Sophie Gregoire Trudeau: Too Confident, Would Be More Likable If She Had No Self-Esteem

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…

Justin Trudeau, Sophie Gregoire
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang via the Star

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.

sophie-1.jpg.size.custom.crop.850x567
Cliff Owen via the Star

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.

Justin Trudeau, Sophie Greogire Trudeau
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang via Huffington Post

*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!

An open letter to Anastasia Steele (and others)

Dear Ana,

dear anaYou don’t know me, but I met you recently. And I realized I’ve been surrounded by girls like you for my entire life.

I haven’t read the entirety of your story yet. I read 370 pages of a book written about you, called Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m going to read the rest of it soon, but by the time one a.m. rolled around, your story was making me a little nauseous and upset. I spent my mostly-sleepless night thinking about you, with a knot of worry churning in my stomach. And I realized that since I’m not your friend, that I can’t text you or call you, I needed to write you a letter. There’s a lot of things I want to tell you, Ana.

We have a lot in common. We’re close to the same age, we both love classic British novels, don’t have enormous amounts of money, and live quite simply. We both have the ability to trip over empty air and we both blush when confronted.

We both have never been in love or a relationship, and we both don’t really see it in our near future. We, along with millions of other women, have succumbed to society’s unwritten rule that to be desired we have to be as beautiful as a twentysomething A-list Hollywood actress.

On page 24, you say “I wonder if there’s something wrong with me.” When Christian Grey leaves after you have coffee together, you think “What was I thinking?” assuming that someone good looking and upper class wouldn’t be attracted to you. On page 92 you say, “God, I hope I don’t let him down. He’ll find me lacking in some way.” Page 188: “Could I feel any more inadequate?” These are just some of the many, many, many instances, Ana, where you express your insecurities about your worth as a woman in the first 370 pages of the book about you.

Like you, there are millions of girls who think they aren’t good enough based on their appearance and/or their previous sexual/romantic experience. Modern culture has constructed a timeline of milestones that need to be followed in order to be considered normal: first boyfriend(s) in middle school, first broken heart(s) in high school, lost virginity before/during/after prom, first one-night stand during frosh week. These are basically designed to make us feel left out if none of these happen to us.

By the time we reach our age, Ana, without having a significant other, we are faced with the horror of the next ten years’ worth of our friends’ Facebook engagement announcements. Judging from popular movies, TV shows, and books, our reaction is supposed to be distraught, bitter, alcohol-induced, and followed by a series of one-night stands.

Being single in our society is portrayed as a terrible omen. And you’re not the first, or the last, to wonder if there’s something wrong with you because you aren’t being chased by mobs of Colin Firths and George Clooneys–or anyone at all.

fiftyshades-gallery_0 copy
They made a movie about your book, Ana. I wish your story had warranted THIS tagline.

Ana, just because you’ve never had a boyfriend doesn’t mean you’re not worthy. Of course you are. From what I know about you, you’re nice, generous, smart, and it’s relatively fun to be your friend.

Please don’t validate, or invalidate yourself, based on your relationship status, Ana. You are an individual, not an extension of someone who wants to have sex with you.

Regardless of whether people flirt with you, want to date you, want to have a one-night stand with you, you are a person. One entire human being. You are not less of a person because you are single.

It’s okay to be single and happy. It’s okay to be single and lonely. It’s okay to fall anywhere in between, with happy days and lonely days tossed together like trail mix. It’s okay and normal to be insecure, but this does not mean you are unworthy of good things.

Like many young women, Ana, I’m worried you fell for the first man you are insanely attracted to regardless of his personality. I’m worried that movies, TV shows, and books have too greatly romanticized the idea of a young woman falling for a broody, hot-and-cold-mannered, rich man who inexplicably turns out to be marriage material. We’ve grown up in a world of Mr. Darcys and boys who pinch you in class because they “like you” but this doesn’t mean falling for a now-rude, now-polite person is healthy for us.

Of course there’s something magnetic about a man who is charming and warm one day and cold and distant the next. He’s dangerous to like because you never know if he’ll like you back–and when he does like you, oh, that’s the best feeling, isn’t it Ana?

But he’s not always the healthiest man to love, especially for women who have never been in love before.

This is what I’m worried about, Ana. Unlike most young women, you are the main character in a franchise that has (for some reason) become incredibly popular. It seems as though you jumped into a rocky relationship with a man based on sexual desire, and his behaviour on nearly every page is very, very, questionable. I’m not talking about his sexual tastes–honestly, the healthiest times you two interact is when you’re getting it on. It also seems like it’s the only time you actually like him. Maybe this will change over the course of the books about you, but even if your relationship does get healthier it doesn’t change the fact that it’s unhealthy in the first 370 pages. This is why I’m writing this letter.

I really hope you learn to love yourself, Ana, and make healthy choices for yourself.

Elizabeth_I_in_coronation_robes copyYou aren’t worth any more or less by being single or being in a relationship. Need I remind you that Elizabeth I, Jane Austen, and according to their Wikipedia pages, Anne and Emily Brontë (whom you mention you enjoy), never married? They remain some of the most famous women in history. They’re totally valid and worthy, right? So why do you think you’re not?

I think that more emphasis needs to be put on female strength rather than the apparent innate need for a significant other to validate our very existence. I love that you get to have lots of orgasms, because let’s face it, the media doesn’t really show female orgasms as a real thing, just an elusive myth.

But no offense, Ana, you’re kind of a disappointing role model. I wish you were’t, because there are so many women who feel the same way as you. I really want you to be strong, autonomous, independent, and healthy. And I want you to know what is good for you and what’s not, and when to walk away from something that is unhealthy and harmful. These are the kinds of women we need to be spotlighting in “romance” novels/movies.

It’s important to be your own best friend. Think of your closest friend. You know how beautiful and kind and smart they are from your perspective? I want you to learn to see yourself this way. I want you and women (and everyone else), to be content with yourself, to know you are more than your relationship status, and to be able to look at yourself naked in the mirror and think yes, I am pretty dang beautiful, and I am totally a human being worthy of happiness, whether or not that means being in love or in bed with someone or being single.

I don’t need someone to tell me I’m beautiful to know it. Yes, it’s nice to hear it, especially on days I’m feeling sad or lonely, but most days, most days I already know I’m beautiful–not to mention awesome.

So, dear Ana, and all of the women like you, I hope you grow to love yourself as you are, and not wait until your Colin Firth (or Jamie Dornan) comes along to sweep you off your feet. He might never show up, anyway, due to lost connections or unfortunate coincidences, so it’s best to love yourself as you are now. And if you don’t, maybe it’s time to start.

Thanks so much for reading this, Ana. I’ll be thinking of you. And when I meet the Anastasia Steeles of the world, I’ll be trying my best to show them what I have tried to show you in this letter.

Love,

Libby

14 movies with strong female characters to watch on Valentine’s Day

(Alternate title: 14 movies with strong female characters to watch on Valentine’s Day instead of Movies that Portray Women as One-Dimensional, Subject to the Sexual Dominance of Toxic Masculinity, and Lacking Physical/Emotional/Sexual Autonomy.)

Welcome to my third annual Valentine’s Day blog post.

To summarize what I have said in years past, February 14th is a commercialized “holiday” that celebrates the societal pressure of exchanging expensive objects and/or feelings and/or bodily fluids. Basically I think it’s dumb.

I’m not hating on celebrating love here, don’t get me wrong, but I think commercializing love and creating a culture where happiness is based on whether or not you have a significant other is downright ridiculous.

It creates an environment where love and sex are glamourized without being discussed in educational ways.

Valentine’s Day is a great time* to talk to the people you love (and/or random strangers!) about consent, healthy relationships and safe sex. Have discussions about feminism, marriage equality, intersectionality, and LGBTQ+ issues. These are vital when it comes to maintaining the healthy relationships the media keeps telling us we need.

Love and relationships are more diverse than the media lets on, and it is important to bring these discussions to the table with your partners, parents, children, friends (and almost literally everyone else).

With movies like Fifty Shades of Grey hitting theatres on Valentine’s Day, it’s especially important to talk about consent and the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one. For this movie to be released on Valentine’s Day–the most “romantic” day of the year–it should not go unnoticed that this film (and its sequels) is causing debates about manipulation, abuse, consent, and BDSM.

These are good conversations to have.

Valentine’s Day is also a perfect day to support portrayals of women in media that are actually, you know, awesome.

So instead of spending $50 to see a movie where women are yet again diminished to nothing other than a submissive, vulnerable, materialistic, sexual being, why not watch a movie starring some strong women in the comfort of your own home?

People are perfectly capable of existing without a romantic relationship, in case you thought you were going to crumble into dust because you’re single. No worries. You are not going to crumble.

So as per internet tradition, I’m providing you with some alternate ideas on how to spend your V-Day, whether or not you’re spending it with your partner, your parents, your friends, or your cat.

This year I’m going to throw some movies at you starring badass ladies who don’t need no man.

Or even if they have a man, they are not entirely dependent on him for literal survival.

1. The Hunger Games

Katniss not only faces the physical and psychological challenges of the Games, but also society’s obsession with beauty and romance. She kicks ass (literally and metaphorically), fights perceptions of material beauty, and literally overthrows a government with the help of some very badass female and pro-female characters.

2. Mary Poppins

A business woman who takes no crap from no one, Mary is a sharp-witted realist who don’t need no man and just enjoys their friendship. (Suggested by Cassie.)

3. Little Women

Jo March, her sisters, and Marmee have been my heroes from childhood. Unconventional, independent, and unafraid to defy society, they are all talented, autonomous, and role models to those around them. Ripe with female relationships and highlighting female strength, just watch it. Please. (Suggested by Cassie.)

4. Elizabeth the Golden Age

She’s a warrior. She’s unmarried. She doesn’t need sex, romance, or a man in order to rule as the greatest monarch in British history and kick patriarchy’s ass in the process.

5. The Messenger

How often do we see a woman pull an arrow out of her own chest?

6. The Help

I don’t recall any moments where these women backed down because the patriarchy told them to. Not to mention teaching girls about self-esteem and the value of treating others as equals. (Suggested by Jordan.)

7. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

In which total of three (THREE) female characters are formidable business women who balance sky-high careers with relationships, family, marriage, and politics. (Admittedly they are all white, heterosexual, and cisgender women…but I mean, it’s a start and still deserves a pat on the back because this is still far too rare a sight in film.)

8. Mulan

Because Mulan.

9. Frozen and/or Brave

Yes I went there. No you cannot see Frozen or Brave too many times. And Elsa, Anna, and Merida make up quite the matriarchy if I do say so myself.

10. Jane Austen movies

Because who doesn’t love sassy, fierce, independent women ahead of their time? (Emma suggested by Sarah.)

11. The Iron Lady.

Because female politicians. (This is on my personal to-see list.)

12. Clueless

It’s based on Jane Austen’s Emma who is one of the most badass female characters in classic literature. Sooo. (Suggested by CassieSarahJordan. I haven’t actually seen it, yet. If this many different people suggested it…the people have spoken. Also read this article).

13. The Color Purple

“It’s a movie with such strong female characters and how strong they freaking are. The support they give each other defines the way women should treat each other.” * *

14. Thelma and Louise

“So many feminist overtones. It re-scripts typical gender roles of society and it’s in general a great film about strong and capable women, and the struggles they face.” * *

*It’s always a good time to talk about these issues!

**Jordan kindly offered these brief descriptions since for some reason I have yet to see Thelma and Louise or The Color Purple and I feel like these are important to include.

~

I only posted 14 movies…well, because Valentine’s Day is the 14th. I know there are more movies out there, so leave them in the comments below or tweet them to me @LibbySometimes!

2014’s V-Day Post: 28 Things to do on Valentine’s Day (Illustrated with Harry Potter Gifs)

Women’s rights — and omg look at her butt.

This is the kind of blog post I have to pump myself up to write, so at this point I’ve watched Nicki Minaj’s music video for Anaconda approximately fifteen times (and counting) and needless to say I’m getting a little crazy, cranky, and tired.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I want you to watch Nicki’s Anaconda video. You might be scarred, fair warning. Then come back and we’ll talk about women’s rights and butts.

Back? Okay. Timeline.

Beginning of time-1900s: Female sexuality has long been stigmatized by society, and seen as an evil and shameful, preventing sexual freedom and promoting continued sexism.

1907: Annette Kellerman was arrested in 1907 for wearing a form-fitting one-piece bathing suit at a beach.

1916: Kellerman was also the first major actress to appear nude in film, in the movie A Daughter of the Gods.

1920s: Flapper girls illustrated sexual freedom, seeing non-marital sex as natural and normalizing the idea of casual courtship – flapper girls were some of the young people who attended the “petting parties” of the 1920s and popularized the idea of foreplay.

1925: Women were by law unable to divorce their husbands on the same grounds as men were able to divorce their wives until 1925.

Wartimes: As the majority of the male population went to war, the number of women working in Canadian industry went from 57 000 to around a million within five years.

Pre-1969: Unavailability and illegality of birth control prevented women’s control over their own reproduction, and birth control was illegal in Canada until 1969.

1989: The Supreme Court of Canada decided that sexual harassment was a form of sexual discrimination (for reference as to how recent this is, 1989 was also the year Taylor Swift was born — that is way too recent).

2010-2014: In 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban for her advocacy of women’s right to education.

From the time they are in Grade Six to the time they are in Grade Ten, the number of teenage girls who identify themselves as self-confident drop 22%, and half of all girls wish they were someone else.

Of all reported sexual assaults, 82% of victims are girls under the age of 18.

One poll in Amnesty International UK in its Stop Violence Against Women campaign was reviewed by the Daily Mail:

A third of Britons believe a woman who acts flirtatiously is partially or completely to blame for being raped, according to a new study.

More than a quarter also believe a woman is at least partly responsible for being raped if she wears sexy or revealing clothing, or is drunk, the study found.

One in five think a woman is partly to blame if it is known she has many sexual partners, while more than a third believe she is responsible to some degree if she has clearly failed to say “no” to the man. 

Let that sink in, and then back to Nicki Minaj

Women have worked their asses off (no pun intended) for the right to drive a car, wear pants, own land, have a career, divorce their husbands. Women are still fighting for these simple rights all over the world. Women are dying.

Women have fought society for decades for the right to their own sexuality. It wasn’t so long ago when fathers, husbands, and brothers literally owned a woman’s sexuality. In many places, they still do.

The fact that many women in the world can sexually express themselves is wonderful. I am very pro-sexual freedom, confidence, and expression. I think women of all ages should be able to be happy with their bodies and have control over their sexuality. 

But here’s where the area gets grey. 

There’s sexual empowerment, the act of having the power and confidence to use one’s sexuality for personal enjoyment/equivalent.

And then there’s sexual objectification.

Everyday Feminism blogger Melissa Fabello writes about the difference between objectification and empowerment: “Sexual empowerment is active. It’s ownership. Autonomous. Self-serving. Objectification, on the other hand, is a passive relenting of control. It’s powerless. Self-sacrificial.”

Some will argue Nicki Minaj’s racy music videos are her exercising sexual empowerment. Maybe she is. It’s great she’s confident enough in her body to share it with the world, especially a world where for so long skeletal models were the most dominant “role models” (I use the term lightly). She isn’t the typical tiny, thin-hipped, rib-showing singer/model/actress. Great. Go Nicki.

Some will say she’s being objectified in her Anaconda video, but not by men, so it doesn’t matter, right? 

This isn’t about Miss Minaj. She’s a public figure. Millions (billions!) of people around the world can watch her videos. The fact that she might be exercising her own sexuality is kind of irrelevant at this point since everything she creates belongs to the public. It’s how art works. It belongs to the people.

When Nicki, and others in the industry, portray themselves in ways that turn sex into a commodity available to buy (buy the music! buy the music video! buy her concert tickets!), it’s taking us back too far in the history women have had to overcome. Commoditized sex isn’t healthy. Nicki’s video isn’t portraying her or any of her backup dancers in a sexually-free way. They have become nothing more than sex objects, human sex machines designed to bring in views and cash and apparently pleasure men.

How does this affect girls and women around the world?

Worldwide accessibility to technology like the internet and television makes witnessing sexual objectification of women in media unavoidable. The social implications of such exposure to male-controlled displays of impersonal sexuality are severe. Girls from a young age are faced with these men-pleasing sex machines in media, in their movies and television shows and music videos.

How can a girl live up to sexual standards of society, while the public think she deserves to be attacked if she is seen in a sexual or vulnerable manner?  It has become normal for a girl to receive unwanted sexual comments and advances from acquaintances and strangers alike. 

With song lyrics like “my anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hun,” a depressing amount of music is telling young women what is desirable and what isn’t. Speaking as a young woman, it’s very normal to desire to be desired — and with music videos, movies, and commercials describing and showing us what’s hot and what’s not, it’s easy to see why low self esteem, eating disorders, and dangerous thinspiration movements are rampant among women, especially teens.

So the fact that maybe Nicki is expressing her own sexual confidence doesn’t really matter. She can exercise that right on a less public platform where she won’t be subliminally telling millions of girls that to be sexually desired by men they have to have massive butts they need to shake in people’s faces. You are more than a butt, ladies. You are more than sex appeal and “something he can grab”.

You are a person. You are a personality. You can express yourself sexually and otherwise. And women have come a long ways to say that. Let’s not spoil that by telling our girls that to be desired they have to be Nicki Minaj.

 

 

 

Notes: as always, my opinions. You’re free to share yours. I also very pointedly didn’t include a picture of Nicki Minaj in her Anaconda video because I don’t want to spread the message of seductively shaking your butt makes you beautiful.I have the references for all the stats I wrote above; if you want them I’m happy to provide them if you leave a comment below. I’m not a professional historian, so if I have a stat wrong, I apologize and will fix it if it comes to my attention. I’m very pro-female sexuality and male sexuality. I believe in equal rights for both genders and I think both men and women need to be more aware of what effects sexual overexposure in media have on children, boys and girls. You’re all awesome. Xox.