(Born 1980, Canadian Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre-North, Opposition Critic for Immigration. In April 2016 a National Post newspaper story featured Ms. Rempel’s commentary about her encounters with entrenched sexism at her Parliament Hill workplace, "Michelle Rempel: confront your sexism.)
Maybe I’m wrong, but I find this whole story offensive and sexist.
Women’s rights, animal rights, elder rights, gay rights, aboriginal rights, disabled rights, environmental rights - lobby groups in society try to monopolize virtue in the way they fabricate their narratives. Then in order to express our solidarity with the virtuous team, we have to embrace their socially approved narrative even if the narrative is suspicious. Failure to assimilate with a team and its narrative might not be so much a sign that we are wrong (truth is not the issue). It might be a sign that we have false allegiances. We must embrace the approved story to show we are not complicit in a system of oppression.
First, how a person feels about how others speak - perceptions of sexist language in this case - is neither here nor there, because people are free to feel howsoever we please. We own our feelings. WE OWN OUR FEELINGS.
Second, I am less concerned with what is deemed appropriate than I am with what is factually accurate. If Ms. Rempel thinks being advised that she ought to be “nicer” is sexist I would deny it if it happens to be true. Consideration of the accuracy of the remark ought to be everyone’s priority, not a rush to consider its propriety. If I say that former Hamilton Liberal MP Sheila Copps was/is a shrill speaker one ought first to consider that the observation might happen to be true (it is), not to consider it outright and blatant sexism.
Because we unavoidably live in a society of our fellows it might be said that we have a social obligation to be nice and that failure to satisfy our social obligations means that we are anti-social. Is Ms. Rempel an anti-social monster? Our first thought should be that petitions to niceness are aesthetic in origin, not misogynist.
Because our law has only one presumption - the presumption of innocence - we may not presume that women are uniquely vulnerable to sexism, abuse or misogyny. Thinking like that is itself sexist. Because of the presumption of innocence we may not trust that victims who testify against their abusers are to be believed pro forma. That is wrong legal thinking and wrong logical thinking. It is a denial of due process.
When it comes to emotion, everyone, male and female, ought to curb their emotion in debate because emotion corrupts Right Reason. It’s not about gender.
When it comes to ‘keeping house’ - cleaning, washing, cooking, caring for children - these are tasks that need doing on a regular basis lest disorder and chaos ensue. It’s not about gender disposition, it’s about opportunity. Or, rather, it is less about the former than about the latter. Whoever has the opportunity to do such has the moral obligation to do so.
Like atheists who depend more on the question of the existence of God in their arguments than the faithful do in theirs, I worry that feminists are coming to rely on sexual discrimination - even when there is none evident - to justify themselves.
I do not deny that Rempel may have genuinely experienced sexism from co-workers in her federal government workplace. Rather, I am saying that what was reported in the newspaper does not that that a primary conclusion. In the telling the story jumps over one or two logical steps to rush (it seems to me) to a sexism story line.
But like I say, I could be wrong. If the issue is about how men react to women’s reactions and then dismiss them, invalidating their opinions and accomplishments due to the fact that they are women, then we can say that white male privilege is blinding me to the real issue. In that case I have genuine criticisms about how the "real" issues are presented.
I don't feel like a privileged white guy, though.