A Closer Look at REAL Women of Canada

by | August 12, 2013
filed under Can-Con, Feminism, Politics

Photo of the Canadian Parliament buildings

Photo of the Canadian Parliament buildings

by Patricia Kmiec

The self-described “pro-family conservative women’s movement” known as REAL Women of Canada has made their way into the headlines once again. This time they have publicly attacked Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird for publicly defending gay rights in Russia and Uganda. REAL women explains that Baird’s position is “offensive” and “undermine[s] other countries’ sovereignty and dignity.”

Of course, the media is attracted to the irony of this conservative group publicly calling out Baird, one of the most recognizable faces of the Conservative government, for “causing collateral damage to his party.” While I often find such public spats over ‘how conservative is too conservative?’ entertaining, there comes a point where we need to look at exactly who is perpetuating these ideas and who is listening.

REAL (Realistic, Equal, Active, for Life) Women of Canada was founded in 1983 and served as an active lobby group that countered efforts of pro-choice feminists to legalize abortion in Canada, and their anti-choice position remains at the centre of their work. They have also actively campaigned against other causes including: legalizing prostitution, expanding access to state-supported childcare, and establishing a Canadian human rights museum.

Though REAL Women claims to represent “women (and men) from all walks of life,” it is clear that their outdated ideas are shared by very few. In fact, they make no mention of their membership numbers or who their board members are on their website. Though their Facebook group has 738 members, a quick browse through the comments suggests that many of even those who “like” the group’s page are just there to oppose their regular posts.

So why should we care? It appears that this organization has very few members and is only given any attention when they release a press statement that is simply too absurd to ignore. But should we be ignoring them? I wish it were that easy.

Unfortunately, REAL Women still has sway with the Conservative government. As recently as last year, REAL Women was one of the chosen community organizations invited by the Harper government to recommend Canadians for the Queen’s Jubilee awards, while hundreds of other organizations (including EGALE Canada) were left off the list and unable to put forward nominees for the well-recognized awards.

So what are women (you know, women who actually care about women) to do? I would say make sure that your voice is out there. Regardless of who is telling us that we no longer need feminism and that women have achieved equality in Canada – keep letting people know that you support women’s rights.

Write letters to the editors, post comments online, volunteer for local feminist organizations (or start one!), or contact your local political representative when women’s issues come up, because you can be sure that the women of REAL Women are.

It is true that women’s views span across the board. Certainly women have every right to be anti-choice or disagree with issues like gay marriage – but when an organization like REAL Women continues to lobby the government in favour of discriminatory action on various levels, it is essential that actual real women continue to stand up against them.


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  • LDJohns

    I was so happy to find your site as I too am a women’s liber. I believe there is currently a war against women and that we have to seriously address this issue before the next election, through media and by having serious discussions between women and with our daughters. I believe it has to start with changing the pathetic ratio of female/male MP’s in Parliament. We currently only have 24% female MP’s in the House of Commons and approx. 30% in the Senate. We are powerless to change any laws in Parliament regarding gender equality and protection until we get more females in Parliament.
    Because of this Harper has been allowed to enact a law under “Violent Crime Act” to raise the age of sexual consent to 16 years. THAT WAS GREAT!!! However, he also brought in a close-in-age law exemption protecting almost 20 year old males who prey on our 15 year old daughters and almost 19 year old males who prey our 14 year old daughters. He also brought in a 2 year close-in-age exemption, so that 14 year old boys could prey on our 12 year old girls (older brothers pressure their younger brothers to use these girls). That 12 year old girl could have been 11 years old a day before. Girls and Boys think differently, boys are egotistical, girls are emotional. These manipulative males who use our daughters simply to satisfy their sexual gratification which has created a society of girls who have self esteem issues and a society of predatory boys who disrespect and abuse females.
    There is a term “Power Differential”. That is where there is a power over another person due to age and maturity. Although I realize males do not mature as quickly as females, they do have the capacity of understanding at 18, 19 that they can manipulate girls who are 5 years younger. And with the guidance of their older brothers that 14 year old can manipulate 12,13 year old. Fathers are encouraging their sons to go out and “sow their oats” and to use these girls.
    Criminal Code – Sexual Assault Laws R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46, Section. 150 and Section 172 have to be changed.
    These laws can only be changed when we have more female MP’s in the House of Commons and the Senate. To succeed we need to send out a message to all women of voting age that we vote for the female candidates. Voting is done anonymously, therefore they do not have to fear repercussions for doing this.
    Stephen Harper is using Pamela Wallin as a scapegoat. And now apparently they are looking at Carolyn Stewart Olsen’s expense?Since when do we penalize anyone for adhering to the laws that were in place at the time. Since when do we go back retroactively, disregard the laws at that time and impute the current laws so that they can impose higher expense fraud? Harper, do you really think we are stupid?
    Recently Stephen Harper nominated yet another male judge to the Supreme Court of Canada, Justice Marc Nadon, this is the 5th male judge since he took office. That means we have 6 males and 3 female Judges.
    Justice MacLaughlin, 1 of the 3 female Judges of the Supreme Court of Canada was asked what she thought about the gender imbalance, and she simply said that she respected Harper’s decisions. She could not publicly speak out because until we do get a majority of women in Parliament, women in key positions are threatened.
    This is the real reason Pamela Wallin has accepted paying back all the expenses including the ones that were added from the period retroactive to the now current laws. When we get a majority of women in Parliament, we can deal with gender equality, reforming laws on sexual assault, maintain our rights over our bodies, prevent Sharia Law from being enacted (Dalton McGuinty attempted to bring in Sharia Law 5 years ago. Is Justin Trudeau warming up to the Muslim population to gain there vote and give them what they want? Perhaps Sharia Law?), increase female Judges, Incorporate into our schools new programming teaching the laws on sexual assault; how important voting is to citizens; defining girls value in society;, laws for media to prevent tv shows, songs that are normalizing date rape; friends with benefits (casual non committed relationships – for older women who cares, but for our young daughters who are being manipulated and abused, this only serves to give boys what they want); underage drinking;
    I would appreciate hearing from you what you think of my points of view.
    Sincerely,
    Larraine

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