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Politics is a rough battlefield for women

Patricia Mills November 17, 2016 Patricia Mills No Comments

By the time this column is published, the U.S. election will be over, but it will be a long time before the memory of the campaign tone will be erased from our memories.
Ironically, as the movement to support girls and women increases globally through Day of the Girl and nationally through the appointment of northerner Patty Hajdu as Minister of Status of Women, Trump’s nonchalant remarks about groping and forcibly kissing women reminds us, with the weight of a sledgehammer to the skull, that there is still a long, long way to go.
It’s not only Trump’s casual stance in his disclosure that’s troubling, it’s the unbelievable support he generates from trepid Republicans who desperately try to find ways to support the candidate but not the candidate’s actions. Duh! Double Duh!!
On the other side of the divide, we find Hillary Clinton fending off the hovering Trump hanging around her like damp diapers sitting in a mop bucket, while she is left defending her own husband’s behaviour, under the onslaught of Trump’s trumped-up attacks. Not her own behavior, her husband’s behaviour!
This is what it means to be a woman in politics.
When my youngest daughter was in elementary school, she used to say with her chest stuck out and her head held high that she was going to be prime minister of Canada some day. There was never a doubt in her mind that she could if she really wanted to.
Today she is travelling throughout Europe while attending university in England and the last thing on her mind is politics – not because of where she currently is, but because of what she now knows. Politics is not gender-neutral or gender-friendly.
At the same time, to be a strong woman who faces down the Trumps of the world, be prepared to be labelled, firstly for being such a tough bitch instead of a strong, strategic leader, and secondly for being such a tough bitch instead of a strong “role model” for other women.
Men do not have to face this lonesome, hypocritical journey.
Sitting around a boardroom table with a group of strong Sudbury women and our Minister of Status of Women earlier this fall, I was reminded that maybe by the time my daughter is finished exploring her options and her world, she may navigate back to her earlier political aspirations.
Maybe by then there will be some real change, at least in Canada.
Minister Hajdu is tough. She is smart and focused. She emulates hope.
Her sincere focus on empowering women and pointing out opportunities to them is very encouraging. The support she’s garnered from her male colleagues in Parliament is really inspiring and authentic.
It almost drowns out the slurry coming from the likes of Trump and his minions.

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