Is the gender lens being fair to men?

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Sabrina Almeida

Recently Prime Minister Trudeau was roasted on social media for promoting women at the cost of their male counterparts. Alberta politicians were the first to take objection to his statement that pipeline and construction projects must be subject to a gender lens study. This was simply insensitive given that the province is worried about a potential loss of jobs in both sectors.

Critics were particularly upset over his remark that bringing male construction workers to rural areas has social impacts??? Federal conservative leader Andrew Scheer, Alberta opposition leader Jason Kenney and Official Opposition Conservative Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt weren’t impressed with Trudeau’s championing of feminism and publicly voiced their displeasure.

Maxime Bernier (leader of the People’s Party of Canada) shared a clip of Trudeau speaking on his Facebook page stating: “that is why I’m not a feminist.”

The wife of an oilfield worker also expressed her anger at this hurtful remark against men like her husband.

Speaking at a gender equality panel in at the G20 in Argentina, Trudeau was totally in character when he pointed out that society cannot be successful with half of its population (female) being held back. He used infrastructure projects (like oil and construction) as examples. The proverbial hole he dug for himself got deeper when he said that “women entrepreneurs tend to make better choices than others”, claiming that studies proved this.

The PMO was quick to clarify that Trudeau’s statement was taken out of context. His point was about giving women fair opportunity. Not that rural communities suffer when male construction workers move in as is being suggested. Or specifically about Alberta.

However, the damage was done. Male bashing aside, the prime minister came across as being privileged with little knowledge and regard for blue collar workers and their families.
Yet the controversial statements raise an important question as to whether the gender lens is being misused.

Applying a gender lens when planning and allotting funds has been broadly taken as an initiative to empower women. More specifically, removing barriers to equal opportunity. Like providing maternity leave and child care facilities for women workers. Shared parental leave was added to prevent discrimination against women employees who might need time off after child birth.
However, there are rumblings about the fairness of the gender lens and that it may not result in equal outcomes. Take the case of construction workers who spend long periods away from their families while working on projects in rural areas.

Trudeau’s statement in favour of women entrepreneurs does disservice to both sexes. For one it resorts to stereotyping and secondly it sacrifices equality in the name of promoting women. To me providing equal opportunity means choosing on the basis of ability and not gender. Should organisations employ women just to fulfil the mandate?

Also, taking an equal approach would mean applying the same lens to female-dominated professions and setting aside quotas for the inclusion of men, would it not?

Our prime minister is a proud self-proclaimed feminist. And while his intentions might be noble, like having a 50-50 cabinet, I am of the opinion such positions should be assigned on merit and not to keep the balance.
He also talks about raising his sons as feminists. I’m not sure what that means because the concept of feminism has changed over the years… and not for the better.

Sadly, modern feminism has become less about women being equal and hell bent on pushing men into traditionally female roles. Especially at home. Unlike the prime minister and his family, I did not raise my sons as ‘feminists’ but with a healthy respect for the equality of sexes. They understand that child-rearing and housework is a shared responsibility. Which parent takes leave after child-birth will depend on the situation not gender equality. In fact, I have cautioned them about being taken advantage of by misguided feminists who want to feminize men.

Being a woman, I am fully aware that we can do anything. Yet I do not believe that going topless or breastfeeding in public is an expression of our equality. Neither do I think that special allowances should be made in workforce to show gender equality or diversity. After all capability should not consider sex, colour or ethnicity.

And in the end, we must acknowledge that men and women cannot be equal in everything. Biology makes it impossible. Men can’t give birth or breastfeed! Unless feminists want to change that too! Men will also be better than women at somethings and vice-versa. The exceptions cannot become the norm.

While I support empowerment initiatives in areas where misogyny is rampant and don’t believe cooking or housekeeping is a woman’s domain, I am certainly not for a complete reversal of roles. In the workforce men and women can do anything that they want… but home and family is a shared responsibility that should not be forced solely upon either one. Feminism and the gender lens must not become tools to demean and displace men. That’s unhealthy and unfair! -CINEWS

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