politics

Why people are so furious at Sophie Trudeau's International Women's Day message.

As rousing posts about women filled newsfeeds across the globe for International Women’s Day, Canada’s First Lady took a slightly different tack on her public Facebook page yesterday.

Under a photo of herself hand-in-hand with her husband, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau called for women to “celebrate the boys and men in our lives who encourage us to be who we truly are, who treat girls and women with respect, and who aren’t afraid to speak up in front of others.”

The former journalist then suggested March 8 was the perfect date to highlight those “male allies” who help shoulder the burden of the fight for gender equality — by sharing photos holding hands with them.

Are you ready to ignite change? This week, as we mark International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the boys and men in our…

Posted by Sophie Grégoire Trudeau on Tuesday, 7 March 2017

“Together, we can create a movement that inspires more men to join the fight to build a better tomorrow with equal rights and opportunities for everyone,” she wrote, alongside the hashtag #EqualityMatters.

It was a nice idea, sort of, except that many thousands of people thought it absolutely wasn’t.

First, the obvious question came:

“Why do we have to celebrate men on International Women’s Day?” a female commenter asked.

“364 days a year I am all up to holding hands with my favourite men and creating partnerships and alliances that will support equality. But today I don’t want to celebrate men. I want to remember all women who protested against not being able to vote, talked about unequal pay, stood up to the society protecting our rights and freedoms.”

It was a common theme, as the 41-year-old was repeatedly accused of missing the mark with her “tone deaf” call to arms.

“I think I would feel differently if the message had been directed to men asking them to take a picture with the women they celebrate and support. But that’s not what happened. The whole point of International Women’s Day is to bring the focus to women,” another woman added.

A photo shared by Gregoire-Trudeau on Mother's Day. Source: Facebook
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International Women's Day is the 24-hours out 8760 the world annually sets aside to celebrate "the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women".

It's about identifying the gaps between women and men and pushing for global gender parity and acknowledging how swell women are for one day of the year.

Of course, men and boys are affected by stifling gender stereotypes too and, yes, the male half of the species certainly ought to put in some elbow grease for equality.

But one of the main concerns with Gregoire-Trudeau's post is it puts the onus on women to convince them to.

The Mamamia Outloud team on Justin Trudeau's bum:

Similar dissatisfactions have been aired in response to other campaigns to entice men to support feminism, such as the HeForShe, a UN initiative spearheaded by actress Emma Watson, which many believe imply that women somehow need men to "empower" them.

As one commenter put it:

"Both men and women need to learn how to better celebrate women. That will not happen by asking us to continue to hand out 'cookies' and constantly over-celebrate men for doing something that should just be normal behaviour."

Not everyone disagreed, however, and the post received an equal number of love reactions. In fact, exactly 2,700.

In a later post, Gregoire-Trudeau, who is a long-time advocate for women in her charity work, acknowledged the criticism of her words and clarified them somewhat, though continued to make clear her stance that raising boys -- and educating men -- to be good feminists was crucial for reaching gender equality.

Arguably, she has a point, and her husband has been rightly celebrated for elevating 50 per cent women to his cabinet "because it [was] 2015".

Still, perhaps it was a discussion better suited for one of the other 364 days of the year.

Une très joyeuse Journée internationale des femmes! Poursuivons la lutte pour l’égalité des sexes aujourd’hui et chaque jour.

Posted by Sophie Grégoire Trudeau on Wednesday, 8 March 2017