Justin Trudeau and the folly of 'male feminism'

in blog •  7 months ago


The alleged groping incident involving Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (and his tone-deaf response to it) should tell you most of what you need to know about power imbalances, the sexual entitlement underlying the phenomenon of "male feminism", and the moral bankruptcy of identity politics in general.

Trudeau has long marketed himself as a "feminist", and likewise has built his political brand on pandering to identity politics every step of the way. As you may recall, he famously engaged in forced equality of outcome by appointing women to 50 percent of his government's cabinet positions shortly after taking power in 2015. I have absolutely no problem with women holding positions of power and authority - as long as they were hired because they were the best person for the job. This same standard should apply just as much to men, as one's genitalia should never be a determining factor in any hiring process.

(That's Trudeau's girl-pandering bonanza may have been as blind as it was as it was zealous is apparent in the fact that my own local MP, Karen McCrimmon, was overlooked despite her stellar qualifications. She commands such respect that friends and family across the political spectrum have conceded that she would be a welcome addition to any party.)

In any case, Trudeau's "male feminist" declarations, and his quota-based cabinet appointments, are examples of how he conducts himself when the cameras are rolling, and in turn sets himself up for a caning in the public square if some skeleton from the past should come crashing out of the closet.

Which, of course, is precisely what happened last month when it came to light that he had (allegedly) groped a female reporter from the local weekly paper, the Creston Valley Advance, at a beer festival in Kokanee, British Columbia. She also happened to be covering the event for the Vancouver Sun and the National Post. The apology he reportedly gave to the reporter the next day went, "I'm sorry. If I had known you were reporting for a national paper I would never have been so forward."

A more meaningful (and honorable) apology would have been, "I'm sorry. I should never have been so forward," full stop, no conditions.

Coming from such an avowed "male feminist", this "apology" is simply a reiteration of those repulsive lines from Mungo Jerry's one-time 1970 hit In the Summertime:

     If her daddy's rich take her out for a meal
     If her daddy's poor just do what you feel

In this case, Trudeau, then a 29-year-old school teacher, initially considered the reporter to be beneath him, and therefore an object of contempt. Considering the fame and wealth he himself was born into, perhaps he felt entitled to help himself to a butt grab, so long as the butt belonged to a lowly local weekly scribbler. Note that his apology, as worded, was conditional on the reporter's status within her industry, and not the unconditional apology for inappropriate touching that it ought to have been.

In short, Trudeau was apologizing for not recognizing that the power imbalance was narrower than he had thought the day before.

That Trudeau has now been trying to weasel around this revelation, and evading acknowledgement of his culpability in this past alleged incident of inappropriate sexual touching after championing a "zero tolerance" policy for members of his Liberal Party, makes Trudeau's supposed "male feminism" a little hard to take. While his supporters may quibble that the alleged incident took place 18 years ago (and in turn imply that women shouldn't step forward if the incident was too long ago), Trudeau's non-committal spin-doctoring in the present shows that in fact he's not really serious about championing women's rights, and that his "zero tolerance" policy is quickly forgotten if his own political fortunes are under threat.

As former U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts once put it, "Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking." There are also those who only partially agree, who say that character also means doing the right thing when everybody's looking.

It would appear that Justin Trudeau has compounded the former by also getting the latter wrong, thus betraying the fact that when one engages in identity politics, at the end of the day they are simply playing politics, period. Canadian women and their daughters would be wise to think long and hard before falling for the "male feminist" line the next time around, no matter how trendy the candidate's politics, nor how perfect his hair.

And finally, looking at the issue through the other end of the telescope, the hypocrisy of Trudeau's present-day response to this incident presents a parallel inversion of that Mungo Jerry tune of old, namely that if the perp is "poor" (i.e. of lower status than the Prime Minister), he or she is guilty of sexual harassment or even sexual assault. If the perp is "rich" (i.e. of Trudeau's level of wealth and societal status), then the incident is merely a "negative interaction".

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