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Who hijacked Canadian feminism?

By Linda Lebrun
web posted December 17, 2001

Sunera Thobani's controversial post-9/11 comments at a Vancouver women's conference have become notorious. Thousands of Canadians and American were enraged at her assertion that the murderous attack on American soil was simply the U.S. reaping what they sowed for a "foreign policy soaked in blood". The media noted that Thobani was the president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women from 1993 to 1996. The NAC generally toils out of the glare of public scrutiny, and they were unprepared for the backlash the comments provoked. But let's be fair to the NAC -- surely the organization has matured in the five years since Thobani stepped down?

In a word, no. This problematic feminist group has, if anything, moved even more towards the extreme left as the years have gone by. Canadian women may deserve a government lobby group, but the NAC is emphatically not that group. Ludicrously claiming to speak for Canadian women in general, they actually speak only for an ideological hard-core of professional leftist activists.

Canadian women are of diverse opinions and fall all over the political spectrum, including many who would prefer a smaller role for government. But the representation of conservative women in the NAC is nil. Their left-wing slant is no secret -- the 33rd Central Convention of the Communist Party of Canada is listed in the "year in review" section of NAC's website (no other party get a mention).

The NAC and some of their fellow-travelers recently released a document titled "The Women's Declaration Against War and Racism For Peace and Justice", advocating accused terrorists ought to be tried before an international criminal court, and decrying a military-interventionist response to the vicious attacks on U.S. soil. What arrogance, when real Canadian women's view diverge so widely on the issue, to name this document "The Women's Declaration". But there are no shades of gray in the NAC agenda.

The organization writes in a recent press release: "The women's movement that is made up of grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and sisters will always uphold a just, peaceful solution because it is women and children who are the largest victims in war." What useful political agenda could be served by implying that men are somehow lesser victims of war? Can't a man be wounded by a bullet or step on a land mine? Perhaps so, but to the extreme left, establishing one's own victimhood is of paramount importance.

Open hostility towards men is perhaps the most egregious game played by members of the extreme feminist left. "War is a man's game," former NAC president Judy Rebick opines in her recent column on "War is definitely a guy thing." Calling war "a guy thing" is shorthand for saying it is objectionable and wrong. Extreme left feminist groups are controlled by ideologues who frame everything in terms of "gender-based analysis", wherein the patriarchy, that now-dated abstraction, is to blame for all social ills.

It's no wonder that most women under 30 prefer not to identify themselves as "feminist". What modern young woman would care to become a member of "The NAC Young Womyn Network"? The lingo the NAC uses is a parody of 70's second-wave feminism. Other NAC efforts include organizing the annual Canadian Women's March, which regularly presents a litany of demands for money, programs, and grants to the federal government. This stream of dollars is necessary, they claim, to chip away at the imaginary edifice of patriarchy.

Working women today compete on a playing field that is leveled as at no previous time in Western history; we benefit from technology and trade. But you'd never know this from the NAC's promotion of income redistribution, anti-globalization protests, and a grab-bag of other leftist causes.

Might the NAC be reformed to properly represent a cross-section of Canadian women's views? Unlikely, since the professional left-wing activists that control it now are unlikely to relinquish control or welcome real political diversity. Canadian taxpayers would never accept if a far-right lobby group were granted hundreds of thousands of dollars in government funds annually to further their fringe agenda. Why, then, is it acceptable to do so for a far-left group? The government should cease funding the NAC -- the hijacking of the women's movement shouldn't be underwritten by Canadians.

This is Linda Lebrun's first contribution to Enter Stage Right.

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