How a woman manages the choices in her own life, whether that be her career, her motherhood or her marriage, has become less and less about a fight with the patriarchal boogey man. Instead, these choices are now tangled up in the debates women are having amongst themselves, about our roles in society and what it means to be a feminist today.
It's fair to point out that the unproven comments supposedly made by Minister MacKay have given rise to what I will always believe to be one the more important public policy debates women face today; but it's also fair to suggest that those unproven comments have given others a platform to dine out on.
Seizing the opportunity and platform, Leah McLaren, a columnist with the Globe and Mail (and apparently the unofficial Czar of Womanhood); penned a letter this week to the very accomplished Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay -- the wife of Minister MacKay. In my opinion, writing such a letter seems to be no better an example of an over-inflated sense of self than when one assumes she has the social license to dictate the terms of another woman's life choices and to do it so publicly.
Let us forget for a moment that the letter was penned as a response to perceived comments made by Minister MacKay, not his wife. Above anything else the letter is patronizing. Some will try and point to the compliments Ms. McLaren gives as an example of her thoughtfulness. As a communicator I respond by saying it's simply the oldest trick in the book -- it's called the stroke and slap. The letter is simply a reverse of what we are all working so hard to abolish -- stereotypes and the shackles of stale-dated and over-simplified rules on motherhood and womanhood. In fact, McLaren's letter is all about asking every woman to meet her own expectations while she pushes her own doctrine. In fact, in one paragraph the writer goes as far as to covertly suggest that Afshin-Jam MacKay should keep a handle on that man of hers.
The letter is penned in such a patronizing fashion it's hard to continue reading. It's rampant with the tone and text we would expect when confronted with those born in a different time and place. As McLaren wags her finger at Afshin-Jam MacKay while fawning over her dark tresses and beauty, she writes from an assumption that the private marriage of MacKay and Afshin-Jam MacKay is somehow a 1950's walking relic and that Afshin-Jam MacKay is an unenlightened woman who is asleep at the wheel of her life.
Apparently we have turned a corner down a much darker alley. When did women begin to feel it was socially acceptable for them to publicly school others on the right choices for women today? Sadly, women attacking other women isn't new. But until quite recently, finger wagging and name calling was solely reserved for the secrecy of afterschool playground chatter or banter between meetings. Much like any other woman whether she works or not, I have far too often been the topic de jour at those little gatherings and it hurts. Women have a tough enough time living the lives they've chosen while battling the real issues which impede our growth without having to listen to the offending chatter of those who assume they know the path we walk.
Women making the rules and regulations for other women and then publicly shaming them into buying into their made-up policies is the ironic end to this week's tirade.
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