, 03.08.2018 09:47 AM

I, feminist

Am I a feminist?

Definitions first:

adjective, Sometimes, feministic
advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.
an advocate of such rights.

By that definition, am I a feminist? As I often tell my truly feminist wife: I aspire to be a feminist, but I’m not there yet.  Just as I practice law – just as I see myself as a writer/musician/painter-in-progress, one who has yet to produce anything truly worthwhile – I am incomplete.  I have much to learn, and many miles to go.  Perhaps on the day I die, I will be closer to being a feminist.  For now, I remain highly imperfect.

When I was younger, during my undergrad years, I was an idiot.  I hung out with a bunch of residence guys who were similarly idiotic.  We got involved in student politics and got taught a few painful lessons we richly deserved, principally by and about Carleton’s Women’s Centre.

In the same era, on a personal level, I was cruel and reckless with the hearts of many (many) women.  When I came home to Calgary for law school, my Dad looked at me one night in September 1984 and said, in that way he had: “I disapprove of how you were when you were student council president.  And I am very disappointed by how you have been in your relationships.  You have not been a gentleman.”

If you knew my Dad, you would know why those words cut me like a knife, and why I never forgot them.  They affect me to this day.

So began a period where I commenced (in typical guilt-stricken-Warren Irish Catholic fashion) a quest for absolution.  Lisa would perhaps tell you that (again, typically) I have gone to the opposite extreme – and that, like all converts, I have been desperately trying to make up for lost time.

As such, on many days, I actually despise men.  I do.  I regard men as the principal source of all evil in the world.  I tell Lisa – who listens, patiently, but never agrees – that wars, crimes and most misdeeds are committed (overwhelmingly) by men.  That men are the ones who (overwhelmingly) do evil, to women and children.  That men are (to me, at least) dispensable, biologically and otherwise.

She listens, and then she reminds me that we are the parents to four amazing young men.  She tells me that our obligation, as parents, is to equip them with an unshakeable commitment to equality, and an unwavering desire to render a better world for all the varying shades of gender.  She’s right, of course.

There are those days when I look down South – and I see the piece of human garbage who occupies the highest office – and I rage.  But, eventually, she calms me down.  (She’s not stopping me from my next book being about male self-loathing, however.)

Anyway, anyhow. I should conclude this little confessional by saying that I am not on my odyssey of feminist self-discovery for Lisa, or our two daughters, or my Mom, or some other woman.  I am not doing it for them.  I am on this quest, for me, to be a better man.

So, what is a feminist?  Not me, not yet.  I am trying to get to that distant shore, but I still have a long way to go, and I still have many sins for which I must atone.


  1. billg says:

    I grew up in the 60’s with a working mother and 4 sisters.
    I saw and still see the difficulty’s woman have with equality and respect.
    Maybe instead of women marching it should be men, we, all men, just do not do enough.
    We shrug off what we see and tell ourselves its none of our business.
    From sporting stars, to celebrity’s, men let men get away with the most bizarre behavior.
    For what he’s said and done, Donald Trump should not be in the White House.
    For what he did, Bill Clinton should have either been impeached or he should have resigned, and, for his sins, male voters punished his wife for his actions.
    You want to visit a hooker, tell your daughter you’d be proud if she was a sex trade worker.
    You want to watch a little “harmless” porn, tell both your daughters you’d be proud to view their next video.
    All the little things we as men do and say add up, and it wont get better until we figure it out.

  2. Luke says:

    I don’t know if I am a feminist by your reasoning. But I certainly see myself as being firmly for feminism. Maybe I am a feminist in that I believe women deserve all the same opportunities any man deserves, that (now obsolete) traditional roles are not obligations or rules or legitimate expectations. I raise my daughters to have a full sense of self, absolute bodily autonomy (aside from their medical/hygienic needs as children), proper knowledge of and no special shame of their anatomy, and to believe in themselves and their abilities and their aspirations. I don’t think I offer special treatment to one gender or another professionally or socially, and my closest friends are male and female. I admire women and men alike, and have learned more in my professional life from female mentors than male ones.

    That is feminist enough for me to feel like I’m on the right side of it, but I’m not an activist. Change comes not only from activism but also from our individual choices, which activism seeks to influence. So I don’t think there is anything wrong with my approach or yours. It’s a necessary part of the solution.

    Also, that judge here in NS who thinks its okay to use an unconscious drunk person for sex is a piece of garbage.

  3. Steve T says:

    So, to that point (and in particular with respect to your Dad’s comments), what do you think of Sophie’s comments and the (predictable) backlash?

    • Warren says:

      It was a ridiculous thing to say. If I suggested that Lisa needs to hold my hand to be “a better woman,” I’d have a broken fucking hand in a New York minute.

      • Darren H says:

        My issue is with the announcement of the 650m dollars for reproductive rights. I don’t have an issue with that itself, but couldn’t JT step aside and let a female cabinet minister announce it? Like say the Heath Minister??

      • Steve T says:

        I saw her interviewed on CTV today, and she had a good response / elaboration. She noted that, to truly create an equal society for women, it is necessary to engage the other 50% of the population (men). She said (and I’m paraphrasing) that it makes less sense to just have women talk to other women about women’s issues. There are a lot of good men out there, who want to be part of the equalization in society, but you need to engage and include them – not demonize them. I thought that was a good response.

  4. dave constable says:

    Similar for me!
    Sometimes I think I have spent my whole life since I was 14 being caught up short because of all the things I have taken (and still take) for granted: gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race,…I get to where I wonder how I managed to pack in so many biases and prejudices during my first dozen or so years.
    If you can find a London Review of Books from February 2nd, you will find a pretty good hit piece on Trump and his origins. The article depicts a guy who might be worse than most people figured.

  5. julian says:

    thanks for articulating this!

  6. Mary T. says:

    Globally, women are now a minority (49.55%) – the result of abortion of baby girls – mainly in China (1.15 boys per girl) and India (1.12). These 66 million ‘extra’ males present a serious risk for social instability as it unlikely they will marry/pair (unless polyandry becomes the norm). Historically, surplus males increase violence, criminality, rebellion and war. It suggests political power (i.e. democracy) will be elusive for females if this trend is allowed to continue. In year 2017, the most radical action any Canadian feminist can take is to strive to give birth to at least 2 girls and/or adopt unwanted girls from Asia. (This will have the added benefit of maintaining replacement fertility.) The sacred cows of cultural relativism and abortion on demand need to be vigorously critiqued.

  7. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    In our Catholic perspective we are reminded that God gave each of us free will. A higher power must have seen merit in this even after bestowing it on deeply flawed creatures walking the earth.

    Who has not walked in those shoes of regret and shame?

  8. Glenfilthie says:

    I’m into guys, myself. Email me at Sirfrederickjames@hotmail.com, and I’m found at in Edmonton. My wife is old and ugly, as I tell everyone. Look me up!


  9. Robert White says:

    Warren, when Albert Einstein stated that compound interest was the most powerful force he had discovered in his lifetime everyone in the world realized that he had never been subjected to the phenomenon of Roman Catholic guilt. Furthermore, we know Einstein had a Jewish mother, and we all know the stereotype of Jewish mothers and the guilt trips they like to instil on their children to exact compliance, but we can assured that Einstein’s mother never subjected him to the phenomenon of Roman Catholic guilt due to her superior intelligence as a women, and a mother.

    Feminism is an all or none event. You either get it or you don’t. I was born a dizygotic twin into a family that was evenly split on gender, and the dining room table was debate central where we had two referees sitting at the table ends keeping track of player penalties in the debate arena.

    I wrote my B.A. Honours thesis on Bertha Pappenheim and Psychoanalytic Theory. That’s where I truly discovered the nexus of cultural Patriarchy and Feminist Theory.


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