Fight is far from over for women’s rights and equality

On Mar. 8, Charlie Sheen graced the cover of every magazine in the checkout line and had over two million followers on Twitter — just another example of our painfully short memory span in matters of violence against women.

In 1990, Sheen accidentally shot then-fiancée Kelly Preston in the arm. In 1994, a college student sued him after he allegedly hit her in the head when she refused to have sex with him, a matter he settled out of court.

More recently in 2006, Sheen’s ex-wife Denise Richards alleged he threatened to kill her; in 2009, he did the same to then-wife Brooke Mueller, found guilty of holding a knife to her throat.

And just last week Mueller requested a temporary restraining order against Sheen after he threatened to cut off her head, “put it in a box and send it to [her] mom.”

He’s the Internet’s newest form of entertainment — people think he’s hilarious when a more appropriate attitude would be to find him repulsive.

On Mar. 8, two of Chris Brown’s singles off his new album had broken through the top 20 on the Billboard chart, launching him towards a former glory that was largely lost after he pleaded guilty to felony assault when he beat then-girlfriend and singer Rihanna after a Grammy party in February of 2009. Despite a year or so of failed success with his last album having dismal sales, Brown is again topping the charts despite still being on probation for the offence.

Mar. 8 is also International Women’s Day. The sad reality is that we live in a society where “#winning” overpowers the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

I’m unsure of when we decided our mission to empower women was complete — perhaps because to the naked eye our communities have a large semblance of equality.

In many ways, our war against inequality is over. In Canada, women live longer than men and earn three-fifths of all post-secondary degrees. Not one person came to the defence of Robert Dewar, the Manitoba judge who sentenced a rapist to probation — his sentencing was met with outrage not only from women.
And women have been unrelenting in their criticism of the police officer at York University who said women should stop dressing like “sluts” to prevent sexual assault on campus.

Not to mention all of the newspaper and magazine covers over the past months that have analyzed the apathetic and lazy nature of this generation’s men. Women seem to be ruling the great white north, which is exactly why instead of taking that type of equality that we cherish for granted, we should instead be spearheading the closing of the global gender gap.

Globally, the fight is far from over. UN figures state that women do two-thirds of the world’s work and produce half of its food, yet earn 10 per cent of its income and own one per cent of its property.

We can’t forget that our attitudes towards those who act in an appalling nature towards women are an example of just how seriously we take our commitment to closing the gender gap and how proud we are of our accomplished empowerment.

Be critical of just how far we’ve come in terms of women’s rights and be wary of those who abuse the rights we hold for granted. We must be an example to those around the world who struggle every day towards equality — whether these individuals are men or women.

If we fall victim to amnesia when it comes to those who have a history of violating women’s rights, we undermine the global fight for equality.

We cannot be expected to close the gender gap across the globe on the centenary of International Women’s Day if we give people like Sheen the time of day to inflate an ego that has become larger than the crimes he has committed against women.

If we want to empower women halfway around the world, we must start at home.

Sadly, it looks like we have at least another 100 years to go before we start to remember the atrocities committed against women and take a stand against men who treat the rights of women so cavalierly.