We’ve come to know the name Robyn Doolittle rather well recently in light of her expose of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s substance abuse problems. This week, she launched her new book Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story. Putting aside my conflict about lending further credence to the scandal that Ford has become (though I admit that contributing to a better global reputation for Toronto is part of the reason I am embarking upon this campaign), some poignant issues regarding gender politics and a culture of misogyny came up that just could not be ignored.
Let’s do a quick Holy Trinity on how Toronto officials are demonstrating that we clearly do not live in a post-gender world, and feminists (of which I include myself) still have much need to exist, be active, raise awareness, and build change from the ground up.
First, personal attacks against Robyn Doolittle (rather than empirical attacks upon the merits of her work) have, typically, been of a misogynist nature. This would not be the case if she was a male journalist (some great examples are in this Flare article by Rebecca Godfrey).
Second, aside from his racist and homophobic remarks and actions, Rob Ford’s recent “I’ve got more than enough to eat at home” soundbyte (despite previously stating: “respect my wife’s privacy“) demonstrates a lack of regard, not simply for the sensitivities of his citizenry, but for his own attitudes towards women, and his wife, in the content of his own words.
Last, despite Sarah Thomson‘s assertion that NewsTalk 1010 host and prospective Mayoral candidate John Tory is a feminist (highly contested on ground that the negative response to his recent comments were not in fact, as Thomson suggests, largely made by men), Tory recently remarked that a) women should take up gold to achieve pay equity; and b) the reason women do not get as much accomplished in the workforce is that they are not as aggressive as men.
I’m committed to running a clean Mayoral campaign, and although examples like this demonstrate that some players can be involved in a dirty, misogynist game, I hope we can look to these as opportunities to recognize the deeply-rooted nature of gender biases amongst public officials in Toronto, and that the responsibility to change them rests with all of us.