Can we talk?
Many men (and some women) worry that the #metoo movement has morphed into a man-hating witch hunt where innocent men will be publicly humiliated and deprived of their livelihoods by vindictive women spreading unfounded accusations.
They point to the fate of three Canadian politicians, Ont PC leader, Patrick Brown and NS PC leader Jamie Bailie, both of whom resigned following allegations of sexual harassment and Liberal MP, Kent Hehr, who resigned from cabinet pending an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.
They ask why the women who made the allegations of sexual misconduct took so long to come forward; they wonder whether the women are lying or making a big deal out of nothing; and they’re concerned that suspending or firing politicians in these circumstances is a violation of due process.
Let’s examine these concerns.
Why did the women wait so long?
Political parties and political institutions were woefully behind when it came to formally recognizing the existence of sexual harassment and developing a policy and process to address it. The House of Commons didn’t formalize its harassment policy until Dec 2014, decades later than the private sector.
In the past, women who were harassed by powerful politicians were loath to complain lest they torpedo their careers, or heaven forbid, be ostracized for being disloyal. If they decided to complain it wasn’t clear who they should complain to (the party leader, a sympathetic female colleague, the party whip?). And if they did complain there was no guarantee things would change.
So, they kept their stories to themselves…until the #metoo movement gave them an opportunity to speak out.
Bottom line: the women didn’t speak up earlier because the cost of speaking up was too great and the reward for speaking up was practically non-existent.
Mountains, molehills and lies
Fine, the women had a good excuse for not speaking up sooner, but is it right for them to hang a fellow out to dry because he made a stupid remark 10 years ago?
Context is important here. What passed for acceptable (if somewhat risqué) conduct in the 1970s and 80s does not cut it today. But we can’t assume just because something happened years ago it was okay by the standards of the time. We need to focus on what was actually said or done.
A comment may seem stupid, thoughtless and relatively innocuous when compared to outright sexual assault, but when such comments form a pattern of predatory behavior they’re corrosive. No one has the right to erode the dignity of another with the constant drip, drip, drip of comments laced with sexual innuendo, “accidental” pats on the butt, or “friendly” shoulder rubs. The burden of figuring this out falls on the politician not the woman he’s making miserable.
And lest we forget, even in the Mad Men days men were not allowed to force themselves on women, particularly if they were inebriated or underage.
This gets us to lies (although I must admit I’m puzzled at the number of men who think there’s a heartless vixen ready to pop out of their past to destroy them with false accusations).
It is never okay to destroy someone’s career and reputation with a lie. But know this, no woman embarks on this path lightly. They’ve seen their peers viciously attacked for speaking up. They need the courage of Joan of Arc to come forward…and they do so anyway.
All we know at this point is the tsunami of false #metoo allegations has failed to materialize. And truth be told, the concern that good men will be brought to their knees by lying scheming women feels a lot like the allegations of voter fraud–unsubstantiated and greatly exaggerated.
Due process and the media
Sharing a story on #metoo won’t topple a politician unless it’s picked up and amplified by the mainstream media.
Andrew Coyne and Sylvia Stead point out that journalists takes their responsibilities with respect to such stories very seriously–with good reason, failure to do so would land them and their papers in the middle of a defamation suit.
Coyne and Stead don’t run with the initial allegation. They look for corroboration from others. How detailed is the allegation, is it confirmed with contemporaneous evidence, is there a reason the accuser would lie, is the allegation a simple misunderstanding or did it really cross the line. They check back with the politician accused of misconduct. They test for credibility. (Incidentally the “whisper network” is real, MPP Lisa MacLeod says she flagged unpleasant rumours about Patrick Brown for three years and was rebuffed…right up to the day Brown was dumped by his party.)
Some people are concerned that printing such stories, even if they’ve been exhaustively researched, deprives the accused politician of due process.
Lawyers do not agree. Law professor Alice Woolley recently tweeted: “I believe in the presumption of innocence in criminal trials and the right to a zealous defence. But it’s not salient to the public’s response to credible allegations of sexual misconduct vetted by reputable journalists.”
It’s not fair
Some people argue that it’s unfair that a harassment complaint or a #metoo post should cost a politician his job. They act as if the woman who made the allegation had him fired.
This interpretation ignores the fact that it was the politician’s “boss” (his party or his prime minister) who reviewed the complaint and decided the politician’s behavior was sufficiently egregious to merit sanction.
Kent Hehr is under suspension pending the outcome of an investigation into a sexual harassment complaint. Patrick Brown and Jamie Bailie resigned as party leaders at the behest of their parties due to sexual harassment complaints . That’s fair treatment.
While we’re on the topic of fairness we shouldn’t forget the impact of sexual harassment on women who are its target. Harassment makes life extremely difficult for women in politics and deters others from entering politics. That’s not good for democracy.
Can I still hug you?
Of course, if you hugged us before #metoo you can hug us again…assuming your hug doesn’t go on forever or involve mashing your body into ours.
You’re adults, use your judgment. And when in doubt, ask. That’s not too hard, is it?
Many thanks for the perspective. It does seem to be a wave and a puzzle on what it is all about. Your moderate tone is very welcome. I am looking for a Canadian woman’s perspective ( Americans are crazy these days and haven’t much to say that’s relevant) and lately I have looked at stuff from Rosie DiManno and Christie Blatchford and don’t know what to think. I am taking any male commentators with a grain of salt.
You’re welcome Douglas. I haven’t read Rosie DiManno’s stuff (I’ll look her up) but think Christie Blatchford has the wrong end of the stick. I absolutely agree with your point about Americans. What’s more telling than how each country responds to allegations of sexual harassment in the political class.? Seven Canadian politicians (Libs Andrews, Pacetti, Tootoo, Kang, and Hehr and PCs Brown and Bailie) were suspended and/or resigned over allegations of sexual harassment while in the US a man accused of 19 instances of sexual harassment became president. That says a lot about Canadian values, doesn’t it.
How timely! And well said. P.S. I didn’t know you had a soapbox?!
I do indeed have a soapbox Carillon and now you’ve joined me on it. Welcome!
But what if the harassment complaints against Brown and Baillie weren’t true? They resigned with their lives in tatters and will never have the chance to defend themselves. So far the only evidence in the Brown case is he said/she said yet the party pronounced him guilty. This is what is wrong with the #metoo movement.
Why do you assume they aren’t true?
Brian, re: Bailie: the PC party hired an investigator to look into an allegation of sexual harassment, the investigation revealed Bailie had violated the legislature’s harassment policy and the party asked him to resign. If the investigation was run the way they’re normally run Bailie would have had ample opportunity to defend himself. Nevertheless the party’s position indicates it thought the allegations were true.
Re: Brown: it doesn’t sound like a formal investigation took place. The PC party said Brown is entitled to a legal defense and due process “but he cannot lead us into an election as a result of these allegations,” It’s unclear whether the party thinks he’s guilty or just got rid of him because the allegations would impact their chances in the next election. That’s not a #metoo outcome, it’s a political outcome.
Good point Janna. I’ve been involved in many sexual harassment investigations in the workplace in my years as a corporate lawyer. I was part of a team that included people from HR and other areas. We never assumed the women were making false allegations. We started by talking to each party, talking to their coworkers, getting corroborating evidence (you’d be surprised what people put into emails) and going back to each party with what we learned. At the end of the day we used our judgment to determine whether the allegation of sexual harassment was credible and if so how to deal with the offender. It’s a fair process and sounds very much like the process outlined by journalists Coyne and Stead. .
We don’t know one way or the other that they’re not true. In the case of Patrick Brown, it’s literally he said, she said with no other evidence or inquiry. We may never know, but we can’t presume him to be guilty just by an accusation by an anonymous accuser.
It’s not only the media who automatically assume the guilt of any male accused of improper conduct, their respective political parties just went ahead and condemned them as well. For the next few weeks or months every male in the western world iives under a cloud of suspicion.
no they won’t. Did you read the post?
Ed, I agree with Janna. Why would allegations against specific males create a cloud of suspicion over ALL males?
#metoo represents a historic moment for those who are willing to listen and learn. Thankyou to the brave women (and men) who dared to believe in our better selves and a better world. There is new hope across the world for equality and freedom for women. And that is good for us all!
David, your comment reminds me of Rachel Notley’s comment about all this. She said “Government at all levels have a duty to lead: with better resources and supports to protect victims, laws that create healthier workplaces, and safe avenues for people to speak out. Enough already. We can change. Let’s change together.”
Well said, both of you!
I don’t have an issue with the accusations so much, but its the manner. I’m not up on what happened with Bailie, but in the case of Kent Hehr I think it is being done right, and in the case of Patrick Brown it has been bungled beyond all belief.
In the Hehr case there is going to be an investigation….in the meantime he has left cabinet, but he’s still a sitting MP. I assume that after the investigation there may some further consequences….perhaps he’ll be made to take sensitivity training, or maybe he’ll be turfed.
Patrick Brown though…..he’s been tried and convicted already. And what is his recourse? Who is investigating the allegations levelled against the former PC leader? If I were in his shoes, even if the allegations are true, there’s nothing criminal in them that I can see….I would pursue civil action against Nash and other accuser.
Gordie, you’re right that in Brown’s case, unlike Bailie and Hehr, there was no investigation. I think the PCs turfed him because they didn’t want these allegations hanging over the head of the man who was supposed to lead them to victory in the June election.
You mention that “even if the allegations are true, there’s nothing criminal in them”, actually certain types of harassment are criminal offenses (I don’t know if that’s the case here). Also if the allegations are true Brown has no civil case. If he was convinced they were false he could bring a defamation action, but if they’re true his accusers have a good defence to defamation and he’d just make his situation worse.
CTV, in airing this “news” definitely tarnished the reputations of journailsts everywhere….they should have disclosed the connection between one of the accusers and their employee involved in breaking this “story”
We shall see, but I’m expecting a law suit….of course I’m not a lawyer, and I’m assuming you’re not either….so we shall see if a suit is brought and if it is…what the result would be.
One positive out of all this ….its spurring vigorous debate and discussion, and in my experience that’s rarely a bad thing.
Actually Gordie I am a lawyer. I started in the litigation department of one of the biggest law firms Calgary, then moved in-house to work at two publicly traded companies. There I did everything from contracts, securities, oil and gas, regulatory and employment law. This included writing and updating the companies’ harassment policies and being part of the investigation team when complaints came forward.
I appreciate you taking the time to add your perspective to the discussion because I agree with you that this debate and discussion is a positive outcome.
What a balanced and thoughtful commentary! Thanks, Susan!
You’re very welcome Dr Bob!
For alternative viewpoints from older (mature) women of a different era, check out these sources:
Celebrated author Margaret Atwood challenges #MeToo’s lynch mob justice at — https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/01/23/meto-j23.html
French artists rebuff #MeToo witch-hunt at — https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/01/10/lemo-j10.html
Brigitte Bardot blasts #MeToo actresses as ‘hypocritical and ridiculous’ at — https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jan/18/brigitte-bardot-slams-metoo-actresses-hypocritical/
fj: it’s important to get different perspectives on this issue so thank you for passing along these links.
Of the three women quoted, the one that carries the most weight with me is Margaret Atwood. I’ll have to re-read her Globe article to get a clear understanding of the context of her comments, but I have a concern with the quote that #metoo is a symptom of a broken legal system. She may be right with respect to how sexual assault cases are treated in the criminal courts, however, I think the best way to address sexual misconduct and sexual harassment in the workplace is *IN* the workplace by implementing and enforcing clear anti-harassment polities. Corporations have used policies to effectively address sexual harassment (along with bullying, environmental stewardship, and corporate social responsibility) for years. The problem with political institutions is that politicians don’t view their “workplace” and their “employees” the same way as corporations do. Women will go outside the “workplace” if If there’s no clear process for them to make a sexual harassment complaint internally. Apparently only three of 13 jurisdictions in Canada have sexual harassment policies in place at this time so politicians across the country have some catching up to do.
“Why did the women wait so long?” Those who work with survivors of sexual abuse and the vast volumes of literature on this subject show that victims can take years or decades to come to terms with the abuse. Flashbacks to the abuse may begin for any number of reasons. Victims deal with the abuse when they are able to deal with it – and not before. And when dealing with abuse after decades of denial and attempting to keep it down, it feels so much like the abuse happening all over again. It is no small matter to speak up and risk further abuse and denial by the perpetrator and his supporters but exposing and confronting the abuser often is an important step in healing, recovery and being able to move from victim to survivor. Let’s give all the support we can to those who dare to speak up in their journey to healing.
Well said Survivor. Elizabeth Renzetti, of the Globe and Mail, has written a number of excellent articles on the impact of sexual assault. She points out the pain of being a victim is both physical and mental and it never goes away, not even when the women reach their 60s, 70s or 80s. Here’s the link: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/many-women-have-spoken-out-but-too-many-still-suffer-in-silence/article37022806/
I have very mixed feelings about recent developments related to the #meetoo and #timesup movements. Firstly, workplace sexual harassment is always wrong, full stop. I have a wife, two daughters and a granddaughter, and woe betide any man who treats any of them in such a shabby way. There is no way to be sure there is true consent when there is a power imbalance between the parties, and one of them fears losing a job or promotion if she does not comply. In fact, I am also angry at the men who engage in this odious behaviour for making the rest of the male half of the species look bad, and causing our women co-workers to lose trust in us and maybe even feel unsafe working alongside male co-workers.
All of that said, I am also concerned with the way our society reacts when these kind of allegations are made, when they are just allegations that have not been subjected to scrutiny by the courts or any sort of Human Resources investigation. This is linked to the #Ibelieveher movement, which advocates uncritical acceptance of any woman’s claims of sexual assault or harassment, regardless of whether there is even an iota of evidence to support the allegation. Don’t get me wrong, the criminal justice system has a poor track record of dealing effectively and appropriately with women who come forward, often at great personal cost, and has a long history of victim blaming and related poor practices. But sexual assault and sexual harassment are such heinous acts, the mere accusation can be enough to torpedo a man’s career and standing in the community, and so the safeguards built into our justice system—presumption of innocence, independent counsel, impartial tribunal, right to face one’s accuser, etc.—remain essential and non-negotiable. In other words, the awfulness of this behaviour, and the devastating impact of an accusation, are the very reasons we need to maintain these safeguards, lest someone who is totally innocent of any misbehaviour be labelled for life as a sexual miscreant.
Finally, there is the route some woman have taken, of taking their complaints to the civil courts instead of filing criminal complaints. The standard of proof is lower, and the complainant has full standing in the process, but what about equity? That route is only truly accessible to women who are well off, whereas the criminal justice system are accessible to rich and poor alike. No woman working a minimum wage job is going to sue a manager who harasses her.
I don’t pretend to have any solutions, but I feel we need to have this discussion, without attacking anyone who raises the same doubts as a sexist or misogynist.
I also thank you for your post; although I don’t 100% agree with all of your views on this, I do appreciate the calm, reasonable tone you adopt.
Jerry, you’re right, we need to listen to each other without jumping to the conclusion that one of us is a crazed misogynist and the other is a scheming harpy. It’s not an easy discussion but I think most of us can agree that in order to stop sexual harassment and violence (1) the criminal justice system needs to be improved, (2) all workplaces should implement and enforce effective harassment policies, and (3) much more needs to be done.
We should also remember that many of the women sharing their stories on #metoo, #timesup and #Ibelieveher shared them in the spirit of solidarity and support. I don’t think their primary objective was a global attack on every man they’d ever known.
Thank you for your calm reasonable comment. Your wife, daughters and granddaughter are fortunate to have you in their lives!
As a male and a member of the serf class with no deep pockets we know how to keep our hands to our selves. Much of the Me Too stuff is about semi-rich women seeking JUSTIFIED REVENGE from rich a-ho*es who engage in abuse. You can keep that. What irritates the sh*t out of me is scenarios like poor women working nights cleaning office buildings who are molested by their “boss”. Not high profile, outa sight, outa mind! An outrageous, despicable violation.
Bill, I’m not sure that the #metoo women are semi-rich women seeking revenge, however I wholeheartedly agree with your point about sexual harassment and violence directed at women who are powerless to fight back because they’re desperate to keep their jobs. When I worked in the energy industry we gave our contractors a copy of our harassment policy (it was part of our Code of Conduct). It specifically protected our contractors from sexual harassment and violence at the hands of our employees. Even this wasn’t broad enough to cover the situation you described where a company hires a contractor (say a cleaning company) whose managers abuse their female staff. This is wrong and has to change.
“That’s not a #metoo outcome, it’s a political outcome.”
“Patrick Brown…resigned as party leaders at the behest of their parties due to sexual harassment complaints . That’s fair treatment.”
How so? Being #railroaded may be a ‘political outcome’, but I am curious to know how you arrived at “fair treatment” there.
I agree with Margaret Atwood: due process is vital to justice, even if the system administering it is imperfect (as is any and all systems administered by human beings).
Red Queen:…now, are you ready for your sentence?
Alice: ‘Sentence’? But there must be a verdict first…
RQ: Sentence first, verdict afterwards!
GoinFawr, here’s how I got to “fair treatment” with respect to Patrick Brown.
(1) Brown is an experienced politician. He entered politics in 2000, ran for the feds in 2004 and became an MP in 2006. He switched to provincial politics in 2014. He knows the ropes.
(2) He demonstrates extremely poor judgment. Twice he invited a young woman and her friend to his house. The friend leaves and something happens. One woman tells her friends, the other tells her dad and her friends. In the latter case there are photographs of the woman, her friend and Brown in the hallway in his house. CTV picks up the story, interviews the women, and corroborates their stories. It is poor judgment for a politician to take a young woman back to his house after a night of drinking.
(3) The allegations come out. Brown’s staffers talk to him about it, and (presumably) after getting his side of the story, tell him to resign. He doesn’t, and they and 2 other staff members resign.
(4) The party convenes on a conference call. Brown participates, we don’t know what he said in his defence, but it’s not good enough for the party and they tell him to resign.
(5) In this case he was fairly treated (in a political sense) because he showed extremely poor judgment and the party couldn’t risk continuing with him at the helm.
What I’m saying is it doesn’t matter in Brown’s case whether the allegations are true, what matters is his lack of judgment in inviting the young women to his house in the first place. Of course if the allegations are true (and I think they are), then he’s even more culpable.
“What I’m saying is it doesn’t matter in Brown’s case whether the allegations are true…”
Well, it sure does to Mr.Brown and the women making them, I’d wager.
So you’re saying that even if the allegations were proven without a doubt to be untrue you’d still feel justice was served by the outcome for Mr.Brown?
What I’m saying GoinFawr is there are two issues at play here. The first is whether Brown sexually harassed one or more women. This issue requires an investigation (here it was conducted by CTV journalists and I’m pretty sure their findings would have been reviewed by CTV’s lawyers before they went public). If the party believed the women and not Brown it was right to force him to resign. The second issue is whether Brown has the judgment necessary to lead the PC party. The fact he supplied underage women with alcohol and took them back to his home where something happened (in and of itself without getting into whether the allegations are true) is enough to demonstrate he lacks moral character and good judgment. The party was right to get rid of him on this basis (even without having to prove the allegations were true or not true). Political parties have gotten rid of their leaders for a lot less.
This may be stating the obvious, but I think it helps both genders appreciate each others’ position.
Whenever an accusation of sexual harassment is made, I think it is natural to identify with someone of our own gender. I like to think of myself as a good guy. I would not commit sexual harassment. Thus if I am accused it will be a false accusation.
Likewise, if I was a woman, I would not make a false accusation. Therefore if I made an accusation it would be true and i would be devastated if I was not believed.
Sadly not everyone is a good guy.
“This may be stating the obvious, but I think it helps (if everyone would ed.) appreciate each others’ position.”
Whenever an accusation of sexual harassment is made, I think it is natural to identify with someone of our own gender. Eg. I’d wager Susan justifiably likes to think of herself as a good person; she would never commit sexual harassment. Thus if she was accused she would know it to be a false accusation.
Likewise, if she was a man, she would not make a false accusation. Therefore if she made an accusation it would be true and she would be devastated if it was not believed.
Sadly, not everyone is a good person.
Which is the incredibly salient point that Margaret Atwood has made, not me:
“My fundamental position is that women are human beings, with the full range of saintly and demonic behaviours this entails, including criminal ones. They’re not angels, incapable of wrongdoing. If they were, we wouldn’t need a legal system.” M.Atwood
GoinFawr: I finally re-read the Margaret Atwood piece and have a few comments, which I will now with some trepidation share (who in their right mind publicly disagrees with the author of Handmaid’s Tale?).
Atwood starts and ends her article with the Steve Galloway case (this has turned into a case about censorship and isn’t relevant to #metoo).
She likens #metoo to other examples of “guilty because accused” but uses extreme examples like the Stalin’s purges to demonstrate the principle that if something bad happens we need a purge and we will purge without requiring evidence (this ignores the fact there *is* evidence in these cases, it’s gathered by journalists because the political institutions are so backward they’ve failed to implement effective anti-harassment policies). Atwood then moves to vigilante justice–condemnation without trial–and says women take to social media because they can’t get a fair hearing in the legal system or in corporations. She’s right about the legal system, but not right about corporations which move much more quickly to address culture change (eg. corporations paid out same-sex benefits well before the courts recognized the legality of same-sex marriage).
If I understand her quote correctly, she’s saying accusations need to be proven in a court of law. I don’t agree. What standard of proof would she propose? A criminal court requires proof “beyond a reasonable doubt”. A civil court requires proof “on the balance of probabilities”. The Brown case could fail in a criminal court but succeed in a civil court.
I think #metoo is really about cultural change. Some organizations and corporations are ahead of the curve while others like political institutions and the media industry are just catching up. We’re going to see a lot of dialogue on social media and MSM as we work towards an equitable response to sexual harassment and violence against women in all its forms.
Here’s the link to Atwood’s article: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/am-i-a-bad-feminist/article37591823/
Just because Margaret Atwood is one of our best writers does not mean much in terms of her opinions on society and Justice in particular.
We all tend to idolize these people without question when we do not know who they really are. I really do not care about what Margaret Atwood has to say about it the same way I do not care about what Brigitte Bardot or any of them. They are not the women that are most assaulted in society so why the attention.
I also fully agree with Bill Smith that we are looking at the tip of the iceberg where mostly the accuser or the victim are either celebrities or politicians. Where the situation is absolutely horrible and no one seems to be interested in is in the human trafficking of women to become prostitutes in Canada as well as sexual assault and rape of women that work in professions that Canadian women rarely do anymore. These women have no recourse and that is why there are 1200 cases of murdered native women that the RCMP, the Canadian government and all of us have done basically nothing about. Do we even care? Hypocrisy is our most serious problem.
You nailed it Bob. This is exactly the conversation my husband and I have had over the breakfast table…and the dinner table…and the breakfast table the next day. Good men are horrified by this behavior. Good women are shocked they’re not believed because they know that making an allegation comes at a high price.
For certain people, the PCs are not guilty of anything (there has to be an investigation in every case of sexual misconduct). The Liberals automatically are guilty with this. People may not come forward right away, because of fear. There has to be a universal declaration set in Canadian politics, that this type of conduct cannot be allowed.
Dwayne, I really like your solution! Thank you.
Susan: You are very welcome.
“Just because Margaret Atwood is one of our best writers does not mean much in terms of her opinions on society and Justice in particular.”
Of course her writing “means much” CB, especially when considering the perspective and subject matter she’s explored for decades is so relevant to the issue.
I certainly don’t agree with Ms.Atwood because I ‘idolize’ her, I agree with her because she makes such an important point regarding the necessity of due process; a glaringly obvious one too, or so I thought.
Indeed, I only mentioned her to lend credibility to the point that I would stand alone to make if need be; because, after all, I’m just some anonymous internet comment maker, and she is (was) an established, respected, and published feminist, which does give her position weight whatever you may think of her (now).
Well GF I think you have a valid point and I take my comment back in relation to her. I have to confess I know very little about her work because I cannot stand her books – I barely made it through one of them. As far as her being a feminist means little to me because this is an issue that is above any of that in my view. I also do not respect her much as a person, I do not find her a kind human being.
“The fact he supplied underage women with alcohol and took them back to his home where something happened (in and of itself without getting into whether the allegations are true) is enough to demonstrate he lacks moral character and good judgment”
I did not know that was an indisputable fact. I was under the impression it was possible that Mr.Brown met them (her?) already AT an establishment legally required to bar underage people from entering at all, and so he thought it stood to reason that he could safely conclude they (she?) were adults like himself.
The indisputable fact is that there’s a photo of Brown with one of these women and her friend standing in the hallway of his house. Fair point that we don’t have Brown’s version of what happened after the camera was turned off. Whatever explanation he provided to his party wasn’t enough to convince them to keep him as leader, but he put himself in that position and they have the right to decide whether to stick with him or move on. They chose the latter.
With respect to the other woman I don’t think anyone can safely assume a young woman is of legal drinking age just he met them in a bar.
Can we talk Susan… In light of all the new information are you still feeling exactly the same about Patrick Brown’s culpability and the service being paid to justice in his case?
If Mr.Brown proves himself innocent on all counts (something that must be done these days, apparently) what I want to know is what are all those who pilloried him on the scaffold of public opinion going to to do to make it up to him?
“I don’t think anyone can safely assume a young woman is of legal drinking age just he met them in a bar.”
Why not? It seems to me that is a perfectly reasonable conclusion to draw, since it would otherwise be illegal for them to be there, and all such establishments have a legal responsibility to ensure their patrons are not breaking the law by being there; surely you are not suggesting we presume all people in bars that look a ‘certain way’ are breaking the law?
Besides that as you know by now the anonymous accuser, whomever she may be, has since changed her statement completely on that count, which does nothing to bolster her credibility, regardless of what her lawyer says.
And differing accounts of the events surrounding the ‘staffer’s’ accusations seem to be bubbling to the surface, painting Mr.Brown in a not-so-culpable light… so now what?
I feel obligated to point out that the progression of this story confirms my conviction that a little due process would have done a much better job. What amounts to ‘debates on points of law’ fails many, no doubt, but in my experience it serves justice at least as often, and is definitely more likely to reach for a fair hearing for everyone involved than is anonymously #railroading someone.
Rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater, let’s just clean up the tub.
GoinFawr, yes, of course, we should talk, and continue talking about this and other difficult issues. I agree that when Brown’s accuser admitted she was not underage when she met Brown at the bar and went home with him she undermined her credibility. But Brown’s suggestion that the women should take their complaints to the police doesn’t work for me because the police don’t take sexual assault complaints as seriously as they should (the G&M’s ‘unfounded” investigation demonstrated that) and unwanted touching (shoulder rubs, squeezes, kisses) doesn’t rise to the level of an assault that would warrant a police officer’s time. That’s why I support internal investigations like the kind carried out in the corporate world. They afford a level of confidentiality to the parties involved and if the accusation is verified there are consequences, namely disciplinary measures up to and including dismissal, in politics this would equate to someone losing a cabinet position or being forced to sit as an independent.
Carlos and GoinFawr, the point about whether Margaret Atwood is a credible commentator on this topic is an interesting one. After I posted my comment about Atwood it was pointed out to me by someone I respect that Atwood has come under considerable fire not just because other women don’t agree with her position but because they think The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t a brilliant dystopian story but simply a retelling of the historical injustices inflicted on black women during the days of slavery. These women think Atwood is a white feminist interested only in freeing white women from white men. This usually leads into a discussion about white supremacy.
In the end I tend to revert back to what I know about the law. I don’t find her views on due process convincing, I don’t think she understands how the harassment investigation process works in corporations (which she’d likely say lacks due process) and I don’t think she’s an expert on this topic simply because she’s a well know Canadian writer who wrote the story that together with 1984 and Brave New World have become essential reading for people wondering about oppression and tyranny.
‘ I don’t think she’s an expert on this topic simply because she’s a well know Canadian writer who wrote the story that together with 1984 and Brave New World have become essential reading for people wondering about oppression and tyranny.’
This is also my opinion but I understand GF’s point.
I do not want to have a negative opinion just because I do not like her work or her personality for that matter.
I’m still shaking my head in disbelief that a serial, self-admitted sexual predator has somehow become the President of the United States. And it wasn’t rumour, back-room talk, or was there any room for people to say it might not have happened. It was recorded and put out for the whole wide world to see. No political fall-out there! The guy was rewarded with the highest office in his country.
The “pussy-hats” worn at the Women’s Marches were a direct reaction to Trump’s famous recorded conversation with Hollywood host Billy Bush, where he said because he was a “star” he could do anything to women including grabbing them by the said hat description. I took a Gravol to watch the Washington Post’s recording of the talk the two men had about women. It was pathetic. Billy Bush was just as bad as Trump. He reminded me of the little Looney Tunes dog, Chester, trying to shine up to the big bulldog, Spike: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2ip9wx. If you have 6 minutes to watch this classic you will see their intended victim is, interestingly, Sylvester the pussy cat. The escapade goes gratifyingly sideways for the big bully in typical Looney Tunes fashion- I’m giving away the ending here- it involves a panther.
Unfortunately in real life, Billy Bush and Trump are a lot more sinister and disgusting. Nor has there been any negative consequences for them, restitution for their victims, or a recoup of dignity for our gender.
It’s going to take a lot more than pink hats and marches for some kind of reckoning. Panthers. We have to become panthers.
I agree Elaine. I often wonder whether Trump unwittingly did us a favour. The fact he was elected made it clear to women all over the world that if we really wanted to protect ourselves from sexual predators we’d have to do it ourselves. We all need to become panthers. (That was a cute clip by the way, now we need a sequel where a panther kitten gets the best of Chester).
Thank you for your article however in all of the articles written about this topic espousing the great care to REPORT, since when is the media our court of law? Women or men who are sexually abused on any level should be reporting it to the police. Proper investigations should then be done which would protect the victim. It is absolutely wrong that anyone should be hung out to dry in the media. There have been far too many stories of people wrongfully accused due to the media believing they had all the truth. This use of the media is want ruins reputable movements trying to do the right thing. These accusations should all have been reported to the authorities first. Any journalist worth their salt should insist upon it. Every time. Yet it is far more important to be the breaking news reporter. There is a bigger wheel to grease which all leads back to the
Actually Aimee, when women report sexually abuse/harassment to the police, they aren’t protected. They are usually vilified. Also, please look at how much vilification these women have endured, the ones who accused Brown. Look at the comments on Blatchford’s National Post article. Lots and lots of people are blaming the women in this case and saying it’s a conspiracy to remove Brown. Seems like the victims just can’t win ever.
Aimee I agree with Janna’s point. Nicole Pietsch has worked with sexual violence survivors since 1998. She says the belief that false allegations are commonplace is not borne out by criminal justice data. She says it’s based on sexist stereotypes that women lie about sexual assault to get revenge or for their own benefit. Here’s the link to her article in today’s Globe and Mail https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/before-metoo-victims-lost-everything/article37849069/ It’s well worth a read.
DHT. That’s an excellent clip. The fact that Roiphe was attacked and dismissed even before her article was published says the #metoo movement has its share of fanatics who don’t understand the need to listen to people with a different point of view.
January 29, 2018 at 2:28 pm
Ed, I agree with Janna. Why would allegations against specific males create a cloud of suspicion over ALL males?”
Because so many of us have had similar experiences all our lives and have just sucked it up. If we all could remember the names of every man who came on to us in an unwelcome way, and reported them, there wouldn’t be many left standing. Not to mention the uncles and family friends whose names we do remember.
Well said Marypat45, well said.