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Well, nearly quoted the whole damn article, but so very important. Go to the national observer for the rest.
“In Wednesday’s House of Commons debate on Bill C-16, also known as the Transgender Rights Bill, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who introduced the legislation back in May, explained:
“Gender identity is a person’s internal or individual experience of their gender. It is a deeply felt experience of being a man, a woman, or being somewhere along the gender spectrum. Gender expression is how a person publicly presents their gender. It is an external or outward presentation through aspects such as dress, hair, makeup, body language, or voice.”
But these statements show a deep misunderstanding of what gender is and how it works. Gender is a product of patriarchy. Ideas around masculinity and femininity exist to naturalize men’s domination and women’s subordination. In the past, women were said to be too irrational, emotional, sensitive, and weak to engage in politics and public life. Men were (and often still are) said to be inherently violent, which meant things like marital rape and domestic abuse were accepted as unavoidable facts of life. “Boys will be boys,” is the old saying that continues to be applied to excuse the predatory, violent, or otherwise sexist behaviour of males.
The feminist movement began back in the late 1800s in protest of these ideas, and continues today on that basis. The idea that gender is something internal, innate, or chosen — expressed through superficial and stereotypical means like hairstyles, clothing, or body language — is deeply regressive.
Beyond misguided language there is the fact that we are very quickly pushing through legislation that conflicts with already established rights and protections for women and girls.
Women’s spaces — including homeless shelters, transition houses, washrooms, and change rooms — exist to offer women protection from men. It isn’t men who fear that women might enter their locker rooms and flash, harass, assault, abuse, photograph, or kill them… This reality is often left unaddressed in conversations around gender identity. This reality is sex-based, not identity-based. Men cannot identify their way out of the oppressor class so easily, neither can women simply choose to identify their way out of vulnerability to male violence.”
As unpopular as this fact has become, a man or boy who wishes to identify as a woman or girl, perhaps taking on stereotypically feminine body language, hairstyles, and clothing, is still male. He still has male sex organs, which means girls and women will continue to see him as a threat and feel uncomfortable with his presence in, say, change rooms. Is it now the responsibility of women and girls to leave their own spaces if they feel unsafe? Are teenage girls obligated to overcome material reality lest they be accused of bigotry? Is the onus on women to suddenly forget everything they know and have experienced with regard to sexual violence, sexual harassment, and the male gaze simply because one individual wishes to have access to the female change room? Because one boy claims he “feels like a girl on the inside?” And what does that mean, anyway?
Generally, the claim that one “feels” like the opposite sex “on the inside” is connected to a list of sexist gender stereotypes: a boy likes dolls and dresses, a girl plays with trucks and cuts her hair short, a man enjoys wearing pantyhose and getting manicures, etc… There is no scientific foundation for the idea that sex is defined by a “feeling” or by superficial choices. One cannot, in fact, “feel” like a man or a woman “on the inside,” because sex is something that simply exists. It is a neutral fact. Aside from having a mental condition like body dysmorphic disorder, the only reason one could claim not to “feel” like the sex they are, biologically, is because they identify with the gender roles assigned to the opposite sex. Key word: assigned.
It is unlikely any of us feel comfortable with the restrictive roles we are socialized into as men or women. Certainly those who step out of those roles are punished viciously, and that includes trans identified people. But that problem is a social one, and the solution is not to reinforce sexist ideas about gender, but to push back against the idea of gender itself – that is to say, the idea that males and females have innate behaviours and preferences they are born with. As feminists and progressives, we should challenge the idea that superficial things like clothing, toys, makeup, or mannerisms define us.
We live in a time when women and girls are killed every day, across the globe, by men. Things like rape, domestic abuse, and the murder of Indigenous women and girls in Canada are still not considered hate crimes. Yet we have managed to push through legislation that may very well equate “misgendering” to hate speech.
Women are protected under the human rights code on the basis that we are, as a group, discriminated against on account of our biology. Employers still choose not to hire women based on the assumption that they will become pregnant. Women are still fighting to have access to women-only spaces (including washrooms and locker rooms) in male-dominated workplaces like fire departments, in order to escape sexual harassment and assault.
Legislation and policies that protect “gender identity and expression” unfortunately set up a clash between women’s rights and those who identify as transgender. There are solutions. It was not always the norm, for example, that public buildings had to be accessible for people with disabilities. It is perfectly reasonable to expect public buildings to install private gender-neutral washrooms and change rooms for people who don’t wish to use either the women’s or the men’s room. We can effect change and ensure people have access to the services and support they need without imposing on already established and still very much needed rights of women and girls.
Women are socialized, from the time they are born, to prioritize the feelings and comfort of everyone else but themselves. We learn that our boundaries will not be respected by men, as we are talked over, leered at, cat called, groped, and raped. Girls’ images are constantly being shared electronically by boys and men alike, against their will. There is a real fear that images of our bodies will be put online in order to exploit and degrade us.
Our fears of men are justified, proven over and over again to be (sadly) rational, not irrational. That is something that needs to be respected, not treated as bigoted or hysterical. Society has disregarded women’s feelings, concerns, and safety for long enough.
Listening the radio, I heard this interview and appreciated the revisiting of colourful part of Canadian political history. Thankfully the Current on CBC radio one now fully transcribes their episodes, so I can share the highlights of the interview here.
“AMT: Remind us, what did the Liberal sponsorship scandal involve?
DANIEL LEBLANC: Well, it was kind of—officially, it was national unity program to increase the visibility of Canadian symbols, Canadian signs in Quebec. And let’s remember, this is after the 1995 referendum which was a squeaker, the “no” side won by about 50,000 votes. And Jean Chrétien, the prime minister of the day wanted to make Canada relevant to Quebecers. It was a very simple idea to put up flags and you know there was hot air balloons in the form, in the shape of maple leaf for example, and a bunch of cultural events and sporting events were sponsored by this program in exchange for putting up Canada banners at their event sites. But ultimately, it became embroiled in scandal. There was the advertising firms that were the intermediaries between the government and the events, some of them kickbacked money to the Liberal Party. There were some fraud and some of the events as well were quite close to the Liberal Party of the day. So it became known as a slush fund scandal and you know it kind of became bigger and bigger as time wore on. And you know it led ultimately to the Gomery inquiry in 2004, 2005, which created massive problems for the Liberal Party, especially in Quebec where they lost most of their seats after, during the 2004 election. So it’s kind of a scandal that was about you know more than a decade ago, but it did have a huge impact on Canadian politics of the day.
CHANTAL HÉBERT: Canadians or Quebecers, I think, would take from that sentence the word past rather than the wrestling of chains because so much happened to the Liberal Party over the post-sponsorship decade that Justin Trudeau’s party—in Quebec in particular—certainly bears little resemblance to the party that Jean Chrétien or even Paul Martin led in so many ways. You know when I think about—in hindsight, because now that all these years have gone by—the sponsorship scandal probably was over time a good thing for the Liberal Party. It forced it to renew itself at the time when it desperately needed to do so. Think of it like a brush fire, a really bad one and what grows after the fire is extinguished. That’s literally what just happened to the Liberal party in Quebec and possibly Justin Trudeau’s victory in Quebec—he did win the majority of the seats—would not have happened if the Liberal Party had just gone on and on, on the path that it was set when Jean Chrétien retired.
AMT: Well, tell me a little bit more about that, Chantal. What happened to the Liberal Party insiders in Quebec who then were caught up in this scandal? How did they—what happened after the brush fire?
CHANTAL HÉBERT: Okay. So let’s first go back to that time when Jean Chrétien leaves and Paul Martin comes. The sponsorship has not yet hit the party in the way that it will hit. And at that point, on this week before the sponsorship report from the auditor general comes out, the polls show the Liberals in Quebec at 55 per cent under Paul Martin and the Liberals have been riding very high on Quebec at the tail end of the [unintelligible] era, on the basis of Chrétien’s last decisions and particularly the decision not to sign up for the war in Iraq. But the internal workings of the party were already broken. This is a party that been ongoing a civil war between two factions: Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin. And if you want to go back even further, between John Turner and Jean Chrétien as of 1984. By the time Paul Martin becomes prime minister, he sets up the Gomery commission thinking that there is distance between him and the sponsorship stuff because there is really two parties, two warring factions within the party and because it’s two main characters. Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin are from Quebec. Quebec is a battleground where people are gunning for the other faction and the sponsorship affair takes place in the middle of that and that kind of forces everybody off the ice. Within a couple of years, there is no Liberal left that is elected in ridings where the vast majority of voters are Francophones in Quebec. They are pushed back to the west end of Montreal. After the Orange wave, there is not even a seat left in the [unintelligible] region, which is a highly Federalist region. So by the time Justin Trudeau becomes leader, there is no Liberal party.”
Listen to, or read the full transcript at the link below.
Canadians are watching closely to see if their new government is going to stick to the promises made during the recent election campaign. One of the most important promises was to reform the electoral system and get rid of our current First Past the Post system. I was browsing about and found an interesting article (?) on the National Post’s website (!!) about possible changes and how they might effect Canada’s political parties. I was struck by the word choice in this part:
“Clearly, there is no upside for the Liberals in pursuing PR. But the introduction of a ranked ballot system would take the Liberal heels off the Conservatives’ chest and thrust it hard into the party’s wind-pipe.
As one clear-eyed senior Conservative put it, adoption of preferential balloting would force the Tories to “water down” their agenda to become the second choice of more people.
“The reality is, if the Liberals do this, the Conservative movement is going to have to increase its appeal. We won’t be able to afford to be the 35-40% party,” he said.
The NDP would face a similar dilemma, ensuring the centre ground of Canadian politics becomes a very crowded space indeed.
The question remains, how aggressive are the Liberals likely to be in pursuing the reforms signalled in the throne speech?”
Is John Ivison’s article accurate, maybe? Does it deliciously tickle my partisan happy neurons, you bet it does. :)
The Conservatives are without their Uncle Joe now – who is next big Conservative Leader to be? Rick Mercer’s advice, don’t be the first one… :)
The getting out the vote campaigns are heroic and all that stuff, encouraging all those young whipper-snippers to exercise the merest formality in participating in a democratic like system. But really, young people…oh you sad sack millennials, you’re fucked. Generation X is now in the demographic that tends to vote often and is catered to by the political class – did you hear all the campaign promises about lowering tuition and making going to university/college easier – I didn’t either. Have a nice future pouring my coffee and lackadaisically ‘helping’ me at retail locations.
What I heard a lot of during this overly long election cycle (thank you Conservative gerrymandering squad) was economy, jobs, and then niqab. None of these topics have been ‘tailored’…ooo… I guess the word for it now is ‘curated’ for your easy consumption and understanding. Did you tune out and start that really important twitter conversation about the Blue Jays? You did? Good for you! We’ll see you in line, eagerly waiting to express your ‘individuality’ by purchasing the next mass produced shiny over-hyped bauble at the Apple store. Because what you buy defines you. (Not your actions, not your commitments to others, not your responsibilities – just your *stuff*, honest.)
Conspicuous consumption, they have an app for that…
The political leaders, during the election cycle, have talked, emoted and generally performed fairly well; all of them selling their shiny political promises and filled with rainbow farting unicorns and free bonbons for all. A series of turgid farts strained through a dirty burlap sack would have just about as much relevance and importance to the decision Canadians are making on the 19th of October.
What is really at stake here is the continued march of Neo-liberalism and the decimation of the social fabric of our society. Corporations are not people, nor should they have the right to sue our governments for protecting our people (and businesses) from predatory capitalism. The TPP is NAFTA all over again. Do you like having domestic industry? Unions? Society run for the benefit of the people living in said society? The TPP is the enema-bag filled with hydrochloric acid poised to flush all those nasty things I mentioned out of Canadian Society.
I could care less who gets into power as long as this latest shit-swirl in the ice cream of trans-national capitalism is strangled in the crib, because combating Neo-liberalism is the big picture now because if NL wins democracy doesn’t matter anymore. Is our country for Canadians or Corporations? Profit or People?
Now I voted NDP because my MP is one kickass woman (Linda Duncan) who regularly kicks ass and takes names in Parliament, she responds to mail and makes me think briefly that representative democracy might not be bag-of-rats I think it is (that feeling passes quickly).
The 10 week slow motion seppuku that was the NDP national campaign was about as inspiring as being hit repeatedly in the head with a dirty sweat-sock filled with cold spunk. I just need the names of the NDP campaign-brain trust who somehow thought that throwing all the ham at all the walls by going centrist was the best-est idea evar? The salty-tears of socialist jebus are leaking out of the dark hall-closet you mung-gargling-arseholes tossed him in for this election. Pandering to the centre and abandoning core democratic-socialist principles… who would of thunk that was a recipe for getting ass-whipped in the election…
Hello NDP your political base is calling wondering where the hell you are and why there are smexy middle of the road blonde hairs on your damn overcoat.
So anyhow, happy election day Canada. We’ll get the government we deserve today. I’ll see you, fair readers, tomorrow as I have a date with TIO and the good Captain Morgan.