Over two decades ago when the newspaper at which I’d toiled for a number of years went corporate after a lifetime of being a family business, some changes were invoked. Some of those changes were positive but others nettled a bit because it seemed like too much interference in established patterns was coming about.
One of the corporate concerns involved sexism in the workplace. Fair enough. I don’t think we were a particularly randy or crude lot, but there were elements the big Toronto brass didn’t like. They did not want the brand tarnished by any complaints of harassment, either witting or unwitting.
Sexual harassment? Ain’t none of that around here, we assumed. We’re a bunch of grown-up boys and girls and so maybe people get a bit suggestive with colleagues once in a while. And, as my wife of the day, who was also a colleague, quite drolly opined: “I think sexual harassment should be judged on quality.” And then I thought back to our courting times a couple of years earlier. I mean, nothing overtly untoward but if overt flirtatiousness was a key element we would be in deep shit by the new rules. Well, that was OK because we were already an ‘us’ by that point.
However, there were changes invoked to keep with the spirit of the new corporate order. For example, in the darkroom (such antediluvian elements were still essential in the pre-digital age) there were outtake photos on the wall. One that I recall was of a young female in a wet T-shirt contest with her nipples at proud attention. Had to go, the darkroom techy was informed, and all other such salacious depictions. He observed he’d never had a complaint about the photos. Didn’t matter. Females sometimes entered his domain and for fear of somebody launching a complaint, scrap the dirty photos. Similar cleansings went on elsewhere in the plant.
It was OK. We survived and if we didn’t embrace the new sensibilities, we accepted them. The company called the shots and we had to adhere.
Such thoughts came to mind with the incident a few weeks ago after the soccer game in Toronto in which a meatheaded and crude asshole told a TV reporter how he’d like to “f**k her right in the p***y” Oh, ha-ha-ha, just the sort of dumbass stupid jock comment you’d get from an 18-year-old who had never succeeded in ‘getting any of that’ so he had to lapse into insult, mainly because he was actually ‘skeered’ of girls so he needed to insult them.
But, this bozo was a lot older than that and also held a 100 grand plus per annum job with Ontario Hydro. The reporter lady, tired of this sort of assholishness ran the segment. The social media grabbed on it, Mr. Twinkletoes hydro guy got the sack. And I say good. And I bet his mama was proud.
Nothing new in any of this but perhaps it’s time we thought of this shit as being old and exposing dickheads who perisist in such troglodyte attitudes on acceptable behavior. And he’s not the only person to be canned for an ugly public persona. And for that you can thank the social media. It is a brave new world as was witnessed by the felons on the stupid Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver, They were out there for the world to see, and part of that world included their employers.
As I go through the pages on Facebook, for example, I am sometimes surprised at the candor of individuals who hold down jobs but have little problem highlighting their weekend partying and their alcohol consumption. Do they think their bosses never check to see what they have been writing? Sorry, not one word or picture posted on FB or Twitter is ever truly private.
Now, that sword hath two sharp edges and ‘privacy’ has reverted to being a bygone realm like the age of corsetry on women, but there is also an argument that such scrutiny, as police state as it can seem, might bring about a more sensitive society.