Dislcaimer: This was originally going to be a handful of tweets, but there ended up being too many. I’ve literally done zero research, so it’s all a combination of opinion and things I remember from recent media hullabaloos about SGT.
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau seems to possess the ability that all wives of famous-for-being-handsome powerful political figures seem to possess*. The ability to unfailingly piss off a large portion of the general public by trying her best to survive the barbed and gendered targeting of the media against her.
There’s nothing like being the wife of a political leader to bring out the internalized (and explicit) misogyny in CBC Facebook commenters.
Since before the election of Justin Trudeau in October 2015, Sophie has been in the media’s spotlight–at first largely for her fashion choices. It seemed like the media was looking for a Canadian Kate Middleton; they wanted to fondly envy/critique her clothes and make little jealous jabs about her heartthrob husband. There was some buzz about her charity work and her feminism, but it mostly about how hot a couple her and Justin make.
Of course, as soon as SGT started doing things other than wearing nice clothes, the good ole internet commenters popped up to remind everyone that wives of political figures ought to be policed for their every action.
Using nannies, requiring more staff, singing at certain events are all things that can be critiqued, and those critiques can be critiqued.
SGT is by no means perfect, and no one is letting her forget that.
Heaven forbid that a public female figure think she’s capable of anything other than mistakes.
So when Sophie stood up at the Press Gallery dinner and sang a tongue-in-cheek song about those things that the media and public won’t let her forget–nannies, extra staff, singing, and attention-seeking–at the same event where Justin Trudeau implied Obama gives him wedgies and Tom Mulcair gave zero fucks, you can guess whose joke received the least online appreciation.
People are generally unforgiving when women attempt humour at public events. Humour is for men. Women who attempt to be funny (especially about themselves) are just desperate and want to be perceived as likable. Obviously.
What did surprise me was this comment, posted by a woman on the above Facebook post of a CBC article about the Press Gallery dinner, paired with a video of Sophie’s singing:
This one has too much confidence & someone please cut those puppet strings. I remember the P Trudeau days & Margaret [**] was all about getting attention as well. Need to tone things down a bit…
If you scroll through the comments, a fair share of them lean on the side of “oh look what an annoying, attention-seeking emotional lady human ugh get her out of my royal sight.”
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau is a person with a lot of traits. Because she’s a human. She makes mistakes and has flaws and can be thoughtfully critiqued from political/feminist standpoints.
Being a woman who is “too confident” is not a flaw. I’m not even sure it’s possible for a woman to be too confident. I’m not even confident posting this on my teeny corner of the internet.
Thanks to our friend the patriarchy and its super fun binary gender system, there’s a lot of things one has to have/do/be to be accepted by ~*society*~ as a Successful Woman.
You have to be beautiful, intelligent, composed (no one like a hysterical woman), friendly (to everyone including the media), socially aware wives and mothers who make the best decisions to personally and independently care for their husband and children while maintaining some sort of career.
It’s easier when you’re a middle/upper class able-bodied white cis lady who’s married to the most politically powerful dude in Canada, of course, but there’s still a lot on that list you gotta fulfill to be a Successful Woman.
When you’re also the wife of an important white dude, if the patriarchy thinks you messed up, you get a nice big spread in some national newspaper/newscast/news oulet for evverrrryyoonnneee to see and weigh in on.
Being a woman is hard enough in a system that devalues femininity, and it’s a bajillion times harder for many marginalized women in ways that it isn’t for people like Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.
Anyone who either is a woman, knows a woman, or has watched a Dove commercial knows that confidence and self-esteem in girls plummets when she hits puberty and enters into the arena of patriarchy-policed expectations of womanhood.
Confidence in women is often construed as bossy, bitchy, attention-seeking, shrill, or fake. SGT and other women who are public political figures–the women who appear to have the most confidence–face criticism for their actions and words in ways that imply that confidence in women is impossible without doing it wrong.
So Sophie Grégoire Trudeau has confidence. That’s worth something. She’s setting an example for girls and young women that confidence is strength and humour and that it can be used to mock the patriarchal and capitalist media that devalues women on a daily basis.
She is able to use her confidence to survive the public, political life she shares with her husband and children. The fact that she sung a song about the media making fun of her singing is not only funny, but super gutsy.
Like the laughter of women is hugely political and important, the confidence of women is political and important.
SGT is not perfect in her role as a human. She is not a perfect feminist. She is not a perfect anything, because that’s how our horrifying species works.
But she is confident, and confidence is one of the many, many things women should not be tearing down each other over. Women have yet to receive the gift of too much confidence, so in the meantime, appreciate her sassy-ass parody of the version of herself that the media/CBC Facebook commenters believe her to be.
*Margaret Trudeau, Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, Sarah Ferguson, ’90s Hilary Clinton
**I’m super interested in the constant comparisons between the mothers and wives of political figures (Margaret Trudeau/Sophie Grégoire Trudeau; Princess Diana/Kate Middleton) in terms of their relationship with the media. SGT has received a lot of “like mother-in-law like daughter-in-law” comments for being attention-seeking, vain, embarrassing, much like the comments Margaret Trudeau received during and after her marriage to Pierre Eliot Trudeau. If you find any articles about this, please send them to me!