len's masthead




londoner editor pic





I just finished reading the memoir; "Outstanding in the Field" of Canada’s first female Infantry officer." Many years ago I toured Royal Military College in Kingston Ontario. For the most part the cadets were all male, white young men who were most fortunate to have a coveted university education and a guaranteed officer rank in the Canadian Armed Forces upon graduation.

The students are conditioned to actually believe that they are part of an elite select group of Canadians proud to serve their country. Cadets who succeed in attaining the gold standard do very well in the military. Those for what ever reason can’t make the grade are classified as "VW S". Voluntary withdrawals.

I was perplexed that there were no female cadets enrolled in the RMC program and voiced my concern to Colonel Alan. In 1984 RMC graduated their first female officers.

I guess I was very naive to think that women and men would be on a equal playing field in our Canadian Army. Reading Sandra Perron’s memoir made me question why so many of our young women are denied respect, acceptance simply because of their sex.

Sandra was an excellent infantry officer who excelled: pilot, para trouper military leader but not deemed worthy because she was female. It was the culture of misogyny that still exists and guides the promotions in the ranks that ended a promising career of a women. It troubled me to read how her fellow officers treated her.

Retired Supreme Court Justice, Marie Deschamps in 2015 released a scathing report about sexual misconduct in the Canadian Military. "Victims, concerned about how they will be treated by the military justice system , tend not to report sexual assaults." " Frequent use of swear words and highly degrading expressions that reference women’s bodies, sexual jokes, discriminatory comments with the respect to women and unwelcome sexual touching."

In response to the report, General Tom Lawson, the Chief of Staff responded that " men are biologically wired in a certain way to press themselves and their desires on others. "Boys will be boys", a comment to excuse their bad behaviour. The Canadian military and the Royal Canadian Mounted police officers for the most part are a sea of white men. The voices of women, visible minorities, and Indigenous First Nation people are but a faint whisper in a cloud of white "old stock" males. In 2014 the level of women’s representation at Royal Military College had decreased from an already pitiful eleven per cent to a mere eight per cent of the army cadets.

The question Perron asks:" How many generations will it take for the military culture to not only open its doors to women but to embrace the differences they bring to actually seek them out.?"

The reality is that armed forces are not tainted isolated islands of disrespect for women. Too many Canadian males do not respect or appreciate females Not born a women it is hard for me to fathom the why they are demeaned by so many males? Sorry I just do not understand.

Females are our grand mothers, mothers, spouses and sisters. Women ultimately gave us life.

The book caused me shake me to shake my head and shed a few tears at the inhumanity of men to women.

Please take the time to read, "Out Standing in the Field, a memoir by Canada’s First Female Infantry Officer"

Len is a counselor in Dorchester Ont. lenlesser@hotmail.com Opinions welcome.
View Printable Version

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com