Friday, May 18, 2012

Brad Wall, be nice to your wife

It's known around Canada that the Premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall, is a pretty snappy dresser, and I don't think it's any coincidence that he's a popular guy.  I'm not saying that he's only popular because of his appearance, but he just looks like a smart, nice dude, so I think that makes it easier for people to trust him than if he looked a bit like a toad, for example.

I'm not saying this is right by any means - in fact, it's one of the main reasons why women politicians have such a hard time getting elected, but that's another discussion for another day.

I read a Star Phoenix article about Brad Wall's new glasses (aka BREAKING NEWS) the other day and it made me uncomfortable.  Which parts specifically?

“You’ve got some new spectacles,” a reporter asked during a scrum on Tuesday.
“Yes, I did. My wife picked them out,” the premier responded.
“Is that how a premier picks out new glasses?” the questions continued.
“That’s how a premier who wants to avoid trouble at home picks out glasses,” Wall said, cracking up reporters already amused at the lighthearted exchange.


“Same brand?” another reporter chimed in.
“I don’t know,” Wall answered. “I think the other ones were another brand. They weren’t Alfred Sung. I remember this brand because Alfred Sung makes a perfume that’s my wife’s preference and again, to avoid trouble, I’ve tried to memorize that, because I’ve gotten the wrong bottle several times. And that never works out well."

The thing that made me uncomfortable about that exchange is that it's just so common for men to joke about their controlling wives.  And when a high-profile public figure does it, it makes me feel even more icky because it seems to be making the implication "During the day I run the world with the big boys, but when I go home I let my little wife feel like she's got some control by telling me what to wear and what to buy her for gifts."

It doesn't imply an equal partnership.  I don't feel like the kind of exchange Mr. Wall and the reporters had is respectful to his wife.  Not to make assumptions, because I don't know anything about Mr. Wall's home life, it's very possible he and his wife do respect each other a lot and do have an equal partnership, which I hope is true.  And to his credit at least he wasn't calling his wife "the old ball and chain" or anything.  But it's just one of those universally accepted things to joke about, for politicians to use to endear and humanize themselves.  And it's GROSS.

It's like when I hear men having conversations like "What are you doing this weekend, want to grab a beer?" and the other one replies something like "I'll have to see if The Warden will let me, lolololol" and then they're both like "HAHA CHICKS AMIRIGHT!"

This is NOT OKAY.  I know it's very common, and it's generally tongue-in-cheek, but it's disrespectful and demeans women.  It implies that in a partnership, if a woman is being controlling, it's just silly and annoying, not unhealthy.  But if a woman said something like that about her husband, it would immediately imply an unhealthy, abusive relationship.

Not that I'm saying women should be joking about their controlling husbands either, because like I said I think that kind of joking is totally disrespectful to your partner.  But when it's okay for a woman to be controlling, but not a man, it sends the message that "it's just a woman controlling him on silly things like where to have dinner and what clothes to wear, it doesn't matter - she doesn't have any REAL power."  Because only men have the "legitimate" type of power to make control issues in a relationship unhealthy.  When the control issues belong to the woman, it's just her being silly - not scary.

So Premier Wall, if you happen to ever run across my blog on a self-Googling session, please think about what I'm saying.  My respect level for men always falls when they use this kind of language.  I hope any men reading this will also think twice before calling their female partners "the old ball and chain" or something similar in the future.

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