My first “Mrs.”
In my copy, I mean.
I have never been nor shall I ever be a Mrs., but the Globe and Mail deigned to snap that honorific to the woman I profiled in today’s paper. It is hard, so hard for me to bear, to see, to own up to this non-typo.
And on International Women’s Day no less!
A bit of background.
I wrote about this truly amazing, inspiring, woman-loving Toronto artist and writer named M.L. Knight.
She is another person I could have been friends with; she was someone who probably would have gone some distance in mentoring me, as a writer. She certainly performed this role for countless other women.
In her visual art, she created whimsical and evocative collages telling all sorts of stories to all sorts of people, demonstrating creativity, imagination, humour, the ridiculous–and demonstrating feminist politics.
She called one collage “Fisted Rage.”
In it, she tore ads from a women’s magazine depicting tightly wound rolls of bathroom towels in every shade of pastel.
She then drew the viewer’s eye to the similarity between this basket of rolled towels and a tightly clenched fist.
I think she was commenting on the domestic situation that demands women pay attention to such trivial details. A kind of domestic rage inspired by Martha Stewart?
She also wrote about her childhood, a little bookish girl raised by a Disciples of Christ reverend and a missionary mother in Toronto back in the 20s.
Some of the marked irreverence she later slipped into her art, I think, came from living among this fundamentalist sect.
She described churchwomen who looked kindly on shell-shocked soldiers (First World War) and the unemployed (the Depression), but not on “stupid-looking domestics.”
She outed a congregation who literally ran a suspected homosexual music teacher from town and then, in an ironic twist, offered the teaching job to this shamed man’s male “roommate.”
She describes her mother’s struggle to clean the doleful blackish carpet that had been donated by the congregation. “Into that rug one’s spirit could be sucked,” she wrote.
And so how did this enlightened proto-feminist land as a “Mrs.” on the page? My very first Mrs. as it turns out.
Because her family insisted that’s what she would have wished.
And I respected her wishes.
I suppose Nellie McClung was a Mrs. too.
Happy International Women’s Day to you all.