The National Post has drawn criticism for its portrayal of women, and so-called women’s issues. J-Source isn’t the place to discuss those issues, but journalists might ask why the mainstream newspaper’s owner, now in bankruptcy protection, tolerates an editorial position that alienates 51 per cent of its potential subscribers or advertisers.


My calendar says it’s 2010. I checked, because exposure to the latest debates about the National Post made me wonder if I’d time-traveled to the 1960s and ’70s.

Early this year the National Post published an enraged editorial
slamming academic women’s studies programs and “radical feminism.” An
excerpt: “a man entering court against a woman finds the deck stacked
against him, thanks mostly to the radical feminist jurisprudence that
found it roots and nurture in Women’s Studies.”

The editorial drew intense criticism. For example, UBC law prof Susan B. Boyd accused
it of “gross misrepresentation” and added: “it is hard to believe that
the editorial board of a national newspaper would so thoroughly dismiss
the initiatives that have been taken in our country to redress the
historic inequalities experienced by many women, as well as minority
groups.”

I had forgotten about the fuss about the editorial until today, when John Ivison’s column 
began: “Lawrence Cannon will be relieved that the G8 foreign ministers
meeting has wrapped up and Hillary Clinton is back in Washington
haranguing Bill.” Again, just to be sure he really wrote this, here’s
the phrase again:  “Clinton is back in Washington haranguing Bill.”

It
doesn’t take an ideological feminist to find offensive the suggestion
that an American Secretary of State’s role is to “harangue” her husband
— or to be surprised the implicit dismissal of a female in Ivison’s
later comment: “… Mr. Cannon was being smacked with the full weight
of the Secretary of State’s purse.”

Expression is free, but it’s
still a surprise to find this stuff in 2010 in a publication that
presents itself as a serious national newspaper of record. For decades
— at least in countries that claim some degree of literacy and a
passing familiarity with basic decency if not a respect for human
rights — blatant misogyny has mostly been isolated on the looney
fringes, along with the white supremacists and the religious and
political fundamentalists.

In keeping with the purpose of this
as a place to discuss journalism, not to debate the issues that
journalism addresses, I have two questions: How do the women who work
at the National Post tolerate its spewing of such embittered tripe? Why does the owner of this newspaper — Canwest, which is under bankruptcy protection — find it acceptable to alienate 51 per cent of its potential subscribers or advertisers?

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