Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.
Vicky Mochama: Against the sabotaging noise, women are devoted to getting the work done
A focus on getting results despite minimizing and gendered comments is a constant dynamic of our politics, writes Vicky Mochama.
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After trying to ignore the Climate Change Barbie insult coined by alt-right website Rebel Media, environment minister Catherine McKenna snapped when a former Conservative minister used the smear late last year.
Rather than continue to ignore it, and against the advice of her staff, she answered a question about it during a scrum. “My daughters showed me the video afterwards, and you can tell I'm mad and upset,” she said in a recent interview with Report On Business Magazine.
The insulting moniker is meant to diminish her credibility and brand her a neophyte. Yet, as she noted, she considers her relative newness an advantage: “People call me a rookie. Well, in some ways, you come to this without any preconceived notions about how things work. I'm just here to get things done.”
McKenna’s focus on getting results despite minimizing and gendered comments is a constant dynamic of our politics. Against the sabotaging noise, women are devoted to getting the work done.
A similar dynamic is on display in the documentary The Final Year, added to Netflix Canada this week.
It follows senior foreign affairs officials in the White House through the last 12 months of the Obama administration. As they work through major issues on Syria, Laos, Iran, and climate change, the team is committed to ensuring eight years of diplomatic efforts are sustained.
But in a movie about American foreign policy, Hillary Clinton’s leadership as secretary of state is glossed over. It’s yet another way women do the work, then get written out.
Throughout the whole documentary, in fact, I was drawn to the women who were doing the work. In one scene, it is election night in America and speechwriter Ben Rhodes is reeling from the results. As he verbalizes his feelings, my eyes were drawn to a woman in the background. While he talks, she is typing on a computer, clearly working.
Earlier in the year, around the same time that Rhodes is receiving flak for comments he made about the media, UN representative Sam Power is checking out an interactive exhibit that connects visitors directly to refugee camps; she then repeatedly extols a Saudi Arabian representative to attend the exhibit, adding she’ll press the UN Secretary General to keep it running.
Rhodes’ self-aggrandizing becomes grating; it’s the noise in the foreground as women quietly and steadfastly do the work.
The tension of the coming Clinton loss rumbles quietly under the film. Like a slasher movie, you want the characters to turn around before the Bad Thing happens.
Despite reliving that horror, it’s worth watching to see in a real way what women in power face — being talked over, ignored, and diminished — while getting things done.