Politicians have proven time and time again that some “jokes” are better left unsaid, yet they still never seem to learn their lesson.
Earlier this month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau interrupted a young woman who was asking a question about religious charities at a town hall in Edmonton to crack a cringey joke that wasn’t very funny.
The young woman, who has not been identified, was in the midst of complimenting Trudeau for recognizing the “ability and power that women actually possess.” She went on to state that “maternal love is the love that’s going to change the future of mankind.” Trudeau then interrupted her to say, “We like to say ‘peoplekind,’ not necessarily ‘mankind.’ It’s more inclusive.”
Trudeau’s joke was not well received and a video of the exchange quickly went viral. CBC columnist Robyn Urback tweeted a link to the video with the caption “TFW a man tells you you’re the wrong type of feminist.”
The Toronto Sun published an article accusing the Prime Minister of mansplaining, a portmanteau of the words “man” and “explaining” that is used to refer to situations where a man explains a concept to another person (typically a woman) without considering the other person’s level of expertise or knowledge regarding that particular concept.
Trudeau, who is known for his progressive nature and liberal policies, explained his intentions. “You all know that I don’t necessarily have the best of track records on jokes. I made a dumb joke a few days ago that seems to have gone a little viral. Out of context it doesn’t play so well and it’s a little reminder to me that I shouldn’t be making jokes even when I think they’re funny.”
Trudeau’s correction was certainly not politically correct, but it was also not even grammatically correct. Writer J.J. McCullough came after Trudeau on Twitter for incorrectly correcting the woman.
“The big thing about Trudeau’s #peoplekind comment is that it’s not a word,” McCullough wrote, “It’s not in any dictionary. The man is so painfully politically correct he literally invented a new word just to chew out some woman. But I guess it was also her fault for asking him a question.”
The Washington Post later accused Trudeau and the government of using of “performative progressivism” to obscure “illiberal policy making.” On the same day that Trudeau went under fire for mansplaining, the Canadian government made a $233 million deal to sell 16 helicopters to the Philippines despite human rights concerns.
Drew Brown, a political columnist for Vice, spoke out in defense of the prime minister.
“After watching the extra three minutes around the clip in question, it seems like this is less a snuff film of ‘common sense’ than it is the prime minister doing a reasonably good job of handling an intensely religious Christian-adjacent heretic,” Brown told The New York Times.
Trudeau has done a great deal of good for Canada’s political climate. He was one of the first world leaders to proclaim himself a feminist, his cabinet has an equal number of men and women, and he often publicly promotes gender and social equality. However, his comment made a mockery of the feminist movement and all of the progress that has been made over the past few years.
Maybe it’d be best if politicians would focus on politics and leave the joking to the comedians.
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