How the Canadian Media Undermines Topfreedom Equality For Women
Guest blog by: Peter Allison (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As Canadians are well aware, the federal election race is really heating up. The Liberal Party Leader, Justin Trudeau, could be the next Prime Minister of Canada, though if the Liberal Party did win, it would be a minority win at best. Phrases like “Prime Minister,” “minority win” and “Liberal Party” are words not often spoken or fully understood in the USA. I have noticed that the word Liberal is often used as a derogatory term when referring to a politician in the USA, but in Canada, the Liberal Party is one of the three largest political parties with the Conservative and the New Democratic political parties.
In Ontario, topfreedom for women has been legal since 1996 when Gwen Jacob was acquitted in the Ontario Court of Appeal for walking topfree through the city of Guelph in 1991.
There have been many cases where police and other authorities are not sure whether woman and girls do have the right to be topfree in public. The most recent incident in Waterloo, Ontario, sparked a protest and a march that has really highlighted the issue in the minds of Canadians.
Recently the Liberal Party Leader, Justin Trudeau, did march in the Pride Parade and was photographed with a topfree woman. (Trudeau is pictured below in the purple shirt.)
Do you imagine you will see a Democratic or Republican candidate marching in a Pride Parade or pictured near any topfree women? In Canada, we also have government-provided health care, a high minimum wage and nasty weather many months of the year. Pluses and minuses of living in the Great White North! Fortunately, we get a few months of nice warm summer weather every year that lend well to topfreedom.
Where most Canadian media is actually positive and supportive of Trudeau’s presence at the parade and in these pictures, some articles treat this as more of a joke and some say it was a political mistake.
The troubling thing about this whole incident is the treatment of topfreedom in the Canadian media. Where it is legal for both men and women to be topfree in public, apparently it is not so in the media. The Toronto Star pixelated the woman’s breasts, Chatelaine reduced the woman to a cartoon and the National Post cropped the picture just below the neck. In the Chatelaine article it claimed “we’ve illustrated the woman to maintain her privacy.” The woman chose to be topfree in public. This was not a private statement for her. I am sure she would not have wanted her brave demonstration of her freedom replaced with a cartoon illustration.
If Justin were also topfree in this picture, I am sure only the woman would have been pixelated or cartooned. The treatment of the women in these pictures serves to both dehumanize her and to cast doubt on the legitimacy of her dress. Without pictures in the media of equal topfreedom for both men and women, the public will always be weary of whether female topfreedom is something that should be accepted. It sends a message that this is not safe for the public eye. This woman pictured may have the right to be topfree, but not really, not in the media and not in the general public mind. So how free are women to feel equal in Canada? According to the Canadian media, they are not at all.
From the Chatelaine and Maclean Magazines:
From the Toronto Star:
From the National Post:
The original image: