Gender what now?

equal-rights-amendment_03_45db8bf5a51385ce2950b017cc305307_thumbYesterday, Premier Brad Wall announced his new cabinet (full disclosure: up until my mid-20s I thought a “cabinet shuffle” was a really, really lame dance move), a move which was met with literally no excitement. You could have sandwiched this media announcement between “Man Walks Dog” and “Library Fines Stay The Same As They’ve Always Been” and it STILL wouldn’t have been particularly newsworthy.


Except in the new cabinet, fewer than 1/4 of the ministers are female. I don’t know if this is because none of the women elected to the SaskParty are considered by its leadership to be capable of handling a cabinet position, or if it’s because they don’t want to handle a cabinet position, or if it’s because of “true gender blindness” (wherein the dudes who’ve always run the political show claim to not notice whether the person they’re working with is a woman. You know, kind of like how you don’t notice whether you’re driving, or when you don’t notice if someone near you has no face).

(And in case you in the back are sick of hearing about equal rights, that’s too damned bad, because until there is equality regardless of gender, gender expression, sexual preference, heritage, ethic background, religion, etc., I am going to keep talking about this. You know where the ‘unfollow’ button is if you don’t like it.)

Maybe you don’t care whether you elect a man or a woman (or a non-binary person). Maybe you don’t care whether the folks running your provincial government are men or women (or ‘other’). Maybe you think it just doesn’t matter so why keep crowing about it. If that’s the case, this is the end of the article for you. Thank you for reading this far!

In yesterday’s media release, newly appointed Minister of Social Services and Minister responsible for the Status of Women Tina Beaudry-Mellor said of the less-than-one-quarter-female cabinet, “the number [of women] that we have [in cabinet] is adequate.” Adequate for what, Ms. Beaudry-Mellor? Adequate for cook staff?

Tina Beaudry-Mellor was the chair of Equal Voice, and even served on its national board (Equal Voice, in case you’ve forgotten, is an association that tracks the number of women elected to public office and is dedicated to seeing that number rise. They work toward GENDER BALANCED GOVERNMENTS). So it’s a little weird to hear someone who worked for that organisation say that less than 1/4 of cabinet positions going to women is “adequate” (unless I’m vastly misinterpreting the phrase “gender balanced”).

The woman appointed to be the Minister responsible for the Status of Women thinks that fewer than 1/4 of cabinet positions going to women is “adequate”. ADEQUATE.

I suppose you could chalk this up to someone not wanting to badmouth their boss the second they got a new job, but if that had been me (and this is why it will never be me), I’d have said “actually, no, appointing fewer than half the cabinet positions to capable women is the wrong choice, but I expect that’s why the Premier asked me to take over this Ministry”. Maybe this is Beaudry-Mellor’s way of handing out a backhanded critique: she didn’t want to come right out and say “this is bullshit”, so instead she used a rather horrid term.

Think about it – you’re pleased as punch because you’ve just finished a huge project that everyone’s been asking about, and one of your team-mates, when asked about the work you did on the project says, “well, I mean. It’s adequate.” Not good. Not ideal. Not “GOOD JOB YOU!”. Adequate.

Nobody ever looks at their dog and says “ADEQUATE BOY, REX! ADEQUATE BOY!” On the other hand, nobody ever looks at the smoking ruins of their home and says “adequate job on keeping new batteries in those smoke detectors, Sharon”. Adequate is more or less a fancy way of saying “well, that kind of sucked, but I guess it’s better than if you hadn’t done anything at all. Maybe.”

So maybe it is adequate. It’s not satisfactory. It’s not okay. It’s not *good*. It’s certainly not ideal. At least you got some women in there, and maybe from the “inside”, Beaudry-Mellor can effect more change.

Let’s hope so.



One response to “Gender what now?”

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Avatar

    Obviously she hoped you (and everyone else) wouldn’t notice how few women there would be on the Cabinet, and that it takes 3 times as many men to adequately silence the women in Cabinet discussions.

    Keep plugging away. Maybe we can have a ghetto for women (like elementary education) with most of the Cabinet positions being filled by women.

    One can hope. Then you can refer to a quarter men Cabinet positions as ‘adequate.’ And wait for the howls.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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