Canlit, harassment, retaliatory defamation

Canada has had its own blow-up around Tarana Burke’s #MeToo–recently in Canadian literature academia, similar allegations of misconduct had been leaked and circulated despite being initially intended as an informal network. Emily Kellogg has a good review of the legal situation:

The consequences for going public with accusations like these varies. In her New York essay, Donegan writes about the toll administrating the list took on her mental health, as well as her professional and personal relationships. After publishing the essay, she faced online harassment, including threats of doxxing—in which trolls release private information, like someone’s home address or bank account information, online.

In Canada, Spry’s essay ignited controversy, especially from those who felt he glossed over his own complicity in perpetuating an abusive culture at Concordia. Still, both Spry and Koul’s pieces have started urgent conversations about sexual abuse in CanLit.

These can be difficult conversations to have, and, because of Canada’s strict defamation laws, going public can have serious legal repercussions—even if you’re doing so solely to protect other people from harm.

“Many women who have accused their perpetrators have had to face retaliatory defamation claims,” Dr. Constance Backhouse, a law professor at the University of Ottawa and co-author of The Secret Oppression: Sexual Harassment of Working Women, explains. “These are often brought with inflated dollar demands—for example, a claim for one million dollars in damages…  I believe it is very rare for these lawsuits to actually go forward, but they are certainly effective as an intimidation tactic.”

Read more about it here.


What’s next after #MeToo

Although it is a step forward that survivors are feeling they can come forward to name their perpetrators, there is a reason we were so hesitant in the first place. None of that has necessarily budged after the #MeToo social media campaign, started by Tarana Burke in 2006.

Scores of women have felt rawdisheartened, and fatigued by the #MeToo news cycle over the past months for the obvious reason that these are transmissions of suffering and for many, reminders of exclusion. But the relentless news coverage is further disconcerting because these tales of horror are making some companies a lot of money, often by allowing one writer to dismiss and denigrate accusers in the same pages where another writer first broke the allegations.

So the perception of widespread insatiability that has so many conservatives and even liberals lamenting the fall of “due process” is not entirely off the mark. We harpies do indeed want more, much more. Even the handful of prominent men’s professional casualties isn’t quelling our appetite for revolution, which is misconstrued by some as a senseless, hysterical lust for vengeance. If anything, this growing parade of superficially disgraced figures only deepens our aggrievement: again, not by driving us to indiscriminate bloodletting, but by further whetting the craving for true change. Throw another famous gasbag into the fires of public disapproval—hell, throw them all in a fire—and see if we care. We will not be distracted or placated. A scab has been torn away and underneath is not a nearly-healed wound but a puncture so deep it drives down to the bone.

If this past year taught us anything, it was how profoundly every system one might have hoped to improve with mere reform, every institution one might have trusted to “do the right thing,” every politician who’d been positioned as a beacon of integrity, will never come to our rescue. Parity and justice and restitution are not priorities of our existing structures because those structures were designed to maintain hierarchies that make justice and parity and restitution impossible. This means that “the task ahead for women…is immense,” as Jo Livingstone writes: “It’s nothing less than a utopian project.”

You don’t get utopia by tweaking who stars in what Netflix show, or by kicking a handful of .01%-ers off the metaphorical island. The restless women of 2018 did not come seeking cosmetic corrections. We are ready for razing and remaking. Here, then, is an attempt to clear away some of the clutter so we can move on to the work most urgently at hand.

While it is important we feel ready to name the wrongdoing that occurs in our lives, we are still at incredible risk from structural problems that have yet to change. Discussed more here.


Man, I just cannot imagine why anyone would want to exclude cops from Pride

It’s almost like their reputation precedes them or something. Oh, right, the reputation comes from the mouths of undesirables, so it goes unremarked.

CW: Abuse, sexual assault, misogyny.

A female sergeant with nearly 20 years on the force is coming forward with claims of sexual harassment and discrimination within the Toronto Police Service, allegations detailed in a recent complaint filed to the Human Rights Tribunal on Ontario.

Sgt. Jessica McInnis, a 43-year-old officer who has earned accolades since joining the Toronto Police Service in 1998, alleges she was subjected to a “steady barrage of unsolicited sexist, sexual, harassing and obscene messages” by Det. Mark Morris, her former police partner and co-leader of their Criminal Investigations Bureau (CIB) team, at downtown’s 14 Division.

The CIB tackles a range of crimes within the division, including thefts and suspicious deaths.

“I hope you don’t call the (Special Investigations Unit) on my (sic) when we do the nasty,” Morris texted her on Nov. 27, 2015 according to the claim, a message sent after Morris caught wind that the SIU, Ontario’s police watchdog, was probing sexual assault allegations against a colleague.

“Remember if I slapped that ass it’s not a sexual assault if I say nice game. That’s what we do in sports,” he added, according to the claim.

Sounds like the sort of person I’d trust with my safety. You?


Suckered into unnecessary debate

“Due process” is often erroneously cited during sexual assault allegations as to how the public at large ought to respond to allegations of misconduct, especially sexual assault and harassment. Often this is to the benefit of the accused, with the implicit idea that we should mistrust the source of the allegations unless the process goes through criminal court.

The thing is, survivors of harassment and sexualized violence aren’t “against due process,” and framing the issue as such is a tremendous disservice:

The opposing view. I furrowed my brow trying to understand what they were asking. An opposing view to whether a reckoning on sexual harassment was healthy and overdue? An opposing view on whether each case is different and the accused deserve due process? I replied with a request to discuss further via phone.

I’d never interacted with USA Today before, so while waiting, I looked up the representative who had contacted me. She appeared to be a low-level employee who was tasked with putting stories together. It was unusual, as I’d almost always been contacted by editors directly when they wanted me to write a piece.

She called just a few minutes after I sent the email. I asked her to please give me more details about the editorial that they wanted me to rebut. “We are going to write about how we think it is a very good thing that women are going forward,” she began and basically repeated the same thing she had said in her email: individual cases…due process…etc. “Would you be willing to write the rebuttal to that?”

I paused for a second, thinking of how to best reply.

“No, I can’t write a rebuttal to that because of course I believe in due process,” I answered, deciding not to delve into the side discussion of how due process is a legal term that doesn’t usually apply to private employment, “But I’d be happy to write a response.”

I told her that I’d be happy to write about how the fixation on “due process” for these men was an attempt to re-center the concerns of men. How the question itself was absurd, because if there’s anything these stories show, it’s that these men in their years of open abuse were given more than just due process — but the women, many of whom had tried bringing this abuse to those in authority years before, were given no process at all. I said I’d love to write about the countless women whose careers were ended by coming forward with the abuse they faced, about the countless women whose careers were never able to get off of the ground because of abuse and gender discrimination. Due process. Women would love ANY process. They would love to even be heard.

Read more from Ijeoma Oluo here.


“Leftist women report because of the commitment to our work, not in spite of it”

It’s an unfortunate truth that all liberationist movements are populated by people who lived with oppressive structures, and that these structures are often (sometimes unknowingly) reproduced despite the movement’s objectives. Alex Press writes on the tendency for leftist politics to retain misogynist structures that benefit men in spite of the professed objective of gender equality:

But the Left has never been immune to sexism and sexual violence from its leaders—from 1964, when the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s Stokely Carmicheal said the only position for women in the Black Power movement was “prone,” to 2013, when members left the U.K.’s Socialist Workers Party after it refused to adequately investigate rape allegations against a leading member, to today, when ongoing revelations about alleged sexual misconduct by former SEIU vice president Scott Courtney, a key architect of the union’s Fight for $15 campaign, have resulted in Courtney’s resignation along with the termination of at least one other union staff member. In each of these cases, toleration of this behavior weakened the organization.

I am not alone in having experienced the immense pressure brought to bear on anyone speaking out about sexual violence in an organizing space. At worst, you become subject to reminders of the damage you can do to the movement by accusing a prominent man (it’s not always a man, but it usually is) of sexual violence. “The Right will use this information against us,” you might be reminded, or, “We can’t win without him”—the implication being that if you insist on bringing up a leader’s misconduct, “we” can’t win with you.

Read more here.


I henceforth declare Jordan Peterson beyond parody

Bill C-16 came and passed, and now that Jordan Peterson has no steam for his conspiratorial ramblings about trans people, he’s taken a totally and completely unexpected turn to advocating for domestic violence.

University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson went on a “little tirade” about “female insanity” and what he thinks is “undermining the masculine power of the culture” in a “fatal” way.

Peterson is a controversial U of T psychologist who has been making headlines for the last year over his refusal to recognize students’ use of gender-neutral pronouns.

Since then, Peterson has become a cult figure in corners of Canada’s conservative movement and the online alt-right, making an appearance at last year’s Manning Centre conference in Ottawa where he celebrated disgraced Breitbart columnist Milo Yiannopoulous, as well as crowdsourcing funds with the help of Rebel Media’s Ezra Levant, testifying at a Senate committee on human rights legislation and even inspiring policies adopted by Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

A pedophile apologist, a thrice-libelous leaking ass-pimple, and a reboot of Harper’s software in marginally younger hardware. What unbiased company he keeps.

We’re going to disgest Peterson in brief nuggets here:

[Read more…]

Please don’t treat Trump like an outlier

Remember that even after the Trump days are over that he is a symptom, not the disease.

It’s not just that Trump often participated in this culture before he was a politician, but that memes showing violence against women have in many ways been synonymous with social media since its inception. Directing hate towards women is one of the primary ways in which a lot of men use social networks everyday. This anti-women culture online is by no means the result of Trump’s tweets; rather, his election directly reflects the fact that misogyny was and is the status quo in this country — online and off.

So while there should be outrage about the president encouraging the dehumanization of women online, something he has done consistently throughout his short political career, it’s worth wondering why many men insist on viewing Trump’s need for dominance as an outlier, as something special, rather than asking why these memes are so prominent on Twitter in the first place. Years after #GamerGate made national headlines, after countlesswomen have told their stories of social media abuse, why do so many men still struggle to admit this is a ubiquitous problem?

The truth is Trump is not normalizing misogyny online —we already did that for him.

Read more by Imran Siddiquee here.


Coerced into assimilation

Content notice: anti-fat discrimination.

Trans people being rejected healthcare options for specious reasons is just the background radiation we live in. Kiva Bay, however, has a more detailed report on how fat trans folks are seen as “less real” because of their weight, and how this links to their healthcare service denials.

Fat transgender people face significant barriers to medical transition, including HRT and GRS, often in the form of surgeons who refuse to work on them, or doctors who feel they won’t make “proper” men and women. For this reason, transgender people have the highest rates of eating disorders, even higher than cishet women, yet another life-threatening danger.

In their essay No Apology: Shared Struggles in Fat and Transgender Law, Dylan Vade and Sondra Solovay explain how fat and transgender people are coerced by the legal system to assimilate to cisnormative standards: “When attempting to overcome these barriers by using the legal system, not only are fat and transgender people expected to share a goal of assimilation, but they are coerced into reinforcing fat-phobic and transgender-phobic norms in to secure basic legal rights enjoyed by their non-fat and non-transgender peers. This is a cruel cycle: oppression necessitates the legal intervention, yet the person must participate in that very oppression to receive legal protection.” They go on to explain, “Winning cases generally adopt a legal posture that reinforces societal prejudices. Cases that challenge societal prejudices generally lose.” They illustrate this with two cases of fat discrimination in California, John R. of Berkeley and Toni C. of Santa Cruz.

Both were seeking damages for weight related discrimination in the workplace. John R., who talked about his fatness like it was a problem he could not cure, won his case. Toni C., who was unapologetic about her fatness, did not. Toni rejected a medicalized view of her fatness, and her argument was entirely unapologetic. Refusing to locate the problem on her own body, locating it instead in a fat hating society, Toni lost her case.

Read more here.


These shitbirds are legion

Holly Wood champions her coining of the term “shit-toweling” to describe the facile arguments mass-flung at anyone who dares to speak of discrimination. I like it a lot:

This behavior coming from men is what I’ve decided to call shit-toweling. Shit-toweling describes the practice of trivializing or otherwise diminishing the compounded suffering that women and other marginalized groups experience over the course of their lives. Most typically, shit toweling is done by white men in an effort to defend a member of their own in-group from having to face accountability for reprehensible actions towards marginalized others. While there are many ways to shit-towel, the aim is always to discredit and silence feminist critique.

When men try to stifle women’s right to grievance with bad-faith arguments so badly construed that it insults everyone’s intelligence, it is the emotional equivalent of when a man wipes his ass with a towel and then flings it in your face. An example of shit-toweling would be a man trying to defend male privilege by insisting that those who criticize male privilege aren’t themselves being inclusive…

These shitbirds are legion. They wildly outnumber the minority of men stupid enough to risk their entire career by hitting send on a company-wide misogynistic diatribe. At breakneck speed, these men trip over themselves to defend the first amendment rights of professed shitbags as if Google has any civic obligation whatsoever to retain socially hostile staff. Last time I checked, software engineers have not yet organized for the collective right to academic freedom. Their opinions are not protected speech. They can be terminated at will. Especially if what the things that employee says jeopardize a company’s ability to retain and recruit new talent. While women’s discomfort is obvious, I know from having lots of friends in this world that there are plenty of male engineers who would also have an issue with working alongside an outed bigot and chauvinist.

The shit-toweling continued all day as men in other industries would go on defending this kind of antisocial workplace behavior as if professed sexism and racism are things any company that employs human beings should continue to tolerate in 2017.

Fuck the shitbird legion.


There’s no sexism in tech

Nothing to see here, folks:




















Now now, let’s be rational about this