Justin Trudeau’s announcement that half his cabinet will be women has misogynists creeping out of their closets all across Canada. Their concerns are as predictable as their intent is obvious as they mask their sexism with a facade of concern and pseudo-logic.
Some of the point they studiously avoid include:
- Their assumption is that most men become cabinet ministers based on merit. While they will acknowledge that nepotism and politics play major roles in cabinet, they immediately go on to talk as though merit was the only criteria.
- Their assumption is that most women will be hired because of a quota, not because of merit. This is a common complaint against affirmative action, but it ignores the fact that Trudeau , like any other boss would be rash to hire someone who lacked any qualities that made them fit for their job.
- The only people who could unreservedly be said to be qualified to be a cabinet minister is someone who has held the position before. Obviously, though, there has to be a first time for all cabinet ministers.
- No one complains seriously about nepotism, political favors, regional representation, or any of the other considerations that go into putting a cabinet together. Even the tainted considerations are simply accepted as the way things are done. How is affirmative action is supposed to be any worse?
- Cabinet ministers, no matter how qualified, depend on staff and deputies, especially when they are first sworn in. So long as they listen to to all this experience, cabinet ministers have trouble being completely incompetent.
- If cabinet minsters prove unsuitable for their position, they can be asked to resign, or cabinet positions can be canceled. It’s not as though there is no precedence for dealing with incompetence in cabinet.
- No concrete set of criteria exists for being a cabinet minister except that the prime minister is willing to work with someone. Therefore, it is nonsense to talk about whether anyone is qualified for the position or not.
Anyone who is really concerned about fairness should be advocating ways to guarantee fairness, not sniping at the idea of more women in cabinet. As things are, their choice tells us all we need to know about their motives, and why we shouldn’t take them seriously.