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.
Ten-year-old Hannah used to love going to school but now the Ontario fourth grader is too scared to return and her mother Nicola can't blame her. On Monday, Hannah experienced the second of two incidents of bullying with a disturbingly sexual tone. Hannah's mother spoke to the school principal, and although the boy admitted to the incident, as far as she knows no further action was taken by the school. As of Wednesday, Nicola's calls to the superintendent and her school trustee had not been returned, and the principal did not respond to a request for comment for this post.
People are now asking whether Shawn Simoes deserved to lose his job for defending his friend shouting FHRITP on-camera. I'm firm on this: he did. Hydro One's decision sends the message that this behaviour is categorically not okay. By firing Simoes, Hydro One is at least admitting that an individual's private and professional lives are never truly separate because the same person occupies both spaces. We're living in a post-Jian Ghomeshi setting, and while Ghomeshi hasn't been convicted, what he's accused of happened both at work and at home. The idea that one affects the other isn't far-fetched.
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.