Posts Tagged ‘sexism’

Well, the wonderful folks at Name It Change It have another example of sexist media coverage of female politicians to add to their Media Guide to Gender Neutral Coverage of Women Candidates. The news sweeping the nation (shockingly, including our nation) this week was of Hillary Clinton’s scrunchie fashion faux pas that has her aides embarrassed. This is the US Secretary of State for crying out loud. Despite the fact that Hillary Clinton is one of the most powerful politicians on this side of the world, the Globe and Mail reports that her penchant for scrunchies has “lit up the Internet faster than a foreign-policy debate.” I for one wish we would just discuss foreign policy. This kind of sexist coverage is a lasting vestige of inequality for women, and as Name It Change It argues, is very successful at keeping women out of the political arena. Let’s just talk politics, shall we?

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Check out this super-interesting episode of CBC TV’s The Fifth Estate that chronicles their investigation of sexual harassment in the RCMP.

Special thanks to Raelynn for the heads up!

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There have been two big stories in the news recently about sexual harassment:

* American presidential hopeful Herman Cain

* Allegations of members of the RCMP, especially  Catherine Galliford

It would be easy for those of us lucky enough to work in respectful environments to be under the impression that workplace sexual harassment was rapidly (and happily) becoming a thing of the past. These stories, however, make it clear that the problem persists; while allegations in both stories have taken some time to come to light, all of the incidents in question are by no means ancient history. And they both raise a lot of questions: Why do these incidents and allegations persist in what is supposedly an increasingly enlighted and egalitarian world? Is a para-military, rigidly hierarchical structure partly (or mostly) to blame? Are the women involved being too sensitive, or are the men involved being too insensitive? What’s the best way to deal with these kinds of allegations?   

 The Globe and Mail published a somehow simultaneously pointed and yet tongue-in-cheek opinion piece this weekend by Tabatha Southey that we enjoyed and thought we should share. It’s called “Lighten up, ladies! Sexual harassment, sexual shmarassment, right?“, and it begins with Herman Cain’s comment, “I do have a sense of humour — some people have a problem with that.” Check it out here.


Update: Here‘s another opinion piece, this one from the New York Times, written by Katie Roiphe and taking a very different approach workplace sexual harassment. It’s called “In Favour of Dirty Jokes and Risque Remarks.”

Give them both a read and let us know what you think!

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As we mentioned the other day, the Winnipeg Free Press took a step in the right direction by publishing Meghan’s letter to the editor.  The letter was a response to Miss Lonelyheart’s column from a few days before, which bore the brutal and offensive headline “He didn’t rape you; You were too lazy to say no.”

Well, yesterday (Oct 25), Miss Lonelyheart’s herself saw fit to publish a letter responding to the column. Perhaps unsuprisingly, however, the writer not only agrees with the previous column, but actually thanks Miss L emphatically for her insensitive and irresponsible response. See Below:


Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: You’ll probably take some flak for your response to Just Wondering, who had consensual sex with a man who begged her until he wore her down; but not from me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this plain-spoken, no-nonsense response! The fact that a woman has regrets afterwards doesn’t mean it was rape. The fact that a woman finds it difficult to live with the self-image of being the kind of person who has pity sex with losers doesn’t make it rape. IMHO, it isn’t rape unless she honestly, truly, had no choice in the matter. — Fairness and Clarity, Winnipeg

Dear Fairness: This young woman had a man begging her for sex. He didn’t force her. Rather than asking him to leave and showing him the door, she walked him down the hallway to her bedroom and had sex with him because she felt sorry for him. She called it charity sex. Afterwards, she wished she hadn’t. That is not rape. She should have picked up his jacket, told him in a firm and friendly way it was time to go home, and walked to the door and opened it.

A link to the column is here, but it will likely only be available for about a week.


Here at the FLF, it’s not our intention to sound like a broken record. That being said, we can’t over-state the importance of documenting and commenting on how prevalent and concerning these misconceptions about sexual assault really are.

We’d love to hear anything you have to say about this, and we’d also love to read more letters in the Free Press setting Miss Lonelyhearts straight!


A note from Eli: signing the letter “Fairness and Clarity” is not only nauseating; it reminds me of Fox News. Yuck.

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Update on our earlier post about Miss Lonelyheart’s column, “He Didn’t Rape You; You Were too Lazy to Say No”:

The Free Press has published a letter to the editor from the FLF’s very own co-chair Meghan Menzies. A big thanks to Meghan for writing such a great letter, and thanks also to the Free Press for publishing it.

Here’s the letter:


Offensive and callous

This is in response to Miss Lonelyhearts’ Oct. 14 piece, He didn’t rape you; you were too lazy to say no. We are embarrassed for any paper that would publish such an offensive and callous headline, especially with the stigma and stereotypes that currently pervade the issue of sexual assault.

In addition, Miss Lonelyhearts’ response was entirely inadequate because it totally disregarded the seriousness of rape and provided no information on crisis counselling or other sexual assault resources, information that could clearly have been helpful to a woman who is, it appears, confused and hurting.

Lastly, harassing someone into sexual activity does not equal consent. Consent must not only be active, but willing. In disregarding that, Miss Lonelyhearts’ response has actually contributed to rape myths.

Overall, this article demonstrates a clear lack in awareness, integrity and professionalism.




You can have a look at it on the Freep website here. We’ve already noticed a few (anonymous, natch) comments, and suffice it to say, they aren’t all favourable. But as Dayna so wisely wrote a few days ago, “you have to realize that the more vocal the oppostion is, the better you are doing at being an activist.” Amen!

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Eighty-two years ago today, the Person’s case was decided. Have a look at the following message from Manitoba Status of Women to find out more about the history behind this important anniversary (and while it is very significant, keep in mind that legal equality still had a long way to go for many Canadians).


Today, October 18, is a historic day for women in Canada. It marks the 82nd
anniversary of the Person’s Day case, which gave many women in Canada the right
to personhood under the law.

Though it seems impossible today, before 1929 women in Canada were considered “persons in matters of pains and penalties, but (are) not persons in matters of rights
and privileges”.  Even though many women had won the right to vote federally in Canada in 1918, their rights continued to be undermined by the fact that they were not considered “persons” under the British North America Act (BNA Act), which governed Canada at that time.

This law had many implications for Canadian women. For several years, women’s groups across Canada had called for a female Senate appointment.  However, consecutive Prime Ministers refused to make these appointments, claiming that only “qualified persons” were eligible to sit in the Senate under the BNA Act.

In 1927, Emily Murphy, an Alberta magistrate, and four of her friends and
colleagues – Nellie Mooney McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney, Irene Marryat
Parlby and Henrietta Muir Edwards – decided to take action.  They submitted a petition to the Supreme Court of Canada, similar to what we know now as a constitutional challenge. This petition asked the Courts to interpret the BNA Act regarding the personhood status of women.  Canada’s highest court upheld the interpretation that women were not considered persons under the BNA Act.  Undeterred, the group appealed to the final court of appeal at that time, which was the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England. They emerged triumphant from the proceedings on October 18, 1929 – the word “persons” in the BNA Act was now interpreted to include both men and women!

As a result of this ruling, the first woman senator, Cairine Wilson, was appointed in 1930. It’s important to note, however, that only some women became persons under 1929 ruling. Many women, including Aboriginal, Asian and other women of colour, remained ineligible because of their race.  It was many years until the rights of these groups of women were fully recognized.

The five women who achieved personhood for Canadian women became known as the “Famous Five”. They set the stage for many constitutional achievements for Canadian
women, such as the equality provisions in the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms.  For this reason, each October Canada honours and celebrates the accomplishments of Canadian women in history, and looks towards an even brighter future for equality rights in Canada.

Read more details about the story of the Person’s Case at http://section15.ca/features/ideas/2004/12/22/persons_case/

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          I came across a short article today and felt like I needed to share it. The article is a short response to a comment that a Toronto police officer made in reference to girls from private schools wearing their uniforms on public transportation. Apparently some girls, wearing their school uniforms, were being sexually harassed while riding the TTC and in response to the incident an officer made the comment that perhaps these girls shouldn’t be wearing their uniforms on public transportation.

     I think the article’s response to the officer’s comment is really well written because the commenter explains that though the officer’s words might have been well intentioned they do more harm than good, because we go back to this victim blaming frame of mind. Additionally, the author gives some good advice on what to actually do if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, or see someone else in that type of situation.

Read Monica Bugajski’s article here.


Raelynn Madu, a welcome addition to the Forum,  is in first year at Robson Hall.

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