Someone in authority recently called me “old school” as high praise because in the old school we put in extra effort and we put on our game faces when we needed to. We followed policy and didn’t make a scene – often to our detriment. Old school wasn’t necessarily the better school, to be sure. The following post comes with the understanding that:
- I believe the women and don’t intend to judge their behavior.
- A guilty perpetrator’s reputation isn’t as important as the healing of the victim’s psyche.
- I understand why a woman wouldn’t speak up until now.
The claims that brought down Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown faster than a pricked balloon are complex. Then, the contents of an essay that prompted the suspension of one of my CTV colleagues (who was covering the Patrick Brown story) were simple. But – and I’m just asking – why are women going on social media and the Internet first to tell their stories? I ask because I’m old school.
And then I read an account such as this: It Basically Ruined My Life. In it, women explain what happened to them when they came forward to complain about harassment from Senators on Parliament Hill. They were ostracized and the Senators were protected. Like politics, media is still an old boy’s club. It’s evolving but super slowly.
I didn’t always stand up for myself at the time that my incidents occurred. My stories have been told on these pages. A General Manager demanding a quid pro quo during a job interview; an employee attempting to save his job by making up a sexual harassment story; the married cameraman driving me home from a shoot and diverting us down a dark dirt road to make an out-of-the-blue move on me; the manager pulling me onto his lap and holding me there as I tried to wriggle free and colleagues laughed. And there are more that include stalking and other forms of harassment. Names weren’t named and no justice sought because although I had felt fear and intimidation at the time, the incidents didn’t continue to haunt me. But that’s my story, and it’s not everyone else’s.
As Matt Damon said – although he was widely vilified for it – not all forms of sexual misconduct are created equal. A failed attempt to paint me as a sexual harasser is not the same as performing an unwanted sexual act in my presence. And that act is not the same as being raped. People are afraid to say this even though it’s logical and sensible. They fear being painted as an anti-feminist or someone who’s trying to suppress the truth. Anything less than accepting a woman’s definition of her own trauma is seen as putting limits on her pain. She is allowed to define it and call it big or small. It may very well have been traumatizing even though it wasn’t the worst thing. But in the words of Bill Maher, there are degrees. Degrees of murder, degrees of burns, degrees of sexual misconduct.
Men’s careers are being ruined by allegations put out for public consumption. Perhaps they should be. But what if they shouldn’t? What if, sometime in the future, a woman hell bent on revenge posts something false on social media and the world goes hysterical over it? Scott Baio would have us believe that’s happening to him now, by former co-star Nicole Eggert and I must say, his evidence is compelling. We don’t have a way of safeguarding against this and it worries me. We’re living in an era where the President of the United States of America sets policy on Twitter. Lives and livelihoods are at stake and they’re tumbling fast. Patrick Brown’s team abandoned him like rats on a sinking ship.
I believe the women. I want them to speak up and I’m grateful they feel that they can now. Despite the experiences of some, I still wonder why they don’t call HR directors and tell them their stories first, before taking their pain to the world. But that might be because I’m old school.