If you've ever wondered why women are reluctant to bring forward allegations of sexual harassment, look no further than the furor unleashed when 15 female police officers contacted city councillor and police commissioner Diane Colley-Urquhart to discuss sexual harassment and the culture of intimidation and retaliation they'd experienced at the Calgary Police Service.
Women continue to fear for their safety not only on campuses but on streets, in parks and on trails. I have spoken to a number of women who say they no longer jog alone on wooded trails. They also face harassment and implicit bias in the workplace which affects their ability to be effective and to advance in those workplaces. And now Trump has brought that same harassment onto a global political stage.
Despite retaining my "anti social in style" persona, I've been interrupted more times than I can count by men telling me to take off my headphones so that they can talk to me. There have been times when they have literally jumped in front of me and blocked my path so that we could just "have a conversation" (and it's always the same one). The whole interaction is not just annoying; it often borders on invasive.
This bar encourages women to alert bar staff if their dates make them feel unsafe or if they receive unwanted attention from other customers. The sign posted in the women's washroom reads: "Your safety and happiness is our highest priority." Not surprisingly, support for this policy has reverberated across the Atlantic.
I am invested in this issue because women are my relations. I'm a dad, a son, a husband, a brother-in-law, and thinking, sentient member of the human race! The reasons this keeps happening cannot be solely blamed on the legal system; they start at home. There is a profound sickness within a society that would allow men to perpetrate violence against women with virtual impunity. What is it within men that we see women with so little regard? Too many men don't think there is a problem.
Those who are affected by sexual violence and harassment do not feel safe, they do not feel heard, and they do not feel they can come forward. But little by little, we are making a positive change. And we're doing this by educating, empowering and informing people that sexual violence and harassment is never okay. Because we can and must change -- change the way we talk about sexual violence and harassment, how we confront misogyny and sexism, how we teach young people what consent means.
This past week, the outgoing Chief of Defence Staff -- the man at the very top of that metaphorical hill -- unwittingly let us all have a peek at the highest levels of thinking around this problem. Why would we accept Lawson's mumbly assertion that the military is powerless to alter people's "biological wiring"? This is actually a huge part of what the command structure has always done. The military indoctrinates soldiers so that they do such things not just without question, but to the best of their ability. So why is it so hard to indoctrinate them into a reasonable understanding of why sexual harassment is unacceptable?
It's hard to put into words how I felt at that moment. Scared. Objectified. Threatened. Invalidated. I felt like I was going to cry. Turned my head for about 15 seconds, took a sip of water, told myself to just plug through, went to talk and my voice was all warbled like I was about to cry. Realized I couldn't talk because I was so upset. Said into the microphone, "I'm sorry but I can't do this." I was not able to do my job because someone was sexually harassing me. As a stand up comic I do not have a Human Resources Department. The stage is my workplace and I was publicly humiliated, objectified and belittled.