Friday, March 19, 2010

Girls Can Be Farmers?

Ugh.  I went to the National Farmers Union annual meeting the other day and there was a booth set up by the PEI Agriculture Sector Council there.  They are responsible for lots of the agricultural publicity and awareness campaigns that happen on the Island.  At their booth they had what looked like a pile of  pens to be given out.  As I walked by however, the executive director handed me one and said, "This is for you. See what it says?"  It was actually a tire pressure checker (better than yet another pen) and it said, "Girls can be farmers too!"
Excuse me?
Is this really a campaign? In 2010? On PEI?  Thank you so much for the condescending permission to do my career of choice.
I wonder how Haley Wickenheiser would feel being handed a hockey puck that says, "Girls can play hockey too!"  Or Chef Michael Smith receiving a spatula that says, "Boys can cook too!"
If this is some kind of awareness campaign for young girls then, a tire pressure checker is not the right medium.  But that's only the tip of the iceburg. I would suggest that many young girls hearing that phrase, would for the first time in their lives wonder, " there a reason I wouldn't be a farmer?"  As in, those barriers don't exist in the minds of young people now.
And if the idea is for the old generation of men (and there's no shortage of old man farmers) who think the woman's place is in the kitchen, it only enforces the idea that women farming is new and that they are amateurs and not to be taken as seriously as any other farmer.
UGH. This has really gotten under my skin.  Its like when we built a rink at our residence back in university and our male don (the adult of the house) came up to my friend and I (the only two girls on the ice) after a game and said soooo condescendingly, "It was so nice to see you two out there today."  Did he say that to any of the boys out there?  Of course not.
There's a reason I have a double minor in Canadian Studies and Women's Studies and sometimes I'm not sure what that reason is.  But when I get handed a tire pressure checker with garbage like that printed on the side, funded with what I can only assume to be my tax dollars, it drives me into a fury.  And yes, for those of you rolling your eyes out there in the world, I realize that the point of this blog is not as a soapbox for my personal vendettas against various institutions, but it happens to work quite nicely for that as well.

Here's hoping you are a board member of the AgSector Council and you realize your mistake before you hand out more poorly made tire pressure checkers to unsuspecting females.


ps. only TWO comments on my mega cute story in pictures?  I'm ticked about that too.  April and Marsha, you're getting a prize of some kind. Thank you for your feedback.   :)


  1. Oh Sal....deep breaths. I understand your frustration..and you wrote well making valid points, on behalf of females in agriculture, and today's young women.

    I would like to present another perspective for you to consider:

    Had those very same 'freebies' been in a booth at a high school career fair, I know for a fact my daughter would have picked one up. She would have been drawn to the fact it was a tire gauge (because she also has interests in fields that have been traditionally male dominated) (but yes...not the best 'medium' for that demographic). BUT in having picked it up...she would have also LIKED the slogan (as do I). It is empowering for young females. The slogan not only puts it out there to young consider a career in agriculture ( a field often overlooked, and NOT promoted, as a career option), but on a grander reminds them that girls can do ANYTHING they set their minds to.

    I suspect, if one were to look: that enrollment at NSAC is predominantly male (I may be wrong)...I don't have to look far to find a female, near and dear (who shall remain nameless) who, had she picked up a freebie with that slogan 'way back when' MAY have taken a direct route to NSAC. (Maybe?)

    I think back to a favorite moment while watching the Olympic men's hockey. The camera zoomed in on a poster held up in the crowd which had emblazoned on it: Play hockey like a girl! How far we've come. Not THAT many years ago...girls in hockey was a rare it is common place. Ditto for engineering, business, politics, etc. And NO, I am not a women's libber per say: ...I do however believe a person (whether male OR female) can do anything they set their mind to, and that will sometimes mean overcoming obstacles...whether discriminatory in nature or not, especially if venturing into a traditionally gender dominated field, being of the opposite gender.

    I am sure you've heard, that to liven up the reading of the fortune inside fortune cookies: add the words "in bed" to the end of the fortune.
    Try adding these extensions and alternatives, each time you see the slogan, and see if it helps keep the blood from boiling.

    " Girls can be farmers too....they have been for years!"
    "Girls can be farmers too...just look around you."
    "Girls CAN be farmers...and anything else they want to be!"
    "Tap into your nuturing side: be a farmer!"
    And one special for Lucy:
    "Girls can be farmers too!....My MOM is a farmer!" (I can even hear that being 'stated' in the playgound argument in a few years! hee, hee)

    Deep breaths Sal.

  2. Oh...and can my prize be one of those tire gauges! (don't THROW it at me!) hee, hee

  3. Wow,written expression certainly runs in your family!! Not just the two of you but in the many letters I received from your mother when she was your ages. Well done by both of you. I can so well identify with your internal rage, Sally. Too bad an April was not around many years ago to help me take "deep breaths", I am sure that Ken would have appreciated it! MLM