The tipping point for men
3 unconnected events highlight issues of sexual harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault
Nov 4, 2014
By Todd Humber
It’s not easy being a woman.
I have zero experience at it but in reading the stories about Jian Ghomeshi and former NFL running back Ray Rice, and watching video footage of a woman’s experience walking the streets of New York City, I can’t help but feel more than a bit of shame for how they are treated by men.
Comedian Louis C.K. summed it up this way: “How do women still go out with guys, when you consider the fact that there is no greater threat to women than men? We’re the number one threat to women. Globally and historically, we’re the number one cause of injury and mayhem to women. We’re the worst thing that ever happens to them. That’s true. You know what our number one threat is? Heart disease.”
It was funny when he said it but the message behind his act is no joke. The upside to these stories is we’re talking about the issues. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, as the saying goes, and Ghomeshi’s story is getting a case of media sunburn. At this point, there’s just a swirl of allegations but, at press time, the Toronto police have become involved and are talking to the women who came forward.
We examined some of the legal HR angles around the former CBC host’s case on page 1 of the upcoming Nov. 17 issue (see “Ghomeshi’s legal HR quagmire”) and employment lawyer and Canadian HR Reporter columnist Stuart Rudner weighs in on the union angle in a column in that issue as well. But it’s a fast-moving story, so keep your eyes tuned to www.hrreporter.com for regular updates.
The catcall video
If you haven’t seen the video of the woman walking the streets of New York City, you should watch it — especially if you’re a man. (See video below.)
The video, which had at least 31-million views on YouTube at press time, shows what it’s like to be a woman walking the streets, just minding her own business.
Over 10 hours, actress Shoshana Roberts is subjected to 100 catcalls. Filmmaker Rob Bliss shot the footage from a hidden GoPro camera. His intent was to offer an “unbiased” look at what many women experience on a daily basis, according to the Huffington Post. “No messaging. No judgment. Let people view it as it is and talk,” he said.
The quantity of the comments aimed at Roberts is stunning. And the behaviour of some of the men is just creepy. We’ve all heard the odd comment directed towards a passing woman but to see it from her perspective, over and over again, is brutal.
Some men followed her, walking beside her. Others chastised her for not responding to their advances. It is fascinating, and uncomfortable, to watch. The most disappointing thing in all of this is it’s not uncommon — many women are subjected to the same barrage on a daily basis while just going about their lives.
Rice’s saga is well-documented — we featured his story on the cover of the Oct. 6 issue. A running back for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, Rice knocked his then-fiancé out cold in an elevator.
The NFL originally gave Rice a two-game suspension for the incident. But with public outrage and the video showing him delivering the punch — and dragging her out of the elevator — the NFL stepped back and suspended him indefinitely. The public outrage was refreshing to see, as was the NFL’s ultimate response — though it’s unfortunate it took so much public pressure to get the appropriate reaction.
What we have are three unconnected stories on three separate topics — allegations of violence and sexual assault against Ghomeshi; indisputable video evidence of domestic abuse on Rice; and 10 hours of video showing a glimpse of what it’s like to walk down the street as a woman.
The tipping point on this should have come a long time ago.
10 hours of walking in NYC as a woman
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Todd Humber is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. Follow him on Twitter @ToddHumber