On Monday night, Canada went and got itself a brand spanking new Prime Minister. We went top shelf people. Picked the Brand Name version. CBC News called it less than two hours after the first polls closed on the east coast.
I then posted a picture of our new Prime Minister-Designate, Justin Trudeau, on Facebook. This one below from a few years ago. I wrote, "Dear Non-Canadian Friends, This is our new Prime Minister."
That Facebook post of mine is 4 days old and now has over 15K likes, and over 26K shares. And quite a few comments about how sexist it is to be objectifying our new Prime Minister Elect.
Justin Trudeau is a good looking man. Of this there is no doubt. And really, in the world of politics, we often don't expect looks to be a part of the package. Nor do we expect youth to win out over experience.
In this election, the Conservatives and the NDP actually used these attributes AGAINST Mr. Trudeau in many of their campaign attack ads. The "Justin, he's just not ready." Interview ads not only infantilized him by continually calling him by his first name, the dig at the end about the "nice hair" and being "like a celebrity" further tried to make him out to be a shallow and hollow candidate, not worthy of the job.
But here we are, with a young, very good-looking Prime Minister, in what my friend Jen wanted me to call the PRIME of his life (She's the punny one!), and people all over the world are freaking right the fuck out about it. Here are just a few of the headlines from publications the day after the election.
16 Non-Canadians Who Have The Hots For Canada’s Next Prime Minister - Buzzfeed
Justin Trudeau: Internet already has a sexist acronym for new Canadian Prime Minister - The Independent UK
Canada's hot new prime minister has the Internet sweating maple syrup - Mashable
Trust me, the list goes on and on...
And here-in lies the conundrum; Is objectifying Justin Trudeau and focusing on how good looking he is a BAD thing? Because God knows that IF the new Prime Minister of Canada was a woman and was getting called a PILF - the shit would be hitting ALL THE DAMN FANS, ALL AT ONCE!
The answer to this, in my opinion, is not an easy yes or no.
Here is the thing about objectification: while yes, technically it can be done to women and to men, the status quo of sexual objectification places the man as the subject and the woman as the object. Even when men are objectified, it really isn't the same thing as living with the systemic levels of oppression and objectification that woman have for eons.
If Justin Trudeau was a "super hot' woman, not only would her body and looks be objectified, her ability to do her job would also be questioned. We don't have to look too far back in our Canadian political history to see that this is true. I mean really, can we all just sit back for a minute and contemplate what a different world we might be in if Belinda Stronach had actually beaten Stephen Harper in that CPC leadership race in 2004?
My friend Zita had this to say about all of this,
My point is that while it's not great that people are tweeting about our new Prime Minster finger-banging them or calling him the "Prime Minister I'd like to Fuck" (#PILF), now that the election has been decided, no one is saying or is likely to say that his good looks in any way compromise his ability to actually BE the head of state of one of the biggest nations in the world. And as my fellow feminist friend Dani Paradis pointed out, why was no one calling out all that sexism in the campaign ads against him before now?
In Canada, we now have a young, vibrant, easy on the eyes new Prime Minister, who has people in this country fired up about not just politics, but about national pride and a hopefulness they have not felt in a decade. He is everything that the previous leader of Canada was not. If folks all over the world want to pay attention to Canada now because our new first couple is about to rival the Obamas in the looks category, that is totally fine with me! Go ahead and move all your butts to Canada just to be near them. I hear our immigration policies are about to get much better too!
But then again, maybe I am just used to having young, vibrant, and awesome for political leaders... I mean, have you seen my Mayor and my Premier?
***Update: For a lovely and timely example of how things are different for men and women in politics, see the Honourable Michelle Rempel, MP for Calgary Nosehill, Twitter feed from last night as she contemplated what the response would be to her making a bid for the Conservative Party leadership. Take note of all the tweets telling this female politician with an excellent track record, that her EGO is too big for her britches in true, "Shhh...sweatheart, just stay in your place" sexist fashion!