The University of Dalhousie is currently facing a scandal regarding some fourth-year male dentistry students who have been caught posting sexually violent and misogynistic comments on a Facebook page. It was announced last night that the University will proceed with a restorative justice process. While some may think it might be an appropriate response to join together both parties in order to come to a mutual agreement on an appropriate punishment, in this particular case -- and in all cases of violence against women -- this route is likely to favour the perpetrators and disappoint or further victimize the female victims.
It's no longer a matter of discretion on the part of employers to permit smoking in the workplace. Why? Because its effects are known to be toxic. Sexual harassment can be no less toxic to those affected. It's time our political leaders got that message. They need to stop allowing employers, including governments themselves, to turn a blind eye when sexual harassment and reprisals occur, and put in place tough laws that really protect women.
It is time to end the reign of "nice" and to recognize that both men and women suffer from this tyranny of harassment and feelings of powerlessness. If women try to be nice to avoid problems and disruption of relationships, men may misunderstand and continue the harassment or it may embolden them to continue, not fearing any consequences for their actions.
If a woman decides to leave the organization because of what she perceives to be a lingering toxic atmosphere, she will often have problems finding another job. Why? Nobody gets a good reference from an employer that was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint. Yet, human rights tribunals and the courts have made reprisals for asserting the right to be free from sexual harassment one of the most difficult types of discrimination to prove.
Arlene is one of the most successful women in our country, a celebrity entrepreneur, a voice for women and a voice for entrepreneurs. She picked our forum to use that voice: Not only to address a topic that is top of mind for our nation, but also to share her own personal experiences of being sexually harassed.
For many years, I have wondered what might be the limit of our tolerance for sexual freedoms. I have no doubt that that tolerance ends when those sexual freedoms infringe on the dominion, to use Ghomeshi's word, of one's own body. Given how difficult it is to determine when that is the case, or is not the case, however, I suspect we will be hearing many more stories of "poor persecuted perverts."
My last night in India had a moment like that. It shifted my experience for me, and I'm still working to process what has changed. He said, "men will be men." He manipulated my friendliness, my culture, my joy for life, and passion for my work as an open invitation to remind me that I was indeed in the centre of Delhi.
I haven't seen any surveys that say definitively how many five to twelve year old girls are frequenting comic book stores and watching Star Trek. I'm sure that the number, whatever it is, is higher than the numbers were in the 1970s but I'm willing to bet that it still disproportionately less than the number of boys.
I know that many of us feel hurt when men in general are blamed for violence against women. And many of us have or do feel the need to exclaim, "not all men!" And its true, not all men hurt women. And some of us have been hurt by women. But I encourage, implore, beg and hope all men will consider, just consider, what it means to walk through the world with the privilege of being seen as a man.
In the past day, two events occured: a kindergartner kissed a female classmate's hand, and a group of Toronto-based "Pick Up Artists" were shooed away from the Eaton Centre by public outcry and security teams. One of these situations has resulted in sex offender charges, and it's not the one you think.
It's been almost a year since a gang rape in Delhi overtook the news cycle and sparked protests and discussion about women's safety, sexual violence and patriarchy in India and around the world. On the eve of that anniversary, when we start to ask if there have been any real changes in policing, education and everything else, Anurag Kashyap (Dev D, That Girl in Yellow Boots) releases a short film called, That Day After Everyday, that looks at sexual harassment, surveillance and violence in India.
Everyone agrees that there is more bullying these days and that it could be handled better. However, no one is asking why the incidence of bullying has increased so markedly. People used to think that bullies act the way they do because they suffer from low self-esteem. The truth turned out to be exactly the opposite.
As I read the reports, it is hard not to remember what it was like when I was in high school. I grew up in a typical small prairie town with good, honest hard-working people. Yet I'm sure that if we're being honest with ourselves, most of us know that what happened in Steubenville could have easily happened where we lived, in any city or town.