Canada is our feminist focal point this week, for both great and not-so-great reasons. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who recently visited the United States, has no doubt made Americans seriously consider moving to that friendly country up north after November 2016. Which country would you rather live in: One run by a feminist prime minister or a business mogul with anti-choice views? Exactly. But Canada was also the site of an ugly sexual assault verdict that disheartened many Canadian and American women alike, and reminded victims of sexual violence that their lives will be put on trial more than their abusers. From Trudeau to Jian Ghomeshi, here are the best feminist quotes from this week:
1. Lucy DeCoutere: "Because after everything I went through, Jian is free."
Canadian women were dealt a blow this week when former radio personality Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted of all charges in the first of two sexual assault trials he's involved in. Ghomeshi was accused of sexually and physically assaulting three women, including allegedly choking a sexual partner, between 2002 and 2003. Since the reports of sexual violence allegedly committed by the former CBC star broke in October 2014, at least eight women from across Canada have stepped forward, claiming Ghomeshi either physically or sexually assaulted them while on a date or engaging in a sexual act. Most of the victims have remained anonymous, but Canadian TV actor Lucy DeCoutere, who testified against Ghomeshi at the trial, went public almost immediately in October 2014. DeCoutere alleged that Ghomeshi choked and slapped her in his apartment following a date.
In an interview with The Guardian following Ghomeshi's acquittal, DeCoutere relayed her frustrations with the trial and the justice system. DeCoutere described how her credibility was repeatedly called into question, and how she was mocked by Ghomeshi's lawyer during the trial. DeCoutere's experience, which she called even more "harmful" than the assault itself, highlights how victims of sexual violence are often perceived as liars or untrustworthy, and are prone to having their characters assassinated through victim blaming:
Finally, I saw Jian. Sitting still with his lips pursed at the defense table. There he was, in his neat little suit, surrounded by the million-dollar legal team he’d hired to protect himself from the very women he once found so easy to dominate – to slap, choke and punch. ...
What Henein did destroyed my testimony. Using what I said to Jian in emails and a letter that I don’t even remember sending, she argued that I tried to cover up the fact that I had a relationship with Jian after the assault and lied to the court in the process. ...
If anybody – the police, the Crown – had told me about what post-incident contact is or why it matters, that would have gone a long way. It might not have helped me remember everything, but it might have helped me go back to that state of mind. Now, I know that when it comes to a victim’s testimony, what happened after the assault is just as important as what happened before – at least as far as the court is concerned. Everything Henein asked me came back to one big question: why did I keep in touch with Jian? The answer is that it was my way of processing what happened to me, of neutralizing a volatile situation he created. But for her and the judge, it turns out, that wasn’t enough.
2. Justin Trudeau: This Is What A Feminist Looks Like
Now, for a Canadian palate cleanser: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making all American women want to move to Canada, isn't he? Somehow, Canada is the home to both Ghomeshi and Trudeau, the latter of whom won over feminist hearts this week after discussing gender equality with Vox's Elizabeth Plank. In the video interview, Trudeau explains why he identifies as a feminist and discussed feminist issues.
“If you’re a progressive, you really should be a feminist because it’s about equality, it’s about respect, it’s about making the best of the world that we have,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau's wonderfully egalitarian interview also spawned new feminist memes that rival feminist Ryan Gosling. Look out, Gos.
3. Jane Fonda's Perfect Path To Feminism
Jane Fonda is a pretty fierce feminist, but she claims it took about 30 years for her to come over to the (totally hypothetical) matriarch utopia. In a personal essay for Lenny Letter titled "My Convoluted Journey to Feminism," the boldly political Fonda admits she did not fully embrace feminism until she was 60 years old. Even during her anti-war activist days — a period during which the public did identify her as a feminist — Fonda was skeptical of the women's movement. Then, she realized she had been coping with internalized and institutionalized sexism since adolescence, but still could not confront it totally until later in life:
When I turned 60 and entered my third and final act, I decided that, no matter how scary it was, I needed to heal the wounds patriarchy had dealt me. I didn't want to come to the end of my life without doing all I could to become a whole, full-voiced woman. ...
But this is not about replacing one "-archy" with another, it's about transforming social and cultural norms and institutions so that power, violence, and greed are not the primary operating principles. It's not about moving from patriarchy to matriarchy, but from patriarchy to democracy. Feminism means real democracy. There's no road map to get there. It hasn't happened yet. Women and men of conscience have never had a chance thus far to make our revolution.
OK, so maybe the matriarchy is not happening, but at least we have Fonda to power walk with us along the road of social change and justice.
4. Megyn Kelly, Will The 2016 Election Lead You To Full-Frontal Feminism?
Megyn Kelly has become an unlikely feminist hero following last August's GOP presidential debate, which saw front-runner Donald Trump criticizing Kelly for asking about his past history of very sexist, very public comments. Following the debate, Trump said Kelly had "blood coming out of her wherever." American women, whether liberal or conservative, defended Kelly, and Kelly herself hasn't let up on her crusade against Trump. Since that debate, Kelly has continued calling out Trump — who also continues to attack Kelly, primarily on Twitter — on his sexism, whether leveraged at Kelly and other female hosts and reporters or at candidates' wives.
This week, Kelly shut down The Donald with just one word. Kelly, is this your way of coming to feminism? If so, we're all here for you.