Kacper Niburski

Assistant News Editor

 

While certain talent-bereft female pop monstrosities may make it seem like feminism is dead, Michele Landsberg, an eminent Canadian journalist and social justice activist, thinks otherwise.

On Feb. 24, Landsberg discussed the ongoing and immutable spirit of feminism at McMaster University in a lecture entitled “Feminism Forward,” which was sponsored through a partnership between the Hamilton branch of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, McMaster University’s Faculty of Humanities and McMaster’s Gender Studies and Feminist Research department.

As an ardent feminist, champion of egalitarianism, chronicler of the feminist movement and an unquestionable inspiration, Landsberg may be one of the few Canadians alive who do not require an introduction. As a columnist at the Toronto Star for 20 odd years, her trademark wit and unbridled passion challenged an era where gender inequality and rigid stereotypes took centerfold.

To say that Landsberg spent the better part of her career turning heads is an understatement. After reading aloud a brief segment of one her past articles where she excoriated the 1980s abortion hypocrisies in Canada, she said in a laugh, “The things they let me get away with at the Star. Oh man.”

Not one to hold back her opinions, Landsberg was known nationally for her scathing insight into polemic matters. Her talk “Feminism Forward” was no different. Noting the evolution of the feminist movement through her eyes as both a mother and grandmother, Landsberg began her discussion highlighting the importance of fostering a nurturing relationship with one’s child.

“The lives of our grandchildren extend into a future from which we will be inevitably absent,” she said. “It focuses our reality of morality and the joy of here and now.”

There, in one’s formative years of infantile curiosity, is where feminism blossoms initially, stressed Landsberg. “We are told there are innate differences, but we learn to be male and female in every cell of our body. According to Landsberg, equality, and the lack thereof, are not inborn. They are defined. And for a better part of humanity’s existence, this definition has been defined as a gender prison.

Landsberg noted, however, there is still hope. Despite the sexual objectification that has been commonplace in Western culture, and the fact that people believe feminism has accomplished everything it needs to accomplish, “there is backlash. Feminism is coming back.” In Canada at least, she attributed the resurgence of feminism to an “oppressive government that has cut equality funding initiatives.”

Whether or not this is the case, Landsberg stated that this new-age feminism, one that is alive, well, and ever evolving, must be carefully developed. A failure to do so, or even an apathy toward it’s many forms, will result in a pervasive culture of gender backwardness. As it has always been, men will rule and women will be ruled.

To do nurture feminism correctly, Landsberg tied the talk back to her the child’s role in future movements.

“Swear to yourself you’ll tear your child away from the tyranny of the male gaze. Don’t inoculate her with narcissism. Do not tell a girl she is pretty. Praise her for a skill. Praise her for her talents.”

And if that happens, that’s when true feminism may be accomplished. For as far as Landsberg seemed to couch it, feminism is not just a philosophy where men and women are considered equal. It is something more than that.

In it’s fullest form, feminism is the optimistic hope for the day when talents and skills, not just aesthetic appeal, become beautiful.

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