Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of Canada’s prime minister, has set off a social media firestorm by suggesting women celebrate International Women’s Day by highlighting boys and men who promote gender equality.
The post appeared on several social media on Tuesday. “This week, as we mark International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the boys and men in our lives who encourage us to be who we truly are, who treat girls & women with respect, and who aren’t afraid to speak up in front of others,” Grégoire Trudeau wrote.
She urged women to snap a photo of themselves with a male ally and share it on social media, adding: “Together, we can create a movement that inspires more men to join the fight to build a better tomorrow with equal rights & opportunities for everyone … because #EqualityMatters.”
The post was accompanied by a photo of Grégoire Trudeau holding hands and gazing into the eyes of her husband, Justin Trudeau, a self-described feminist.
Reaction was swift. While more than 15,000 people on Facebook said they liked or loved the post, thousands of others blasted Grégoire Trudeau for being tone deaf.
“364 days a year I am all up to holding hands with my favourite men and creating partnerships and alliances that will support equality,” read one of the top-ranked responses, by Bibi Ebel, drawing more than 7,000 likes. “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.”
Other commenters described the post as “utterly ridiculous” and “shameful” while one asked: “I have to first be oppressed in patriarchy, but also spend more emotional labour comforting men who make any effort whatsoever?”
Another added: “Yes, let’s celebrate the men who, in a world that is still dominated by patriarchal culture, give us permission (because we need it?) to be ourselves, be safe, and be heard. No thanks. My parents raised me to know that all of that is a right, not a privilege granted by men. I will instead thank the generations of women around the world who never forgot their inherent dignity and worth, helping me to preserve my own.”
Some juxtaposed Grégoire Trudeau’s words with her husband’s actions. “If your husband were a true feminist and, by your own definition isn’t ‘afraid to speak up in front of others,’ he would denounce Trump personally and his administration’s misogyny. Until he does, he’s a lip-service feminist and I can’t take him seriously as a fighter for the cause.”
While several world leaders have taken aim at the US president over his actions, Trudeau has avoided any public criticism of Trump.
Others, however, backed Grégoire Trudeau’s viewpoint. “Despite the backlash you’re taking over this, I’d like to say thank you for the spirit of inclusion it was clearly meant in. We need more people reaching out and building bridges, finding genuine common ground and assuming goodwill from each other if we’re to repair the fractures that have been spreading in our society,” read one comment. Another added cheekily: “I’m single. Can I borrow Justin to take a picture with him?”
Hours later, Grégoire Trudeau weighed in with a second post. “Well, now we’re having a conversation! Thanks to everyone for your feedback and pics! Love it,” she wrote. “Our goal is gender equality, and fighting for it is going to require men and women working together – raising our boys and girls to make a difference, hand-in-hand. This is about recognizing that we should be allies on this journey,” she added.
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