On Nov. 4, Justin Trudeau was sworn in as the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada. Almost as soon as he finished his oath, he made vast and sweeping changes, distinguishing himself from his Conservative predecessor, Stephen Harper.
The changes he made were making headline news, and even gaining traction with American news outlets (Canadian politics rarely does this – the last time was probably when Doug Ford announced his penchant for crack-cocaine). And it is noteworthy – he made his 30-member cabinet up of equal parts men and women and includes highly distinguished people. For example, Harjit Sajjan, the new defense minister, collected valuable data for the Canadian government while in Afghanistan. Other minorities are also included in the composition of Trudeau’s cabinet, including one openly gay minister, one quadriplegic, and two First Nation ministers.
Trudeau is surfing right on top of the media tidal wave. When asked by a reporter at a press conference why creating a cabinet of equal parts men and women was so important to him, Trudeau replied simply, “Because it’s 2015.”
And he’s right, it is 2015, and a person’s gender should not speak to how they will be able to do their job. Vice said it best when they released an article detailing all of the new ministers. With each one, it stated the gender of the minister and how it would affect their job. Listed under each one, it simply said it wouldn’t.
He’s only a week into his reign as prime minister, and already Trudeau is giving Canadians the progressive change they called for in the election. And it’s creating a celebratory atmosphere online, with memes, gifs and articles circulating with Canadian pride.
There is one issue that Trudeau’s victory has highlighted – sexism and it’s against Trudeau himself. Our new prime minister has been the focus of many headlines, talking about his chiseled features and strong genetics. It’s similar to that of which female movie stars face on the red carpets – people talking about their looks and disposition rather than the skills and qualities they possess to do their jobs.
Last week, New York Magazine published an interactive article in which people could dress up Trudeau in a variety of outfits, including boxing shorts and Superman underwear. The Trudeau paper doll, as it’s dubbed, starts with Trudeau in the buff, with a maple leaf covering his genitals, complete with his tattoo on his upper right arm. The instructions read: “Drag and drop the items below to play dress up with Canada’s foxy new prime minister, who is more than just a great head of hair.”
This is just part of the onslaught to sexually exploit Justin Trudeau. While he may be more attractive to people than Stephen Harper ever was, it should not speak to how he does his job leading our country. A good head of hair isn’t a fundamental condition for leadership, and if it were, Kid Rock would be running the White House.
While Trudeau is trying to make change and appoint ministers based on credentials alone, he’s going to have to battle the people who see his as nothing other than a pretty face. Almost ironically, he’s battling a situation that most of his female cabinet ministers likely know all too well.