When women knew their place: Feminism, equality, and the National Post

"Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."

—Warren Buffett

Remember?

Remember when men went to work and women stayed at home with their abandoned dreams and bottles of Valium and sherry?

Remember when women's hopes and dreams were fulfilled by simply getting married and having kids... and then vicariously through the lofty achievements of their husbands and sons?

Remember when a woman knew to keep quiet and to never talk back to her man?

Remember when a woman fancied herself lucky if her husband didn't beat her too often or too forcefully? Those glorious days when domestic violence was something that happened at home—and everyone truly believed the oft-repeated refrain, "A man's home is his castle"?

A time when divorce, not domestic violence, was the nastiest of offenses?

Back when couples stayed together no matter how much they despised one another, all for "the good of the children"?

But also a time when a man could simply up and leave his family, leaving his wife and children destitute, with no financial support and no legal avenues of address?

Remember back, as late as the early 1960s, when women—like my mom—were asked during admittance interviews for med school whether they planned to have children or not, and, on answering "yes", were told it would be a waste of time and valuable resources to educate a future mother to become a doctor?

In other words, remember the good ol' days? The days when men dominated all walks of life and women knew their place?

Well, the National Post Editorial Board sure does.

A Reactionary Backlash

You want a-holes, I mean real sexist a-holes? Better yet, you want some a-holes going off on a good ol' fashioned reactionary diatribe? Well, look no further than these guys.

In case you missed their editorial a few days ago—Women's Studies is still with us—it was a real doozy. Ostensibly about university Women's Studies programs, it was really all about how feminism has destroyed our once idyllic society.

The piece is a must-read for anyone who wants to know just what sort of world the editors at the National Post envision and idealize. It's a vision for the world that, at least when it comes to relations between the sexes, is not all that dissimilar from that of the Taliban.

Ok, perhaps that's a bit extreme, but so is their rabid anti-feminism.

Sounding not unlike a bunch of good ol' boys down in Alabama or Mississippi venting at how racial integration has destroyed their once harmonious and perfect world, these bigots at the National Post remember a time before women wrecked everything with their unceasing demands for equality.

Now, that said, I don't doubt for a minute that there are at least a couple of women on the National Post Editorial Board, for they never would have published a piece like this if that were not the case. Probably some ultra-right-wing, wealthy snobs who care nothing for regular women and the struggles they have faced—and often still face today—in the real world.

Whoever they are, they sure don't get the irony of writing such a piece. Because, obviously, they'd never have had the career they've had and they certainly wouldn't be sitting on any boards, editorial or otherwise, if it weren't for the feminism they so despise.

Young Non-Feminists

Sadly, many young women today—and not just right-wing ideologues—adamantly and quite ludicrously claim that they're anything but feminists, grossly ignorant that a) feminism simply means a belief in the equality of men and women, and b) their freedom to do anything and everything they want with their lives is something that was won for them through hard-fought struggle by generations of feminists, starting back in the 19th century with the suffragette movement's simple demand for the right to vote.

And regardless of what one may think about the situation here in Canada, America, and the rest of the developed world, the fact remains that the majority of women around the globe continue to live in incredibly oppressive, discriminatory, sexist, and sometimes outright misogynist societies. And I'm not just talking about places like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.

Women's Studies

As for the specific topic of Women's Studies programs, I took a couple of Women's Studies courses (in which I was one of only two or three men in the class) back in the 1980s when I was at the University of Victoria and, truth be told, they were the best courses I took during my four years there.

I thrived at history, political science, sociology, etc., but I always thought it was a bit silly when certain profs tried to pass off what we were learning as "objective truth". There may be such a thing in the world of math and science, but not in the social sciences.

And Women's Studies embraced that reality and openly encouraged the mixing of objective facts with subjective experiences and feelings to come up with something much closer to an honest educational approach.

Simply put, real world experiences are relevant to academic study. Marx, Weber, and Durkheim are all fine and dandy, but nineteenth century theories can only carry one so far. Sometimes it's good to mix in a little personal, real-life experience.

And that—the National Post Editorial Board's ridiculous exaggerations, oversimplifications and nostalgic pining for the days of outright inequality aside—is why I'd say every university student should take at least one Women's Studies class at some point in their academic career—particularly those young women out there who are planning to be doctors and lawyers and engineers, but who claim to want nothing to do with feminism.

Though those pining for the glory days of the nineteenth century, and/or 1990s Afghanistan, should probably take a pass.

How Offensive Was It?

Finally, I should point out that this piece was so offensive that even Anne Marie Owens, the National Post’s managing editor for news, felt compelled to write her own response in February 5's paper.

However, this response by Penni Stewart (president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers) and Katherine Giroux-Bougard (national chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students) is a much better rebuttal.

Mike Cowie is a freelance writer who writes about politics, music, film, travel, and much more. You can read more of Mike’s views on his Web site.

Comments (75) Add New Comment
e.a.f.
So people don't think we need Women's Studies and don't care about feminism. Well it was just last week that the Supreme Court of Canada found in favour of pay equity for clerical postal workers, after a 28 year fight.

Women still have to fight for equal pay for work of equal value. The federal government certainly wasn't going to "give" it to them.

Women's studies and feminism are important or hasn't any one been watching the news. A number of female RCMP officers have charged they were sexually harassed and nothing was done about it. One of the women had been on sick leave for 4 yrs.

Women's sudies and feminism is important or hasn't anyone noticed the "Pickton enquiry". IF it had been 40 or 50 men murdered and not women the police would have been all over the case and it would have been solved years before it was.

Women's studies and feminism are important because if we didn't have them women today would be much worse off than they are. Women's studies should be part of every high school students program. It would help with young women's self esteem, give young people better insite to how our society has changed in the last 40 yrs and the fight women waged to change it.
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inequity pay
I’m a female who works for the Fed gov’t and in the past I received a large pay equity settlement for the time I was a student and worked as a clerk. I also worked as a supervisor for a clerical team for awhile and know the type work that is done in a range of job profiles. The top end for a clerk at CRA is $49,335 not including other generous benefits like dental, extended health etc. In my opinion they are overpaid.

In 1998 the Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the Fed Gov’t underpaid 200,000 federal employees in female-dominated jobs even though the Canadian Labour Congress found that the employment of women in the public sector had risen by 47% between 1976 & 1996, whereas that of men had fallen by 14%. Furthermore, female employees had become the majority and their average earnings were almost double of those in the private sector. This pay equity case cost taxpayers $4-5 billion dollars not to mention the increased rate of pay for future years. Thanks Women’s Studies Programs.

No policy is going to eliminate the wage gap between men and women b/c women who stay home with their kids will lose financially. I would rather like to see better compensation for women who take time off to be with their child during his or her early formative years but I don’t seem to see Women’s lobbyist groups fighting for this with the same tenacity that they conduct witch hunts against men in cases of pornography, prostitution, harassment, and domestic/family law. I also don’t see Feminists (products of Women’s Studies Programs) helping and supporting men in the last 40 yrs to become more involved in helping out in domestic duties so that there isn’t so much burden on women.
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Gentleman Jack
" I also don’t see Feminists (products of Women’s Studies Programs) helping and supporting men in the last 40 yrs to become more involved in helping out in domestic duties so that there isn’t so much burden on women."

Don't you get it yet?
Men are the enemy!
Of course women, being the weaker sex, could never fight a physical war against men, so they've been fighting an incremental war against men, since they instituted alcohol prohibition, which was their first brilliant political move, more or less.

But remember, never, ever suggest that a majority of womens studies teachers in Universities are lesbians who have trouble relating to men. That'll get you crucified.
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My Opinion
This rant is the most juvenile piece I have ever read. The writers at the National Post far outweigh you in intelligence and character and they don't need to rant to be noticed.
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bud
hey, if this is about equality, then there is no debate. i don't know about africa, but here in vancouver, the women are all equals. that means equal to men. no more and no less. no special treatment for either group. women and men must now share gender roles, and both genders will have to adjust. a woman won't be able to complain about occasionally supporting her husband and kids, or paying child support to her ex-husband that took the kids in their divorce. i mean, a good man wouldn't complain about that stuff, would he? he shouldn't anyway.. men already are getting more used to child care and housework. most men i know take pride in their cooking skills. i'm just saying that if women want to be the big bosses with all the degrees and money (which it looks like they are about to become), then at least have some respect for the men that are now your subordinates. like, date a guy that has less money than you. be a breadwinner. if you have money.. great! be generous, like you would expect a man to be. men have never judged women for having less money. it's not uncommon for wealthy men to marry far below their class. so women, get use to that idea. be a dentist and marry an artist. i double dare you. if your instincts can handle it.
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unknown sample
ancient article from a reputable news source. keep digging far lefties!
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M.G. Stevens
Sadly the original linked pieces - all 3 of them - are no longer available. Readin them would at least bring context to the piece above, but alas they are no more. The piece itself, along with these comments show that we are no closer to putting ourselves in each other's shoes to try to better manage our societies. Big surprise that we have supposedly responsible media outlets publishing outdated beliefs, which I'm sure someone thought was a good idea under the guise of "thought-provoking" journalism. Reviewing this page suggests that the original "offenders" are not alone in their dyed-in-the-wool stances, from one side or the other. Seems there is no middle-ground anymore.
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Rod Reeves
Iv'e never understood the feminist movement or female empowerment as they like to call it now.The original agenda was to remove men from all positions of influence or power and I must say to some degree they have succeeded.Feminists kept banging on about females being superior to men even to the point where they proclaimed God being a women (LOL); however at the same time they abandoned everything that was feminine for the masculine i.e adopting more and more boy's names; the wearing of masculine apparel ( Ellen DeGeneres);masculine style haircuts etc. To me this contradicts everything they say about female superiority ( this is their platform,its not about equality) on the contrary,its acknowledgement of male superiority.
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Ernest Payne
The National Post is "The Sun" but without the guts to run a picture of a scantily clad girl on page 3. Both are worse than bird cage liner.
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tookourjerbs
The Post, McLeans and Le Journal De Montreal are tabloids that excel in publishing total troll, which leads to incitement and outrage, which leads to publicity and advertising revenue.

When the outrage settles they'll just do it again. Repeat cycle until one day we flush the corporate media away

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bif
in response to liz marshalls comment:

"Feminism hasn't just been for women, it has revolutionized male identity too. It has deconstructed rigid gender roles and has paved the way for a culture in our society where men can express their fears, their softer side, and be better more present fathers."

i totally disagree.
i see women these days relying, even more than in the past, on the steadfast nature of men. the women i meet and date, pretty much demand, without apology, that i be strong, manly, capable, tough, and unwavering. it doesn't matter if it's a very open minded girl, feminist, young, old, traditional, slutty, cute, ugly..they are all the same. they want men to be men. like they've always been. end of story.

women, however, indulge every whim. they are moody, insolent, even vicious on a bad day. they are bossy, controlling and self centered on a good day. kind of like little kids.

women are ruled by their emotions, and as a man, i know that the key to a womans heart is controlling the emotional presentation of a situation. but it's a lot of work, you just get dragged along in the hurricane.

if women want true equality, they will have to be a little softer on men, actually letting them get more mushy, if you like. at the same time, they will have to become more emotionally resilient themselves.

i've just been feeling like the effect feminism has had on men has been largely overlooked, just an afterthought. perhaps that's because for men, it's just been business as usual, no change in the status quo.

it used to be both men and women had to use quite a bit of impulse control to get through raising kids and succeeding as parents. now it seems more of the burden is on men, ironically. women come and go in relationships, love and loyalty are seen as weaknesses. all my men friends have been cheated on by their wives.

it's so sad, really.
most men just want to have a nice wife and kids at an appropriate age. it's hard to find a woman to do that now. unless they're 42 and freaking out about it, but who wants to be with that. ick.
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Paganista
there's a very large constituency in BC that believes that men are inferiour to women, many many in the NDP are female supremacists who think being Male is a problem in and of itself and the best thing to so is simply obey whatever a woman wants.

Obey your matriarch, be submissive. It's rampant in BC. The idea that women are not as vain, violent and misinformed as men is entirely ignorant.

And yes I took a women's study course in college. One of two guys, the other was a sexist pig (in the 80's ffs) but I wasn't, he embarrassed the fuck out of me.

It is 2012, get a clue women are not second class citizens in BC nor Canada other than some hick towns, suburbs and immigrants - oh but we can't mention the misogyny of immigrants because they are so special, right left-wing fanatics?

"Women’s Studies courses have taught that all women–or nearlyall– are victims and nearly all men are victimizers. Their professors have argued, with some success, that rights should be granted not to individuals alone, but to whole classes of people, too. This has led to employment equity — hiring quotas based on one’s gender or race rather than on an objective assessment of individual talents."

this all true. why do you think I could never even apply for a government job let alone successful get one?
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Nadine Lumley
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glen p robbins
All ideologies require a unit of analysis - Marxism - the means of production.
Is feminism an ideology - and if so what is the unit of analysis ---- men, the response to men?

I respect and understand the offensive nature of male dominated history in North American democracies - however - with two daughters who I hope I have had a hand in developing into persons who respect others of either gender - and respect themselves - I have asked them to always think about equity among all persons - happily my eldest daughter has taken a philosophy degree and added a Labour Studies degree with an interest in the plight of poor workers (men and women) in areas like farming and other.

Anyone who lives in the suburbs will tell you well there are more than just a few women who don't mind not working (they don't have to) driving around in large expensive four wheel drives - with their special coffee drink in tow - plenty of opinions and little knowledge or experience.

I'm sorry to say - but you can't make an argument work from all sides - there are theoretical and anecdotal deficiencies galore.

What is feminism -- as this relates to Women's Studies - given that there are no Men's studies that I am aware of?
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What do women know?
Women know best or more than men. It is a statisical fact as women clamour to education to get out of the rut. Women with a higher education way out number the men. So unless men are going back to ship herding maybe time to pick up themselves and quit trying to flex their muscles to prove a point.
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Taxpayers R Us
It's 2012. Is this debate still going on?

Summary:

National Post is a right-wing tabloid. Check.

Women are equal to men. Gender shouldn't matter. Check.

Feminism ("women's groupism") is a sexist, anti-Charter-Rights scam. Check.

Why is this still an ongoing debate?

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Capu Student
TRU:

Word.
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what the?
To Quote Mikey... !!! So TRUE!!

Men will never learn.. except mikey gotta love it.

Quote"More like " In other words, remember the good ol' days? The days when white men dominated all walks of life and women and minorities knew their place?"

Probably explains why "passive" Japanese girls are so desirable in Vancouver, until their white husbands realize how "assertive" they are later, lol.

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Amir Sharar
I'm surprised that people still call "The Irrational Post" by it's legal name. :)
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KiDDAA Magazine
The National Post is the worst newspaper in Canada. Its right winged, extreme. Every day all I see is articles promoting war with Iran, who has no nuclear weapons, or articles denigrating people of colour in Canada.

To take this newspaper seriously is a joke, much like Fox News or CNN. They are paid for by the far right, big oil, war machinery.
Toronto Star is about the best we got in Canada and worldwide, The Guardian is superb.
KiDDAA Magazine will have an article on media, but gives props to Georgia Straight for running these type of stories.
www.kiddaa.com
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