If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few days, you might have heard about the recent controversy surrounding the whole FHRITP debacle. If not, here’s a breakdown of the incident.
CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt was at a TFC game on Sunday, May 9th, when a man said the infamous phrase “Fuck her right in the pussy” and walked away. Clearly taken aback, Hunt paused and called out another group of men, who were planning on doing the same thing, on their behaviour. However, the men failed to see why Hunt was so offended by their actions, calling it “fucking hilarious”, telling her she was lucky she didn’t have a vibrator in her ear, and when asked what his mother would think about his behaviour, one man responded saying she would probably die laughing.
A few days later, one of the men, Shawn Simoes, an employee of Hydro One, was subsequently fired from his job. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns TFC, also banned the men from all TFC games, as well any other teams owned by the company, for one year. One of the other men featured in the video has been identified as an employee of Cognex Corporation. A company spokeswoman has said that the issue will be addressed, however as of now, the company has refrained from public comment.
The FHRITP trend was started in January 2014, when “filmmaker” John Cain posted a video on Youtube entitled “Reporter fired for remarks about missing woman on LIVE TV” which depicted a reporter saying that he would fuck the “missing woman” in question – right in the pussy. Cain then posted a followup showing a reporter being interrupted by a man known as Fred, who grabbed the reporter’s mic and repeated the phrase. The act has become somewhat of a trend ever since. If one browses Youtube, they are sure to find compilations such as “Every single FHRITP video EVER!” which have racked up hundreds of thousands of views.
There are many conflicting opinions surrounding this topic, which has led to me try and find some clarity regarding the whole situation.
Firstly, the idea that the trend is sexist because it solely occurs to reporters who identify as female is a false premise. There have been recorded incidences of FHRITP being used to interrupt broadcasts being made by male reporters, such as one of Global Calgary’s Stefan Keyes.
The idea that the act is degrading is one that is true, but to think about it in this sense I would first like to take gender out of the equation.
As Erika Stark, a reporter with the Calgary Herald, wrote after the phrase had been yelled out during one her segments, “When you invade my space, grab my mic, and yell that, you’re not just disrespecting me as a working journalist. You’re disrespecting me as an individual”. Going through the effort of yelling out a phrase as crass and vulgar as FHRITP as a deliberate attempt to interrupt someone who is merely doing their job is an insult to their career as well as their professional integrity.
The men who were trying to justify it on Shauna Hunt’s video did so by saying that the comment wasn’t supposed to be directed at her. As we know from the nature of this trend, this may be fair statement to make. However the idea that these men would go out of their way to interrupt her broadcast and humiliate her on live television in such a crude way is something that is insulting to Hunt, as a working professional who is merely trying to do her job. The fact that these men would try and use such an unsubstantial means to their 15 seconds of fame, if you will, just goes to show the extent of their immaturity. The strange thing about this whole situation is that these men were probably well-educated professionals whose downfall was the result of subscribing to a dumb and childish trend (at the time of his terminated, Simeos was earning $106 510.60 annually).
Do I think it was the right action of the company to fire him? Simply yes. Regardless of any personal beliefs I have on the subject, it is plain to see that Simeos publicly acted in a way that Hydro One did not want to be associated with, making his termination make sense. It also makes sense that MLSE banned these men from attending any of their events, because, they too, do not want to be seen as an organization that supports these kinds of ideals.
Do I think that the men’s comments were degrading towards women? Yes, in a sense. This is an issue that is rather difficult to unpack because it calls a whole bunch of other factors into question. While I do not encourage people to participate in the kind of behaviour that aims to marginalize any sort of identity in any way, I also don’t think everyone should have to live their lives tiptoeing around others and worrying about what they will be offended by, seeing as everyone will be offended by something different.
Do people have the right to freely think and express what they want, even if it is offensive/derogatory/etc? I think so. The reason this kind of an incident, while quite vile, is beneficial, is because it is sparking a debate about why these kinds of words/actions/behaviours are wrong, rather than just shutting them down without giving people the chance to consider their implications. I do agree that this phrase is one that contains undertones which reduce anyone identifying themselves as “her” to a sexual object. However sexual objectification is a complicated topic and one that deserves its own post, so I digress.
Within the scope of this, we know that most people do or say things that they feel is acceptable within society, meaning that this trend has resulted in a slew of people feeling comfortable using the phrase and partaking in this kind of behaviour because it has entered to lexicon. With that said, the only way to combat these kinds of issues is to change the way people think about or see them, and a lot of people really don’t see it as being offensive or objectifying females. They see it as a joke or a trend, and a socially acceptable one at that. Unfortunately, this is an attitude that has been taken in response to many phrases that are considered objectifying to females, which is why this particular trend may be indicating a tipping point of sorts regarding vocabulary surrounding ideas of sexuality and gender.
A personal anecdote may be in order at this point. I was having dinner with my friends last night, two guys and a girl, and my female friend was telling us about how she had matched with a guy on Tinder.
When she went to look at his profile, she noticed his description read “No means yes, and yes means anal”. Angered, she confronted the guy who wrote it off as a joke “between him and his bros”. While my friend and I were both less than impressed with this young man’s behaviour, our male friends took a slightly different view on the subject, agreeing that it was just supposed to be a joke and that we had overreacted. Now I have known these guys for some time now and there is absolutely nothing wrong with them or the way they regard females. They have always been respectful, courteous, and sympathetic to our grievances and would never intentionally say or do anything that could harm or hurt females, or anyone for that matter. But that incident shed light on just how much of a distinction there is between the way people perceive these kinds of actions based on their own personal experiences, but this is a gap that can be closed with the right amount of education and understanding.
I’ll be the first to admit that experience is way more valuable than education when it comes to shaping the way a person will act and react to things, therefore saying that we need to educate all peoples on the struggles of others is a suggestion that seems idealistic and impractical at best. However, what we can learn to do is to respect and educate ourselves on other people’s experiences, in order to better understand why something is a certain way to them. There are certain phrases that have, for the most part, been deemed unacceptable by society that once were (ie racial slurs) as a result of this process. And this is the same thing that we can hope will happen to phrases such as “fuck her right in the pussy”.
At the end of the day, the FHRITP trend was meant to just be a joke. But it’s become much more than that. It’s made a hero out of Shauna Hunt, it’s been the undoing of Shawn Simeos and his squad, and (hopefully) has given way to a much more important social movement.