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Jan 17 2012

#Mencall Kathryn Marshall things

So every time I see the kind of cruelty that is leveled against women for the arch-crime of existing, it always catches me flat-footed. I always approach things with a mindset of “naw, people can’t be THAT bad”. I am almost always wrong.

Case in point – watch this video:

Now, if you didn’t make it all the way through the video in one go, I don’t blame you. It took me 4 or 5 bites to actually force that turd down my throat. For those of you who couldn’t watch, I will briefly summarize. On a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC – roughly the equivalent of NPR but less… well, less NPR) program called Power and Politics, Evan Solomon hosts a debate between John Bennett of the Sierra Club and Kathryn Marshall of Ethical Oil. The debate is over the pipeline from this morning’s story.

Ms. Marshall has clearly been instructed to make the following points:

  1. The Sierra Club accepts foreign donations
  2. Foreign interests should not be involved in a Canadian regulatory decision
  3. Ethical Oil is supported by grassroots donations
  4. The pipeline creates Canadian jobs and is important to economic growth
  5. Opponents of the pipeline want to oppose any development projects

That’s it. We know that’s it, because for nearly 11 minutes Ms. Marshall staunchly refuses to contribute anything besides these five talking points to the conversation. Even when the moderator asks her directly about the contradictions in her argument (foreign oil companies are allowed to be part of the consultation process, Ethical Oil may receive funding from nationally-owned oil companies), she doesn’t even do a good job of deflecting – she just mindlessly repeats the talking points and laughs unconvincingly.

Kathryn Marshall is absolutely terrible at her job. I didn’t think that John Bennett did a particularly good job either, but then again he’s not a professional PR hack – he’s an administrator. Ms. Marshall has one specific responsibility, which was to relate her company’s position to the public. She made a hash of it, and came across as uninformed and disingenuine. In addition, the position that she is attempting to defend is morally repugnant.

Kathryn Marshall does not deserve to be sexually degraded because she is bad at her job. I am too squeamish to quote all of the comments, but let’s just say that all of the high points were hit: the word “cunt” appears several times, as do many implications (and outright assertions) that she was given that position in exchange for sexual favours, some of which (favours) seem rather humiliating. One person seems to think that his desire to “pound that poontang” was worth sharing with the rest of the world.

Kathryn Marshall is shit at her job. She does not deserve that kind of disgusting invective leveled at her simply because she’s young, female, and pretty (although I’m sure she’d receive similar treatment if she were only conventionally attractive, and would receive a different type of abuse if she was unattractive).

Now maybe it is because I am a feminist, maybe it is because I think of fellow FTBorg like Ophelia and Stephanie as friends, or maybe it’s because I kind of think Ms. Marshall looks like one of my friends form high school. Whatever the reason, I posted this comment:

The level of sexism in some of these comments is unbelievable. Ms. Marshall is a VERY poor spokesperson/spin doctor for her organization. She’s got a bad argument and presents it very ineffectively. That is NOT AT ALL justification for this kind of vile name-calling. I’m shocked and dismayed that anyone would look at a paid corporate spokesperson and then attack her based on her sex. There are legitimate reasons to object to her performance – being female is NOT one of them.

It did not escape me, incidentally, that some comments had been removed. Considering the stuff that was left up, I can only speculate as to how absolutely revolting the removed content must have been.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t this:

First comment: cock sucking blonde, probably sucked her way to her position. corporate whore-bag, I hope you sleep well at night. Second comment: good point. I caught myself earlier making the assumption she sucked her way to her position. Maybe she did, maybe she didn't, but its not fair to make that assumption, as I would not have said the same about a man. I would like to thank you for helping me see my own bias. And I also agree with your assessment of her performance... it was poor.

It’s like spotting Bigfoot riding a unicorn. It’s the fictional “you make a good point – I should check my sexism” that I often deride as fantasy, particularly with hardcore misogyny on the internet. And it happened like… RIGHT AWAY!

Anyway, single bright point aside (sort of, he still doesn’t back down from the idea that she may have received her position based on sexual performance), this whole thing was an eye-opening exercise for me. They all are. Even when I know they’re coming, they always catch me off guard.

Men don’t call me things. It’s times like this that I thank my lucky stars for that.

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13 comments

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  1. 1
    Pteryxx

    And when I came to read this post, I wasn’t expecting it to end with a unicorn humanity sighting. Excellent!

  2. 2
    julian

    Not to take away from this magical moment but I give it a week. :p

    Slightly more seriously, I don’t care if it’s Ann Coulter or Ruth Bater Ginsburg, women should not be treated like this. Whether I agree with them is irrelevant.

  3. 3
    Anthony K

    Not to take away from this magical moment but I give it a week.

    But then, maybe he’ll get called out on it again. And again, maybe his eyes will be opened. And maybe it’ll take a week-and-a-half before he relapses. And so on, and so on, and maybe one day…

    Holy shit, did I just sound optimistic for a second?

    I think I’m coming down with something.

  4. 4
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    I didn’t think she was so terrible. Her talking points were too few and she didn’t have enough variety in how she phrased them, but when your (immoral) job is promoting and defending oil interests while disguising that fact, you have your work cut out for you. It’s obvious that her group is a front for this company, and she can’t admit that straight out or deny it straight out. The host did a pretty good job of sticking to the question, which didn’t leave her much room.

  5. 5
    Dhorvath, OM

    Bloody silencing tactics are the shits, no substance but uncomfortable and rancid. Harm and nothing more.

  6. 6
    prtsimmons

    Great post, Crommunist. It’s comments like the ones you described that force me to do all kinds of things I never thought I’d do (like defend Ann Coulter or Michelle Bachmann or my own Conservative MP, Cathy McLeod, in the commment sections of various newspapers and the CBC). Sadly, the CBC has the most egalitarian and balanced commenters of all the major media outlets in Canada – if I make the mistake of reading a comment section on a Globe and Mail or CTV story about immigration or a prominent female, I am usually too angry and sad to think straight.

    P.S. I heard a rumour you might attend the Imagine No Religion 2 conference in Kamloops. Please do.

  7. 7
    carlie

    Wait, the ending was…good? What?

  8. 8
    Crommunist

    I will absolutely be there. I’ve already booked my ticket and secured accommodations.

  9. 9
    Tabby Lavalamp

    I’m glad I read through to the end, but I was almost too flabbergasted to continue reading after I realized that “Ethical” Oil and our Natural Resources Minister are using the same talking points, once more showing how conservatives here are learning and following the example of conservatives south of the border.

  10. 10
    abeille

    And thats why I don’t usually read comments on most things, espeically youtube and news articles.

    And why I don’t have an image on my blog.

  11. 11
    Riptide

    And *that’s* why I hate MRAs (amongst others) even more than I hate honest bigots: they make me defend individuals I would normally have no interest in, or business, defending (even if the defense is in my own mind). They completely miss legitimate criticism and force all other right-thinking people to skip over them as well, turning debates into a battleground over irrelevant details.

    It’s really quite infuriating.

  12. 12
    ckitching

    Wait. If Ezra Levant is the initiator of the organization, does that really still qualify it as “grassroots”?

    Kathryn is apparently the spouse of Hamish Marshall, former PMO staffer for the “Harper Government”, who is now the president of Go Newclear Productions, a policial PR firm and chief research officer of Abingdon Research, a political research firm. So her job may be more a case of nepotism than sleeping with someone important.

    Wow. This entire thing has dirty politics all over it.

  13. 13
    prtsimmons

    Excellent! Our nefarious plan to turn blue-collar Kamloops into a centre for godlessness and freethinking is proceeding nicely.

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