You might have heard about a new campaign called Ban Bossy. It’s gained momentum in the past few days and has the support of celebrities like Beyonce, Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Garner.
It has also gained non-celebrity supporters like that of First Lady Michelle Obama, the former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.
This was originally published on Huffington Post as part of Mina's new ongoing blog to raise awareness about issues affecting women and girls in Canada.
Before the end of today, you might notice a few small media stories mentioning that it’s International Women’s Day. If you’re like many Canadians, you might wonder why we still need a day like this, especially in a country like ours.
I'm reading online comments in Broken Pencil's Deathmatch, a tournament-style short-story competition, and I'm getting fed up with hearing responses like, "he’s gonna mount you like a blow-up doll," and commenters calling others "sugar-tits." When my partner, Andrea Wrobel, was the only female writer to make it into the semi-finals I noticed that many of the comments became personal attacks against her and seemed to suggest she was too young and naïve for the competition. When other stories were criticized for sexism, misogyny, or promoting racial stereotypes those commenters were also personally attacked and authors were silent about the attacks and refrained from responding to the initial criticisms.
I attended a Ryerson University panel discussion on ‘Media Coverage of Sexual Violence on Campus’, organized by METRAC. The room was packed with young future journalists eager to hear the panelists speak on the issue. Our own Sandra Diaz was one of the panelists, along with Stephanie Guthrie, femifesto, Ron Couchman from the White Ribbon Campaign, and Cyndy Baskin, professor at the School of Social Work at Ryerson.
The discussion revolved around how journalists and media should cover stories of sexual violence in a way that is objective, respectful to the victims, and challenges social norms to drive positive social change.
Everyone in the room knew why this discussion mattered. Rape culture in Canada prevails and media has increasingly covered stories about sexual violence on campuses.