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      Canada's Liberal Leader Blasted for Blaming Misogyny on 'Certain Types of Music' and Porn

      Canada's Liberal Leader Blasted for Blaming Misogyny on 'Certain Types of Music' and Porn Canada's Liberal Leader Blasted for Blaming Misogyny on 'Certain Types of Music' and Porn Canada's Liberal Leader Blasted for Blaming Misogyny on 'Certain Types of Music' and Porn
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      Politics

      Canada's Liberal Leader Blasted for Blaming Misogyny on 'Certain Types of Music' and Porn

      By Tamara Khandaker

      Canadian Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau has come under fire for blaming "certain types of music," pornography, and fathers being less present in "a lot of communities" for misogyny.

      Critics lashed out at Trudeau online, reacting to a video shown at a panel discussion on women's issues in the midst of a federal election campaign on Monday, in which the candidate appeared to be answering a question on why women remain vulnerable to violence, despite significant strides made in their fight for equality over the past 50 years.

      Although a transcript would go on to show that Trudeau was actually asked a different question, many who expressed their outrage online said the context didn't invalidate their concerns, and showed how ill-informed the leader was.

      According to a transcript of the interview, journalist Francine Pelletier asked Trudeau to explain why it's young men, and not an older generation, who have perpetuated the kind of abuse directed at women that has received public attention lately. She cited examples of vulgar obscenities being hurled at reporters on camera, known as #FHRITP, and threats against women made at the University of Toronto.

      "I don't know where exactly to point my finger. I think there's probably an awful lot of factors that come together to shape societal behaviors," Trudeau said in response to the question. "There is a lot of misogyny in certain types of music."

      "There are issues around pornography and its prevalence now and its accessibility, which is something I'm really wrapping my head around now as a father of kids who are approaching their teen years, and there is also the shifting parental roles as well," he said. "There's a lot of communities in which fathers are less present than they have been or might have been in the past and there's a need for engaged positive role models."

      The Up For Debate event was initially supposed to be an in person debate between the leaders on women's issues, but after Prime Minister Stephen Harper declined to participate, an opponent followed suit, forcing organizers to change the format. Instead, a journalist conducted interviews with Trudeau, New Democratic leader Thomas Mulcair, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe (Harper declined to be interviewed).

      Candidates had opportunities to individually present their plans on many issues including violence against women, daycare, and reproductive rights.

      Trudeau's misogyny remarks didn't get much notice at the panel itself, save for Angela Robertson, the executive director of the Central Toronto Community Health Centre, who said she felt his response was inadequate.

      "We heard about parenting, we heard about rap music," said Robertson with a laugh, although Trudeau never explicitly mentioned rap music. "I didn't hear a commentary about patriarchy or women's inequality, and about how women's inequality produces and creates conditions that creates violence in our lives."

      In an interview with VICE News, Robertson said "certain types of music" has become a code for rap music. "And it's not untrue that there's sexism in rap and degrading lyrics, but I would not suggest that the production of that music is what is responsible for women's inequality. It's a product and byproduct of women's inequality."

      Others saw racist undertones in Trudeau's remarks.

      "Is it a coincidence that two of the three factors Trudeau cited about violence against women are well-worn stereotypes about black people?" wrote journalist Desmond Cole in a Twitter essay takedown of the comments.

      "If there are specific communities where hateful music and absent fathers cause violence against women, why wouldn't Trudeau name them?" he continued.

      When a reporter asked him to address the controversy at a Tuesday press conference in Montreal, Trudeau said he wasn't referring to any communities in particular.

      "As leaders, as parents, as community leaders, we need to make sure we are combating misogyny in all its forms wherever it's found, whether fashion magazines or popular music or popular culture," Trudeau said.

      In an interview with VICE News, Kate McInturff, another panelist, came to Trudeau's defense, suggesting that all the attention being paid to his comments was misplaced and takes focus away from what the candidates were actually promising to do for women.

      Trudeau also spoke in defense of the niqab in the interview with Pelletier, discussed a need to work with municipalities and provinces to create more women's shelters, and said he would "have a conversation with any jurisdiction that isn't living up to its responsibilities under the Canada Health Act, on a wide range of issues, that include reproductive rights," among other things.

      "I don't think I'd expect a prime minister to have the full insight that, for example, someone who was running a violence against women program might have, and I don't think he did have that," said McInturff. "But it's not necessarily fair to expect him to have that level of expertise."

      "I don't think he has more or less of a grasp than any of the leaders we interviewed," said McInturff, adding that it was more important that each candidate demonstrated that they had plans and a commitment to address women's issues.

      "We're missing the point if we're jumping on him for saying something uninformed about rap music," said McInturff. "We need to keep our eye on the prize."

      Follow Tamara Khandaker on Twitter: @anima_tk

      Topics: politics, canadian election, americas, justin trudeau, misogyny, liberal party, desmond cole

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