On May 18th 2016 the worst possible thing a human being let alone a sitting prime minister can do happened.
Yes, women the fragile creatures we are, turn into water when inadvertently bumped into by other individuals. Why, just recently I was at Costco and a supposedly nice elderly lady bumped into me with her large hand bag. I promptly yelled at her "How dare you hurt me as a woman? This is the most misogynistic and unfeminist action ever! You've internalized so much patriarchy that you're assaulting females?" I then went into an in-depth rant about how as a young woman, from a gendered lens, I need to feel safe at Costco and not be pushed around by old ladies and their bags.
In case you're wondering that never happened. No, not the bumping, that most definitely did happen. The over the top ranting and making a mountain out of a mole hill, did not. Like normal people when the event occurred, the woman apologized when she realized what she had done. I smiled, said "No worries" and moved on.
However, it seems that the House of Commons is lacking normalcy. The prime minister should not have gone into the crowd in the first place. It is not his duty to get members back in their seats to vote, as he was doing with the Official Opposition Whip Mr. Gord Brown. While his actions were inappropriate: He did not push, attack or harm a woman.
For some context: I'm 23 years old. I have a bachelor's in Political Science (the most useless subject according to my mother, but I enjoyed it!), and as a feminist I'm pretty disgusted right now. Not by Trudeau. His actions were unbecoming of a prime minister -- trying to move a Member of Parliament to their seat -- but they are not what set me off to write this piece.
Niki Ashton, MP for Churchill-Keewatinook Aski of the NDP, addressed the House yesterday regarding #elbowgate, and that is what really got me thinking and after that, reacting.
For some insight, these are the choice words Ms. Ashton had for the House regarding the incident as a whole:
"I witnessed the PM walk over and manhandle the whip of the official opposition, and as he was doing so, he actually pushed my colleague... pushed her into the desk...pulled her along with him and pushed her physically into the desk" She states in her address.
Look, we all can see the video. He did not push Ruth Ellen Brosseau, MP for Berthier-Maskinonge into any desk. His elbow bumped into her as he was turning around. He most certainly did not push her physically into the desk let alone pull her along with him. This gross misrepresentation of facts to serve a political purpose is pretty disgusting and unbecoming of the NDP. Jack Layton would not be amused.
"We were witnesses in the house...I'm unwilling to make this political, if we apply a gendered lens, it is very important that we recognize that young women in this space need to feel safe. To come here to work here, to speak here"
Very well said Ms. Ashton. You are all witnesses in the House, however you are also politically driven and motivated. We all have biases that we hold inherently but the reality is the camera that does not lie. Hence, while I agree with your assertion that we should feel safe coming to work, the reality of what occurred and the way you're trying to sell it, just isn't reconciling.
In fact, your colleague Ms. Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, was probably the only nonpartisan individual to give their opinion on the incident: She called it an accident and told everyone to grow the hell up in the House of Commons.
You are making this political. Spicing up what occurred, not just hyperbolizing but pretty much outright lying.
I cannot count the number of times we living in a society have bumped into someone accidentally.
Here's the kicker though:
"Not only was this the furthest thing from a feminist act, this act in of itself, made not only my colleague- but I think for any woman, any young woman -[sic] and anybody that sits in this house, made us feel unsafe" said Ashton.
Stop. Stop right there. As a woman, and especially as a young woman I want you to stop. Here's a reality check Ms. Ashton:
Sixty-seven per cent of Canadians have known a woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse; On any given day in Canada, over 3,300 women sleep in emergency shelters to escape violence. More than one out of 10 women in Canada say they've been stalked by someone, that made them fear for their life. These are just a few realities of what true unfeminist actions result in.
You and your colleagues using this accident and blowing it out of proportion is not only disgusting it is insulting. It is insulting to not only women but to anyone who has been made to feel unsafe at work, at home or otherwise. You have used incidental contact -- which, by the way if this had been a hockey game the referee would have most likely given Trudeau two minutes for elbowing and Ruth, two minutes for embellishing -- and turned it into a claim of being unfeminist. Really?
Once, my brother was shooting practice shots in the driveway with his stick and puck. The puck ricocheted off the wall and hit me right on the boob. Guess what? It wasn't assault. It wasn't unfeminist, and I did not feel unsafe. I cannot count the number of times we living in a society have bumped into someone accidentally. Are you willing to accuse every male that bumps into you of being unfeminist? Are you willing to thinly correlate it to assault and deem it "traumatizing"? Is this a slippery slope you really want to go down? Because that is exactly what you are doing, you are trivializing what it means to be a feminist. You are trivializing actual victims of assault.
You can claim that you're not politicizing this all you'd like, but until I see you shouting "unfeminist" and "unsafe" at all incidental contact that occurs to us, you are absolutely politicizing and making a mountain out of a mole hill.
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