On being a woman in the USA.

Rape Culture at UofO: Come at Me, Bros

Trigger warning for discussion of rape and rape culture.

Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 2.59.43 PMMy friend Anne Thériault of The Belle Jar wrote a post a few days ago about an incident at University of Ottawa wherein several male members of student leadership gathered to chat about Anne Marie Roy, president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa. Ms. Roy had apparently beaten a dude for the office, and these dudes were not happy. They went on for several screens talking about how someone should “punish her with their shaft,” speculating about what venereal diseases she might have, and offering to buy beers for a guy who says he’s going to “fuck her in the ass” on someone’s desk. You’ll find the whole disgusting mess over on The Belle Jar. Here’s an excerpt from Anne’s article, which you should go read right now.

Someone punish her with their shaft. Someone punish her with their shaft. This is the type of thing that’s said about women in positions of power – not a critique of their policies, but a threat of sexual violence. Not a comment on how they do their job, but graphic fantasies about how they should be sexually degraded. Nothing about their intelligence or capability, just a string of jokes about how riddled with venereal disease they are. This is misogyny, pure and simple. This is slut-shaming. This is rape culture.

As I’m sure you can imagine, Anne was immediately subjected to verbal abuse of the sort women who dare to speak out on the Internet will be familiar with. But then Anne Marie Roy received a cease-and-desist letter. From CTV News in Canada:

The letter — which identifies the four participants as Michel Fournier-Simard, Alexandre Giroux, Alexandre Larochelle and Robert-Marc Tremblay — threatened legal action against Roy if she did not “destroy” her copy of the online conversation and stop sharing it with others.

It wasn’t long before Anne Thériault received a similar letter. These individuals have now withdrawn their threats with regard to Ms. Roy. Anne is still waiting to learn whether she will be sued for her blog post.

Every single day, women are silenced when they try to speak out about rape culture. Every day we are told that “it’s not rape culture” or “it’s just how guys are,” which sound to me like conflicting statements. Why are guys just “like that”? Duh, because of rape culture, which Matthew G. P. Coe defines thusly in his follow-up at the Good Men Project:

Rape culture is the gradual normalisation, through, for example, jokes, commentary, and apologia, of the exertion of one person’s will over another, through the use of coerced or forced sex acts, such that such exertions become acceptable or justifiable as either hypothetical or practical actions.

Every time a conversation like the one Anne Marie Roy and Anne Thériault have helped bring to light takes place, it reinforces this culture of rape as acceptable. It reinforces a culture that treats women as objects, as products for men’s consumption, as sex toys, as less than human. And it reinforces a culture where women remain silent when things like this happen. Or as Anne says,

If these men face no consequences for their actions – indeed, if they are able to press charges against Roy for publicly addressing their comments – what are the students going to learn from this? They’ll learn that rape is a joke, that women can be terrorized into silence, and that it’s useless, maybe even dangerous, to speak up. Are these the lessons that we want our student leaders to be instilling in the heads of seventeen and eighteen year old kids?

I’d like to ask each of you to think about how you can help shine a light on this bullshit and show the world that we will not be silent. As for me, I’m looking forward to my cease-and-desist letter. Oh! I probably won’t get one unless I include at least part of the conversation, so here you go, bros:

screen-shot-2014-02-28-at-1-57-41-pm

And here’s my call to action:

Join me by writing your own post, reblogging/sharing Anne’s post or this one or Matt Coe’s or all of them, and tweeting on #UofOrapeculture. Let’s shine a frakking Klieg light on these assholes.

Update: All four members of student leadership involved in this conversation have resigned their positions. (I missed this article previously. Apologies.) No word on whether legal actions will continue.

PSA: Trolls who comment here will be deleted and banned, so kindly piss off in advance. (Comment Policy)

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28 responses

  1. julianpgriches

    http://www.julianpgriches.com/2014/04/02/rape-culture-important-issue-incomplete-problem/

    I wrote a post here on Rape Culture, inspired by these events. (Sorry. Brand New. If You decide to subscribe, The news letter WILL be really cool, in the future, the future being the next couple of months.)

    I am with the storm of outcry. These men shouldn’t be saying a word in defence, let alone speaking out against and threatening to sue Anne-Marie Roy. I was angry to hear that they were attempting to defend themselves.

    The issue shouldn’t really be that difficult. We can talk about the logistics surrounding whether that conversation should have been leaked or not. There definitely is a problem there, but the bigger issue is now that it is exposed, we have to wonder why and how people who have made these sorts of threats managed to get into positions of power. Especially in a University, where we are creating the next generation of thinkers and workers.

    I’ll let my blog explain more of the things I was thinking when I heard it. Have a great day!

    April 2, 2014 at 11:09 am

  2. This is deplorable, unacceptable and really discouraging! I hadn’t heard about this…but I don’t watch TV.

    I just listened to a CBC radio documentary about males communicating this way. I wonder if this incident precipitated the program. I hope so.

    It was a huge eye opener with findings from both our countries.

    On the program, a variety of men, of different ages, got honest about how porn is affecting male lives. (These were men who have sought help.) Apparently very few males over the age of 10 do NOT engage in porn on the internet to some degree. Sadly, there is little to no parental discussion over the issue . Porn sites are modelling and “teaching” males how to treat and speak to/about women. These men believe males are growing up believing they are free to speak to women like this – because this is the behaviour they watch continuously on these sites.

    Some of these males naively believe women want to be treated in the putrid and ugly manners portrayed on porn because they do not socialize or get out amongst other standards – just stay at home and seek pleasure through porn.

    Some do know this is unacceptable, but continue using atrocious communications about women while in the company of other males. They want to be accepted.

    These young men find they have to go to harder core porn all the time because it’s progressive. Softer porn won’t work any longer so they seek more and more deviant behaviour. It gets bad enough that they won’t even admit to male friends some of the sites they engage with.

    Females growing up in this milieu of crap who are treated this way by males think it’s just to them and can’t figure it out. They are ashamed. So they don’t talk about it. Since these young women are not into this hard core (if any) porn, they don’t realize where the male attitude/demands are coming from.

    And now – unfortunately – males are growing up not knowing what natural sexual relations are. More males are experiencing sexual problems – they cannot have sex with a woman they love – they are experiencing erectile dysfunction. They go to porn and abuse toward women.

    Seems to me this incident falls right into the behaviour model cited by these men who were willing to get some help for themselves.

    It makes me feel ill. What an elephant we have in the living room. If it isn’t exposed, it’ll mutilate!

    March 10, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    • Yes, I do believe the availability of Internet porn (along with the types of porn that are widely available) is a big contributor to how boys and men see and treat women. I’ve heard similar stories of boys/men saying that they had to keep escalating to harder porn. I’ve also personally seen how that can manifest in an inability to relate sexually to a partner, resulting in the addicted person escalating from porn to sex chat to meeting the sex-chat-buddy in hotels behind the partner’s back. It’s a part of our culture that we don’t talk much about, but it feeds directly into abuse and rape culture and it is a damned big elephant.

      March 11, 2014 at 10:39 am

  3. This is another example of male cowardice that seeks strength in numbers. Men who make crude comments to a woman are rarely alone — the pack somehow emboldens individuals to say and do things they would never say or do on their own. As with most crime, this behavior reflects a small percentage of the population. But it won’t be eliminated until enough people become angry and refuse to tolerate it. Anne’s post and yours will help.

    March 8, 2014 at 4:47 am

  4. Pingback: In Defense of Belle Jar: Sitting In The World’s Largest Pub (Internet Privacy and how there is NONE) | Cupcakes And Hoodies

  5. Update. All four members of student leadership involved in this have resigned. See above.

    March 4, 2014 at 3:12 pm

  6. My blog has been a bit squirrely about posting reblogs I tell it to make, but I’ll do my best. (Apologies if you get multiple auto-notifications or comments from me in that vein.) It really pisses me off that these fools can victimize someone like that, get away with it, and then PRESS CHARGES as if Roy is the one who did something wrong. Disgusting.

    March 4, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    • Yeah, I’m really hoping that the university will impose some sort of punishment or at the very least make these guys learn about rape culture and misogyny. And then they ought to charge them with raising awareness among other students.

      March 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      • I too hope for this. As it’s a school, one would hope that their first and primary goal would be to teach students. This situation is a perfect time for that.

        March 4, 2014 at 7:37 pm

  7. Reblogged this on Note To Self.

    March 4, 2014 at 3:06 pm

  8. Larissa Lee

    Reblogged this on Larissa Lee's Scribbles and commented:
    Because rape culture is wrong.

    March 4, 2014 at 11:47 am

  9. I reblogged The Belle Jar’s post as soon as I read it. It is a huge piss off that there needs to be discussions about whether the guys’ conversation is offensive. What’s worst (sad?) is that there are Girls defending them. That’s how messed up our society is. Men can say any sexually offensive thing about women and they are “just being guys,” however, if a woman was ever to say something ridiculous like “I’m gonna punish this dude with my pussy,” then she’s a slut, she’s disgusting, she’s crazy… I don’t know what to say about our world… How did it come to this..??

    March 4, 2014 at 10:15 am

    • Exactly. We’re supposed to accept this behavior, but the same behavior from women would be completely unacceptable. As to how it came to this, I think the roots go deep into our history, which is one reason why it always seems we’re fighting an uphill battle while rolling a boulder in front of us. And it’s why I make so much noise and have a reputation as a Feminist Killjoy. Whatever. If it makes life easier for my daughters and granddaughters, I’ll take it.

      March 4, 2014 at 10:25 am

  10. Wandered over from Snoring Dog Studio.
    Hell Yes!
    (Let us know when you get the c&d letter, so I can contribute to your legal defense. It would be money well spent.)

    March 4, 2014 at 8:08 am

    • Thanks, EG!

      March 4, 2014 at 10:19 am

    • I wouldn’t worry about any cease and desist letter(s). I was falsely accused of the archaic crime of blasphemous libel by Stikeman Elliott litigation lawyer Maitre Marc Andre Coulombe almost two years ago for blogging about some Unitarian Universalists who were convicted of raping minors. I challenged the BS allegations and posted digital photos of the letter to my blog. To date neither Stikeman Elliott Barristers & Solicitors, nor the Unitarian Universalist Association, have acted on a single one of the various legal “threats” in their shameful legal bullying that seeks to misuse Canada’s blasphemy law to intimidate me into “memory holing” blog posts about Unitarian Universalists who “engage in such despicable crimes as pedophilia and rape” to borrow a choice phrase from Maitre Coulombe.

      March 4, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      • Yeah, considering they dropped the charge against Anne Marie Roy, I’m assuming they’re backing off. Bullies.

        March 4, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      • It’s a pity that many people would get a letter like that and instantly comply.
        I wonder if the legal system has any non-extreme remedies for that.

        Maybe you could counter sue for harassment!
        hehehe

        March 4, 2014 at 12:20 pm

  11. Reblogged. And I’m horrified. These men are ignorant, bullying pigs.

    March 4, 2014 at 6:34 am

    • Thank you and yes. Seriously.

      March 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

  12. Leah

    Reblogged this on The Lobster Dance and commented:
    “‘If these men face no consequences for their actions – indeed, if they are able to press charges against Roy for publicly addressing their comments – what are the students going to learn from this? They’ll learn that rape is a joke, that women can be terrorized into silence, and that it’s useless, maybe even dangerous, to speak up. Are these the lessons that we want our student leaders to be instilling in the heads of seventeen and eighteen year old kids?'”

    March 3, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    • Thanks, Leah. :)

      March 4, 2014 at 3:10 pm

  13. Way to go! I’ll be spreading this all over Tumblr. They can’t sue all of us.

    March 3, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    • Exactly! :)

      March 3, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    • And well done!

      March 4, 2014 at 3:11 pm

  14. CANPOL

    “We do not merely destroy our enemies; we change them.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

    March 3, 2014 at 3:46 pm

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