Solidarity Should Move Beyond the Mirror’s Reflection

Aug 31, 2022

OTTAWA—Solidarity is for white women—of a certain class.

Over the weekend, a video was released showing Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland being verbally accosted by a man who looked like he had missed his weekly cowboy bath in the outhouse. What he hurled at her was nothing short of gender-based violence. I can only imagine how terrified her staff were. And that terror is something that we, as female journalists and female journalists of colour, know all too well. We—myself, Global News’ Rachel Gilmore, The Toronto Star’s Saba Eitizaz, and others—are in the fourth week of a far-right, co-ordinated campaign of psychological warfare in a greater march towards fascism and white supremacist authoritarianism.

So, where’s our support?

Much like the Lisa LaFlamme incident, as soon as that video hit Twitter, our most powerful bastions of politics and the Canadian media establishment tripped over themselves to show support to Freeland, including Robert Fife, Jason Kenney, and Catherine McKenna—none of whom have expressed any solidarity with us. In fact, when I have asked for solidarity from establishment figures, it’s largely fallen on deaf ears.

Oh, but why?

Because we’re not of their ilk, so they don’t give a shit about us. BIPOC women and our white allies had received little-to-no support from white people of the upper class, especially white women. We don’t move in the same circles of power, have the same friends, send our kids to the same school, or eat the same foie gras. We have neither the same class, nor the skin colour, to receive any solidarity from white women who call themselves feminists. We are not the perfect victims: we are opinionated, outspoken, we take up space—in other words, we’re too uppity and don’t know our place. And that’s the slap in the face: that white women in positions of power have ignored us, for the most part. This exclusion is another form of racism and misogyny.

They must be keeping their solidarity for when one of us is killed.

And that’s not hyperbole. Liberal democratic values are under attack, as evidenced by the attack on the press. Freedom of the press is a fundamental democratic tenet that everyone takes for granted and when it’s under attack, even those in the media establishment normalize those attacks in the aid of “objectivity.” It’s repugnant, especially considering that appeasement got us nowhere.

Because we know what comes down the pike is worse. We are in a descent towards fascism with the distrust towards experts, and attacks on journalists and politicians. These are all markers of this political system, which the European Economic and Social Committee describes this way: “It mixes nationalistic and social stances, using people’s discontent with inequality and poverty, their desire for security, and promise[s] simple measures to protect them. Sold as a new recipe.” And that’s exactly what’s happening. One of the biggest drivers towards fascism is economic discontent. With the affordability crisis in full gear, if the Liberals deliver an austerity-esque budget next year, it’ll create more radicalization.

Why are they targeting journalists of colour?

Because they’re racists and misogynists. Also, because the primary goal of fascism is social regeneration of a strict social order. There’s a reason attacks on Roe v. Wade, Black Lives Matter, and residential school remain. It’s an attempt to discredit past and current horrors perpetrated against BIPOC to maintain a strict social hierarchy that puts white men at the top and everyone else is sorted into foot soldiers for their ascent to, and maintenance of, power. That’s why it feels like society is going backwards—it’s by design, not by accident or through chaos. This is very calculated.

Considering we have a feminist government, we should be alright, right?

No. This feminist government has white women who show no solidarity to their racialized female counterparts, as demonstrated during the Jody Wilson-Raybould dustup and subsequent resignations. McKenna (who is still powerful, but now out of government) keeps tweeting about her solidarity with white women but leaves BIPOC women fighting for democracy and equity out. Katie Telford is arguably the most powerful woman in the country. She has not reached out to any of us to even acknowledge what we’re going through. And Freeland has also been mum about female journalists and female journalists of colour. So has Mélanie Joly.

I guess we have to be Ukrainian to get any support from this lot of white feminists.

Erica Ifill is a co-host of the Bad+Bitchy podcast.