Sophie Gregoire Trudeau’s Facebook post urging women to celebrate men who promote gender equality on International Women’s Day has sparked both backlash and support on social media.
“This week, as we mark International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the boys and men in our lives who encourage us to be who we truly are, who treat girls & women with respect, and who aren’t afraid to speak up in front of others,” Gregoire Trudeau wrote Tuesday. “Take a picture holding hands with your male ally & share it on social media using the hashtag #TomorrowInHand.”
Gregoire Trudeau posted an image of herself holding hands with her husband, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
After 24 hours the post had received thousands of “likes” and “loves,” and nearly 3,000 comments. But the top comment, with more than 5,000 “likes,” asked why men should be celebrated on International Women’s Day.
“I am puzzled. There are so many things that can be done to celebrate women, and yet the call goes out to celebrating men. Allies and unity are crucial, but so is womanhood,” wrote a Facebook user named Bibi Ebel.
Below that, the second-top comment with more than 400 “likes” was equally critical.
“Ugh, really?!?! Don't we already celebrate men enough?? Do we really need to make International WOMENS Day about the men in our lives??? This seems to really miss the whole point,” wrote a user named Kristina Kurth Benoit.
Twitter user Robin Mazumder weighed in, saying as a “male ally, the last thing I would want to do is receive recognition and take up space on any day, let alone #IWD2017.”
As a male ally, the last thing I would want to do is receive recognition and take up space on any day, let alone #IWD2017. #tomorrowinhand— Robin Mazumder (@RobinMazumder) March 7, 2017
Oyster wife tweeted: “Because what we really need to do on international women’s day is pay more attention to men."
#tomorrowinhand because what we really need to do on international women's day is pay more attention to men— oyster wife (@adultcola_) March 7, 2017
The backlash continued on Twitter, where Conservative MP Michelle Rempel said she’s “never had to have my hand held.”
I've never had to have my hand held. #equalitymatters pic.twitter.com/z46NCZcZ4Z— Michelle Rempel (@MichelleRempel) March 7, 2017
But back on the original Facebook post, where “likes” outweighed the negative comments, others defended Gregoire Trudeau.
“It was just a comment to include not divide for heavens sake,” wrote one supporter. “The negativity this post has brought out does not even make sense.”
Others simply took up Gregoire Trudeau’s call, posting social media images featuring their male partners.
One Instagram user wrote that it’s “time to take a stand and to help women who are unable to help themselves, also take the time to thank the important male figures in your (life) who appreciate you and treat you with the respect you deserve.”
Tomorrow is international women's day, with that being said take a picture with a male who is important in your life and #tomorrowinhand , Grateful to live in such an amazing country that acknowledges the importance of gender equality and also the important role that women play in society, I get to wake up every morning and attend school,drive, things that I take for granted many women often don't attend school or have the ability to drive things that we take for granted, many women are often considered less then human simply because they are female, it's time to take a stand and to help women who are unable to help themselves, also take the time to thank the important male figures in your who appreciate you and treat you with the respect you deserve, we have come so far but there is still plenty of work to be done and together we can get there #genderequality #becauseiamagirl #bestrong #internationalwomensday #proudtobecanadian #menandwomenequal #breakstigmas #voiceforthevoiceless #voiceforchange #standup
Oh @sophiegregoiretrudeau I can deny you nothing! #TomorrowInHand #equalitymatters
Gregoire Trudeau responded to the controversy in a follow-up post Tuesday night -- and stayed positive.
“Well, now we’re having a conversation! Thanks to everyone for your feedback and pics! Love it. Our goal is gender equality, and fighting for it is going to require men and women working together -- raising our boys and girls to make a difference, hand-in-hand,” she wrote.
She further explained her thinking behind her original post on CTV Ottawa’s Morning Live show Wednesday.
“The idea is that we cannot create economic prosperity, we cannot create equality, and we cannot create unity and strength in our own society and country if men and women are not holding hands in partnership towards creating more equality,” Gregoire Trudeau said.
“Men need to stand tall, raise their voices, treat women with love and respect.”
She said she welcomes the comments on her Facebook and Instagram pages and sees them as “a great debate,” rather than harsh criticism.
“This is a type of authentic, real conversation filled with integrity and truths and sharing the facts,” she said.