I recently wrote a letter to the editor of the National Post in response to an opinion piece by Christie Blatchford. It was titled, “Toronto, City of Sissies” and basically lambasted all men and boys that engage in the “sissy” act of hugging. You can find it here and judge for yourself, but I found it insulting and offensive. After stewing over it for a couple days, I decided I just had to write a letter in order to vent my frustration. Since I didn’t write it immediately after the article was published it never made it into their Letters section; I doubt anyone, especially not Christie Blatchford, read it, but I felt better just for having written it.
Here it is:
I almost don’t know where to begin. Christie Blatchford has reached a new level of idiocy with her recent piece bemoaning the “sissy” men of Toronto. Perhaps this is just a ploy on Ms. Blatchford’s part to garner attention and sell newspapers, in which case, congratulations! I’m sure it’s working. If on the other hand, Ms. Blatchford really did have the odd and completely disproportionate response of being “mortified and appalled” at seeing some young boys hugging, I suggest she get to a therapist and work out her issues. The ten year old boys are more well-adjusted than her.
To pine for a time of more traditional gender roles is to allow nostalgia to cloud one’s perception of times gone by. Were we to actually go back in time, as Ms. Blatchford seems wont to do, I’m sure the men would be more stereotypically masculine. Ms. Blatchford would, of course, have to give up her position as a columnist with a national newspaper and find ways to amuse herself within the private sphere because that’s the thing about rigid gender roles — they go both ways. A well-known saying within feminist circles is that “sexism hurts men too” and Ms. Blatchford’s column makes that fact crystal clear. Most women I know are grateful to live at a time when we can access higher education, work outside the home, play sports, and vote; these are rights women have fought hard for and they were won by women refusing to live within the rigid confines of traditional femininity. Likewise, why on Earth should men be forced to abide by Ms. Blatchford’s weird and arbitrary list of acceptably “manly” behaviours?
Hugging — a physical display of affection — seems to be the epitome of “sissy-ness” for Ms. Blatchford, who is also quick to point out that this opinion does not make her a homophobe. Of course not! Ms. Blatchford manages to profess her”love” for gay men while simultaneously implying they should leave their romantic sides in the bedroom. Perhaps gay men encountering Ms. Blatchford out and about in Toronto should skip right to kissing then, as that did make it onto the approved list of masculine behaviours. Or is kissing only manly if the men are kissing women? But remember — Christie loves the gays!
Finally, I direct your attention to Ms. Blatchford’s sycophantic pandering to the put-upon Ford brothers. Perhaps it’s a “bad time” to be a Rob or Doug Ford, not because they are too “pink” (read: poor oppressed white male) or “old-school” but because of their archaic views on issues such as city cyclists, Pride (that pesky gay thing again), and public libraries.
Ms. Blatchford, it’s time to come out of the dark-ages and quit the angry rants against men who — god forbid — don’t fart loudly “on cue”. Gender expression is complex and multi-faceted and two men hugging are not any less masculine for doing so. I suggest the next time you see boys hugging in public, you remind yourself how tough they must be to be able to break away from conventional gender norms and not care what anyone else thinks. Feel free to re-read this as often as necessary. You’re entirely welcome.
So there you go. I think the letter pretty clearly lays out my thoughts. What’s your opinion?
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