Ben­nett’s all-fe­male news con­fer­ence was jus­ti­fi­able

The Labradorian - - EDITORIAL - Doug Smith Grand Falls-Wind­sor

I was very dis­ap­pointed by a De­cem­ber col­umn, “News­room bosses should have said no,” by Bob Wake­ham.

Wake­ham was re­fer­ring to a press con­fer­ence called by fi­nance min­is­ter Cathy Ben­nett which was re­stricted to fe­male jour­nal­ists only. Ben­nett wanted to draw at­ten­tion to the per­sonal vile and ob­scene at­tacks she had been sub­jected to from so­cial me­dia. A lot of the de­gen­er­ate com­ments had to do with the fact of Ben­nett’s be­ing fe­male. Ben­nett was not dis­cussing gov­ern­ment busi­ness, she was dis­cussing the fact of be­ing fe­male and the ex­treme abuse she was sub­jected to. To be clear, I am not a fan of Ben­nett and would not vote for her, how­ever she had ev­ery right to bar male re­porters from this par­tic­u­lar press con­fer­ence.

Wake­ham, like many males of his vin­tage, does not seem to fully ap­pre­ci­ate the strug­gles women have had to over­come to even get near a level playing field with men. Let me re­mind Wake­ham of just a sam­pling of prej­u­di­cial be­hav­iour that fe­males in this coun­try have to deal with.

1. There are more than 455 women’s shel­ters across Canada and on any given night 3,491 women and their 2,724 chil­dren sleep in th­ese shel­ters be­cause it isn’t safe at home.

2. Ac­cord­ing to the Canadian Women’s Foun­da­tion, half of all women in Canada have ex­pe­ri­enced at least one in­ci­dent of phys­i­cal or sex­ual abuse.

3. Prej­u­dice against women is so per­va­sive in so­ci­ety that of­ten it is taken as nor­mal or right. The Catholic Church does not al­low fe­males to oc­cupy any po­si­tions of power. This has re­sulted in not al­low­ing women of the Catholic faith to prac­tise birth con­trol or avail of abor­tion if re­quired.

Th­ese male Catholic views even in­flu­enced Canada as a whole in that ar­ti­fi­cial birth con­trol was not le­gal in this coun­try un­til 1969.

4. Women are at­tacked even when they join na­tional gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions. Cur­rently, 400 fe­male RCMP of­fi­cers are su­ing the Moun­ties for al­legedly ig­nor­ing sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

5. As of Novem­ber 2016, six per cent of women in the Canadian Armed Forces say they have been sex­u­ally as­saulted in the last year.

I could go on by men­tion­ing such things as the male found guilty of killing his New­found­land wife with the blunt end of an axe, forc­ing his four-yearold son to watch, but after only 16 years in prison is now free to walk the streets of Canada just as if he killed a spar­row and not a woman. Yes, Canada re­ally trea­sures its fe­males. I could men­tion the po­lyg­a­mists in Bri­tish Columbia who have forced girls as young as 12 to marry. I could men­tion the in­fa­mous High­way of Tears in B.C. where women and girls have gone miss­ing for years.

Al­low­ing a fe­male min­is­ter to call a press con­fer­ence in­clud­ing only fe­male re­porters where she can ex­press her views and con­cerns of a per­sonal na­ture re­gard­ing cy­ber bul­ly­ing seems ap­pro­pri­ate. Wake­ham, on this is­sue, needed to look at the big pic­ture and not be so con­cerned about his jour­nal­is­tic niceties.

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