Women Aren’t Men?

January 26th, 2007

Annual Robot Show

Retroactive SlapEvery now and then I come across an argument against same-sex marriage that’s so unbelievably illogical, it transcends time itself. And, so, I begin this retroactive slap with a Hansard-recorded question by Maurice Vellacott (Tory MP for Saskatoon-Wanuskewin):

Unless I missed something in history, and I am certainly open to being enlightened, has there ever been a time where, when extending the right to vote, women have been termed men?

That, a delightful retort to the reminder that there have been times when government hesitated to offer equal rights to its citizens.

Now, I’d like to think Vellacott couldn’t have been expecting an answer to his question, but just in case, let me get this over with: No, Mr. Vellacott, Women were never termed men when extending the right to vote.

Fascinatingly, though, Maurice isn’t the only one with this semantic confusion. Months later, David Chatters (Tory MP for Athabasca, since retired) curiously brought up the same topic, saying “When full equality rights were extended to women in Canada […] they did not have to be called men to be equal.” Ken Epp (Tory MP for Edmonton Sherwood Park) was even brave enough to bring this bizarre logic outside of the House and in front of the press, declaring:

Blacks in the United States never asked to be called white. They just wanted the same rights. Women in Canada sought equal rights without demanding to be called men. And so I ask the question in this struggle for so-called equality for same-sex couple, why do they want to use the word that describes heterosexual marriage?

Now, giving credit where credit is due, these conservative members are correct in some respects. Women did not wish to be called “men” in their struggles for equality. And, nor, to the best of my knowledge, did African Americans ask to be called “white.” But—and maybe this is just me, so correct me if I’m out of line—when, precisely, have gays asked to be called straight?

So, with a small correction to their line of reasoning, I’d like to pose my own question for the three Conservative members: “Honorable members, pray tell: When citizens of the female persuasion were struggling for electoral voice, was ‘civil ballot casting’ ever considered a suitable alternative so that men could continue to participate in the traditional institution of voting?”

I’ll, uh, be waiting for their responses via email.

Well, until Monday, folks, have a good one!