Friday, March 8, 2013

PART 2 - Tribute for International Women's Day - THE LASSIES

Tomorrow's women
Unbeknownst to these two young women, I was impressed by them the first time we "met".  All virtual of course since it was on twitter.  Last summer I had asked one of the two to answer a few questions for me and that I would eventually blog about her, since she is a whisky "woman".  When I was done reading what I wrote, I deleted it.  It simply wasn't what I was trying to convey.  It bothered me for the longest time.  What was I trying to say?  What was the message I wanted people to "get".  It sat...  I waited.   Then in November, after I met Cis and Dot (Part 1) it hit me and I instantly knew what I wanted to write.  Funny enough, Alwynne contacted me about two weeks before International Women's Day and asked that I take part in her blog about it.  I gladly did, still keeping my secret about posting about her...   (Sorry Alwynne, hehe)

The other woman I am writing about today is a daughter and wife at this point in her life.  Again, as I posted in my last blog:  Did she win a nobel prize? Is she famous? Do most of you even know her?  The answer to all that is no.  She's just "some girl" who lives down the street from her dad in Bedford who is married, has a couple of dogs, likes whisky (like I do), works a full time job and also goes to university.  So why am I writing about these two women? Because unlike Cis and Dot Caron (Part 1 - Grand Dames), these two lovely young ladies are from the same generation as my daughters:  the "Yers".  These women are in their 20's to early 30's.  Labelled as tech savvy, educated, focused, family-centric, achievement/team oriented and attention craving.  Let me explain the last one especially as it's not what it seems.  They are a generation of women who look for guidance and feedback.  They like being kept in the communication loop and openly seek and benefit from having mentors.  This generation put themselves first with regards to their choices about education, marriage, beliefs, religion, etc...   AND if/when ready to have children are more likely to find a balance between home life and work.  Choosing to stay home for the first years or making arrangements through work (if either is possible) with the end result being to make their work hours more flexible.  They have a completely different vision of workplace expectations and try to prioritize family over work.  It's what my mother's generation fought for and my generation struggled to find.  So here is what I love about Alwynne and Kat's story.  It was shaped by men; more importantly their dads.  This in my opinion is where the shift in society has clearly taken place.  Men stepped in and did the most wonderful thing.  They raised their daughters. 

ALWYNNE GWILT:  Born and raised in Canada.  Her mother passed away just as she was becoming a teenager.  A difficult time enough for most young girls. Her father did not skip a beat and raised her as a single parent. When she turned 17, he gave her plane tickets to Colombia as a grad present.  Not some cash or a car but a trip to South America.  Why?  Because he instilled in his daughter that life is about taking chances and spreading your wings when you can.  He strongly encouraged taking risks and always choosing your own path to achieve your goals.  So she did.
Side by side....
Alwynne went to South America that summer.  When she came back, she didn't attend a local university in British Columbia.  She left and chose a university on the east coast (the opposite end of our very expansive country).  After she finished that, she moved to England.  After that, she started her adventure into whisky and then writing about it.  Not once did her father judge or deny her choices.  Her dad didn't keep her in his shadow or try to protect her but did just the opposite: he let her go. Would she make mistakes?  Probably, we all do.  But how else could Alwynne become a strong independent person. She is a well respected, smart, educated, friendly and knowledgeable whisky persona.  I asked her once if she thought men and women had different whisky profiles (sparked by some companies coming out with "feminine" whiskies...) and she replied:  "I think people have different profiles because every person has a different palate".  She takes the gender out of the whisky equation and as a result it's changed the way I think about it too. 

KAT PRESLEY:  Born in Thailand. At a very early age her biological father was no longer in the picture and by the time she was seven Dave Worthington stepped in.  He married her mother a few years later, they had more children and they never looked back.  Dave did not have to "be" her dad but he loved her like she was his own and raised her accordingly.  The eldest of three, she is about 10 years older then her brother and little sister.  Kat moved out before she was even 20 and has been independent and making it on her own ever since.  I don't know alot about her. She is married, has two beautiful dogs, works full time and still manages to take university classes part-time.  I had the opportunity to skype with her and Dave one afternoon and I was in awe of how comfortable and at ease she seemed not only about herself but life in general.  She and her dad share a whisky passion and blog together.  She is smart, funny, close to her mum and dad and seems driven to succeed.  Good head on her shoulders, a sense of humor and like Alwynne had a strong positive male influence in her life. 

Men who chose to take on the responsibility of raising daughters.  Keyword: CHOSE.

Adele - Before?
Adele - After?
There is a sad part of this though.  In my opinion, Alwynne and Kat don't remotely represent what advertisers want us to believe is tomorrow's woman.  We seem to still be stuck in a moulded, air brushed, anorexic looking, bubble headed plastic version of something that most size 12's don't recognize.  Anybody know who Leymah Gbowee is? How about Kate Rubins? Maybe Julia Rivard? No hunh...  Well do yourself a favor and look them up.  Those are the women of today and tomorrow! So why do our teenage daughters not know or read about them?  Because "News" channels get much better ratings announcing the 20th time Lindsay Lohan crashes her car while talking on her cellphone drinking vodka.  Women making a positive influence for others is simply not news.  Snooky getting pregnant, what dresses were worn at the Oscars and the Mobwives, now that sells and impresses.  Seriously?!

I rest my case....
I remember when Brittany Spears first came on the scene in 1998, my youngest was 8.  She sang along to her songs because she heard them on the radio and of course her older sister and her friends listened to the music too.  Both wanted me to buy her CD for them.  Then, something wonderful happened.  They saw the video "Hit me baby one more time" on Much Music (Canadian version of MTV).  The eldest who was almost 15 and a sports jock was utterly disgusted.  The youngest who was a bit of a tomboy and skateboarder sat mesmerized.  Why is she dressed like that?, she asked.  I didn't want to push my own judgments on my daughters so I turned the question around on them.  Why do you think she is dressed like that in that video?  Both sat and watched the whole video.  When it was done, the 14 year old said I don't think she dressed herself.  I think a bunch of adults who were responsible for making the video decided how she should act and dress.  The youngest listened wild eyed.  But why?  Why would they do that?  So, I explained to them both how I felt.  That sometimes people who make the decisions don't always do what is the smartest.  That if some girls watched those videos they would think that is how they are suppose to look and act.  Nothing more was ever said about Brittany Spears in our house and even when they both had money of their own, not one CD ever appeared. 

File:The Feminine Mystique.jpgI digress...  As I do sometimes (sorry... hehe).  I guess the point I am trying to make is that some women from this generation had fantastic role models, some not exactly maternal or even related to them but in the end it is what I think made the difference.  The fantastic part of being the parent for the children of this generation is watching them soar.  The hardest part:  Letting go.  Especially of our little girls.  The world can still seem like such a cruel place for women at times.  I would like to think that we have prepared the Alwynne's, Kat's, and Erica's (mine) of today.  Chances are bad things will still happen but I have a sense of pride in knowing that whatever they decide they will be ok.  That their voices will be heard when it needs to be and gender injustices will continue to melt away.  My mother's generation was angry and opened the door to change.  My generation put the laws in place and started the change.  The Y generation is by far more educated and they are in a position to create global change, but it takes time.  We have come a long way since Betty Friedman published The Feminine mystique in 1963 (50 years exactly....)  In an interview in 1982 she stated she envisioned a future where women and men raised their children together, where the duties of the family as a whole would be fair.  Where women would be in positions to create change in a peaceful manner and that their husbands would be there to support them.  She died in 2004 so I'm not sure if she thought we had achieved that or not.  What I do know is that looking at the women like my daughter, Alwynne and Kat, I have a sneaking suspicion we have. 

To all the women who came before us paving the way and for those to come I leave you with this, my favorite quote from Betty Friedman, 1963:  "Some people think I'm saying, Women of the world unite - you have nothing to lose but your men.  It's not true.  You have nothing to lose but your vacuum cleaners

Looking far ahead on the whisky trail, I remain... Grandaughter, Daughter, Mother (and maybe Grand Mother before I'm 50)...

Me & Erica now... Girl's night facials

Whisky Lassie 

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