Elle Beaver brings you profiles of the women who are shaping the 2015 federal election (#elxn42), the pundits, spin-doctors, journalists and activists who are making headlines, shaping our political landscape – and who are vying for YOUR vote! In this edition, we focus on author Margaret Atwood, whose censored editorial on hair sparked #HairGate.
It was a “flighty little caper on hair,” wrote Canadian author Margaret Atwood. And yet her piece calling out the legitimacy of hair as an electoral issue for The National Post became one of the first notable episodes and hashtags of the 2015 Canadian federal election. When Atwood’s piece was posted to The National Post, (edited version) rapidly pulled and reposted sans a few key lines about the Duffy Affair and leadership donations to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s re-election campaign, #HairGate set Twitter ablaze and highlighted the issue of censorship and the partisanship of Canada’s media (read the un-edited version in The Walrus).
While the debate on censorship was crucial, what commentators — including Elle Beaver *shameface* — failed to call out was the actual meaning of propelling hair into the electoral. Hair, an emblem of masculinity, of experience. Or femininity – read: Justin’s luscious, flowing locks. As Atwood wrote,
Women will recognize “Nice hair” as a pickup line, so I suppose addressing it to a political opponent is a way of girlifying him: the Conservative ad-writers would see girlification as inherently demeaning, their view of girls and women being what it is.
But perhaps hair is indeed a metaphor for this election. After all, Harper’s own immovable coiffe is legendary in of itself. Unbending, unwieldy. Much like his politics towards the courts, environmentalists, scientists, Indigenous communities, immigration policy, foreign policy, etc, so on and so forth, et al. Ad nauseum.
In the end, Margaret Atwood reminded us of the everyday sexism of federal politics in Canada, a liberal western democracy. And that to insult a political opponent, all you need to do is call him a girl. That being a girl, a woman, a female is actually *still* a fact worthy of an insult. Let’s remember that tonight as Elizabeth May, Justin Trudeau, Gilles Duceppe and Thomas Mulcair gather tonight for #UpForDebate — without the current sitting Prime Minister of Canada.
Read our Women of #ELXN42 profile of Elizabeth May and stay tuned for more profiles!
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