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 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.




Feb 5, 2010 at 5:15pm

I didn't know Ann Coulter was writing for the Post these days.


Feb 5, 2010 at 6:42pm

The National Post fills its opinion-writing stable with anti-feminist, anti-humanist, anti-culture climate-change deniers who don't even write very well. Does anyone really wonder why the NP has always lost money, when the only people it appeals to are cranky old white men?


Feb 5, 2010 at 11:46pm

Remember when a divorced father was turned out in the cold, his home, children and bank account taken away from him?

Those days are still with us. Thanks for nothing "feminists".

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Feb 6, 2010 at 3:03am

Thankyou for this excellent response from a feminist man's perspective! The hard won freedoms by my generation have contributed to the sense of equality and opportunity for young Canadian women today, but there is still much to be done. The U.N.'s Platform of Action, arising from the Beijing Women's Conference of 1995, still is only beginning to be implemented in many parts of the world. The goal is full partnership between men and women. Thankyou, Mike Cowie!

Mr. Gleason

Feb 6, 2010 at 10:20am

None of this complaining is getting my pie baked faster... chop chop!

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Liz Marshall

Feb 6, 2010 at 10:32am

How refreshing to read such a strong and informed male voice on this subject.
Thank you!


Feb 6, 2010 at 11:30am

I must submit that, while it would offend some, the overall offenses committed by the feminist movement were indeed far more offensive than the NP article.

I believe in equality: equal treatment, equal pay, equal rights, equal everything. But feminists don't.

The movement has, for more than 30 years, lobbied for Special treatment in family law (any man knows at least one other man who has been raped by family law), employment law (ask any union or government agency), and any and every other institution that has given the movement a voice.

If they wanted equality, there would be no problem.

I agree with the author of the NP article because I want equality, not special treatment.


Feb 6, 2010 at 12:28pm

remember reading about women fighting for equality by burning their bras and marching and whatever else they did to become “equal” to men. Even to this day, women still complain that they get treated unfairly compared to men. I say malarkey! Let me explain why”¦
1.When parents split up, the primary custody of the child (by default) goes to the mother. I’m not saying the father doesn’t get custody, because they do. They just don’t get it by default. They have to fight for the custodial rights, and usually end up with weekend visits or something similar. Even if they get 50% custody, they are still financially responsible to 100% of the child. They have to pay for the child when they are with them, and have to pay child support for when they are at their mothers. I’m not saying it happens this way every time, but the majority of the time.
2.If the police are called to a domestic disturbance, and both the male and the female admit to hitting the other, the male is placed under arrest. It is then up to the officer to decide if the female will be placed under arrest or let go. On a very VERY rare occasion does the female get arrested without the male getting arrested too. (Remember I said that they BOTH admit to hitting the other)
3.Young women get better insurance rates than young men. In fact, insurance treats men and women differently for nearly every type of policy. Especially medical insurance.
4.Case and Point: I have a friend who recently underwent surgery to have his prostate removed due to a very aggressive cancer. This left him “unable to perform.” With the proper medical prosthetics, he would be able to perform sexually, but his insurance denied coverage for it. He would have to pay for it on his own.

He and I are on the same insurance plan because we both work in the same lab. Today, I received an “important notice” from our insurance in the mail. Apparently there is a “Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998.” With this act, women are covered (under OUR same insurance plan) to receive breast reconstructive surgery and two postoperative breast prostheses. This includes reconstructive surgery to the breast that had the cancer, and reconstructive surgery on the other breast to make it symmetrical in shape and size.

Basically, under our insurance plan, men are not covered when they lose their ability to perform sexually due to cancer, but women are entitled to cosmetic surgery

on their breasts when cancer ruins the shape of them.
There are many more instances in life where women are treated better than men, and yet they still argue that they are treated unfairly in society. Everyone is treated unfairly in society, it what makes society”¦society.

Maybe if men started burning our underclothes and marching up and down the road with picket signs, we’d get preferred treatment in society as well. No, we’d just get ridiculed.


Feb 6, 2010 at 1:14pm

As with any "movement" there is a lunatic fringe that detracts from substantial gains toward the goals, in this case equality.

That we should recognize and address destructive or discriminatory habits gets lost in the unholy zeal of that lunatic fringe, and instead of including everyone in some reasoned debate it simply turns people away.

PETA is another example of of a group polarizing society.
What would be an important message in some instances is turned into schlock theater that repulses prospective sympathizers.

Laurel L. Russwurm

Feb 6, 2010 at 2:45pm

Nice article.

The problem that everyone misses is that while women fought for equality, and as evidenced by the comments there many still blame the other gender for societal inequities.

The losers in today's world are families.

When I was a kid, one parent in a two parent family could stay home with the kids, and there was a reasonable chance the family could buy their own home. What many of us thought equality meant was that Dad would be the one to stay home with the kids. Not so. Today, Mom and Dad both work and probably will never be able to buy a family home.

The winner of the battle of the sexes was corporate Canada. While men & women fought one another, Canadian corporations fought for tax reductions, leaving families to pick up the slack.