Freedom of Expression
The Issue: Enforced Language
The women’s movement for equal rights has had its share of pushback over the decades. But perhaps in no recent time has the need to express ourselves and maintain our rights, in our own words, been under more threat than in this early part of the 21st century.
There is a clash of rights between women’s sex-based rights and gender identity rights (both ‘protected classes’ under the Canadian Charter of Rights). Gender identity activists—backed by some Canadian academics and politicians—have created a narrative that states that any expressed concerns about our female sex-based rights and needs for things like single sex spaces for women and girls (change rooms, prisons, and spaces on sports teams), constitutes a form of ‘hate’ speech.
This constant ‘shape shifting’ around the word ‘woman’, and now, the questioning of even the material reality between female and sex classes, is moving women’s hard-won rights backwards.
Why does enforced language matter?
Language is power, and powerful. People who wish to undo the rights women have fought for over a century, understand this and are trying to re-define—or trying to have no objective, scientific recognized definition at all--around the meaning of the word ‘woman.’
Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms establishes our right to freedom of expression, on issues like gender and sex. The Supreme Court of Canada has interpreted this right in a very broad fashion.
What false narratives do:
Go against our Freedom of Expression rights;
Attempt to shut down our ability to debate openly and express counter arguments to new ideologies, which we would base on critical thought, material reality, reason and science;
At its base, attempts to strip us of our agency as Canadian women and citizens
What can we do about enforced language?
Women’s Space Vancouver has written a letter to the BCCDC and multiple politicians in response to the BCCDC Language Guide.
We can all refuse to use the new language. We can refuse to accept it, and let people know why. We can boycott products sold by companies that use the new language and let them know why.