Warning: the following post contains graphic language and descriptions of sexual violence.
On February 10, Anne Marie Roy, president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, was sent screenshots of a chat that had taken place earlier in the month between two student federation board members and several other students who are either elected to or participate in various faculty associations. The chat had taken place during the student federation elections, and all five men involved were members of a campaign opposing Roy’s (Roy has been president of the student federation since May 2013, and was re-elected this month). The conversation was about Roy, and the portion she was given contained graphic sexual descriptions about what the men wanted to do to her, including a rape joke that could, potentially, be taken as a rape threat.
Below are the screenshots. The participants are as follows:
Bart Tremblay: a non-elected student involved with the association for the Arts faculty
Alexandre Giroux: On the board of directors of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, and VP Social for the Science Student Association
Alex Larochelle: VP Social for the Criminology Student Association
Pat Marquis: VP Social of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa
Michel Fournier-Simard: VP Social for the Political Science and International developement Association
Bart Tremblay: Let me tell you something right now: the “tri-fluvienne” [nickname for someone from Trois-Rivières, Québec] president will suck me off in her office chair and after I will fuck her in the ass on Pat [Marquis]‘s desk
Alexandre Giroux: Tri-fluvienne? Who’s that?
Alex Larochelle: PJ I believe?
Bart Tremblay: Anne-Marie Roy, you dipshits, she comes from Trois-Rivières
Alexandre Giroux: What? No. What a shit-eater. She says that she comes from somewhere in Ontario.
Alex Larochelle: Fuck yeah Anne Marie Roy
Bart Tremblay: She told me Trois-Rivières
Alexandre Giroux: Haha shiiit
Alex Larochelle: Someone punish her with their shaft
Alexandre Giroux: Well Christ, if you fuck Anne Marie I will definitely buy you a beer
Alex Larochelle: Hahah, I’d buy you a beer too
Bart Tremblay: Lol
Alexandre Giroux: BAHAHA
Pat Marquis: I’ll get a 24 for Bart if he does it
Bart Tremblay: [Thumbs up symbol]
Bart Tremblay: Yeeee
Michel Fournier-Simard: Dude she has chlamydia. And she told francophone students that she was from Trois-Rivières but she moved to Southern Ontario when she was five years old. It’s a super political strategy.
Alex Larochelle: Hahaha I heard she has syphilis
Alexandre Giroux: Well look hahhahahah
Alex Larochelle: But those get treated bro lol. Someone told Pat and I when we were in Boston. It’s such bull shit hahaha.
Someone punish her with their shaft. Someone punish her with their shaft. This is the type of thing that's said about women in positions of power -- not a critique of their policies, but a threat of sexual violence. Not a comment on how they do their job, but graphic fantasies about how they should be sexually degraded. Nothing about their intelligence or capability, just a string of jokes about how riddled with venereal disease they are. This is misogyny, pure and simple. This is slut-shaming. This is rape culture.
Can you imagine anything like this ever being said about a male leader? Try to picture, for a moment, a female candidate saying that her opponent is going to eat her out, or that she’s going to "punish" him with her vagina. Sounds pretty unlikely, doesn't it? And yet, this is the kind of thing that women are subjected to all the time; the truth is that no matter how far we might think we've come, no matter how many female CEOs there might be, the belief that women are little more than a collection of fuck-holes persists. Oh sure, people might pay lip-service to the fact that women are equal to men in intelligence, talent, and capability, but at the end of the day we can't escape the fact that a woman is still viewed as being less than a person. Because that conversation right there? That is not how you talk about a person.
What’s even worse is that events like these are nearly always downplayed. It’s just a joke, people say. They would never have said that if they’d thought you would hear it. In fact, three of the five men involved in the conversation are considering legal action against Roy on the grounds that it was a private conversation that should not have been made public. That’s right. They want to pursue legal action against her because she publicly called them out for making rape jokes about her. This is the fucked up culture we live in.
To make things even worse, these men are all in a position of leadership at the University of Ottawa. These are the people that the students look up to, that they use as a sort of moral compass to navigate university life. If these men face no consequences for their actions -- indeed, if they are able to press charges against Roy for publicly addressing their comments -- what are the students going to learn from this? They'll learn that rape is a joke, that women can be terrorized into silence, and that it’s useless, maybe even dangerous, to speak up. Are these the lessons that we want our student leaders to be instilling in the heads of seventeen and eighteen year old kids?
Since this incident was first brought to light, Pat Marquis, the VP Social for the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, has been in discussions with Roy about the accountability measures he can take for his role in this conversation. It is their hope that these measures can be a public conversation between Roy and Marquis, and could serve as a learning opportunity for the student body. Alex Larochelle has also contacted Roy and tentatively mentioned participating in this conversation as well. As for Bart Tremblay, Alexandre Giroux and Michel Fournier-Simard, they are continuing to attempt to pursue legal action against Roy.
I reached Roy this afternoon for a statement, and she had this to say:
"It's definitely concerning because these are individuals who are responsible for putting on social events, many of which involve alcohol, and they are also responsible for the safety of membership at these events. On a personal level I feel that this is very misogynistic, I feel that this is a reaction that these men are having because I'm a woman in a position of leadership. My concerns on this are twofold: first, the issue of student safety in general, and second, that women are not going to feel safe running for positions of leadership on campus."
I think she pretty much hits the nail on the head with that assessment.
This post (and accompanying images) originally appeared on Anne Thériault's blog, The Belle Jar. It is reprinted here with permission.
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