Last week CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt made headlines for confronting a group of men while she was conducting fan interviews during a Toronto FC Soccer match. Last year, a particularly disgusting habit of grown men yelling ‘F*ck her right in the p*ssy’ at female news reporters who were conducting interviews became popular. On this day Shauna herself was the victim of the same disgusting meme right before she decided to confront another group of men who were hanging around waiting for their turn.
Shauna asked the men if they were waiting so that they could also run up like 12 year old boys, as opposed to the grown men they are and shout the disgusting phrase in her microphone. “Were you guys waiting around to see if you could ‘eff her in the P’ me, live on TV? You would humiliate me on live television?” was the question she posed to one fan. After he admitted he was and that it was just ‘quite substantial’ (wtf does that even mean?!) and not at all disgusting, Shauna replied by saying “When you talk into my microphone, and say that into my camera, to viewers at the station that I work at, it’s disrespectful and degrading”.
Another man decided to defend the action even further, claiming it was ‘hilarious’ and that even his mother would ‘die laughing eventually’. As a mother, I’d like to assure him that at no time ever will his mother find that kind of behaviour even remotely funny. Never. That cool dude was eventually fired from his position at Hydro One for his insistence that verbally assaulting someone is not just funny but completely acceptable. I wonder if he still thinks it’s so hilarious?
Fortunately we have people like Shauna Hunt in this world who were willing to take a stand against behaviour like this and regardless of whether you think the men who have been vilified for their disgusting actions deserve it or not, you can’t be naive enough to think that society isn’t changing. The firing of the man in question proves that it is, as does the public calling out of his reprehensible conduct, and that’s a good thing.
As the mother of 3 boys who range in age from 7 years old to 10 years old as well as a 13 year old daughter, I can tell you that the Khaleesi has an easier time parenting her dragons than I do my boys some days. Parents of boys though face a added challenges in this day and age. The ‘boys will be boys’ mentality is no longer an acceptable approach to parenting. Parents have an obligation to ensure boys are held to the same level of behaviour and respect for their fellow human being as we’ve held our girls to. Respect has to be the common theme with no concessions made because of gender. No more is it okay to write off misogynistic, disrespectful and lewd behaviour as ‘funny’ or ‘harmless’. We have a duty to ensure that our sons grow up knowing that they must always be held accountable for their actions.
Parents of boys face a unique challenge these days as we rewrite the status quo when it comes to acceptable ‘boy’ behaviour. That is our responsibility as parents of boys and one most of us welcome with open arms, yet grown men like these losers who think shouting #FHRITP make our job so much more difficult. We can only parent our kids for so long, trusting that society will also enforce the values and beliefs that we instill in our kids. When grown men think it’s ok to shout obscenities at anyone on the street, much less a news reporter trying to do her job, they make it harder for us to raise our sons to know that it’s not ok. It’s hard for boys to differentiate between what they hear at home and what they’re inundated with in society.
The biggest impact on our children isn’t what happens at home, although that is important, it’s society and how they react to social norms. It doesn’t matter in my house that my daughter is bigger, taller, faster, stronger and just as accomplished in her sport as my sons are in theirs. She’s their sister and blood is the great equalizer. Just because boys are raised to value the women in their own home doesn’t mean that when confronted by a society that doesn’t treat women as equals that they still will. We’d like to think that simply raising boys in a gender equal household will be enough but it isn’t. At some point our boys become more influenced by society and peer pressure and what we’ve taught them at home runs the risk of falling by the wayside. This is why what Shauna did was so important. She changed the norm for outside the home, and I can’t be happier for it.
We can still raise our boys to be rambunctious and loud and messy and fun while still being respectful and sensitive to others. Clearly, those lessons don’t stop when the boys leave home either. Thank you Shauna Hunt for teaching these boys a valuable lesson. The more people are willing to stand up and tell someone else that their behaviour is wrong, and see the immediate ramifications for their actions, the easier it will be for those of us raising the next generation of boys to make them in to the kind of men this world needs. And those aren’t the kind who think yelling obscenities at anyone is OK.