LETTER: Lautens' column perpetuates misogynistic views

Dear Editor: 

Re: Cassidy, Booth in Two-woman WV Mayoral Race, July 27 opinion column by Trevor Lautens 

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On behalf of the Capilano Students’ Union and its membership, we would like to raise our concerns and disappointment regarding an column published on July 26 by Trevor Lautens, covering the mayoral race in West Vancouver.

We believe that the column represents a patronizing view of women which distracts from the political positions of the two candidates, particularly in the case of Coun. Christine Cassidy. The use of problematic and distracting metaphors such as “a Dresden china doll,” “stiletto-sharp,” and the candidate’s “delicate porcelain skin that has to be seriously shaded from the sun” as descriptors, detracts from the substance of the column and ensures that their physical appearance is the primary focus.

It is our strong opinion that the author’s use of such language is highly inappropriate. His depiction of Coun. Cassidy perpetuates society’s prejudiced judgement of women based solely on their appearance instead of the political experience and policies that they bring to the table; a trope that women in the political arena are still too frequently forced to endure. Furthermore, the later inclusion of former Coun. Shannon Walker’s resigning from the council for “child rearing” is explicitly gendered, whereas when most male professionals take similar time off it is described as “taking time to be with their family.”

The language used to describe domestic activities performed by women is continually noted as a duty, while men are congratulated for their dedication to their families. The inclusion of such details hinders voters in making an informed decision on who they wish to represent them. This column promotes a negative perspective which is demeaning and disrespectful towards women who both seek to take leadership positions and hold them.

It is clear that these descriptions would not have been used had the candidates been male, nor would it have been highlighted so strongly that the race was between two men, as it did with the two female candidates; another trope that women cannot work alongside each other without a form of competition. As the representatives of over 3,500 female-identifying students, we denounce this editorial and the disrespectful view that it upholds.

We expect the editorial board of the North Shore News to stand up against the misogynistic worldview that this column represents and promotes and demand a retraction and apology which recognizes the derogatory nature of the language used. We have long respected the North Shore News for its trustworthy reporting and tactful depiction of North Shore issues, but that trust has been threatened by the release of this column.

Whether the decision for this column to be published was the result of a mistake on the part of the editorial board, or a deliberate decision to bait increased readership, we demand a higher standard of journalism. Until the original piece is retracted and an apology issued, the North Shore News will not be included in any press release from the Capilano Students’ Union, nor will we engage in any interviews. It is our sincere hope that you will carefully consider the message that this column sends and actively work to stand up against the disrespectful depiction of women in media. We all have a part to play in ending gender-based discrimination, and it begins with refusing to allow sexism to be perpetuated on your platform.

Anna-Elaine Rempel
p
resident, Capilano Students’ Union

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