Earlier this week British Columbia Premier Christy Clark made her first visit to Revelstoke after being appointed to the leadership of our province by her Liberal party in March 2011. Many of us likely had questions about the Northern Gateway pipeline, the embarrassing state of the Trans Canada highway and the vague promises to fix it one day. Perhaps you were curious about what her public condemnation of the National Energy Strategy would mean for British Columbia or the $475,000 in credit card bills the premier expensed to the province this past year, more than double that of past premiers. Well, unfortunately, if you had been birthed with the misfortune of having a Y chromosome, you were at first — not allowed to visit with our elected official while she was in Revelstoke. Then, when she did allow a few men to attend they were not permitted to ask her any questions.
It seems that even in 2012 with so much progress all around us, gender bias is alive, well and socially acceptable. In an edition of Higher Ground from June (https://legacy.revelstokecurrent.com//2012/06/15/on-violence-against-men/) the Catch 22 of purposely creating equality in a given system inherently promotes inequality. When intentionally elevating one group over another, it only serves to perpetuate that inequality. In fact, several women in Revelstoke expressed disdain that the Premier had discriminated against men with this speaking tour. It concerned many that Christy Clark had effectively alienated half of the voting public by focusing solely on women with this visit. Had she allowed an open house with anyone and everyone in Revelstoke at a later time, perhaps there would not be so much bitterness.
It is an interesting double standard in gender roles. A “women only” presentation by our elected leader receives nary a criticism. However, what would have occurred if Gordon Campbell had passed through town and organized a lunch for ‘Men in Business’ because girls have cooties? What if Stephen Harper stopped in and coordinated an afternoon tea for ‘White People in Business’? Something tells me society would not be okay with either of these examples. So how was this actual occurrence acceptable?
As reported by The Revelstoke Current on July 31st (https://legacy.revelstokecurrent.com//2012/07/31/premier-christy-clark-comes-to-town/) there were a select few men from the community, mostly dignataries and Liberal party members who were allowed to attend the breakfast meeting with Premier Clark, however, they were not allowed to ask questions of the Premier. One wonders if they were forced to sit in a roped off ‘Boys are Stupid’ area and only allowed to speak once spoken to. Clark was quoted as stating, “We talk differently when it’s just women in the room.”
Quite a few women I spoke to were insulted by the insinuation by Premier Clark that somehow as women they were incapable of holding their own in a room balanced with both sexes. Women in Revelstoke are a tough bunch who don’t have time for the implication they are weak and therefore need protection from men in a political discourse. It was these same women that suggested I write this week about how unfortunate it was men were not allowed to meet with Christy Clark.
In a society such as ours where we pride ourselves on equality and inclusion is it not time to be uniting our populations as opposed to dividing them? Instead of identifying those in business by gender, is it really so radical to simply have a ‘People in Business’ breakfast meeting? With so much going on the world when will we decide there is no further room for gender bias in politics?