In more than 20 years as a journalist. I like to think I'm practically unshockable and that I've seen every form of sexism there is.
When we go out to report on location, it's not uncommon to hear whoops and catcalls from men in passing cars as we stand outdoors for a live hit, or to tape an "on camera."
That is bad enough.
But the popularity of a recent online phenomenon — one in which the perpetrator pushes beyond the bounds of decency and invades our workplace — is something only the most diseased and misogynistic mind could come up with.
More than half a century after the first International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the last thing we should be talking about is the "F--- her right in the P---y" trend, but here we are.
I should say upfront that I'm not looking for sympathy, consolation or pity. Part of me feels that the trolls who have popularized this disgusting internet meme have already gotten far more attention than they deserve with millions of hits on YouTube.
But abuse in all its forms needs to be challenged, and if those of us who can speak up don't, we are complicit in our silence.
A sickening experience
I must admit I hadn't heard about this most recent perversion until about a week ago when a colleague in Montreal posted on Facebook.
While she was doing a live hit, a man came up behind her and, with a smile on his face, said to the camera: FHRITP. Shortly thereafter, it happened to one of her female colleagues — three times in one day.
And last Friday, it happened to me.
I was shooting with my videographer outside the FFAW office on Hamilton Avenue. A light grey car drove by, slowing down long enough for a young guy of about 20 to stick his head out the window and yell "F--- her right in the p---y" before the car sped off.
I was completely taken aback. Like many women, we automatically revert to the default position and ask ourselves: "What did I do wrong?"
But I knew I had done nothing wrong.
The experience made me sick, and then it made me angry.Depraved phenomenon
In case you don't know what this depraved phenomenon is, it was apparently started by an American internet prankster named John Cain back in January.
Cain's story is that he was fired by Fox News when, while reporting a story about a missing woman, he inadvertently said live on air that he'd like to "f--- her right in the p----y".
However, Cain appears to never have been a reporter at all. He invented the whole thing by editing himself together with actual TV footage to give his stunt the air of authenticity.
Shortly thereafter another video appeared on the internet with a hooded, bearded man named "Fred" interrupting a female reporter, snatching her microphone and shouting FHRITP. The trend has spawned numerous imitators who have accosted female reporters across the continent.
I can't help but ask, what kind of man behaves this way? Would this guy have found this kind of abuse so hilarious if it were HIS sister, mother, daughter, niece, girlfriend?
I couldn't help but wonder who raised this creep. When I was growing up our parents taught us respect — for everyone regardless of gender. My father raised my brothers to respect women and to stand up for them. He believed any man who didn't respect women had no respect for himself or anyone else.
And I believe that's where the fight to eradicate violence begins. If the perpetrators of this FHRITP filth can so easily abuse women verbally, what else are they capable of along the continuum of sexual and physical violence against women?Unfiltered and lightning-fast
Throughout history, those prone to abusing women have always found an outlet for their depravity. But in the age of social media acts of exploitation spread unfiltered and with lightning speed.
Let me be clear, I am not blaming technology for the sins of its users, but social media is kerosene to the flame of a contaminated mind.
John Cain and his copycat trolls think demeaning women on the job in front of the audience they serve is funny.
It's not funny. It's offensive, degrading and sick.
But every time we allow an act of violence to go unchecked we are enabling the abusers.
So for the first time in my life, I'm speaking out publicly about violence against women. I'd like all my colleagues to know about it and to keep their guard up. I'm just saddened that in 2014 we need to be having this conversation.