Wednesday, September 23, 2015

About Race, Misogyny, Music and Fathers. Where Do I Start?

Recently, during an Up the Debate leaders forum on women's issues, Justin Trudeau was asked  about what causes misogyny in young men.  He answered
“I don’t know where exactly to point my finger.  I think there’s probably an awful lot of factors that come together to shape societal behaviour — whether it’s certain types of music? There’s a lot of misogyny in, you know, certain types of music. There’s issues around pornography and its prevalence now and its accessibility, which is something I’m really wrapping my head around as a father of kids who are approaching their teen years. And there’s also just the shifting parental roles as well. There’s a lot of communities in which fathers are less present than they have been or they might be in the past, and there’s more need to have engaged positive role models.”
In the videotape, the original question concerning misogyny and young men, was edited out, and replaced with a question about the causes of violence against women.

Paula Simons, in her piece for the National Post, focused on racial stereotyping,  using journalist Desmond Cole's accusations that Trudeau was talking about black people, when he referenced music.  Simons also claims that one "could equally well hear those words as a reference to domestic violence in the aboriginal community."

It is risky to stir up racial hatred, when many communities are working so hard to fight violence against women.  Both the Liberals and NDP have promised such help, and for all the narrow mindedness of the Harper government, they have delivered, though not nearly enough.

The Cree Women of Eeyou Istchee Association, is just one group fighting gender inequality and tackling the sensitive subject of male aggression.  And they are doing it by involving men, so that the healing process can begin.

If we are not allowed to talk about this in an intelligent manner, how can we justify funding for something that we don't want to believe exists?  Community leaders are the best to gauge what they need, not race activists or journalists.

Desmond Cole took to Twitter, even setting up a separate thread to discuss Justin Trudeau.  Why did we allow this man to hijack such an important issue?  This was supposed to be about women and gender inequality, not him and his own causes.  Racism is an important topic, but this was not about race.  Our concerns have now been lost. I'm hoping this was not the intent, though I think it was more about partisanship.

Music and Rape Culture

In a piece The Lines Are Never Blurred, on the feminist site I am a Woman, I am Not a Man, But I am Equal to No One, the topic was rape culture and music.
One of the most dangerous results of a patriarchal society is the presence of a rape culture. This term refers to “practices which excuse, normalize, or even promote rape or sexual violence,” especially against women Rape culture includes both “institutional sexism” in the government and misogyny in pop culture

...Pop culture is another area where rape culture is clear and evident. Popular music, especially that written by men, often refers to women as “hoes,” “bitches,” and “sluts.” Performers such as Eminem, Flo Rida, and Robin Thicke rap and sing about how they would like to sleep with the females in their songs, yet they objectify and insult the objects of their lust. The song “Blurred Lines,” by Robin Thicke, is full of references to non-consensual sex and other characteristics of rape culture, and is a prime example of how popular the objectification of women and the trivialization of rape has become. The lyrics of “Blurred Lines,” as well as the lyrics of other songs by equally popular artists, encourage a misogynistic attitude by promoting messages straight from the mouths of rapists and those who make excuses for them.
Those are the words of a feminist, and for the record, Eminem and Robin Thicke, are both white. She does not see this as a race issue but blames it on "the male-dominated rap music industry".

Of course it's not just rap music, but many genres that objectify women. The Artiface, in a piece about pop culture and violence against women, singles out Maroon Five, and their song Animal.

In a 2010 piece for the Toronto Star, Antonia Zerbisias, discusses the influence of television, advertising and music, that promote a rape culture.
"There are rape jokes. Rape songs. Music videos that covey a sense of sexual entitlement to men while portraying women as insatiable, available."
She is certainly not being racist, even if somehow we are supposed to conclude that she means black rappers.

We have to remember that Justin Trudeau is not just a politician, but is also a father. However, he did not get his talking points from Bigots R Us, but from the writings of feminists, who have been sounding the alarm for years. He may have also learned a lot from his wife Sophie Gregoire, who won recognition from the  UN Women National Committee  Canada, for her "volunteer and activist work on mental health, eating disorders as well as for women- and children-related issues."

To suggest that Justin Trudeau is racist, or has minimized issues facing women, is ridiculous.  Any media ignoring the intent of the debate, and making it all about unfounded racism, is as Zerbiasis suggests, just feeding into the culture.  I hope she gives them hell.

And About That Fatherhood Thing

In Chicago, in February of 2013; President Obama gave a speech that raised a few eyebrows. In it he said: “there are entire neighborhoods where young people, they don’t see an example of somebody succeeding. And for a lot of young boys and young men, in particular, they don’t see an example of Fathers or grandfathers, uncles, who are in a position to support families and be held up and respected.”

Both liberals and conservatives alike, attacked what they saw as a patriarchal attitude. However, it launched a movement This Is Fatherhood ” that includes some very high profile, and dare I say African American, public figures. They are not saying that women can't raise children on their own, only that fathers need to be more accountable, and that male role models need to step up and show by example, how women and girls should be treated.

The prime minister, is not our parent and their government not our keepers.  We need individual communities, regardless of race or creed, to lobby for designated funds to promote gender equality, and speak out against rape culture and violence.  Only they know what is needed and how best to deal with it.

That is not to say, that violence does not occur in homes across the country, which is why we need to address things like income equality, poverty, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc.   If a woman is financially dependent on her mate,  she may feel trapped and more willing to take abuse.

None of these things can be handled in one debate, especially when the concerns raised during that debate, have been lost.  But at least it brings these things to the forefront during this election campaign.  Or at least it would have, if it hadn't been hi-jacked by someone with their own agenda, and a media preferring sensationalism to honest reporting.

And we wonder why they don't take us seriously.


  1. Congratulations Emily a column that leaves Mulcair alone

  2. Great article. A very clear perspective.

  3. This is truly a pleasant and useful, containing all data furthermore greatly affects the new innovation. Much obliged for sharing it, Frankie Valli concert tickets