Thursday, April 23, 2009

Michael Coren: Adding New Depth To Sexism

I don't care much for Michael Coren has to say on good days. Most days, I just try to ignore him.

Then he writes something as utterly offensive as this.

So Canada sacrifices another victim on the altar of equality.

Last week a young girl dressed up as a soldier died in the increasingly futile and pointless war in Afghanistan. She was 21 years old, had been in the country for two weeks on her first tour of duty and probably weighed a little over 100 pounds.

Let's start with the basic offensiveness of Coren's wording. Karine Blais was not "playing" at being a soldier, so the phrase "dressed up as" is not only wrong, it's denigrating. The implication being that a woman can never be a soldier. Never mind that Ms. Blais had to go through the same Basic Training that everyone of her male counterparts had to, and probably could have quite cheerfully laid Mr. Coren's flabby, middle-aged paunchiness out in about 2 seconds - unarmed.

Yes, yes, yes, I know it's fundamentally anti-Canadian to say this but I'd prefer to articulate the views of the silent majority than hide behind some modernist fetish that places more importance on the myth of absolute equality than the safety of a girl who should be laughing with college friends rather than fighting theocratic madmen.

You know, Mr. Coren? You aren't part of any "silent majority" here. You are part of a very small minority that still pines for some idealized notion of the nuclear family, and in particular women's role in that. You want someone who is waiting at home for you after a hard day at work, ready to soothe whatever ails you.

It is beyond insulting to Ms. Blais' memory for you to insist that she should be at college. Remember, she chose to join the army (just I chose not to years ago). Whether she had plans to go to college after a few years in the military or not, only she and her family know that - and it's irrelevant to you anyways.

What Mr. Coren doesn't recognize here is that Karine had the right to make the choice to join the military. It wasn't so long ago that she wouldn't have had such a choice at all.

On the "altar of equality", as Mr. Coren puts it, we have but one word - choice. Gender equality is about having the right to choose one's own path in the world, regardless of being born male or female. If that means the right for women to choose to take on combat roles in the military, so be it - just as it also grants the right for men to choose to become stay-at-home parents.

If captured, of course, such a woman would be repeatedly raped. And tortured. Again, I'm not meant to say this. Not Canadian, not CBC, not Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Not the sort of thing we're supposed to feel, so we pretend that men and women in the army, police and fire service are given the same tests and have to fulfil the same requirements. Yet truth still breaks through.

Oh, how nice of Mr. Coren. He's trying to protect Ms. Blais from the horrible fate that would await her should she be captured by the enemy. Is he really so thick between the ears that he believes she didn't think about that risk? The risk of rape and sexual assault is everywhere, Mr. Coren. Women know about it, and live with it every day of their lives.

Mr. Coren has only demonstrated his complete ignorance of what has happened since WWII in this part of the world. That he takes such a snide, paternal tone in his article serves but to reinforce the impression that he lusts after a social ideal that never has, and never will exist.


Anonymous said...

Mr Coren is doing what a great number of men do to women every day: he appears to honour and respect women by infantilising them, hoping to push women back out of the public sphere of influence.

Women, along with men, understand the risks of being a soldier. The idea that Mr Coren has miraculously divined that female soldiers might be raped if captured is ludicrous. The young women who choose to serve know perfectly well that this might happen: when captured by their captors, when in base camp by their fellow soldiers, or back in Canada by their fellow citizens.

Women do not need Mr Coren to remind them of the physical dangers of being female. The right to serve one's country is not subject to Mr Coren's antediluvian attitude towards women.

MgS said...

Antediluvian ... mmm ... nice crunchy word there!

Thanks for pointing out a missed opportunity to use it.