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Feminists can be their own worst enemy

Modern day feminism has morphed into its own worst enemy.

Today’s feminists aren’t just looking for an even playing field; they’re looking for an insurmountable head start on their male counterparts.

And sometimes a woman’s desire to go boldly where only men have gone before has the potential to set back the cause of her fellow women in ways she never could have intended.

Take Amy and Jesse Pasternak. These Winnipeg high school seniors wanted to play elite high school hockey. They refused to play on the girls’ team which, in their opinion, didn’t make the grade.

And they were prohibited from trying out for the boys’ team by a Manitoba High School Athletic Association policy that does not allow girls to play on a boys’ athletic team if their school also has a girls’ squad.

So the Pasternaks filed a human rights complaint and, last week, the Manitoba Human Rights Commission ruled that the MHSAA policy constituted gender discrimination.

The girls were awarded the opportunity to try out for a spot on the boys’ hockey team (not to mention $3,500 each for loss of dignity, as well as special one-on-one hockey coaching).

Ultimately, the Pasternaks didn’t make the cut. But, some would argue, better for them to have tried and failed than to have been denied the opportunity to try.

One small step for woman. But is it really one giant leap for womankind? Or is it one more example of feminism spiraling out of control?

Fairness and equal opportunity dictates that boys at the Pasternaks’ high school should also be entitled to try out for the girls’ hockey team. But the Human Rights Commission wasn’t willing to expand its ruling beyond the individual scenario presented to it.

So what’s a poor boy to do? After all, gender equality is supposed to work both ways, isn’t it?

Strict adherence to equity principles would suggest that the only appropriate solution would be to get rid of segregated sporting activities altogether.

Sure, there are physical differences between the sexes which may result in the domination of co-ed teams by the boys. And, yes, this male domination might result in some girls feeling intimidated or choosing not to participate in organized sport.

In the short term, this so-called equality would only serve to drag the female population down—definitely not the intended objective.

But in time, some of those girls might protest the unfairness of their exclusion from the sporting arena and start a movement to reconstitute discriminatory girls-only teams. Eventually, one of them will tire of the girls’ team, citing the doctrine of gender equality, and …

In the end, we’ll end up right back where we started. Isn’t progress grand?

* * *

Speaking of feminism gone awry, Belinda Stronach might just be the perfect poster child for the “girl who cried sexism” campaign.

Mention her good looks and her rockstar image together with her dearth of political ideas and you must be sexist. Criticize her decision to cross the floor to the Liberal party in exchange for a cabinet post, you’re unfairly targeting her because she is a woman.

Ask her questions surrounding allegations that she is having an affair with married hockey superstar Tie Domi, and you’re crossing a line you wouldn’t go near if she was a man.

While Stronach’s claims of sexism may have garnered some sympathy during her floor-crossing debacle (nobody deserves to be called a whore), she seems to have adopted a “you’re picking on me because I’m a girl” attitude towards any negative commentary thrown her way.

Problem is, that line is starting to wear a little thin. Not many women in politics receive the nature and amount of harsh criticism levelled at Stronach. Might lead one to believe there are factors other than gender at play.

While there is an argument to be made that Stronach’s personal life is a private matter, her political judgment and decisions are certainly fair game for comment. Both have been decidedly less than stellar.

The only thing holding Belinda back is her poor choices. And neither gender has a monopoly on that.

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Contact the Editor: Joel Johannesen
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