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A line in the sand for on-the-job harrassment

Emma Teitel on a CBC reporter’s response to an unwanted kiss, and why it isn’t a case of political correctness run rampant


 
A screenshot of reporter Megan Batchelor receiving an unwanted kiss from a teenager at a music festival while on camera. (CBC)

A screenshot of reporter Megan Batchelor receiving an unwanted kiss at a music festival while on camera. (CBC)

Last week CBC broadcaster Megan Batchelor was reporting live from the grounds of the Squamish Music Festival in British Columbia, when a shirtless teenage boy interrupted her broadcast—by planting a very hard, sloppy kiss on Batchelor’s cheek. The run-by Romeo, later revealed as 17-year-old Daniel Davies, fled the scene unaware that his behaviour would ignite a social media firestorm. Batchelor may have laughed off the kiss on the air—eager to put it at the back of her mind and finish her segment—but when the cameras stopped rolling, the anger set in. “I consider myself a professional,” she says, recalling the incident. “I care a lot about my performance and I felt angry that someone in a fleeting moment could totally ambush that.” This wasn’t the first time Batchelor was ambushed.

Like many of her colleagues, she’s been subjected to the notorious FHRITP prank—popularized online—in which mostly male passersby interrupt female broadcasters’ live hits by shouting into their microphones, “F–k her right in the p–sy.” (Awareness about the prank skyrocketed earlier this year when City News reporter Shauna Hunt confronted a group of men who conspired to shout the phrase at her; one of them was later fired from a high-paying job with Hydro One.) In fact, says Batchelor, she heard someone yell the phrase at her camera crew only a few hours before the forced smooching incident at the Squamish Music Festival.

Related: Why we should take FHRITP seriously

This is in part why she was in no mood to let the unwanted kiss slide—why, in the aftermath of the incident, she decided to file a complaint with the RCMP. “I was drawing a line in the sand. Too many of my colleagues have faced this,” she says. “By taking it a step further I was communicating that I don’t condone this. I think the outside authority [the RCMP] lends itself to that. Just tweeting it out, saying ‘this isn’t acceptable’ doesn’t get the conversation going as fast as doing something serious about it.”

Many have accused Batchelor of overreacting—of taking feminist political correctness to new and terrifying heights. After all, most of us don’t typically associate an unwanted kiss on the cheek—a popular weapon of choice among overzealous grandparents and great-aunts at family gatherings—with assault. But most of us aren’t forcibly kissed by sweaty teenagers on the job or routinely bombarded with unclever obscenities. If we were, I’d wager Batchelor’s reaction—a formal complaint—would not be judged as “outsized,” or “irrational,” but standard.

The truth may be that sometimes a swift, severe measure—not unlike permanently confiscating a toddler’s toy when he screams in a crowded restaurant—is necessary in curbing disruptive, idiotic behaviour. Batchelor does not believe that Davies—who has since apologized—is a violent criminal deserving of a lifetime of Internet shame (something she thinks he may be able to avoid on account of his young age and sincerity). “He was very remorseful,” she says. “I think he can bounce back.” But it isn’t a grave injustice that he be made to take a few punches along the way.

Some warnings about political correctness run rampant are warranted. It’s understandable, for example, that a person might not want to live in a world where trigger warnings decorate the book jackets of every novel in the Western canon—or where feminist theory is indistinguishable from the front page of The Onion. But I think we can adapt just fine to a world in which men who harass women on the job are—no matter their age or intentions—put firmly in their place.


 

A line in the sand for on-the-job harrassment

  1. I”m a firm believer in the idea that the best solution to this kind of behaviour….is a quick shot in the mouth; slap or a punch.

    That being said, what if it was a good looking male journalist reporting on the PRIDE parade, and some drag-queen planted a big wet one on his cheek?

    does anyone think this would be a story? Would people show the same outrage? Would the identity groups be rushing to his defence?

    don’t bother responding….we already know the answer to that one.

    • Indeed. Was there no male to step up and throttle the guy? Of course, the cameraman would have kept filming, and the guy who stepped forward to defend her would have been caught on camera committing an assault, and wound up in jail.

    • Besides the fact that you think solutions to these issues are to commit criminal acts in retaliation, I think its a no brainer that most in our society don’t condone committing violence in order to deal with social problems. I think that says it all about how different it is between a ‘mans world’ and a ‘womans world’-because I would no doubt do the same.

      It also shows how different the scenario is because you state the guy must be ‘good looking’. Actually, when I first heard about this whole ‘movement’ I thought it was a protest against television media hiring on the basis of looks, so thought it was a cool idea, but it turns out its just idiots acting idiotically.

      I’ll bother responding because I think you know the situations are SO different that you can’t even use the converse as an example. This was a man kissing a woman, so why do you talk of a drag queen kissing a guy? But I think you know that if you said ‘a woman kissing a guy’ that it is such a non issue to a man and men in society that you have to avoid that and use the drag queen example.

      I don’t think it REALLY needs to be explained to you about how different men and womens lives are in our society. I find it scarily humourous that had that woman punched him in the face, most men would be laughing hysterically, and by avoiding violence in order to deal with it maturely and sensibly, she gets chastised by men all over the internet. It really makes our gender look pretty immature.

      • Mike,

        If some dude grabbed your wife or daughter and groped or kissed her forcefully, and without consent….I would hope like hell someone would put aside their “progressive” bona-fides, and pop the guy in the face. It is not a criminal act if you are defending your family; or frankly, if you are defending anyone.

        as for the drag-queen example: Simple, and you stated it yourself. A woman kissing a guy wouldn’t get any attention. None of the gender-identify groups would bat an eye. It would be one of those “you go girl” type stories. Double standards do apply,

        I used the “drag queen” at pride parade, because even though the actions are the same, if the reporter complained about being kissed by a gay dude, there would be protests accusing him of homo-phobia, demands for him to be fired, or accusations of bigotry.

        As I wrote…..the perpetrator would be the hero, and the guy complaining about the assault would be the bad guy.

        It all depends on the “status” of the offender.

        Man does it…….string him up.

        gay man does it……..woman does it….”you go girl”

        Double standard.

  2. Well, of course you can’t have people messing with other people who are lawfully going about their jobs. It shouldn’t be tolerated at all. However, when the job is in a public space, not everyone (wisely) avoids the media, some idiots crave attention and ‘milestones’ like appearing on TV are actively sought, despite the obvious hazards. This will happen again.

    And, as usual. there’s a lot of harrumphing in certain corners about how other more manly men (like themselves) would have “Given this cheeky stripling a sound thrashing!” but as a former event security worker I can testify to seeing a lot of burly-manly-men men staring blankly and doing nothing, even when considerably worse things are going on. Just sayin’.

    • If being a non-manly man means standing around looking sheepish when you see someone being assaulted (not necessarily in this case, as the woman should have slapped him) then you can have it.

      If someone smacks a woman in front of me, then I will try to stop it. Any man who says he wouldn`t…doesn`t deserve the label.

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