The tipping point for men (Editor's Notes)

We need to talk about issues around sexual harassment, violence against women
By Todd Humber
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/17/2014

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 (see “Ghomeshi’s legal HR quagmire”) and employment lawyer and Canadian HR Reporter columnist Stuart Rudner weighs in on the union angle on the page opposite to this. But it’s a fast-moving story, so keep your eyes tuned to 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. 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. 

Ray Rice

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. 

HRPA update

On a completely different note, you may have read our coverage of the new designations launched by the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) in the Nov. 3 issue. At press time, we didn’t know the names of the designations — the HRPA had yet to finalize them. An update:

The Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation isn’t disappearing entirely. Instead, it is becoming a junior-level designation (with no university degree requirement).

The old CHRP is morphing into the Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) designation. If you had a CHRP prior to Oct. 29 under the HRPA, you are now a CHRL.

The senior-level designation — the Certified Human Resources Executive (CHRE) — replaces the Senior Human Resources Professional (SHRP) designation that used to be offered by HRPA.

So those are the new acronyms — in Ontario anyway — for HR designations: CHRP, CHRL and CHRE.

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