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CBC's cult of denial: heads should roll for ignoring Ghomeshi improprieties

Yesterday, I clenched my jaw and fumed as I listened to former Q chase producer Roberto Veri tell CanadaLand’s Jesse Brown about the time he watched Jian Ghomeshi dry-hump a Q staffer.

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CBC/Radio-Canada currently has 8,599 employees across Canada, 4,597 men and 4,002 women. Over the past three years, the corporation has received, in all of the 48 cities across Canada and the territories where we have a presence, a total of three complaints of sexual harassment. In one case, an employee received a written reprimand. In the second, an employee received a written reprimand and was ordered to take sensitivity training. In the third case, the employee was suspended for two days and also ordered to take sensitivity training.

As far as I’m concerned, one complaint is one too many, and we continue to strive to improve our record.”

That’s 8,599 employees and three encounters of sexual harassment over three years.

I actually laughed out loud when I read that. And anybody in their right mind believed him? Really? Wow. 

Most women today can tell you that we often feel like we’re living in a duplicitous land of delusion. Corporations, the media -- everyone seems like they’ve been oblivious to the extent of misogyny amidst us until just recently. Suddenly there’s a rising tide of sexism awareness (as well as rebuttals of these claims, shouted ever more loudly by internet misogynists).

For examples just from the last few months alone, look at the advent of “GamerGate,” the ongoing Rape Culture discussion, the new Macholand site in France for women to “out” misogynists, and even the video that went viral this week of a woman being cat-called like mad in NYC, which this great article discusses.

For the CBC to have 8,599 employees and claim they’ve only had three incidents of sexual harassment in three years, either everyone’s walking around in bubbles or the management  has been hitting the crack pipe. In fact, I’m willing to bet that even seldom-reported female-on-male cases of sexual harassment exceed three in that same three-year period.

It would seem to this somewhat cynical female that either employees are not comfortable coming forward, or accusations are glossed over for public reports.

It’s Time for Accountability

I’m not a social anthropologist. I can’t tell you why it feels like misogyny seems more overt and omnipresent, especially in corporate environments, but from Silicon Valley’s “brogrammer” culture through to Wall Street’s glass ceiling, it doesn’t feel like sexual harassment has been going away.

CBC’s claims of being some safe port in the sexist storm sound delusional to me even without this game-changing scandal.

This Ghomeshi saga is becoming a wide-ranging ethics test for CBC. If management was willing to ignore for years this workplace behaviour that’s as sleazy as a misogyny gets, what other “smaller” infractions were routinely ignored? How often? By whom?

As for Lacroix, with his seemingly frou-frou fairyland numbers on sexual assault, he knew what was going down or he didn’t. Either way, I don’t think he escapes blame. Pleading ignorant on this can’t be an acceptable defense. It’s his job to know what’s going on in every one of the CBC’s 48 cities, throughout the ranks of those 8,599 employees. If he can’t expect underlings to approach with even a faintest whiff of uneasy news about talent, then the CBC needs a president who’s way more in touch with the feet on the ground.

After all, there really can’t be much distance between Q’s team and CBC upper-management. No larger cash cow existed on the network. If it had problems, I can’t imagine a rug big enough to sweep them under for long. Management must have heard some inkling about the misogyny, the wary interns, the untrusting university.

If we hold the CBC to a higher standard than the average corporation, it’s because we should. They are the cultural pulse of this nation, and there is no place for misogyny or blind eyes.

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