Recently, a news story broke that Peter MacKay's office sent a Mother's and Father's Day email to the Department of Justice employees. Both emails separately are actually pretty nice. Together though, they've released a firestorm of criticism. In the mother's day email, it talks about all the work mothers have to do before and after work (which, in at least my case, is all true). In the Father's Day email, he talks about the responsibility father's have on shaping the minds of the future generations (which, I think is also very true). You can read the full transcript of both here.
Listen, if you want to find a feminist, you don't need to look any further. There is nothing that hurts me more than knowing that my daughter will grow up in a world that still doesn't value her as much as her brother.
But nothing in either of those letters is false, and actually I don't think either are offensive either (except for the fact that they are true).
Let's start by getting some facts straight about these letters.
1) The chances that Peter MacKay wrote these or even saw these letter is slim to none. He's not sitting behind his desk trying to come up with material and thinking about the most malicious thing he can possibly say.
2) I highly doubt these letters were written to be compared.
Here's the thing: getting upset over the fact that he wrote one thing in one letter and one in the other, is kind of like me complementing my children each individually - calling my daughter nice, and my son smart, and then my daughter complaining that I shouldn't have called my son smart because 'I'm smart too!'. I'm still complementing you, even if I'm not listing all your strengths.
And here's the other thing. It's true. Every morning I do change diapers, make lunches, think about supper, pile the kids in the car, etc. Dave does these things too. And every day Dave has an important role of shaping our children's minds and futures. I do this too.
And although there are lots of men who change diapers and make lunches and think about supper, the reality is that gender roles in the household are still not equal. I don't say this to diminish what men do, and I don't say it to diminish women's roles. But gender equality has to start at home.
Being pregnant with my third has taught me this too. Although I want full equality for women, it's unlikely to happen anytime soon. I'm still the one who has to tell my boss I'm pregnant before I release it publicly. I'm still the one who hears how 'having babies really puts a strain on companies'. I'm still the one who feels bad for being on maternity leave, but also gets criticized by my peers if I go off maternity leave too early (because I'm missing out on important year with my kids). Dave doesn't have to do these things. And although parental leave is an option for men, women still, for the most part, take it. That year off? That does detrimental things for careers too. Let me clarify, I value and appreciate the maternity leave we get in Canada. But gender roles in everyday life still aren't equal.
And the emails that Peter MacKay's office sent? They weren't offensive. They were different, but they were true.