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Posts Tagged ‘sexual harassment’

In today’s chapter of “I can’t believe an otherwise respectable newspaper publishes this”, Margaret Wente (A Globe and Mail columnist who has irked the FLF on a number of occasions) has written a column about how gosh darn empowering being objectified by men is. The article includes this golden nugget of a thought: “The worst injustice of being a woman is not the indignity of objectification by men. It’s the asymmetry of aging.” Apparently, being pestered unpleasantly by men was not at all demeaning for Wente, but was in fact empowering. The column bemoans how no male will pester a woman over 50 like this. And of course, the obligatory shot at Slutwalk is also thrown in (apparently, according to Wente, Slutwalk is a movement where women ask to have it both ways – the right to dress like sex objects without being treated like sex objects. This seems to fundamentally miss the point about how a woman’s dress is not a license to rape). 

Maybe I’m just too much of a “repressed Anglo-Saxon”, too deep into our “indoctrinated culture” that has pounded the “evils of sexual harassment’ into us for years, but I can’t say I agree with Wente. 

What do the FLF readers think?

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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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          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.

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

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Many of our readers will be familiar with the well-known sex discrimination case of Janzen v. Platy Enterprises Ltd., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1252. A Manitoba case, it established that sexual harassment is sex discrimination, and thus illegal in Canada. Further to that, it also recognized the vicarious liability of employers in instances of sexual harassment perpetrated by employees. Finally, it provided a somewhat expansive and flexible definition of sexual harassment. The Supreme Court decision can be found here: http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/1989/1989canlii97/1989canlii97.pdf.

The female complainants in the case, Dianna Janzen and Tracy Govereau, endured degrading and humiliating treatment at the hands of cook Tommy Grammas. The restaurant owner refused to intervene or address the harassment. They were both 21 years old when they filed their complaints with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. They would enter their 28th years before the matter was resolved in the Supreme Court.

Recently, B.C. lawyer and author Stephen Hammond wrote and recorded an interview with Dianna Janzen. She is now 50 years old, and has developed a profound and fascinating persepctive on her experiences as a victim of sexual harassment and a human rights crusader. Nearly 30 years after the incidents that led her to make a complaint, she still perfers not to discuss the details of the abuse. The interview describes the “emotional rollercoaster” Janzen experienced during the years her case was before the courts, noting the dejection she felt following the decision of the Manitoba Court of Appeal (which held that sexual harassment was not sex discrimination). When the Supreme Court finally found in favour of Janzen and Govereau, overturning the Court of Appeal, Janzen said she initially  “didn’t feel anything, actually”. After enduring the extreme stress of not only the harassment, but also the extended legal proceedings, Janzen’s sense of personal vindication took time to develop.

The interview is fascinating. Now the mother of two nearly-full-grown children, Janzen’s relfections on her experiences as a younger woman are measured but profound; she speaks of her transformation from “victim” at 21 to “success” at 50. She now wishes to share what the experience taught her with young people, wanting them to know their rights and feel empowered to stand up for themselves if they face discrimination, based on sex or otherwise.

You can read or listen to the interview here: http://www.stephenhammond.ca/dianna-janzen.php#.

 

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