rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

2014: The year the conversation changed about misogyny

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Photo: Chase Carter/flickr

I followed last week's news stories about Dalhousie dental school with a mixture of oh-no shock and not-again recognition.

The week began with revelations about a misnamed, misogynous Facebook group: "The Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen." Thirteen male graduating dental students had shared anti-women screeds, voted on which female classmate they'd most like to "hate fuck" and discussed the merits of chloroform to rape women. Followed by;

  • news a dental school prof had shown a video of bikini-clad women to wake up his male students during an early morning class.
  • reports some women had complained about the school's toxic atmosphere last summer.
  • Dalhousie's decision to try restorative justice.
  • reports at least one woman singled out on Facebook hadn't been consulted and wasn't keen …
  • public outrage, campus protests, online petitions, alumni threats.

But would such stories have led our newscasts 20 years ago? Dominated our water cooler discussions 10 years ago?

Something significant changed in 2014.

Start with Jian Ghomeshi, the disgraced CBC radio host who tried to steer us into a discussion of the merits of "rough sex," but ended up derailed by the reality of his own choking, face-punching, rib-breaking, hate-fucking behaviour. Still, Ghomeshi kick-started overdue discussions around consent and sexual and workplace harassment, even spawning conversations about how federal MPs should deal with more-widespread-than-we-knew harassment in their own workplace.

Ghomeshi wasn't the only bad actor who helped change our conversation. Bill Cosby, Ray Rice, Slava Voynov, Saint Mary's University football players and frosh leaders forced us to re-examine everything from the responsibilities of professional sports teams and public institutions to our own memories of once-treasured icons.

Rehtaeh Parsons, the Halifax teenager whose death pried open dark netherworlds of cyberbullying and online sexual images, bequeathed us new laws and an ongoing debate about appropriate roles for schools, parents, mental health professionals, police, courts, laws.

Yes, 2014 was The Year The Conversation Changed. About gender, sex, private, public, personal, political…

That's good. But we need to be cautious. As the unravelled gang rape story in Rolling Stone showed, life is more complicated than a Facebook post, or even a magazine story. The goal is change. Change is hard. Which is why these conversations are so important.

Thank you, 2014.

This article first appeared in Stephen Kimber's Halifax Metro column.

Photo: Chase Carter/flickr

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.