Sexual harassment of television personalities is becoming less of a laughing matter: Hydro One Fires Employee over Sexual Harassment

Yesterday, two big names on the Toronto business front took action to condemn sexist comments hurled at television news anchors.  A disturbing phrase, which has been shortened to “FHRITP” on media platforms to disguise the vulgarity for which it stands, was hurled at another female news anchor. “FHRITP” stands for the trend of shouting “F-ck her right in the p-ssy” at female news anchors while trying to conduct interviews. Undoubtably self evident, it is sexual harassment and painful to watch for any female professional who faces the challenge of sexism in their career.

On Sunday night, CityNEWS reporter, Shauna Hunt, the latest news woman to be heckled by a group of men- had enough.  While Shauna was conducting her post game interviews, a group of men began shouting sexually implicit comments into her microphone.  Shauna wasted no time in confronting these men and talking to them about why it is they find it acceptable to sexual harassment women.

You can see the whole interaction here:

As you can see, these men seem to find it a joke, but seem completely uninterested in the actual effect of this harassment. This is epitomizes sexual harassment as it is meant to dehumanize you, so when Shauna presents herself as a real person, ready to engage and tell them how this makes her feel- they begin to squirm and become defensive and actually suggest that she is the one who needs to lighten up. Harassers think women are there to be shouted at, objects to be oogled, made light of. It is privilege that allows these males to think that for some reason they should be able to say and do whatever they want without any kind of retort.

As women, we are constantly confronted with harassment on a daily basis, whilst trying to commute, walk, run, work…breathe.. for the fairer sex, this kind of sexual harassment makes most of us grimace with a wealth of personal understanding. Hanging out to shout derogatory remarks at a female professional is not cool, not funny, it’s not even creative. Unfortunately, our society is so embedded with male privilege that misogyny is a daily encounter. Sometimes it comes from ignorance due to privilege, others have deeply embedded misogyny. The way one can tell the difference between a mistake made out of privilege and a misogynist who does not value women as people can be seen in this video- instead of listening to her experience, they tell her she ought to feel something else. The men in this video aren’t interested in hearing the voice of a woman, her opinion, they just want to shout at her phrases they have the privilege of finding funny because they are not harassed in such a manner on a regular basis. And in any case, someone who doesn’t experience sexism, racism, ablism, etc is never an authority on the subject. The ability to remain unemotional to a subject matter is privilege in itself.

There is however an encouraging side to this post; it turns out there are a few major companies who took it upon themselves to send the message that the harassment of women is no laughing matter.Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) has banned the men responsible from future sporting events and Hydro One has actually fired one of the men who appeared in this interview. Hydro One spokesman had this to say about the dismissal, “Respect for all people is engrained in the code and our values.”

Todd Minerson, executive director of the White Ribbon Campaign, an organization of men working to end violence against women says, “I’m glad to see companies stepping up and taking this seriously. It’s a welcome change,”

While we appreciate this support from our allies, we want to give the most praise to Shauna Hunt of City News who had the courage and ability to stand up against this form of harassment on behalf of us all.