Your Ignorance and Lack of Empathy


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To Mindelle Jacobs:

Your lack of empathy for structural abuse and discrimination against women is only superseded by your ignorance of the realities of the plight of millions of women in Canada.

Despite many reality-challenged “facts” you seem to believe, the fact that you believe Canada to be a nation that has moved beyond racism and colonialism means your qualifications to comment on Canadian society are completely lacking. I am ashamed of your ability to spout such ignorance in Canadian media.

http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/Columnists/Jacobs_Mindelle/2006/09/24/1888704.html

Despair over cuts to women’s groups

By Mindelle Jacobs

The way critics are wailing over possible cuts to women’s programs, you’d think the Harper government was preparing to force females into burkas.

One group, the National Association of Women and the Law, closed down earlier this month because it didn’t get federal funding.

The little-known Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action thought it was going to have to close last week. But its grant application was approved on Thursday, it announced on its website.

So much for those women-bashing Tories, eh?

Still, the movers and shakers in the women’s movement are waiting with baited breath to see if Status of Women Canada, a federal agency that bankrolls women’s groups and promotes gender equality, is on the chopping block.

If it gets the boot, will the rights of Canadian women be in danger? Will their life choices be curtailed? Hardly. Women in this country are better off than ever before.

This endless quest for gender equality is quite tiresome at a time when virtually all the significant barriers to women’s accomplishment have been smashed.

In my mind, the one major remaining roadblock in the path to women’s equality is the lack of a national day-care program. But, given the Tories’ unwavering opposition to such an initiative, that is a battle for another day.

That issue aside, the left-wing crowd is working itself into fits of despair at the thought of cutbacks to women’s organizations.

“This government clearly has no interest in the status of women,” bleated NDP MP Irene Mathyssen on Wednesday.

That’s right. The Harper government will be banning girls from school, prohibiting birth control and ordering up burkas any day now.

Get a grip. Yes, some women are having a hard time of it. And women’s groups are quick to blame systemic societal barriers. Nonsense. Bad choices lead to miserable lives.

If a woman studies hard and goes to law school, she will have far more financial autonomy than most men. Her decision to challenge herself is the key.

A woman who gets pregnant, drops out of school and hangs out with losers has less opportunity in life. But that’s not society’s fault.

One of Status of Women Canada’s main goals is improving women’s economic autonomy. But do we need a federal agency to tell women to stay in school and make wise career choices?

The agency also puts out mind-numbing reports, like the recent one on gender equality.

The paper harps about the ongoing pay gap between men and women, without pointing out that men tend to choose higher-paying jobs because they’re socialized to be the breadwinners.

It’s disingenuous to complain that women working full time only earn about 70 cents for every dollar men make if you’ve deliberately chosen to work as, say, a low-paid restaurant hostess.

Status of Women Canada also supports the loony idea of placing “gender specialists” in federal departments to measure the impact of proposed policies on the equality of women.

I’d say that’s not the best use of our tax dollars.

Before it lost its funding, the National Association of Women and the Law worked “to end racism and colonialism.” Yeah, there’s a lot of that happening in Canada.

Poverty, violence and discrimination “which still affect all too many women” require specific legislative measures, the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action wrote Bev Oda, the minister responsible for the status of women, recently.

The open letter was signed by 31 women’s groups that supposedly represent Canadian women. But 22 of the organizations are from Quebec.

If we really want to help marginalized women, let’s put money into concrete initiatives like Head Start programs, affordable housing and retraining grants. Enough of the gender-equality navel-gazing.

– mjacobs@edmsun.com

E-mail Mindy Jacobs at mjacobs@edmsun.com.
Letters to the editor should be sent to mailbag@edmsun.com.

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Post-partisan eco-socialist. at Politics, Re-Spun
Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, professor, speaker, consultant, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and at his website, dgiVista.org.

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7 thoughts on “Your Ignorance and Lack of Empathy”

  1. I had a letter for her, too. I understand The Sun recieved quite a few related to that article. Funny, none appeared on their letters page today. You reckon The Sun might be trying to duck this issue?

    I’ll likely post mine if I don’t see it on the letters page tomorrow.

  2. Mindy Jacobs replied:

    There are concrete programs that can be funded to help marginalized women (and men) without having to shell out taxpayers’ dollars to shore up special interest umbrella groups as well.

    MJ

    My response to her pathetic retort:

    Wow. I’m quite speechless.

    What you write about the existence of funded programs to help marginalized people [men and women] is absolutely true. It would likewise be effective if the contemporary and historical condition and circumstances of women are and have been equivalent to men. They are not. You may believe them to be equal, but that would not make it true. Any social recommendations you may make based on those beliefs would be wholly flawed.

    Further, in your limited reply to my limited response to your piece, you fail to comment on the state of racism or colonialism in Canada today. Am I to conclude from this that you stand by your claim that we are a post-racist and post-colonial society free from the effects of either of these social scourges?

    Sadly, your reply is as inadequate as the level of understanding in your original article.

    Stephen Buckley

  3. not wanting to be too cynical, i suspected mindy’s brief reply to me was a form letter response to all critics.

    i was just forwarded mindy’s email reply to a friend’s attack of her ignorace. virtually word for word identical. it again dealt with none of the specific issues in my friend’s email.

    mindy is a pariah on intelligent discourse.

  4. Yet again,

    Mindy Jacobs wrote:

    Stephen, I do not have time to wade into all this post-racist, post-colonial rhetoric. This is a newspaper, not a women’s studies dept.

    MJ

    I replied:

    Mindy

    I am not at all surprised that you do not have the time to discuss why you think Canada is no longer a racist or colonial country, or that there are no lingering effects of such social diseases. Simply, I think the position is indefensible without significant dislocation from reality, which you seem quite adept at.

    So I applaud your choice not to try to defend your views from the land of unreality.

    Hiding behind the lame excuse that your piece showed up in a newspaper is no excuse. Just because something appears in a newspaper, doesn’t keep it from being held accountable for truth or heinous assaults on the reality of millions of Canadians. In fact, because newspapers and the people who string together ideas in columns reach much wider audiences than academics’ work, they should be held to at least as high a standard for misrepresentations of reality as academics. Your newspaper excuse offends me and likely journalists of integrity worldwide.

    By the way, your initial reply to me, which I suspected to be a form letter because of its inapplicability to my email, seems to have been a form letter as I compared your not so relevant reply to me with other people’s identical or nearly identical replies, which themselves had little to do with their particular complaints.

    If you pretend to be someone who deserves to speak publicly on serious social, political and economic issues in a public newspaper, you should have the integrity to actually respond to people’s unique criticisms instead of lumping them all in a bin and replying with inapplicable, thereby dismissive generalities.

    As it stands, you appear merely incapable of seriously discussing the issues you poorly discussed in your original piece. That is very sad for the state of “journalism” in this country. How this does not bother you simply escapes me.

    Stephen Buckley

  5. Mindy keeps digging the hole:

    Mindy Jacobs wrote:

    I would not presume to tell you how to do your job, Stephen, so please don’t tell me how to do mine.

    And I do not send form letters to my readers. But if I think the same general point is worth making to several readers, I will do so.

    MJ

    I replied:

    As a journalist, editorialist and Canadian citizen, it is my right to explain to journalists what I expect of them as they participate in the media climate of this country. You may disagree with what I believe to be your basic professional responsibilities, but you have no right to say that I cannot criticize how you are a public journalist. To do so is a form of intellectual bullying. It is inappropriate and offensive.

    It is simply arrogant to say you are beyond criticism. You are a public figure writing in a public newspaper! If you wish to have no random person reading your public work criticize you as a public journalist, you are truly living in an absurd reality. First you say you write in a newspaper so you don’t need to deal in truths that academics discuss. Now you say that as a public newspaper writer no one can criticize your approach to journalism or editorialism? Democracy, free presses and sound public deliberation of policy all oppose both of those arguments.

    Further, if you think sending the exact same response make an identical point to different critics arguing different points is NOT a form letter, I am speechless. Dictionary.com defines form letter thus. “Form letter: a standardized letter that can be sent to any number of persons, occasionally personalized by inserting the name of each recipient in the salutation.”

    You have now reached the point where you simply astound me.

  6. Stephen:
    With respect, I think you’re being unnecessarily combative.

    (Before I get into this, let me point out that I’m not saying I agree with Ms Jacobs.)

    Your letters to Ms Jacobs are all rather light in content and heavy in emotion. It’s hard to blame her for not wanting to engage you in a serious discussion.

    The effort you’ve put into pursuing the (IMO rather irrelevant) question of whether her original response was or was not a form letter could have been better spent addressing (for example) the question of the relevance of publicly-funded “women’s groups” to the real issues of gender equality.

    And your last (so far) reply is IMO a bit over the top. She did not claim to be above criticism. She did not suggest that you have no right to criticise her. Rather, she said “please don’t”. Inappropriate? Yes. But hardly offensive, and certainly not “intellectual bullying”.

    I would suggest that with a different approach there would have been a chance — a very small chance, perhaps, but a chance all the same — that Ms Jacobs would have been open to being enlightened. But as it stands, all you’ve managed to do is annoy her.

    (Having said all that, I should confess that I, too, am sometimes guilty of this same kind of combative approach.)

  7. “mindy is a pariah on intelligent discourse.”

    I’m pretty certain that you’re not one to talk, Buckley. At least where I study, “intelligent [or intellectual] discourse” consists of more than spouting your own ideological outrage. Example from your two-paragraph paragon of intellectual discourse:

    “I am ashamed of your ability to spout such ignorance in Canadian media.”

    Fascinating! When you make it past affective states, perhaps even we lowly scribes of the blogosphere will take your “intelligent discourse” seriously.

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