Antonio Cayonne | Actor

Backblogging: A QuickBrook on Feminism - Wednesday May 13th.2015

Antonio CayonneComment

The other day in Toronto, a dude at a TFC game sexually harassed Shauna Hunt, a news reporter, using the popular phrase 'fuck her right in the pussy', which is the punchline to a rape joke the set up of which is 'what will you do if you find the missing girl?'. The guy didn't say the phrase, she beat him to the punch. He's was waiting his turn to try and get  a shot at saying it. She overheard him and his friends plotting, and she decided not to wait to be humiliated again (it had already happened at least once that day). So this guy got confronted. And it blew up, of course, and rightfully so. It blew up for a lot of people and for a lot of reasons. 

Most people saw the problem. Some defended the action saying things like boys will be boys, or it was only because he was drunk, or she shouldn't have talked to drunk men, or isn't this being blown out of proportion, or they're just idiots, or aren't we getting way to offended over everything these days. 

Well, maybe. But likely not. To all of them. Yes, the guy is an idiot. Fact. Yes, he was drunk. Fact .Yes, this blew up really big. And it was 'out of proportion', sadly, because the 'proportion' to which it was being measured, was silence. It's been the 'shut up and take it mentality', where those whose right's are being trampled on should hush up and not make it hard or painful for those who are trampling. Because G-D forbid the abusers get harmed in the making of this injustice. 

Well, in this case, the abuser did become 'the victim' losing his job over the matter, and receiving a 'public shaming' - which naturally has caused a backlash as well. I have a lot of ideas about all of this. But Instead, I want to post the things I've been reading that have been helping me see my way through this. And yes, many of these will feel like they are one sided. I actually haven't found anything intelligent to say that that man should be allowed to say what he did without consequences.

I stand in a strange spot though in that I don't know how I feel about the consequences in relation to the problem. My jury is out. He got fired, and that sucks for him, and it's great for anyone who worked there who would have felt uncomfortable having to work by his side, so I think there's justice in there somewhere, but it also doesn't solve the problem of his misogyny. It does address it. It does send a message and therefore has some value. And I know it's not his work's job to fix him. But exactly what message does it send? Does it send hate underground, where it can fester and thrive? Does it work to re-educate the future generation? I really don't know. But I appreciate that something has happened. Because I've seen nothing happen far too much.

The media's reaction has been something to follow as well, since they help frame this for the public. So when I read The Toronto Star post an article with the title How Toronto turned a drunken prank into a workplace bullying issue it made want to scream and throw things because even they are missing the point. It was never just a drunken prank. The only reason it was ever framed that way it because nobody called it was it was - sexual harassment. A lot of things were 'allowed' due to silence that were CLEARLY not okay. Slavery. Rape. Concentration Camps. Colonialism. Thanksgiving! Okay, before I start a new blog here...read some words from some smart pals. 

One last thing (but probably not), it’s not even WHO he was addressing this comment to but WHAT words he chose to say. It’s worse that it was a woman reporter bc it’s fowl and she has to bear the brunt of someone essentially alienating her based on the fact that she is a woman...and can’t exactly identify with fucking someone in the pussy. HOWEVER, He is using the phrase “fuck her in the pussy” as a derogatory phrase. When was the last time you heard anyone say anything remotely equatable to the male gender? It doesn’t happen. Bc making rude comments about women and DOING things to women and their respective body parts is somehow culturally “acceptable”. Bc the phrase is what a man is DOING to a woman. Not what they are deciding to do together. It has obnoxious connotations. And it’s rude. Next time someone wants to fuck up a news report they can feel free to wear a sign reading “I’m a gigantic waste of space and I probably should have never even had the privilege of entering this world via a pussy”, and that’d probably be just fine. But also don’t fuck up news reports. Someone’s trying to do their job and you’re ruining it....Here’s how we determine whether something is derogatorily offensive: if someone makes a comment that alienates a portion of the population outside of themselves, through a negative connotation about said demographic or anything pertaining to that demographic, that my friend is derogatory, offensive, discriminatory etc. Because you are separating yourself from someone else, pointing a finger at what makes them different (and probably “inferior”), and diminishing them based on that difference. It works for sexism, racism, ageism, and every other ism I’m missing. If you’re not sure whether something is offensive in relation to women - replace the female pronoun with that of a ethnic minority and see how comfortable you are with that sentence then. If you’re ever comfortable with any of it...you’re probably a terrible person.
— Amy Quick
Okay there are two things going on. In order to understand why this event is a problem we need to understand the larger context. The phrase itself is a meme and has been around for about a year and a half. You can look into its history by googling “fhritp”. These guys are just repeating the punchline to a joke. The joke was “if they find the missing girl what will you do?”

The fact that the joke is funny is the big warning sign that screams misogyny. Because it’s a rape joke. It treats women as objects. If the exchange had actually been “if they find the missing girl what will you’d do?” “Oh, I’ll respectfully ask her if she might want to share my company for an evening.” - that wouldn’t be misogynistic. Because it treats the woman in this scenario as a person.

In the original joke the woman is not a person. People laughed. They shared it. They passed it around. It became a cultural reference point, same as how “ain’t nobody got time for that” or “hide your kids, hide your wife” did. This means that as a society we supported this sense of humour in which we joke about the well-being of women - that’s the big warning flag.

Now why is it an issue that these guys did it? No I don’t think they were promoting harm. They were just being bros and having a laugh. But they placed the value of their laugh higher than the value of this woman’s comfort at her job.

Say I think it’s funny to throw rocks at people. And I see someone walking on a tightrope. If I throw rocks at them and laugh, I’m not trying to kill them, I’m just trying to laugh. But the fact that I don’t recognize how having rocks thrown at them might make them feel means that deep down I think that my laughter is more important than their comfort, or even worse their safety and well-being.

These dudes were throwing rocks for the laughs. They may not have understood the complexity of what they were doing, but as a society we’ve basically handed them a bucket full of rocks to throw.
— Erynn Brook
Daring to dive into the discussion to offer my point of view as a man who wants to be a better ally to women. Shortly after I heard of this story, I tweeted that MLSE should institute a lifetime ban on those guys. That was my initial reaction. I got home and talked about the incident with my wife (a lot) and a lot of interesting and difficult questions were raised. If they were banned, would that really change the way they saw their actions? Or would they feel vilified, and would that entrench their current beliefs more deeply? Many people have celebrated that one of the men has been fired for his job but why are we celebrating the fact that a man destroyed his own life? He is the product of our society and is also a part of our society. His ugliness and failure to respect women is OUR collective ugliness and failure to respect women.

I started reflecting on my initial thoughts and actions and realized that I was reacting rather than responding. My wife and I talked about why I felt a lifetime ban was justified. For me, I felt culpable as a male who has been silent around overt and subtle misogyny a lot of times in my life. I felt guilty and angry because these men reminded me of my own failures and my capacity to oppress and harm women. I wanted to distance myself from “those kinds of men.” But by distancing them or dismissing as “idiots/losers,” or calling them “children,” it allows me to disengage. It allows me to disconnect me from them instead of realizing that I am part of the problem – that I have participated in a society and acted in ways that upholds rape culture and diminishes violence against women.

Another thought that came out of my discussion with my wife was, where is the compassion? Do we toss the man from the video aside as if he’s a lost cause? Or do we, as a community, try to help him find a better, more empathetic way of seeing the world? It may not be my responsibility to educate someone on misogyny or rape culture, but perhaps I can play a role in how one person begins to change. And perhaps that’s how a larger, more systemic change occurs. And even if it doesn’t, one person has changed and that’s a good thing.
I have a difficult time being wrong. I think that’s true for a lot of men. It’s hard to admit that I’ve made a mistake. But by being in a supportive relationship with my wife, I’ve learned that it’s okay to be wrong because it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a terrible person. It means I said or did a bad thing but that I can change and be better. How do we as a society let men know that it’s okay to be wrong because ideas and beliefs can change? How do we help men be better allies towards women? How can we build a better, more equitable culture without polarizing and vilifying each other? Last year, I learned about the important work White Ribbon is doing. White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity. I was fortunate to attend their What Makes a Man Conference where the focus was creating new paths to manhood. I think they’re doing great work and urge anyone wanting to learn more to check them out. Rape culture and violence against women isn’t women’s issue. Men need to learn more and be more vocal with each other. But it means risking being called out, holding yourself accountable and believing we can change. Of course, the first thing we need to do is to LISTEN to women – really listen to understand how our actions and words affect them. My discussions with my wife always lead me to greater awareness.

Before pressing ‘post’ I’m feeling a lot of hesitation. I’m worried I might be wrong or offend someone unintentionally or come off as preachy when I’m just trying to help. I’m worried I might be attacked for something I wrote and that someone’s response might make me feel like I’m a terrible person. But I’m pressing post anyway because these conversations are important. And as I’m trying to grow myself, I invite everyone to share an article or other resource around rape culture or violence against women that might be helpful. Let’s do this together. www.whiteribbon.ca
— Byron Abalos
Urging men to intervene in FHRITP incidents
Posted on May 15, 2015 by White Ribbon
Women certainly don’t need men to protect them, but men need to intervene in other men’s stupidity.
Todd Minerson spoke with On The Coast with Stephen Quinn

The case of one man who yelled sexually explicit comments into a female reporter’s microphone has caught national attention. Hydro One confirmed it has fired one of the men involved in the incident. However, the men who harass female reporters often get laughs instead of punishment.

“There’s a real pervasive sense here that young men feel their prank is worth more than your right to do your job in public,” said Todd Minerson, Executive Director of the White Ribbon Campaign — a men’s organization working to end violence against women.

Direct link to audio: http://www.cbc.ca/news/white-ribbon-campaign-hopes-to-see-men-intervene-in-incidence-of-sexual-harassment-1.3075233

Link to full article:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/white-ribbon-campaign-urges-men-to-intervene-in-fhritp-incidents-1.3075232
— White Ribbon

Caitlin Baker shared this article, which was very interesting around the 'culture of shaming' and how it has affected some 'victims'. A great article, really. Smart and sympathetic. And raises big questions, which these things should. How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life

And Lauren MacKinlay - actress and producer and organizer of Women On Screen along with a few other gems of human beings - then shared THIS. As did Farah Mehrani. As did....Well, Lauren sent it to me first, because she's not ahead of the curve, she IS the curve when it comes to these types of smart movements. And I was reminded how intelligent the friends are I have on my fb, and how strong their commitment to ally-ship is, even as we're all figuring out what it means to be an ally, and how it works. 

I love my community. I appreciate the open minded people within it who don't share my views and are able to have intelligent, articulate conversations regarding the nuances of things we haven't 'solved'. I appreciate the people who can listen, who can be wrong, who can learn, who are hungry to hear empathetically and live honestly. 

I've been wrong many times. I have a hard time saying it. I have a hard time saying sorry when I've hurt someone. I want to be a better person. And I fight for it. And I appreciate that I have a community who wants better for me. In turn, I want better for others. Being an ally is everything, but it's also one of the most difficult things I'm wrapping my heart around. 

I want to take the time to thank everyone who showed up to discuss the events of that day everywhere, and ask - did anything change for you? what changed and how? did you come away with a new idea or perspective? how are you different after living through the events of that day/week?