Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Daily Canuck Debate: Fun With the Subjegation of Women

Originally posted at Prairie Wrangler

In her post at the Daily Canuck, LPC(BC) communications director Shannon Satler predicts women will be "barefoot, pregnant, and in kitchen by 2008", blaming Harper for policies amounting to the "active subjugation" of women. Did you catch that? Harper is not only failing to do enough for womens issues, but is actively subjugating them. Reluctantly, I read the whole piece, and I'll provide my rebuttal to each point in turn...

Barefoot: Salter posits that because poverty rates for women are on the rise, while welfare rates have fallen, Harper is making a concerted effort to make women poor, and thereby make it difficult for them to buy shoes (hence barefoot), and therefore make it difficult for them to find work. The convoluted domino effect aside, Salter's attempts to portray poverty as a womens issue is more than slightly disingenuous.

The difficulty here is that according to the Liberals own Pink Book, women constitute 53.9% of Canada's low-income population. Less than four percent above gender parity, and as women constitute more than half of the population, one would expect a slight imbalance. Therefore, if there is in fact a concerted effort to make women poor compared to men, it's failing miserably.

The second problem with the argument is that provinces set welfare rates, and despite frequent provincial acquiescence to the whims of Prime Ministers (cough), you'll excuse me for not holding Harper completely responsible for provincial policy.

Pregnant: Her pregnancy rant is admittedly quite good, if you ignore the fact that it makes no sense whatsoever. She suggests that the composition of a new fertility panel, stacked with social conservatives, will somehow lead to increased pregnancy. However, a cursory reading of the article suggests the greatest concern voiced by critics is that the new panel will advise against stem cell research. The connection between stem cell research and fertility rates is conspicuously absent.

Further, critics fear that more rigid guidelines will be placed on fertility clinics - potentially leading to closures - which one might expect would lead to less pregnancy, not more. She then makes the massive leap to the suggestion that this panel, combined with a conservative propensity to restrict abortion - as evidenced by ultra-conservative nations of Sweden and France - would somehow lead to a situation where "women should be pregnant when, how and by whom they are told by their government." All this despite Harpers well documented disinterest in abortion legislation. See how that follows?

Kitchen: Finally, we get the coup de grace. Salter rails on the Conservative day care plan, claiming that "the only person who will accept $3.29 a day to take care of their kids is the strange old lady down the street with the gingerbread house and child-sized oven." First of all, no one lives in gingerbread houses anymore. Secondly, in making this case, she does a miraculous job of undermining both of her points above.

On poverty, she glosses over the fact that a very large percentage of spaces created within Quebec's "universal" childcare service are occupied by upper income families, preventing those who truly can't afford it from accessing care (or receiving monthly cash). On pregnancy, it is actually "universal" child care programs which have proven to promote larger families (which one would assume, would necessitate more pregnant women). See what I did there?

From these insights, we can draw one unequivocal conclusion regarding her argument that Harpers is "actively subjugating" women: saying stuff is fun!

Now, you might say I took the rather tongue-in-cheek piece too literally, and failed to pick up on the calculated exaggeration and amusing undertones. However, in my own defence, I didn't know that the active subjugation of women was a topic of such levity.


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