Since his election in 2016, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been revered by many as a champion of diversity and equality. But on February 1st, Trudeau interrupted a woman during a public event to rephrase her words, causing some to accuse him of mansplaining.
At a town-hall event in Alberta, one woman addressed Trudeau to talk about gender equality, complimenting him for recognizing female strength.
But Trudeau interrupted the woman to correct her, saying she should use the gender-neutral term “peoplekind” instead of “mankind.”
Several people in the audience cheered Trudeau. But after the video of Trudeau’s comments began to circulate, backlash was swift, with critics saying that Trudeau had behaved in a condescending and even sexist manner. One conservative paper, the Toronto Sun, even accused the prime minister of mansplaining.
Today, February 7th, Trudeau apologized for his remark.
But Trudeau’s apology didn’t stop Twitter users from labeling his comments as sexist.
Some even pointed out the irony that Trudeau appeared to mansplain issues relating to gender equality.
Others defended Trudeau, saying that his quip was clearly meant to be a joke.
But one correspondent for the Toronto Star pointed out in a tweet that the woman didn’t seem offended by Trudeau’s interruption, saying to him, “There you go, exactly. Yes.”
As prime minister, Trudeau has often embraced socially progressive values. In November, he made what he called a “long overdue apology” for the past treatment of LGBTQ Canadians, and he has also issued similar apologies to indigenous communities. Trudeau’s “peoplekind” comment was no doubt intended to be a progressive joke, but he still should have let the woman finish her thought. Men interrupting and mansplaining is an all-too-common experience for women and, as a feminist, Trudeau needs to listen when women are talking. We hope that Trudeau will learn from this experience and do better in the future.