Mary Walsh’s Feminist Keynote at the Filmmaker Luncheon at Whistler Film Festival 2015

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mary walsh head brixWell, here we are at the world’s coolest film festival: the 15th annual Whistler Film Festival. I am so happy to be here. I am Mary Walsh, and I’m in a very interesting place in my film and TV career, as I’m a brassy bit of ageing crumpet on the real slippery slope side of 59 and picking up speed – What is it my buddy in the Toronto Star called me? A big, loud opinionated old bag. And I know he meant that in the nicest possible way.

And of course, in many ways he’s right, because my volume control button drifted up on deafen years ago, and my internal thermostat is permanently stuck up on cremate. I’m hot and loud, more like an exciting Caribbean carnival really than an actual human being.

And big, well, I’ve always been a big girl for twelve, but here lately I’m the size of three regulation-size Canadian actresses. [She uses her hands to mark off a third of her girth] It’s true, look! There’s plenty of room here for that little one Tatiana on Orphan Black. She plays five or six characters brilliantly, but she’s only the size of a fart in the mitt. [And again, using her hands to mark off the middle third] And look, plenty of room here for Cynthia Dale. [And moving over to the final third] We could probably fit in all those staggeringly skinny ones they have hosting over on eTalk Daily right here, while still leaving plenty of room to squat in little Wendy Mesley right here. But no, where Cynthia and Wendy both banged Peter Mansbridge, that might be awkward. Oh, who was the hypotenuse on that little love triangle, I wonder.

People dismiss gossip and fashion as if they’re useless, don’t they? But we can learn so much from both of them. For instance, I just learned that I was going blind as a bat in a felt hood. There I was in a trendy little dress shop – The size had two numbers in it, I didn’t have my glasses, but I assumed that two numbers, it was a size 10, or a 12, or a 14, (sotto voce) or a 16. I couldn’t get it up over my leg, let alone up over my arse. Turns out, it was a size double-zero. Oh my God, double-zero! Did you ever hear of it? I’m still not over where they introduced size zero into women’s clothing; size nada, size zip, size nothing. But now apparently, it’s not good enough to starve ourselves down to nothing. Now they want us to famish ourselves down to double nothing.

Oh never mind feminism or equal pay or all that, because in 2015 they’ve got the boys over at the gym gulping down steroids, lifting weights, trying to take up more room. While we women are supposed to be over here chained to a stair master, living on diet coke and the odd Kleenex tissue for roughage, desperately trying to disappear.

Mary Walsh as the beloved Princess Warrior

Mary Walsh as the beloved Princess Warrior

And that, and not wearing any underpants, and always being available for blow jobs, and keeping ourselves entirely foof-free down below, that’s what they were calling third-wave feminism. Oh gentle, German Jesus! And we’re still celebrating something we like to call International Women’s Day. Even root vegetables get a whole week. Yes, International Turnip Week, October 7th to 14th. And the entire month of May is International Pecan Month, a whole month for nuts, and women only get a day. Who knew back in the second-wave, when we were all sitting around trying to get a gawk at our vajayjays with those mirrors, that the world would end up here. Of course, that’s the thing about the future, you never know what’s coming at you.

For instance, I never imagined I’d be here in the third stage of womanhood. You know the three stages: young, middle aged, and “Oh my God, Mary, you’re looking good!” Everything is so different when you’re old, even the words, now if I hear the word ‘hip’, I think ‘replacement’. And if somebody says to me “Get down!”, I say, “Yes, you bastard, but will I ever be able to get back up again?” It’s all so different, except for the fact that women are still just as criminally underrepresented in key roles in the film industry as they were 40 years ago when I first got in the business. That has to change right now.

So few of our stories get on the screen. We’re always the important person’s girlfriend, or mom, or nurse. We’re the props or the prize, or chained to a wall screaming in some dank basement. But it’s time for us to demand equal support, at least from our taxpayer-funded film agencies. After all we are 51% of the taxpayers in this country, and yet we receive a paltry 12-17% of the funding.

It seems to me that we’ve got two choices: accept conditions as they exist or accept responsibility for changing them. And so many of us are ready to take on that responsibility.

I very rarely quote the Prime Minister, in fact I’ve never quoted Lord Voldemort, though many of his speeches were so educational, and I’m sure they would have been even more enlightening in the original German. But as Prime Minister Trudeau responded, when he was asked why it was important to have gender-balance in the Federal cabinet:

mary walsh pose“Because it’s 2015.”

Gender parity. If not now, when?

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