Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Speaking Up

Image result for catherine mckenna colin wilson
I got a kick out of the feistiness of Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna's challenge to a Rebel Media reporter recently. When he posed a question to the ministry out of the media scrum she responded but first called him out for the repeated use by Rebel Media of the term "Climate Barbie" to describe her. As with most bullies, Christopher Wilson "denied" (see later paragraph)  that he had used that derogatory term, which has since been identified as a lie. He has, on several occasions.
McKenna pointed out that this disparaging term is misogynistic and is part of the gender-based nonsense that discourages women from getting involved in politics and public life. She's right, it seems to me. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a wickedly good political cartoon that skewers public figures behaving badly. And if a media outlet feels that a minister of the crown is doing a lousy job within his or her portfolio, it has the right to say so. We have to uphold freedom of speech, even when that speech does not reflect our views.
At the same time, we should lose our collective sense of humour entirely about this sort of supercilious sexism and those who engage in it. While there has been a lot in the media recently about women and men who have been sexually intimidated and assaulted by those in positions of power the general tone of dismissal of women as credible leaders based on their appearance has to stop as well. It is predatory in its own way.
Of course Wilson broke his commitment not to do use this term about McKenna, at least in spirit, and did so almost immediately. Rebel huffed that McKenna was over-sensitive, then grumbled about the use of the term "climate deniers" to describe those who don't agree with the government on the subject of climate change -- not to mention the overwhelming body of scientific research. Apparently this makes them sound like Holocaust deniers, which  they find offensive. Hmm. If I tell you that I'm pleased to have a full head of hair into my 60's and you tell me that I'm "in denial", does that mean that you're also saying that I don't trust the historical evidence about the Holocaust?  Pulleeze.  Who is overly sensitive?
I've concluded that as Christians we need to be increasingly blunt about the circumstances in our personal lives and in our culture where we see this sort of behavior happening. Canadian politeness may be a virtue most of the time, but faithfulness to Christ's message of inclusion may require plain speech on our part.
What was your reaction to McKenna's challenge to Wilson? Do people of faith need to summon the courage to be more outspoken? Have we been complicit in sexism and patriarchy?  


Judy said...

I admire McKenna for her response - and we do, as a society, condone, still, sexist language and attitudes.

I also think you should be offering these thoughts to Opinion pages in all of the big newspapers, David. More people need to see them.

Frank said...

She kinda shut him up!
He wasn't able to respond with any degree of assertiveness until he could retreat behind the "screen" of social media.
It's quite something to see bullies cowed into submission during a direct face-to-face encounter with their intended victims.

David Mundy said...

Thanks Judy. It's a challenge to just keep up with writing my blog. I thought retirement would make this easier!

She did shut him up Frank, while he was face-to-face with her. It's remarkable how quickly bullies are bold again when they've skulked out of view.