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Thursday, 14 May 2015


There has been an absolute flurry of activity around FHRITP. A TFC fan, Shawn Simoes, was interpellated by a CityTV reporter on Sunday, confronted as to whether or not he was going to try to yell the viral phrase into her microphone. Hydro One released a statement that Simoes is no longer employed with the public enterprise. While this move was certainly justified, I don't feel like we're going far enough in dealing with sexism, in particular with street harassment.

Last fall I remember a viral video campaign about a woman who walked the streets of New York filming the men who approached her. You may also remember the Twitter trend #YesAllWomen from a few years ago. These all highlight the prevalence of women being victimised because men think it's acceptable to harass, intimidate, or otherwise insert themselves into situations with women. Sunday was merely the most recent example.

Interestingly, there has been another trend lately of employers having to fire staff who get embroiled in scandal. Consider the importance of behaviour online. Most social media has at least some component that is public, meaning that contributions (photos, posts, etc) can be viewed by anyone. Take, for example, Matt Bowman, a Toronto firefighter who was fired last November after he tweeted racist and sexist remarks. In this particular case, it was easy to tell that Bowman was a member of the city's fire department based on a cursary glance at his profile. This phenomenon is not limited to the public sector: Justine Sacco, a PR executive, was fired after making racist comments on Twitter.

Organisations will continue to be less and less tolerant of their employee's indiscretions. Pressure from the public is always instrumental in calling out these behaviours and then demanded action from the employer. Bad public relations from the mishandling of a scandal can cost companies their annual advertising budget or more.

Despite the fact that offensive behaviour in public or online can cause a wave of shame against those presuming to do wrong, it can also result in the victims being targeting. In the case of the FHRITP, it's evident that some people feel that Simoe losing his job has turned him into a victim. Others decry the feminisation of public space or the disappearance of free speech. Still more, people claim that the humour is not understood, that it's just a prank, or that we are taking things too seriously. Whatever the case, there are plenty of apologists.

Regardless, Simoe can probably now understand what it's like to be harrassed and victimised (not to insinuate that this is just) and hopefully he will have learned a valuable lesson. Surely this episode had to have been embarrassing for him, not to mention devastating for his career. I really hope, however, that instead of letting him take the fall, that we use this as an opportunity to reflect on what values actually lead people to saying FHRITP. The manifestations of sexism evolve and we will be finding ourselves “outraged” about another misogynist phenomenon in no time. Let's connect the dots instead of gathering to watch someone crash and burn.

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