Ontario election: Petersen — 'A strong advocate for sexual health education, informed consent and healthy relationships'

The Citizen invited local candidates in the June 2 election to tell voters what they hope to do for the riding if elected. Today: Orléans Green party candidate Michelle Petersen.

Michelle Petersen 3 minute read May 20, 2022

Michelle Petersen is the Green party candidate in Orléans. jpg

The Citizen invited local candidates in the Ontario June 2 election to tell voters what they hope to do specifically for their riding if elected. Several responded by our deadline, and we’re happy to share the pitches of those who did. Today: Orléans Green party candidate Michelle Petersen:

As a young woman, I was not interested in politics at all. I found it boring! I didn’t see the relevance of it for me. It wasn’t until I became part of a francophone and feminist workplace, at Ottawa’s francophone CALACS (Centre d’aide et de lutte contre les agressions à caractère sexuel) that I came to realize: the personal is political, a phrase first coined by American feminist Carol Hanisch in 1970.

The people we elect determine the social context in which we live. They create laws that structure the society we live in every day. They hold enormous power. After witnessing the flaws in the system over and over, I realized that if I wanted change, folks with power needed to get involved and follow the leadership of communities most impacted. This is why I’m a strong advocate for representation that reflects the true diversity of our communities — in politics, in education, in media, everywhere!

When I learned about the dress code protests at École secondaire catholique Béatrice Desloges, I was proud to see students who were not accepting this unfair treatment at their school, their everyday living environment. After the #MeToo movement, many of us are no longer willing to tolerate patriarchal rules that choose to limit our freedom rather than hold accountable the systems that perpetuate sexism, misogyny, gender inequality, rape culture and ultimately, all gender-based violence.

Does the popular belief remain that short shorts and bikini strap tank tops attract the eye and … what? Distract? Seduce? Provoke assaults? Seriously?!

What will it take for people in authority  to understand? When we teach young women that it’s up to them not to dress too sexy, we also normalize and teach young men to judge, to sexualize, to objectify their peers. A harmful message is then taught and validated: “If she dresses like that, it’s to seduce you.”

That’s enough! It’s long past time for women to dress the way they want without fearing for their physical, sexual, emotional and psychological safety!

Rather than imposing archaic and sexist rules, consider creating a learning environment where all your students are safe and free.

If elected, I will be a strong advocate for sexual health education, sexual and reproductive health and rights, informed consent and healthy relationships.

Let’s offer youth the opportunity to reflect and develop their own analysis of privilege and power dynamics so that they may continue building a more just and equitable world for themselves and for all.

Biography: Michelle Petersen is the Green Party candidate in Orléans. She is a former psychotherapist and currently is the Director of Operations at Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes, the provincial coalition of francophone and feminist services for victims and survivors of gender-based violence.


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