polar bears and live in igloos does in fact sound insanely crazy but those were among the questions I was asked down in the United States!

My family is Norwegian and my grandpa is the first born Canadian in our family. My family is unique and it is honestly so ironic once you hear where I went to college. My grandpa’s parents Engel and Alma moved to Bottineau, North Dakota before coming to Canada and settling down on a farm near Strongfield, Saskatchewan. Bottineau, North Dakota is a small town about 15 miles South of the Canadian border. Although it is a small town it still has a super-size Walmart which honestly, basically makes it a city!

I was down in Bottineau for a big family reunion that my extended family does every five years back in 2014. This was the first time my immediate family attended. I graduated from high school in June 2014 and this reunion was in July 2014 so it was right after my graduation. I planned to take a year off after graduating and got a job with Agriculture Canada in Saskatoon set up through my dad since he works there too. I got a 6 month term job in the Canola section and then planned to travel for the remainder of my year off, boy did things change! I didn’t always plan to take a year off, I actually planned to go somewhere for volleyball or basketball but in the summer going into my grade twelve year my mom got diagnosed with cancer. Yes, that’s deep but I am so happy to say she is totally fine now and everything is good! This diagnosis rocked my world as it would anyone and I kind of changed what I wanted to do. Post-secondary education was always a must for me but I decided to take a year off to gather myself together again. I had many volleyball and basketball offers throughout Canada and believe me, it wasn’t easy turning down the opportunities but taking a year off felt right and I knew I had to go into the working world and experience life a little bit before I made a commitment to University.

Turns out, this was the best decision I have ever made. Taking a year off and working low end jobs, hustling my tail off and just living my life the way I thought was “smart” truly helped make me who I am today and I think it led to the discipline and success I have achieved so far. When I was at my family reunion in Bottineau I was walking down Main Street just shopping around and checking out the town. I was then approached by the women’s basketball coach and he asked me where I was from and if I played basketball. I am obviously used to being asked these questions but I had no idea he was a coach! Right there on the spot he asked my dad and I to go for supper later that night. I had nothing to lose so, why not? We went for supper later that night and let me tell you… STAR treatment. I felt like a queen but after all, is a coach really doing their job if they aren’t impressing you? We got talking and he then gave me the volleyball coach’s number and I stayed in contact throughout my year off. The basketball and volleyball coach actually wanted me to go down to school there that year but I had already committed to my job and taking a year off.

I went back down to Bottineau after harvest in late October that year and signed with the women’s volleyball team. I had a second chance at playing post-secondary sports and I couldn’t have been happier. This opportunity then led to getting my Diploma in Liberal Arts at Dakota College at Bottineau and I then chose to pursue an Education Degree at Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota also signing with the women’s volleyball team.

I know this story doesn’t really show what I think being Canadian means but it is the reason I have the perspective I have. The diversity and range of cultures I got to experience while living in the United States was truly the best experience of my life. I see Canada so much differently now and I am so much more proud to be Canadian. I love Canada and I love America and the two countries have so much more in common than people would think. I also lived in North Dakota and South Dakota but I got to experience people from all over the world. Minnesota is actually such a Canadian state. I love all my friends from Minnesota, even the professors I had from Minnesota were just so amazing!

Self Story 1 – Where is Home?

Home is an interesting topic for me because I’ve had many in the past couple years and after living in the United States for three years my perception of home has drastically changed. If I was asked this question in high school my answer would be completely different and I would just explain where I grew up. Now, home is a bigger deal to me and I like to call Saskatchewan and Canada my home. It obviously goes deeper than that but after living in another country I am more than proud to call Saskatchewan my home. I also say Saskatchewan as a whole because I have lived in many places and sports introduced me to many people throughout the province.

Saskatoon would be my actual home since I went to school there my entire life alongside my two younger brothers, Liam and Alexei. Growing up in Saskatoon was awesome and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. On weekends my dad would take us to our family farm which is an hour south of Saskatoon near Strongfield, Saskatchewan. Harvest was my favorite part because you can’t beat the view of a Saskatchewan sunset with big bright combine lights! This is what I like to say made me different from all my city friends because I got to leave the sirens and bright city lights behind whenever I wanted to. “The farm” played a big part in shaping who I am today, jumping on the bails and sledding down the dugout were some of my best memories. Riding the dirt bikes and learning to drive is also some of my best memories because it gave me so much freedom and taught me lessons I would have never learned in the city.

When I was in Grade Four my parents got divorced and my mom moved to a town 27 kilometers North East of Saskatoon called Aberdeen. This didn’t change anything in my family and us kids stayed with my parents 50/50 we just drove a bit more. I didn’t spend much time in Aberdeen since we moved out there when we were just getting competitive in sports. I basically slept out there and would be in Saskatoon majority of the day since I still went to school there and my brothers and I all played hockey there.

Sports is my next point because they played the biggest part in my entire family’s lives. When my brothers and I were young my parents basically put us in everything you can imagine. I was in soccer, dance, swimming, figure skating, power skating, hockey, basketball, softball and yet the only thing that stuck was hockey. I guess I finished my swimming lessons at the age of ten but I didn’t really care about that. I basically just did them so I could feel safe on the boat in the summer time. My brother Liam who is only a year and a half younger than me started playing hockey when he was four which made me ditch figure skating and start playing myself. Hockey played the biggest part in my childhood because it’s all I did. Shinny at the neighborhood outdoor rink to shinny at Christmas time at the Macrorie rink or simple skating on the rink we had in our backyard. My passion and dreams were always focused on hockey. Things changed when I was in grade ten though. I switched sports and started pursuing volleyball and basketball which is so shocking because I hated volleyball and basketball. I always got asked if I played basketball and volleyball because I am so tall so I just hated the two sports. My mom found a volleyball coach who wanted to develop me. It took me awhile to come around but that is exactly what he did. I also have this friend, Katie Farmer who was a basketball player her entire life. Katie was and still is an amazing athlete all around and is actually on the Huskie track team at the University of Saskatchewan. She also played a year of basketball at Lakeland College in Lloydminster, Alberta. Her mom, Layra was huge into basketball and was a coach in our neighborhood for many years.  I started playing volleyball in grade and then finally caved to play basketball in grade eleven. Katie, Layra and myself would come in everyday before school and they would teach me the basics along with some slick post moves. Turns out these were the two best decisions I have ever made. I had scouts looking at me throughout the remainder of high school and then played two years of college volleyball in North Dakota and played a year in South Dakota.

This now takes me back to what I consider home. I love the Canada and the United States, volleyball gave me an opportunity to not only meet forever best friends who are now family but I got to see so many of the States while traveling for games and tournaments. Being away down south made me proud to be from Saskatchewan and even though North Dakota and South Dakota isn’t that far it is a completely different type of life down there!