For decades, women have fought for workplace equality, on and off the air. Things have come a long way, baby, but still there’s miles to go.
CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt is getting kudos and controversy for her bravado in confronting dudebros hanging around for a chance to say “F*** her right in the p***y!” during her interview with fans at this week’s Toronto FC match.
This FHRITP trend began over a year ago. Largely shouted at professional female reporters, and some male, many not on-air as it happens, it has gotten little press before today.
Most folks are mortified to learn this is actually a thing, and reactions have resoundingly been in Hunt’s favour.
With contemporary controversies, backlash comes swiftly — a lesson learned through today’s fallout by dudebro Shawn Simoes, who is now losing his job from Ontario’s Hydro One. The price for overt sexism at a football match, it seems, is a $106,000 salary.
Some question now whether that’s excessive punishment, or even whether it’ll stand. What’s important is a significant employer saying high-level employees are expected to act like high-calibre people even in their off-hours.
The fact is, these reporters are in their workplace, and have a right to a safe work environment. Instead, they get obnoxious asses with shouts tantamount to encouraging rape. While Simoes didn't say the FHRITP phrase, he defended its usage and said she was "lucky" she didn't get a vibrator in her ear.
This instance has dramatic results without tying up courts or tax dollars. Calgary police say this has become rampant they’re willing to arrest and charge the FHRITP crowd.
Surprisingly, many people I’ve seen today want this treated as a hate crime. They’re tired of seeing women having to remain quiet and 'professional' in the face of such behaviour.
And that’s been part of the issue, too: professionalism. Female reporters mostly ignore these intrusions. When it’s not live, it’s edited out. They go on with their day, and the idiocy goes on unchecked.
Hunt got sick of it, and challenged the dudebros live — and her producer didn’t cut the feed. We got to bear witness, and that’s how change is made.
In the quest for change, is throwing the book at these guys wise, or is it inflammatory?
An unpaid suspension was an option. But in the wake of the Jian Ghomeshi scandal, why would any employer risk putting a guy with that attitude in the mix? Would his female colleagues ever trust or respect him again? He felt the need to ridicule Hunt and defend sexism on air — Hydro One's firing is warranted on that front alone.
The other dudebros will pay a price too. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment plan at least a one-year, or potentially a lifetime, ban to future events for all the guys caught arguing with her in the video.
Along with their Calgary kin, Kingston and Toronto cops also want to charge these acts, but so far it seems no women have requested they do so. Why? Maybe it happens so often the reporters don't want to sacrifice their own spare time to press charges.
CBC Montreal reporter Tanya Birbeck had this happen repeatedly while covering just one Alouettes ballgame.
Of that one day, she wrote:
“My reaction was visceral. People around me stopped and stared. I felt totally exposed. It’s violent and offensive. It suggests that a woman who is doing what can be a pretty serious and intellectually rigorous job can be reduced to simply a sexual object which can be taken at will.”
Hydro One firing Simoes is regrettable but arguably necessary. It’s time for real consequences without courts always playing the nanny. Would a two-week unpaid suspension teach the same lesson? Maybe. But maybe a guy earning $106,000 thinks two weeks is worth it for Dudebro Bragging Rights and the notoriety that comes with bro-ing it up on the air. Maybe suspension isn’t a deterrent because it’s not dramatic enough to be worthy of headline ink.
There are people who defend Simoes, saying: “But he wasn’t working!”
It’s 2015. Being “off the clock” isn’t what it used to be. Big bucks come with big accountability, especially for a (so far) public utility guy like Shawn Simoes.
Does ending this behaviour require someone like Simoes get sacrificed on the altar? Looks that way.
The thing is, it was his choice. When she put the mic in his face, he could have laughed and walked away. No one victimized him. It wasn’t an assault. There was no trickery involved.
Shauna Hunt did what she had the power to do. She asked questions and she got answers.
Luckily, she had producers and editors willing to give these men exactly what they were looking for — exposure.
Based on today’s reaction, I’m confident dudebros' use of the FHRITP phrase will soon be frozen out.