New-moms parking debate turns into 'oppression Olympics'
Justin Simard and his nine-month-old son Charles are seen in this undated handout photo in Stratford, P.E.I. (The Canadian Press/HO, Justin Simard)
CHARLOTTETOWN — A new father’s successful appeal to make a new-mothers parking spot more inclusive has prompted a debate stoked by what one observer calls the “oppression Olympics.”
Justin Simard prompted a Sobeys grocery store in Stratford, P.E.I., to change policies this week — the chain now welcomes fathers to use parking spots marked for new mothers.
The move prompted one mother to write a letter to a P.E.I. newspaper, noting the physical toll that giving birth takes on women, and saying the complaint is an example of men feeling entitled to female-designated spaces.
The debate raged as well on social media, where some applauded Simard’s push for father-friendly parking, while others saw his stance against “sexist” signage as itself being sexist.
The 38-year-old Simard has admitted it “seems silly” for a man to complain about sexism, but he also questioned the inclusivity of excluding, for example, two-father families.
A professor who studies diversity and social justice at University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown says efforts towards inclusion are sometimes interpreted as coming at another group’s expense.
Ann Braithwaite says she thinks the issue has been blown out of proportion by what she called the “oppression Olympics,” in which groups vie to one up each other’s claims to hardship.