Girl Power: It’s not given. It’s taken.

Women who want to change the world by working in politics need to be able to say “No” to to intolerable conditions. We need to teach them this; everyone will be better off.

I had a good conversation with my brilliant daughter on Sunday. We talked at length about the sexual harassment allegations against Ontario PC Party leader Patrick Brown; party President Rick Dykstra’s horrific story had not even hit the media yet.

An experienced political staffer, she has dozens of her own stories about politicians making inappropriate comments; one Councillor, upon meeting her, announced “You look like my next girlfriend!” (Given that she is an exceedingly happily married lesbian, this is quite the long shot…)

She got me thinking about what was bothering me so much about these media reports. Maclean’s Magazine’s coverage of the Rick Dykstra story, in particular, hurt my heart. It made me worry a lot about the state of young women’s thinking and attitudes today.

The young woman interviewed by Maclean’s seems not to believe she had any power over her situation at all.

According to Maclean’s:

“At about 1:30 a.m., the woman… decided to go home. Dykstra jumped into her cab and gave the driver his address. When they got there, he was ‘very insistent’ that she go upstairs with him, she says, ignoring her repeated refusal.

She eventually relented. When they got to his apartment, she says he pushed her against the wall and starting kissing her. ‘I was saying no, but I didn’t feel there was much that I could do to stop what was happening,’ she says.

 ‘He brought me into his bedroom and he told me to sit down on his bed…he sat down next to me and was still trying to kiss me… I didn’t feel like I could move.’

‘He pulled down his underwear and forced me to perform oral sex on him.’”

This is an absolutely terrible state of affairs: that a woman in her 20s did not feel she could kick an unwanted man out of her cab? That she had to go to his house? That she had to go to his bedroom? That she could be forced to perform oral sex? Where ever did she get the idea that any job was worth that?

Recently I wrote a column on the concept that Muslims could choose whether or not to be offended by things said by others, because mature human beings get to choose their own thoughts, and Muslims have that power too.

Yet we have raised a generation of young women who believe that they must do what a man tells them to do, or who can be traumatized by the words that come out of a man’s mouth? For goodness sake, accused harasser Liberal MP Kent Hehr is a quadriplegic confined to a wheelchair, but women are afraid to ride in an elevator with him. I kind of think, as my son Dave would say, “I could take him.”

I am not in any way condoning the awful behavior of these men, but that is not the point here. In first year psychology you read about having an “internal locus of control” or an “external locus of control.” It’s probably the most important thing anyone learns in life: it has the potential to change every minute of your life, forever after.

If we could give young women the best gift ever, it would not be a world in which she could expect men to behave less like scoundrels and more like gentlemen.

It would be a psyche which gives them the confidence in their own judgement and personal power to kick the scoundrels out of their cab, and the courage to accept the consequences.

And in a perfect world, both.