Well! Isn’t this grand news? 😀 Commander Josee Kurtz is the first Canadian woman to command a Navy warship*, the HMCS Halifax. Yeah, a warship. Something that would go into battle. Leading a big pile of guys. Checking out the comments in the CBC article, I see that there are a few guys who are concerned about the “feminization” of the Canadian military. Because having a woman be in charge automatically makes men less manly – I mean, what does “manly” mean anyways if not telling those bitchez what to do amirite?? I’m also happy to report that most of the other commenters don’t agree. The sexist comments have gotten a lot of thumbs-down, while the comments pointing out their stupidity have gotten a lot of thumbs-up! (the CBC website allows rating of comments – while not graphically feminist, the positive comments do generally appear to be supportive feminism in the vague sense. Before you think the CBC commenters are a big pile of progressives, other articles I’ve read have contained so much “what about the meeennnzz?” whining and gender-rigid bullshit that the response to this news is a welcome relief!)
Being a woman and entering such “masculinized” professions and their deeply entrenched notions of gender is extremely challenging and trying, as we all know as feminists who’ve read any kind of herstory. Quoting Cmdr Kurtz:
“When I joined, I realized I was joining an environment that had not had women traditionally working with them, and that transition was not going to happen overnight”
No doubt, alas. It’s certainly a tough gig, changing kyriarchial institutions from the inside. I’m proud of her determination and skill and wish to send her my warmest congratulations and best wishes in her new command. Kurtz again:
“I think it’s a tremendous achievement that here we are, 20 years later, and somebody has been able to demonstrate that a woman can do the job equally as well as her male counterparts.”
“There was some reluctance when we first joined . . . but when they realize you can do the job just as well, that scrutiny goes away.”
Progress! Now if we could only stop going to war…
*While the first female commanding officer of a Navy ship was Lt-Cmdr Marta Mulkins in 2003, Kurtz is the first woman to command a warship.