04.18.2016 09:02 AM

On sexism and politics 

My wife’s BFF, Michelle Rempel, writes an important essay on sexism. Bonus: Meccano is still around! Who knew?

Here.

8 Comments

  1. davie says:

    An aspect of sexism, and other ways that patriarchy works (imperialism/colonialism, owner/worker, rich/poor, racism,…) is that the superiority/inferiority works when so many accept the narrative of the ruling group. The ruling group practices and promulgates that narrative. The ruled get little or no other narrative and so buy the ruling group’s version of life.
    Basically, the ruled are inferior, live sensual lives, are slaves to emotions, are like children, have inferior ethics and morals, lack the virtues, wear different clothing, perform different tasks, follow orders as a duty,… accept that ruling group narrative as being accurate and make it a part of group and individual identity.
    The rulers are the adults in the room, and the ruled accept the adults’ rights to discipline the ruled. If the narrative is challenged, the ruled claim chaos will result.

    Language, and control of the narrative, is one way this system is maintained and strengthened.

  2. Luke says:

    Was just reading this.

    Prelude to leadership bid?

    If so, I am convinced that the Connies had better choose her as leader if they know what is good for them. I really, really dislike the Conservative Party in many ways, but I can see a path, via Michelle Rempel, that could make them worth giving a chance at my consideration. She seems like the Real Deal.

    • The Doctor says:

      I agree she’s an interesting choice. But I’m reminded of that rule of politics that Paul Wells often mentions, i.e., that “for any given situation, Canadian politics will tend towards the least exciting possible outcome.”

      Happily for Liberals, and sadly for Conservatives, that’s probably what’s going to happen in the CPC leadership race. Somebody utterly unexciting like Jason Kenney, with a power base, an organizational head start and fundraising ability, will most likely win. And a boring, uncharismatic social conservative like Kenney (who looks and acts exactly like what everyone who dislikes Conservatives thinks Conservatives are like) will probably guarantee the CPC opposition status until Justin Trudeau decides to retire.

  3. Steve T says:

    Great article, not only for what it says, but what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t vilify all men. It identifies specific improper behaviour, calls it out, and demands society change those sort of behaviours. It does not attempt to cast all women as victims in all situations. Heck, it even properly notes that it is the CHOICE to pick a Barbie or Meccano that is important – not whether playing with a Barbie reflects badly on the girl (or her parents, or the toy industry, or society, etc….).

    As a father of two young daughters (14 and 12), who are exposed to opinions ranging from the extremes on both ends, and the husband of a woman who chooses to refer to herself as “Mrs.” rather than “Ms”, it is wonderful to have views put forward that truly identify the harmful activities, without broad sweeping generalizations, and not guilting or shaming women/girls into one “right” way of thinking.

    To me, it seems that is the full and proper expression of a gender-neutral (and race-neutral) society. We don’t stereotype people in our interactions with each other, and we don’t force people into behaving a certain way to “represent” their particular demographic. We are all able to live our lives judgement-free.

  4. Francis says:

    Putting aside the obvious examples of blatant sexism in that article, I take issue with her comments regarding “a senior cabinet minister” telling her to “look a bit more cheerful”.

    First of all, he’s like 100 years old –while the way he phrased that comment may have been odd for those who haven’t lived through the Great Depression, I highly doubt he had any sexist intentions behind it. From personally knowing the guy, I’m always surprised by how dissimilar his views are to others his particular demographic. I also remember that exchange and it was one that was incredibly (and unnecessarily) abrasive. She was asking direct and very legitimate questions that the other member was responding to. However, those questions were phrased in manner that were borderline dismissive of the effort to help those refugees –hence the comment. After that exchange, when the Parl. Sec. was taking questions from Rempel, I was aghast at how she prefaced her question to him. It was so unbelievably rude and personal, that the Parl. Sec. (a rookie MP who was attempting to be cordial as possible) was stunned.

    So as undeniable as sexism’s existence in politics is, this particular example is more indicative of how an excessive hostility can cause other to react.

    Second of all, why even mention “senior cabinet minister”? If your going to conceal the identity of the other sexist MP in the article by refraining from naming their party, why implicitly name a Liberal? By process of elimination, anyone can figure out who she’s referring to in this case. This went from a good article highlighting issues of sexism by a prominent women in Canadian politics to a pretty cheap partisan shot at the Liberals.

    Other than that, this is an eye opening commentary on something I guess we just chose to dismiss as not being that prevalent. If I were to put myself in her shoes, I couldn’t imagine what I would do if I was groped, because that is just f*cked up. I have nothing but empathy for anyone who has to go through that. Sexism and subliminal racism persists and so long as it does, good people just won’t run for politics. In the end, you’re left with the Jack MacLarens of the world.

    • Francis says:

      And I really don’t want to sound like an asshole here, but I feel like I have to keep pushing back on this new found openness:

      Back when she was in government and a member of Stephen Harper’s cabinet, why did she not support the MMIW Inquiry? Opposition to the inquiry and the complete indifference to the matter by the CPC was the very thing sexism and racism is about. Now that Rona Ambrose (miraculously) supports an Inquiry, where does Michelle Rempel stand on the issue at this point in time and how does she explain her previous stance?

      Also, why just stop at sexism? I don’t recall Michelle’s vocal opposition to the horribly racist comments made by John Williamson about “brown people stealing our jobs” or Larry Maguire telling immigrants to “go the hell back where you came from”.

      How to does she reconcile her values with being involved in a party that openly chastised the Trudeau government for gender parity. I don’t once recall her applauding the initiative. Or for that matter, pushing back against male members of her own camp that dismissed the process as not being a “merit based” one. Which, undeniably implied that those women were somehow unqualified for their roles.

      I mean, if your going to grow a conscience than at least be consistent. I understand that life is complex and you can’t always do or say the things you want but you can’t have been silent on this issue for years while you benefited from a position of power, and now start championing it.

      If Michelle Rempel intends on being fully open and honest about this issue then I’m with her 100% with moral support, but she can’t avoid her past inconsistencies. If she intends on having a frank discussion than she needs to do it outside the limitations of partisanship. Otherwise, its the equivalent of yelling into the wind.

  5. Jeff says:

    I am sure what she is saying is true, and some of the things that she and other women put up with in politics is unacceptable. That being said, I think sometimes in the face of an injustice we start to grasp for any type of supporting evidence we can and sometimes that is weak.

    I really find the whole longstanding “bitch epitaph” thing kind of strange. Why would someone immediately make that about sexism? If something someone of any sex or race or background or anything acts like a jerk the first thing I think is “asshole,” “bitch,” “jerk,” etc. If I felt offended enough I would tell them. If some guy was pissed off at me and getting in my face, I might well think of a way to diplomatically say something along the lines of “maybe we should talk about this when we are less emotional” What does that have to do with gender? I guess some people expect a woman to be nicer because they are a woman? I don’t know if I entirely agree that is the case but I am not a woman. I know what people will say in response to this, and something along the lines as a male that I “just don’t know” or something but maybe women don’t know either how men really treat each other. It isn’t nice, and we don’t give each other the benefit of the doubt because we are the same sex.

  6. gyor says:

    *eyeroll* the patriarchy, the tin foil hat conspiracy that’s used to justify the gynocentric mysandry with Feminism and society at large.

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