Full Comment:Barbara Kay on Michaëlle Jean shouldn't take sides in the domestic abuse issue(National Post February 27, 2008)
Barbara Kay on Michaëlle Jean shouldn't take sides in the domestic abuse issue
By coincidence, on the very day that I published a column once again pointing out the myth of domestic violence as a one-way street of male abusers and female victims, I see in the Toronto Star that there was a conference in Kitchener, Ont., yesterday on violence against women, called "Communities Working to end Violence Against Women." (I suppose it isn't really a coincidence — there is probably a conference on violence against women somewhere in Canada every day of the year.)
My attention was drawn to this one because the guest of honour was the Governor-General. Michaëlle Jean said to the 1,000 people assembled that too often women don't admit their suffering: "We don't see them, we don't hear them, but they are there, taking the full brunt of the abuse."
I have several problems with that statement. First of all, it is not true that abused women are not heard or seen, as that very conference and a plethora of others make clear: Women's pain is bruited from the rooftops and every media outlet in the land. Second, it is not true that women are taking the full brunt of domestic violence. They are actually taking a little more than half the brunt. The irrefutable data on reciprocal partner violence has been available for many years (including from StatsCan), but have made no headway against the ideological forces that control the domestic violence agenda.
The other nearly half of domestic violence is being suffered by men. And we most certainly don't see or hear male victims of abuse, because nobody advocating for women on this file believes women abuse men except in self-defence. Even if they wanted to be seen and heard, unlike women, men have nowhere to take shelter, no conferences to address and no prestigious spokesperson to give credibility and exposure to their problems.
And that's my real problem here. The GG represents the Queen in Canada. She is not supposed to represent a "movement" or any identity group in particular. She is the representative of all the Queen's loyal subjects, and that means both men and women.
Before she became the GG, Jean was active in women's causes, and that's fine. But I don't think it is appropriate for her to manifest gender partisanship in her present role. I daresay she personally believes as firmly as most other feminists in the prevailing paradigm of women and children as the sole victims of domestic violence (the facts indicate that mothers, alone or in combination with men other than the child's father, are by far the greater threat to a child than fathers alone or with another woman), with men the sole initiators of violence.
Jean's active participation in these conferences is nevertheless incommensurate with her office. These conferences are highly politicized sites where hostility to men as a sex is openly expressed and tacitly condoned. Lending her presence to such an occasion is tantamount to identifying herself as an active political ideologue — even an activist — in a blatantly misandrist cause. Such partisanship would not be tolerated in a male GG. No double standards, please.