Sophie Grégoire Trudeau's 'tone deaf' International Women's Day message sparks backlash

'Why do we have to celebrate men on international women's day? I am puzzled,' says critic

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Sophie Grégoire Trudeau has sparked outrage for her International Women’s Day message which urged women to use the day to celebrate men who promote gender equality.

The Canadian Prime Minister’s wife shared a photo of herself and Justin Trudeau and encouraged others to post a photo with a "male ally" on social media to commemorate the day.

Ms Grégoire Trudeau, a former television presenter, suggested the inclusion of men would create a movement which is more inclusive towards both genders.

“Let’s celebrate the boys and men in our lives who encourage us to be who we truly are, who treat girls & women with respect, and who aren’t afraid to speak up in front of others,” she wrote beneath a photo of herself and Mr Trudeau, a self-described feminist, holding hands in ski wear. 

“Take a picture holding hands with your male ally & share it on social media using the hashtag #TomorrowInHand. Together, we can create a movement that inspires more men to join the fight to build a better tomorrow with equal rights & opportunities for everyone… because equality matters.”

People suggested Ms Grégoire Trudeau’s post was “tone deaf”, “utterly ridiculous”, and “shameful”. They argued she had missed the point of International Women’s Day and claimed 364 days of the year were centred around the celebration of men.

"Why do we have to celebrate men on international women's day? I am puzzled," Bibi Ebel asked in a popular comment on Facebook. "There are so many things that can be done to celebrate women, and yet the call goes out to celebrating men. Allies and unity are crucial, but so is womanhood."

“We could make International Women's Day one thing that we don't make about men. Instead, lets take a picture holding hands with a woman who has encouraged us to be who we truly are,” added Jennifer McDade.

“364 days a year I am all up to holding hands with my favourite men and creating partnerships and alliances that will support equality,” read one of the top-ranked replies. “But today I don’t want to celebrate men. I want to remember all women who protested against not being able to vote, talked about unequal pay, stood up to the society, protecting our rights and freedoms.”

Some argued Ms Grégoire Trudeau’s post shared parallels with the much-criticised mantra of “All Lives Matter”. The phrase has come under heavy criticism from the Black Lives Matter movement in the US. They argue the counter-term misunderstands the phrase “Black Lives Matter” and interprets it as meaning “black lives matter more than any other lives” when in actual fact it is an attempt to highlight the fact that black people's lives are relatively undervalued in the US and they are more likely to be the victims of police brutality.

Others argued her husband’s policies did not match his often-touted feminist credentials and labelled him a “lip-service feminist”.

Nevertheless, not everyone was angered by the message, with many voicing their support for her decision to include men. Ian Stumpf said: "Ma'am, despite the backlash you're taking over this, I'd like to say thank you for the spirit of inclusion it was clearly meant in”.

Ms Grégoire Trudeau rushed to defend the controversial post, which garnered almost 4,000 comments, just hours later.

“Well, now we’re having a conversation! Thanks to everyone for your feedback and pics! Love it,” she said in a second post. “Our goal is gender equality, and fighting for it is going to require men and women working together – raising our boys and girls to make a difference, hand-in-hand. This is about recognising that we should be allies on this journey".

Speaking at an event on Wednesday, she said she had written the post because she wanted men and women to be unified in the fight for equality.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel countered her view, saying: "It looked like the PMO sat around and said, 'How can we make International Women's Day about a photo of Justin Trudeau”.

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