Canada’s minister of status of women, Patty Hajdu, has denounced a proposal that would allow Canadians to carry pepper spray, saying it’s “offensive” to women because it focuses on women protecting themselves rather than on stopping men from attacking.
The proposal was introduced on Friday by Kellie Leitch, a Conservative member of the Canadian Parliament. It would amend Canada’s criminal code to allow the carrying of pepper spray. Leitch said the measure would “make Canada safer by better empowering Canadians to defend themselves from criminal acts,” adding that it’s a “sensible” way to “strengthen the rights of women,” according to Huffington Post.
Sounds pretty nice, right? Sounds pretty reasonable, right? Sounds pretty kookoobananas that Canadians aren’t allowed to carry pepper spray already, right?
Hajdu doesn’t think so. No, she released a statement damning Leitch’s idea as an example of sexist, victim-blaming rape culture:
Violence against women is unacceptable in our society and our government is committed to making sure that women facing violence have a safe place to turn. Ms. Leitch’s proposal is unrealistic and offensive to women across this country. Her misguided approach places the onus on women to defend themselves rather than focusing on addressing and preventing gender-based violence. It is not surprising, given that Ms. Leitch and the former Conservative government had 10 years to address violence against women and failed to do so.
That’s why, after 10 years of inaction, we are developing a federal gender-based violence strategy in consultation with provinces, territories and grassroots organizations to ensure that women in Canada can live free from violence. We will continue to make sure that gender equality is at the core of all government decisions we make.
Okay. Well, first of all, I’d like to state for the record that I definitely agree with Hajdu on the fact that people should not be violently attacking women. (Hot take, Hajdu!) But you’ll also notice that nowhere in her statement does she provide any specific examples for how to prevent it from ever happening. Why? Because that’s impossible. Like it or not, some people are just plain evil, and to think that the reason women are being raped is because their rapists just haven’t had the benefits of a “gender-based violence strategy” is delusional. As Leitch pointed out in a tweet defending her proposal: “Should a woman shout ‘federal gender-based violence strategy!’ if they are attacked? I think they should use mace & pepper spray.”
As a person with a functioning brain and a grip on reality, I agree with Leitch. To be fair, I do understand that pepper spray alone might not be enough to stop a rapist from attacking, but to say that offering a suggestion for how people might be able to to protect themselves is offensive because people shouldn’t have to protect themselves is misguided. After all, it’s also true that people shouldn’t have to have their homes burglarized, but that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be allowed to lock their doors at night. What’s more, just like with pepper spray, locking your doors might not always be enough to prevent a break-in, but giving people as many options as possible to protect themselves against the real possibility of evil is never a bad thing.
#related#No one with a soul would ever say that a person should have to be in a situation where they need to fight off someone who is attacking them. But the fact is, we don’t live in a perfect world, and no “gender-based violence strategy” is going to be able to change that. Insisting on condemning practical solutions because the problems that they might help solve should ideally not occur is not just stupid, it’s harmful. It makes the world a more dangerous place, and I highly doubt that a woman who stopped her rape with pepper spray would give a rat’s ass about how the idea to allow her to have the spray did not conform to Hajdu’s standards of ideological purity. It’s not like Leitch wants to force people to carry it. It’s not like Leitch is saying allowing pepper spray is all that needs to be done to stop violence. Leitch just wants to give people an option for self-protection — one that they should really already have the freedom to have for many reasons — and shame on Hajdu for discouraging it.