Letter to the Editor of the Globe and Mail

Letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail responding to For the free, educated and affluent, welcome to the century of women (March 8, 2010)

To read the original article, click here.

Wente’s argument that all western women have made it and enjoy full equality ignores the reality of many Canadian women who are not, as Wente suggests in her title, “The free, educated and affluent.”

For many Canadian and Western women; free, educated and affluent are not words that could describe their experience. The stats confirm what women can tell you themselves; inequality is real.

Wente claims we are free, while so many are still abused and raped. Canadian women are 4 times more likely to be murdered by their partner than men, and our Aboriginal sisters continue to go missing and are killed without outrage or action.

Wente argues we are educated, but ignores the barriers to access education. Young people from the poorest 20% of Canadian families are less than half as likely to enrol in university as the richest 20%, and for aboriginal children who have $3000/student less in funding for basic education than non-aboriginal kids, Wente’s argument could not be further from the truth.

For affluent women, equality has always been closer to their reach. For women who enjoy that privilege of economic independence and stability, life is not so bad.

However, Wente has blinded herself to the economic disparity that has deepened over the last thirty years in this country.  Women are the new face of poverty; single parent homes headed by women face high poverty rates, in part due to more unstable and underpaid part-time work and lack of access to affordable housing.

Wente’s article has a point; for women who are free, educated and affluent, equality and opportunity have never been better. But that leaves one question to be asked… who are these women? Because a lot of us have been left out.


Brenda Wallace, CFUW National President

3 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor of the Globe and Mail

  1. Janet E Smith

    Excellent response to M. Wente’s argument, which is patronizing and insulting to so many! She also ignores nations outside Canada where, contrary to our belief, there are high standards of education for women. Does Wente live in a Toronto upper middle class bubble?

  2. Jeanne Sarson

    Great response, Brenda; I too am distressed by the assumptions made regarding women’s achievement of equality. Where would the migrant and immigrant female workers ‘fit’ as invisibilized as they are in the domestic jobs they hold? Street kids, who number in the 1000s, where would Wente place these young women’s experiences, given that many are on the street because of relational violence in their homes? Would they tell of enduring a life of equality and affluence? And if Wente were to use the Universal Declaration on Human Rights as an evaluation tool would it be possible to say that there is inherent dignity, equality, justice and peace for women when salaries are still often gendered and when justice is still metered out by the clothes a woman wares or the make-up she has on her face? How can it be said that equality is present when women, as girls, speak of the reality that continues to exist today – that pedophilic so-called ‘pornographic’ crime images of children, predominately little girls including infants, expose the misopedic and misogynistic attitudes that rot the fundamentals of gendered equality. It is time to forgo myth-making and see the reality – the 21st century does not yet equally belong to women.

  3. Mary Beth

    Young women seem to believe that all their rights have been won and there is nothing to worry about. They need to remember that rights can be lost, too, that things can go backward, as they seem to be in places as enlightened as Wisconsin.


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