Gender equity has been elusive even though people of all genders have worked hard to achieve this goal, especially in the last century. To achieve gender equity, it is necessary for everyone to examine the historical situations and stereotypical assumptions that have placed us into siloes of our roles for many years.
This year, two ideas about Remembrance Day and war have stood out for me as not assisting us in achieving gender equity because they preserve stereotypes about war and gender that are no longer reflective of our world.
The two ideas are linked: men go to war and women bear the grief.
The latter is best captured in the medal that is awarded each year by the Canadian Legion to the Silver Cross Mother. I did wonder whether the award had changed over the years to include fathers, or if it had ever considered which mother of a person’s parents to give the award to, but, checking the website, I learned that Silver Cross Mother is the designation and the award has always been given to a mother.
It can be difficult to find fault in a circumstance that means well, and certainly awarding the Silver Cross Medal to a mother means well. I am going to find fault anyway because I think that focussing on the pain of mothers exclusively neglects that both parents experience a loss and, in most families, the loss is an equal one. One parent’s pain is not greater than another’s. It is so important to remember this. In the same way that youth seeing women in powerful roles is a constant reminder of women’s power and ability, youth seeing men experiencing weakness and sorrow over the loss of a child is a constant reminder that grief is common for all of us, no matter our gender.
Those of us who have raised compassionate, emotional men, and those of us who live with them, know this.
It is time for the Canadian Legion to learn this also.
It is time for a Silver Cross Father, or a Silver Cross Parent.