The sexist #elbowgate backlash against Brosseau

Content note: Graphic language, sexism, violence against women

As the dust begins to settle on #elbowgate, it is becoming increasingly clear that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will emerge the public winner of the parliamentary scuffle. Why? Because misogyny is alive and well in 2016.

We all know the internet can be a stenchin’ cesspool of bigotry and hate, but in the aftermath of Trudeau’s elbow colliding with Ruth Ellen Brosseau’s chest, it’s appalling to note how many people think its okay to ruthlessly rip into her.

From the vulgar

To violent

And really just downright ugly

Even people with a seemingly progressive mindset are attacking her

It’s not limited to Twitter. Stroll over to Brosseau, Mulcair or the NDP’s Facebook pages (none of which have even posted about the altercation) and you’ll see a slew of people from all over the political spectrum ready to spit vitriol at her


And let’s not forget unapologetically sexist memes


Over the last few hours, I have seen dozens of contacts posting articles and statuses mocking Brosseau and the NDP. None as wretched as what I found after 30 minutes of using a coupla search engines, but all nevertheless complicit in building an all too common sexist narrative of women as duplicitous, manipulative liars.

Make no mistake about it, the backlash against Brosseau is deeply, unquestionably sexist and plays into traditional victim blaming tropes.

And while Prime Minister Trudeau’s elbowing of Brosseau was unintentional, his uncalled for and unprofessional actions lead to bodily harm against an officemate.

Cussingly storming over to a colleague, angrily grabbing them without consent and knocking into other colleagues in the process is unquestionably unacceptable behaviour that should not be tolerated in any workplace. Prime Minister Trudeau knows this and has apologized accordingly.

Brosseau is not calling for Trudeau’s resignation, filing criminal charges against him or requesting EI compensation for a work accident, yet she’s being treated like a pariah for the second time in her political career. Why? Because she dared express that she was physically and emotionally rattled by the affair? No, it’s because we’re a deeply effed up sexist mess of a society.

The House of Commons, like many other workplaces, is deeply and structurally sexist. Women MPs  put up with a whole slew of garbage behaviour from their counterparts and constituents daily.

It’s not too much to ask that parliamentarians refrain from engaging in physical altercations in the heat of the moment. It’s not too much to ask people to labour for safe(r) work environments.

Social media does not give you carte blanche to be a jerk, so how ’bout we (try to) stop being complicit in upholding violent patriarchal norms by not jumping down a women’s throat when she’s had a really bad day at the office?