Sunday, August 9, 2015

FHRITP: A Symptom Of Female Reporters Getting No Respect

In Canada, there has been recently a number of cases of female reporters being confronted by strangers aggressively yelling "fuck her right in the pussy" while they are on air. This is not an isolated incident either. Several reporters have been faced with such heckling. Yes it was also happening to some male reporters, but the majority appear to be women. Most recently, a reporter was kissed by a stranger on air while trying to do her job. It's a symptom of the much larger question of bodily autonomy; who has it and who doesn't in our society.

Aggressive , distracting, and at times frightening incidents such as these are brushed off by the perpetrators as being a joke. But who is laughing? Yelling obscenities or grabbing someone unexpectedly, especially women, who grow up with the constant fear of assault is not acceptable. It's actually astonishing to me that this has to be said in this day and age.  People desperate for attention will do ridiculous things, and perhaps these guys think that by doing this stuff they will impress their friends or something. But the truth is that it is a  reflection of their lack of respect for women, and I would not at all be surprised to hear that they hold misogynistic views or otherwise treat women in their lives with disrespect.

Journalism is a field where women already have a difficult time being taken seriously, particularly in sports journalism or in hard news. Women make up a smaller percentage of opinion piece writers, and 1/4 of the guests on Sunday morning political shows, as well as only 1/3 of news staffers. So it takes on a whole different connotation when a man feels that he as the right to interrupt a woman doing her job for his joke, It demonstrates that he does not believe that what she is doing is important enough that he should not interrupt.

There is also the issue of a woman's body being seen as public property, and open to any man to touch at any time he wants. Our society condones this sort of behaviour, particularly because of the way that we present women as passive objects to be won or taken by men, and the way that the media focuses on female appearance above achievement. We blame women for male violence and violation, and yet women are punished for not being accommodating enough or pleasant enough, as speaking out often results in death and rape threats online. The message is clear: Women are here for male satisfaction and to fulfill male needs. Our opinions do not matter. Our bodies are not our own.

The response to these childish and disrespectful acts shows that we are making progress. Nobody should have to deal with hecklers and unwanted touching when they are just trying to do their job. As a society we seem to have forgotten how to treat each other with respect, and have lost the sense that what we do in public will have consequences. The message needs to be clear that not everyone finds this behaviour as funny as the perpetrators do.

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