Why do we put up with violence?

Why do we put up with violence?

The sudden, stupid and obviously sexist firing of Lisa LaFlamme from CTV is not going over very well with the vast majority of Canadians. Or so it appears. And part of me rejoices. Why do we keep male anchors until they’re 600 years old, regardless of how they look (because, shocker, journalism isn’t about hair), but women anchors who deliberately go grey need to be flushed? 

Meanwhile in Ottawa at a convention for people who are keen on Ontario municipal politics, discussions turned to how sexism, sexual violence and male toxicity affect women politicians — especially women politicians of colour. That gave me the inspiration I needed to write this column.

You talk about this problem with the men in your life and even the best intentioned have trouble believing how often women with opinions get comments on their looks, to say nothing of sexist opinions and threats of sexual violence. I’ve been in this business a few decades now and I know how relentless it is. 

Sometimes it’s a man telling you how pretty you look when you smile (pro tip: *never* do that). Other times it’s a man demanding you answer his unsolicited messages. Sometimes it’s someone yelling a rape threat on the street (the exceedingly crude “FHRITP” which you shouldn’t google without warning). Or emailing a direct one. 

I am far from the only one with this experience. It’s a systemic problem caused by a minority of toxic and violent men. I don’t have a magic solution. But I know it’ll never get solved by forcing victims to carry the burden all by themselves.