“Fake feminist” was a phrase thrown around a lot by the official opposition against Prime Minister Trudeau after his firing of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal Caucus.
It was interesting, not because of the accusation – it’s been apparent Trudeau doesn’t understand the meaning of equality between the sexes when he appointed a 50-50 cabinet of males and females simply “because it’s 2015.”
There is a significant difference between equality of outcome and equality of opportunity. One could argue that true gender equality would have been hiring people based on qualifications and competency alone without regard to gender.
Trudeau fired back, defending his feminist status by saying the Liberal Caucus has many strong women doing important work. While that may be true, that really doesn’t address the heart of the matter, which is whether or not he personally respects women.
Others have already debated whether or not the prime minister is a true feminist, and outlined it well. Now, what is an interesting discussion is how different groups define “feminist.”
Historically, the feminist movement has gone through three separate waves, with the cause and meaning of the struggle changing each time.
Originally the feminist movement in the western world began with mainly middle-class white women fighting for the right to vote. This was noble, and good and just and we collectively, owe those women a lot.
The second wave was more about social and cultural inequalities and began to include a broader scope of women.
One might say that the post-WWII culture had some effect on the movement, as women fought to keep their jobs when men started to return from war and expected women to return to the home, get married and look after babies.
The third wave continues today, and is a fight for equal pay, freedom from sexual harassment and assault, and some are calling for greater influence of women in politics and positions of power.
To some, this means campaigning for women’s reproductive rights.
Others, such as the REAL Women of Canada, (Realistic, Equal, Active for Life), arguably another kind of feminist group, takes the stance of upholding traditional values of womanhood, marriage, family, parenting and the value and dignity of human life.
The issue becomes further muddled when you consider culture perceptions and attitudes rather than a cut-and-dry definition of “feminism.”
Maybe there is some common ground, some points all women can agree on:
No means no. A woman has the right to decide when and how she is touched, as does everybody.
A woman deserves to walk down the street without being cat-called. It isn’t flattering, it’s insulting.
A woman is more than how she looks. She is strong, capable, intelligent and equally able.
A woman can work, or stay at home raising a family, or a combination of both, and that’s okay.
A woman deserves equal pay as a man would receive for performing the same job.
Although there are traits typically associated with one gender or the other, any person can have a combination of both and not be any less of a woman or any less of a man. A woman can be tough, a man can be sensitive.
Women don’t need to be better than men, they just need to be treated with respect and given the same rights, freedoms and privileges traditionally afforded to men.
On a last note on the topic, while some women may be fine with strangers calling them “babe,” “girl,” “sweetheart” or “dear,” this writer says, although it’s alright to open the door if you want, don’t infantilize me or refer to me with terms that suggest an intimacy that hasn’t been earned.