Opinion » Editorial


Where are all the women?



I admit it - when I saw the story running in the media recently about B.C. Premier Christy Clark's cleavage I felt like hitting my head against a brick wall.

In case you missed it, former NDP MLA David Schreck used his Twitter account to call into question an outfit Clark wore in the legislature last week - a dark knit dress with a beige jacket.

"Is Premier Clark's cleavage-revealing attire appropriate for the legislature?" Mr. Schreck tweeted, adding that there is a dress code for "the leg."

The comment set off an uproar, as it should, and NDP leader Adrian Dix did the only thing he could do - he called out his colleague on that tweet and the ones that followed.

Then came the media headlines: Storm in a C-Cup.

It's no secret that the NDP have been working to portray Clark as unserious and a bit too boppy in these difficult times. But why is what a woman wears, or how her hair looks, or her shape fair game when in most cases those things are rarely commented on for men in politics?

It's simplistic to suggest that this type of comment is exactly why women hesitate to enter the political arena, but you can't get away from the fact that it is also part of a truth.

The paradox of the situation is that the comments come at a time when women are finding great success in politics. Alison Redford has just been elected leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party and Newfoundland and Labrador's Kathy Dunderdale began the trend without even a leadership contest, becoming premier after Danny Williams resigned late last year. On Tuesday Oct. 11 she won the provincial election, making history by becoming the first woman elected premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, leading the Progressive Conservative party to its third-straight majority government. And, of course, we have Clark becoming premier of B.C. in February.

We also had more women running in the federal election last time around, which all seems to point to the fact that women are becoming more engaged in a career that is traditionally male dominated. We currently have a woman interim leader of the federal NDP, Nycole Turmel.

While this all looks good one should remember that women make up 50 per cent of the country's population.

And, it should be noted that few countries have reached the United Nations benchmark level of 30 per cent representation - and women lead only 20 of the world's 194 countries.

Though I dislike making generalizations it can be said that women leaders are more in tune with social issues and focus on them more - that can be seen, some would point out, with Clark's "families first" agenda.

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