Sexism: A Misused Term


Religious tolerance and gender inequality are two topics that Canada prides itself on having. However, when such topics come into practice, are they as greatly protected as Canadian officials say they are? This is a question that seems to be usually answered in a biased manner. The answer to my question is, in the simplest terms, no. In religions, such as Orthodox Judaism and Islam, physical interaction between men and women is prohibited with the exception of interfamily contact. However, due to the structure of our current society, such interactions are inevitable. Does that mean if an opportunity to avoid the interactions without causing any harm to any party, the individual should not take it? Again, no. When considering the perspective of religious tolerance, such beliefs should not be compromised, but rather, they should be understood instead of being fought against in a war of ideological differences.

In York University, a student made a request from his professor to excuse him from a group project because the student did not believe in “intermingling between men and women.” The professor, then, forwarded the request to the dean of the faculty and the University Center for human rights in hopes that it would be denied under the pretense of “sexism”. Instead, the dean of the faculty, instructed Mr. Grayson to “accommodate” the student’s request. The professor neglected the decision, forcing the student to make further accommodations.

This event is one of many conflicts between religion and gender equality, but just tolerance for the student was heavily rejected and was not taken into consideration by professor Grayson. York University stands by its decision to excuse the student, but their decision was not accepted by any federal MPs. What these MPs need to realize, is that the request was not an act of “sexism” as claimed by conservative MP Mark Adler, but rather, one of innocent belief in regards to his religion. No sexist remark was made nor was any prejudiced intended. Canadian culture is not limited to one set of beliefs.  Why are those who “challenge” the so called “societal norms” so horrifically labeled? Why should one person compromise their beliefs because the other person deems them wrong? Why should it be either gender equality or religious tolerance? Instead of using both ideologies, Canadian society uses one against the other. To claim “sexism” to such a small request is unjust. After all, this is Canada and there is no room for such implication. The situation could have simply been resolved with reasoning and understanding.  


4 thoughts on “Sexism: A Misused Term

  1. This is very interesting, in such an all encompassing society conflict between gender equality and religious practices are sure to continue to emerge in the future.

  2. While I can understand and perhaps even relate to this side of the argument, that society as a whole may have gone to far in trying to wipe “sexism” off the map, at the same time I feel as though we need to be very careful with this kind of issue. I say this because while this specific incident may not have any malicious intentions, it is laughably easy to “cover” unacceptable behaviour by passing it off as religious belief or necessity.

  3. I think the author has picked up an important topic that has seen growing importance in contemporary society. Individual freedom has taken a shape stronger than ever. People put great value on their ideology and has extensive ways of sharing (just like i am doing now). I believe practicing ones religion free from external bias is one of the most fundamental focal points in a nations constitution and especially in Canada where multiculturalism and multi ethnicism is largely tolerated, practiced and invited with pride. However it is indeed surprising that in practice one is bound to face immense pressure from the society, even in a society as liberal as Canada’s. I believe people will come around their senses and stop judging others based on petty issues and concentrate on what is good for humanity as a whole. Not long ago africans were considered sub humans by the greatest of minds and now the concept is just disgusting and filled with ignorance. Peoples views are dynamic, but it is always better to be ethical and use ones own head and senses. Gender equality has become a very important issue with the emergence of economics as the most important showcase of a nations success. Money is the name of the game, and it is out there, only problem is that there is a lot of players. In Canada divorce rate is 45%, so women as well as men must compete for jobs to make ends meet. Here gender equality has become a matter of life, health , safety ,status, you name it-its there. I think men and women are both wonderful creations of god and i believe god is proud of each equally. However that does not mean men and women have to be treated exactly equally, yes i understand gender roles are a socially created phenomenon, but that does not necessarily imply ‘it is wrong’, lots of norms are social outcomes that civilized societies have adopted for centuries and which has now taken a shape that ultimate serves to keep peace in society. I support the idea of women having equal rights to do jobs just as men, but i also believe that there is nothing wrong if someone chooses to cover herself. Now you can argue, why does she have to wear decent clothes? why cant men stay away? why does not the government or the employer take steps? Frankly this is the human nature, we cant just change it with a click. Its more convenient to wear leather shoes that cover the whole world in leather. All that i am trying to say is that no matter what religious background one comes from, we should put humanity first, we should use our head and senses to decipher the processes that leads to peace and well being. We should stop arguing regarding why sheikhs wear turbans or muslim women covers herself, and treat others with respect, and understand the underlying value and beauty of systems that at first seems ridiculous.

  4. I found your blog post very interesting to read, and I think a lot of people can relate to, if not will know someone who has experienced religious intolerance or gender inequality in Canada. I am mainly interested in the religious tolerance part of your blog because I feel that sometimes, people do not realise that such an issue exists.
    With globalisation, Canada is becoming more and more diverse as time passes. There are people coming in the country with varying religious backgrounds, may it be Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, Hindu etc., the reality is that we are becoming a multicultural state and certain policies and laws will have to change in order to adapt to Canada’s changing society. Upon doing more research on Canada’s religious tolerance, it is suggested that the assumption that Canada is a secular state which has solved religious intolerance and discrimination, Canadians do not realise that religious disadvantage still exists (
    Looking at your example, it is a clear indication that Canada still hasn’t solved its religious intolerance or its gender equality problems. People still experience one or the other, or sometimes even both. Just by quickly looking at the top 10 source countries of permanent residents in Canada, the top three countries are Philippines, India and China ( We can assume that people coming from Philippines are Christians, from India are Christians or Hindus and from China are Buddhists. This is a very vague assumption and it is just to give an estimate of people with different religious backgrounds coming in Canada. With more Buddhists and Hindus coming in, Canada should be able to accommodate to the people of those religions and set up policies and laws for religious freedom. A simple example is that Chinese New Year is not seen as a national holiday in Canada, thus the Chinese community is at a disadvantage.
    I also briefly want to compare Canada to another country, Malaysia. I lived there for a bit and since there was a wide variety of religions (Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus), all of the religious holidays were recognised. In my school, we had a holiday for Christmas, the Prophet’s birthday, Chinese New Year and Diwali. In my opinion, Malaysia, in one way, was able to accommodate all of the different religious backgrounds. I am not saying that Malaysia is free from religious tolerance; I do not know the answer to that as it would require further research and a deeper understanding. But I just wanted to give an example and show how religious tolerance is handled in a different state.

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