To kick off the week in political news, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Donald Trump at the White House for a series of meetings on Monday. While the two leaders are markedly different in many ways, the meeting that perhaps felt the most absurd was when female CEOs met with Trump and Trudeau for a round table discussion of a newly developing task force: United States Canada Council for the Advancement of Women Business Leaders-Female Entrepreneurs.
This particular meeting felt odd not because of the subject matter — supporting women in the workplace is an important discussion — but rather, because watching the proud feminist Canadian prime minister discuss gender equality with Trump felt like a glaringly unequal match.
For Trudeau, discussing women in the workplace is not a new thing. Earlier this fall Trudeau joined forces with Emma Watson for the feminist campaign He For She, as part of Watson's goal to galvanize men and boys for the feminist cause. On top of that, Trudeau already made his stance on gender women in the workplace clear when he intentionally picked Canada's first cabinet with equal women and men back in 2015.
Conversely, Trump has been routinely criticized for the way he talks about women, an issue which came to a head when the 2005 Access Hollywood tape leaked to the public. In the video, Trump bragged to host Billy Bush, "You can do anything. Grab 'em by the pussy." Trump brushed off his remarks as "locker room talk," claiming to have never acted upon them. Shortly after the tape was released, several women came forward accusing Trump of sexual misconduct, all of which Trump adamantly denied.
The disparity between how Trump and Trudeau treat women became especially clear when they discussed women in the workplace during Monday's meeting. Trump expressed his thoughts about the task force, saying:
Trudeau listened patiently, choosing not to mention the fact that Trump's first cabinet is more white and male than any president since Ronald Reagan, with women only comprising 4 out of his 22 cabinet members. The Trump administration has still not addressed the gender parity in his cabinet.
While speaking with Trump and women business leaders about the barriers women face in the workplace, Trudeau shared how much respect he has for what businesswomen have to overcome.
And during an interview with Vox in March 2016, Trudeau emphasized how normal feminism should be, saying, "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." And I, for one, can't imagine Trump saying the same quite like that.