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women

Barack Obama gave a widely-anticipated speech in Montreal today.

I watched online and, for most of it, Obama was in fine form: Eloquent, respectful, inspiring. But then there was an odd section, late in the speech, about gender equality and advancing the cause of women. Which included this line:

“I did conclude at a certain point that if you just put women in charge of every country for just about two years, the world would make a huge leap forward and just be better off generally. And that’s why I do think you guys (women) are a little better.”

With all due respect to Barack Obama — and he deserves a lot of respect — that statement goes way too far.

It’s one thing to encourage more gender parity, and better representation for women and minorities in politics at all levels. On this we agree entirely.

It’s another thing to assign false stereotypes to female politicians and assume that because of them, women would automatically make better leaders than men.

Marine Le Pen. Theresa May. Sarah Palin. Indira Gandhi. Imelda Marcos. Eva Peron. Dilma Rousseff. Margaret Thatcher. Kellie Leitch. Pauline Marois. I could go on here.

Women aren’t automatically more compassionate, wise, nurturing, caring, insightful, or resistant to corruption. I suspect that we have these qualities in roughly the same proportion as men do.

And politics inherently elevates the ruthless, the corrupt, the power-hungry and the populist, while chewing up and spitting out the idealistic, the competent and the well-intentioned. Most of the corrupt, terrible leaders have been men, but that’s just because most leaders in history have been men, period.

If and when the glass ceilings disappear, I suspect we’ll have just as many terrible female leaders as we do male ones. We may be hoping for a Michelle Obama, and end up instead with an Ivanka Trump. Or, for that matter, a Claire Underwood.

That’s not to say those glass ceilings oughtn’t be shattered. Of course they must. But we must demand better from ALL our leaders — male, female or otherwise.

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So, Donald Trump was caught on tape making disgusting comments about being able to grope women.Trump Zucker Bush

Raise your hand if you’re surprised. Hand up? You clearly haven’t been paying attention anytime this past, oh, say, decade.

Everyone from both parties is rushing to condemn Trump’s comments and distance themselves from him, and the media and political pundits are speculating that this might finally cost him the election once and for all. Some are even going so far as to speculate that he might withdraw from the race.

But here’s my cynical prediction: Trump’s campaign will get a boost from this.

His supporters will excuse it as “locker room talk” and decry the “overly politically correct elite” for expressing disgust. Trump has given his supporters license to express the most vile racist and misogynist thoughts in the recesses of their mind, and this is no different. Trump won’t apologize, not really. He’ll “apologize” (wink wink) while allowing Clinton to once again be seen as the spoilsport and disapproving schoolmarm. And he’ll pick up votes from people who secretly hate woman and believe that sexual assault is a man’s god-given right and that calling it a crime is an invention of feminists.

And one only has to look at how middle America (read: middle-aged white guys) feels victimized and put upon for no longer being able to freely express all the politically incorrect opinions they secretly hold. I mean, just look at All Lives Matter, Gamergate, and the Men’s Rights movement for examples. Racist, sexist white guys resent it when you point out that their views are racist and sexist. And they love Trump for giving voice to their anger and resentment.

Not to mention, the more establishment Republicans call him out for this, the more he gets to paint himself as anti-establishment and someone who “tells it like it is”.

I mean, look at how many people have pointed out that Trump is basically what happens when the YouTube comments section becomes human and runs for President. And take a look at the vitriol and violence that gets levelled against women in the average YouTube comments section.

A number of people have theorized that Donald Trump is like America’s id: He says and does the things that people wish they could get away with, but can’t. And they love him for it. So while all the political pundits rush around saying that this will finally be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, I suspect the Trump campaign is sitting back and waiting for the bump in poll numbers.

I wish that weren’t true. But, judging by the added support he got from calling women “pigs”, Mexicans “rapists” and calling for a ban on Muslims, I don’t see why this will be any different.

Let’s face it: Trump is disgusting. But so are the people who vote for him. And if they vote for him now, Americans will truly get the horrible excuse for a leader that they so clearly deserve.

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Stephen Harper hates women

04.20.2011

If you don’t have enough reasons to vote against Harper and the Conservatives in the upcoming election, here’s some scary food for thought: 4 out of 9 of Canada’s Supreme Court Justices have mandatory retirement dates within the next five years. Guess who appoints Supreme Court Justices? That’s right, the Governor-General in “consultation with” (read: […]

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Iran blocked from UN Women’s Board

11.10.2010

The United Nations created a new body to promote the rights of women worldwide. And all the usual suspects, namely, Iran, rushed to sign up to the executive board. This is nothing new for the UN, which has regularly seen topsy-turvy things like Libya being elected to the UN Human Rights Council. The moral authority of […]

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The Gender Equity issue: a refreshing perspective

04.05.2007

While much is being made of Nancy Pelosi’s comments on the relative lack of women in Saudi politics (see below), here at home, under very different circumstances, we’re hearing some of the same issues – and criticisms. Stephane Dion is actively seeking female candidates to run for the federal Libs – he’s even stated that […]

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Female hockey fans – this is news?

01.12.2007

Note to Natasha Aimee Hall in today’s Gazette: I don’t know what you’re smoking, or if you went to sleep 40 years ago and suddenly woke up yesterday. But I suggest you take a good hard look around. As a female hockey fan, I find this article downright insulting. You write as though women have […]

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Courageous voices

10.26.2006

These women stood up to speak out against radical fundamenatalism in the middle east and in the world: “We must speak out now, because we’ve got nothing to lose,” said Dr. Wafa Sultan, one of four Middle Eastern women taking part in a panel discussion in Montreal yesterday to argue their position on the West’s […]

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Blogosphere roundup

07.06.2005

I haven’t done one of these in a while. And some bloggers have been writing very, very good posts. So it’s high time, I guess. Here’s Lynn on so-called “messianic Judaism”: We Jews have been fighting this battle for nigh on two thousand years. Christians have been trying to explain to us where and how […]

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Women in Kuwait win the right to vote

05.16.2005

People are right to call it only a small step. Women in Kuwait can now vote and run for office but they are still bound by strict Islamic laws and in most ways are still second-class citizens. Not to mention the sorry state of democracy in Kuwait, where voting really doesn’t mean much for men […]

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Sperm donor gets visitation rights

06.21.2004

A sperm donor was awarded visitation rights by a Quebec judge: A man who donated his sperm so that a lesbian couple could have a child has been given visitation rights by a Quebec judge.The Journal de Montréal reported this morning that Quebec Superior Court Justice Suzanne Courteau granted the man the right to visit […]

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