Are you ready to ignite change? This week, as we mark International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the boys and men in our...

Posted by Sophie Grégoire Trudeau on Tuesday, March 7, 2017

On International Women's Day, Sophie Trudeau offered a controversial message: Honor boys and men.

On Facebook, Canada's first lady (a former journalist and mother of three) called on her supporters to “celebrate the boys and men in our lives who encourage us to be who we truly are, who treat girls & women with respect, and who aren’t afraid to speak up in front of others.” She asked fans to take a picture of themselves and their male allies, hand in hand. “Together, we can create a movement that inspires more men to join the fight to build a better tomorrow with equal rights & opportunities for everyone … because #EqualityMatters.”

Perhaps Trudeau intended to honor her famously feminist husband, who quickly appointed the first gender-balanced cabinet in Canadian history and consistently calls on men to support women, saying, “if you’re a progressive, you really should be a feminist because it’s about equality.”

But her remarks rubbed many the wrong way. In just a couple of hours, 4,000 people had commented on the post; many were scathing. “Why do we have to celebrate men on international women's day? I am puzzled. There are so many things that can be done to celebrate women, and yet the call goes out to celebrating men. Allies and unity are crucial, but so is womanhood,” one woman responded on Facebook. “Every day is Man's day … lol,” wrote another. Others called it “tone deaf,” “utterly ridiculous” and “shameful.”

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel even offered up a dig, tweeting, “I’ve never had to have my hand held.  Justin Trudeau.”

On Twitter, people were quick to mock.

Despite the backlash, the message did seem to resonate. So far, Trudeau's post has received 11,000 likes, while just 3,000 people chose the angry face emoji to express their dissatisfaction. “Ma'am, despite the backlash you're taking over this, I'd like to say thank you for the spirit of inclusion it was clearly meant in,” one male user wrote.

And over on Chatelaine, Christina Vardanis urged people down:

Internet, I get it. The public face of Sophie Grégoire Trudeau is one of unending, unfiltered earnestness and to be honest, it makes me deeply uncomfortable — partly because it’s hard to untangle her particular brand of unbridled enthusiasm from straight-up naiveté, but mostly because, despite testimonials that “it’s really how she is!" … But take away the photo (seriously, throw it away) and ignore for a second her awkward turns of phrase. What’s left is a pretty simple ask — that while we’re focused on women and women’s issues, we also take a minute to acknowledge the men and boys who are fighting for equal rights. That we value the work they do. That we recognize that without them, it will take a lot longer to close the pay gap, end violence against women, tackle massive infrastructure issues like a national daycare strategy and smash the myriad of glass ceilings that still exist, once and for all. That, to steal a phrase from someone all-to-familiar with that ceiling, we are stronger, together. That feminism should be inclusive. Are we sure that’s a message we want to let go up in smoke?

At an event Wednesday, Trudeau offered an explanation for her comments, saying, “If boys and men aren't part of the equation where we learn from one another, have truthful conversations and complement one another, we will not achieve the prosperity and peace that we deserve as human beings.” She also could have noted that in honor of International Women's Day, Justin Trudeau promised $650 million for reproductive rights around the world. (Critics, it should be noted, say that Trudeau is all talk and no action when it comes to women's issues, with one report saying that “while Liberal Party campaigned on a promise of inclusive growth, it has taken few meaningful steps towards pay equity, living wages, or supporting domestic workers, who are primarily women.")

Later Wednesday night, Sophie Trudeau took to Facebook again. She didn't apologize, but she did thank everyone for the conversation.

Well, now we’re having a conversation! Thanks to everyone for your feedback and pics! Love it. Our goal is gender...

Posted by Sophie Grégoire Trudeau on Tuesday, March 7, 2017