On Wednesday Liberal leader Justin Trudeau tweeted out an invitation to an event for women in Toronto.

The event, obviously a fundraiser at $250 a plate, was geared towards women who would like to get to know Trudeau and talk about issues facing women today — both in general and in politics it would seem from the sample questions scrawled on the invite.

The invitation that was tweeted out includes a checkered Andy Warhol-esque photo of Trudeau and carries the name “Justin Unplugged” in scribbly writing. The squares not occupied by Trudeau’s face ask some questions that give an impression of what the event would be like: What is the biggest issue facing women today? What’s your favourite virtue? Who are your real life heroes?

This prompted response from Huffington Post contributor Kathryn Marshall who criticised the event and called the picture “creepy, patronizing, and unbelievably ridiculous” to boot. (Scroll down to view the full invitation)

Um, what?

I’m sorry, are you upset that the leader of one of Canada’s three big political parties, a possible future Prime Minister, wants to offer his ear up to women and find out what they want out of life and government?

I’m sorry, is it not good enough for you to be invited to take part in a conversation that you can steer whichever way you please, be that policy or broader concepts?

I’m sorry, are you so gung-ho on getting offended that you need to pick apart even the photo used on the invitation?

Women have been ignored by so many people at so many levels for so long that it truly shocks me to see this opportunity for a male political leader to connect with and learn from women being thrown back in his face.

A politician is, surprisingly, inquiring about a little more of the lives of potential voters than what they think about low or high taxes. Virtues are important for leaders of all kinds, to see a leader asking what people appreciate shows that he is ready to assemble a team that reflects the values of all Canadians. The biggest issues that face women today could do with access to reproductive health, or proper natal care for native women in Canada, maybe the wage gap, or the number of female CEOs, or perhaps even government childcare and daycare services for parents who need to return to the workforce — to see a leader asking what these issues are shows that he is ready to take the right actions to protect our rights and freedoms as women and do more to help those who need it.

Would we not be offended if his campaign paid no attention to the unique issues and challenges that women in Canada face every day?

To the women who are offended by this, reserve your anger for the real creeps. Get angry about politicians like Rob Ford groping women without permission. Get angry about politicians in Saudi Arabia preventing women from driving cars. Get angry about the politicians in the US and Canada who try to restrict access to abortion.

Don’t waste your time in faux horror when someone asks you for your thoughts because the invitation doesn’t measure up to your standards and take an opportunity where an opportunity is given.

In the meantime, get over yourselves.


Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.


  1. THANK YOU! I am sick of the men on Twitter telling me I should be offended by this. Women have different priorities and needs. There is so much research that demonstrates that when women have voices in government the policies are different and usually more positive for everyone. The idea that a woman focused event is sexist is ludicrous! Unwomen.org, the Inter parliamentary Union, and equalvoice.ca are all organizations that are constantly fighting to get political leaders to listen to women.
    The attitude towards this event, imo, shows exactly why there are so few women in politics. We aren’t allowed to have different thoughts and opinions then men.

    • notyouraveragebear Reply

      Um. It’s not the idea that it’s targeting women that is offensive. A women’s forum for policy discussion is a fantastic idea. It’s the cheap stereotypes used in the messaging. Duh.

      • To you that’s not what it’s about. To a bunch of other people that’s exactly what’s happening. I have had an unbelievable amount of arguments with people (mostly men) about why they believe having the event catered solely to women is sexist.

        And thanks by the way for attempting to demean and belittle me in your response. Much appreciated.

    • SarahW1979 Reply

      notyouraveragebear beat me to it. As I said above, it’s not a zero sum game. You can discuss women’s issues without treating them like children. It’s that the evite treats women as silly idiots and talks down to us. I’d love a forum for my issues… but I don’t want to be invited there with this kind of condescension.

  2. Occupy Medic Reply

    That you somehow don’t find Prince Good Hair’s ‘ladies night’ offensive, speaks to how deeply internalized every day sexism has become in our culture.

    The End

  3. No, I won’t get over myself.
    The invitation is patronizing, condescending and paternalistic.
    If the author of the piece cannot see that, I would suggest he/she has a problem in understanding his/herself.

  4. SomewhereAroundBarstow Reply

    How much impact would your article have if it were published in loopy, childish cursive with words not organized in lines, but scattered randomly? Would you ever ask a grown man, “What’s your favourite policy?”

    Communicating with women as if they’re girls might sell perfume or jeans, but it won’t sell a politician.

  5. SarahW1979 Reply

    Wow. You really missed the point. We’re not upset by the photos. We’re upset by the tone.

    “Would we not be offended if his campaign paid no attention to the unique issues and challenges that women in Canada face every day?” Yes. But this isn’t a zero sum game. It’s not “address women like this” or “don’t address them at all.” The campaign can address women’s issues in a way that is respectful. Would anyone ever think of trying to reach male voters with a “fun” invite like this? No. Heck, for an extreme example, would anyone think of addressing non-white voters with an evite that played to stereotypes? And when those voters were very justifiably outraged, would anyone tell them to get over it?

    And that’s our issue. It’s treating women as an “other” and a silly, dithering “other” at that. What’s your favorite virtue? is not a political question. What are your thoughts on the environment? The budget? Election reform? These are serious questions and this evite ignored all of them because the campaign assumes that women won’t engage with serious issues.

    I think all this backlash proves the opposite and I think perhaps you’re the one who should get over herself.

  6. Allana Reoch Reply

    While I am so GRATEFUL for the invitation to participate in something that is already my right, I won’t be able to attend, as I’ll be barefoot in my kitchen that night.

  7. Pingback: #AskJustin: A lesson in crisis communications Jack Giesen

  8. honeywatson Reply

    Amen! Ladies, stop getting ‘offended’ but stupid things like this, you’re only distracting people from the real issues and hurting the cause. The only thing this invitation offends is my eyes.

  9. I think this author lives in a land of unicorns and leprechauns. Or is playing devil’s advocate just to get noticed. The very nature of this “invitation” tells me this is nothing more than a ploy. To think you’d get serious political discussion out of a manufactured PR event such as this means you have a lot of growing up to do.

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