A Hydro One mid-level executive making more than $100,000 a year learned a lesson about public behaviour on private time when he defended on camera the vulgar phrase turned popular meme “F her right in the P” in an on camera interview with Citytv reporter Shauna Hunt.
The reporter pushed back at the boorish behaviour of the man and his friends because she had finally had enough. Ask any female reporter and they will tell you they’ve had to put up with leers and jeers since forever.
This FHRITP twist, however, is particularly odious, pervasive and ridiculously common.
FHRITP was initially positioned as an organic movement arising out of a real live TV News blooper but in fact its origin story is fake. Still, it has captured the imagination of every sexually immature man-boy looking for 15 minutes of fame.
But we were wondering if it’s time to disrupt such hateful behaviour towards women and, if possible, to instill the phrase with new meaning altogether.
A funny meme went out: “Fire him right in the paycheque”.
And others have submitted suggestions including:
Forgotten Heroes Rebuild Integrity Towards Prosperity
Fear Her Real Ideas. Tiny Penis?
Feminist Heroes Routing Inane Torchbearers for Patriarchy
You can, if you’d like, submit your own new meaning for the acronym FHRITP in the comments below.
Others contributed words (no hate speech) to this google doc under each of the letters in the acronym and maybe we can find something awesome together.
But then again, there is an argument to be made to just leaving the whole thing lie. It didn’t mean anything before. And thanks to Shauna Hunt, the trend might be over. Time will tell.
The stage is her workplace:
The problem goes well beyond one phrase or profession of course.
Jen Grant is a comic who was appearing at a media awards gala when a man near the stage started making comments so lewd, she eventually had to stop her set and left the stage in tears.
To their credit, guests around the man berated him for his behaviour.
Meanwhile, Julie Lalonde who was brought into the Royal Military College to speak to the cadets about sexual assault prevention, found herself the subject of sexualized taunts. She was even told by one cadet that he would have listened to her except that she was a civilian and a woman.
When she complained, she was asked to apologize to the Institution. The instituion finally did apologize – after five months.
This is the same college, it was recently revealed, where 10 women recruits allege they have been sexually assaulted by senior cadets and have since sought protection from a lawyer because they feared being thrown out by the college, its leadership accused of displaying protectionist attitudes towards those accused of sexual crimes.
Keep in mind, many cadets go on to graduate into leadership positions within the Canadian Armed Forces which was recently hauled onto the carpet by a report which exposed its highly sexualized culture that disproportionately hurt lower ranking women
Of course, some instead serve in the RCMP. It’s also in crisis because more than 300 women have complained about sexual harassment while on the job.
As the crisis lurches on, the women complainants find themselves out of jobs and traumatized while the male perpetrators are often shifted around or placed on paid administrative leave.
Gaming and tech:
Endemic and obvious hostility towards women isn’t just confined to highly structured militaristic organizations and cultures. Women in the gaming industry are repeatedly threatened with rape by men and boys who resent them interloping into what they believe is and should remain a boys culture.
And as tech grows out of infancy and into one of the dominant forces shaping our next economy, it has brought with it some very bad old habits and attitudes toward women.
Where minds are formed:
Very few universities have policies or programs in place to deal with sexual assault and most universities simply don’t want to talk about the issue.
University campuses across the country celebrate themselves when they have low rates of reported incidents of sexual assault, without acknowledging that maybe the culture is so problematic, women just don’t bother to report the crimes.
A new American documentary called The Hunting Ground looks at rapes on campus. By some estimates, one in five women experience a sexual assault on campus and one in 33 men do, but it is often the victim that is driven off the grounds not the perpetrator.
And incredibly in this day and age, Frosh Week celebrations even in Canada still sometimes deteriorate into celebrations of rape.
Statistically, sexual assault is no more falsely reported than any other crime and yet it is often framed as if this particular crime is somehow an aberration, more prone to falsification because it is more often than not women who are victims.
I don’t think I know many women my age who haven’t faced some kind of sexual assault over the course of their life. I was once grabbed so hard in the crotch by a complete stranger in the street while waiting at a bus stop I thought for sure my pelvis was going to break.
In a separate incident, after a night out, I let my best friend from work crash at my place because he was too drunk to drive home. I woke up to find him in my bed. Like then, I’d rather just not talk about it. The only option I felt was available to me at the time was to pretend I had been as drunk as he was an unable to remember the night before. How, otherwise, was I supposed to go into work every day and work beside him?And I wish that made me special or unique but it is a sadly pedestrian and familiar story amongst women.
And then there’s Jian:
When the Jian Ghomeshi scandal broke, so did a hashtag #BeenRapedNeverReported which trended as women banded together to get behind the women who had spoken out publicly against a beloved Canadian entertainer.
Allegations of his behaviour had gone on for years but were ignored, including by me. More than a decade ago, a then close friend of his told me about his behaviour towards her. I urged her to go to the police. She wouldn’t.
As his star rose, I found myself questioning the value of my friend’s account because surely, I reasoned, Ghomeshi wouldn’t have confined this action to just my friend and we would have heard about it if he had done this to others.
Famous men vs. famous women:
Famous men get a pass but famous women are diminished, reduced to questions about diet, exercise, their weight and fashion designers. Famous men are asked the real questions.
Meanwhile Maggie Gyllenhaal, 37, was told she is too old to believably play the girlfriend of a 55-year-old actor.
Women at work:
Strong women are routinely called bitchy or bossy. Or they are accused of questionable judgment tied to their hormones.
I once had a boss known for frequent conflicts with other organizations with whom we had to work. Whenever he would get into a battle of wills with a woman, he would launch a whisper campaign invariably tied to her emotional instability rooted in either her cycles or the fact that her age meant she was probably in menopause.
He was such a bully, none of the women he worked with successfully called him on it, though some tried and everyone wished he would stop.
Which brings me back to that Hydro One Employee who intruded on a reporter’s workspace. No one on my Facebook page thought he should get a pass. But a few thought perhaps he shouldn’t have been fired for doing something on his private time.
Some were concerned about the mob shaming that lead to his dismissal.
As a rule, and excluding those of the flash variety, mobs aren’t good.
But when every other tool has been taken out of your hands, you use the ones you have left. Sometimes that means shaming.
And if there’s anything women know something about, it’s shame.
Here’s the thing. Often the culture being torn down through shaming is an even bigger, more powerful mob. It is a mob of privilege, of tradition, of power and the way things have always been done. It is a mob with deep roots and deeper pockets.
And those who are fighting against that mob are all alone until their shaming mob comes to the rescue.
I think most people would rather change things from the inside than the outside. But if that option has been taken away from you, you find other ways.
Insiders vs. Outsiders:
Like any good PR practitioner knows, you have to treat your insiders like insiders or they will act like outsiders. If enough outsiders find each other though, they will eventually tilt the system enough and become the insiders.
In part, it’s generational. But it’s also opportunity. One viral video has opened a window on how systemic the language of violence can be in our workplaces if left unchecked.
It’s messy. It’s noisy. It’s uncomfortable.
And it might just be the beginning of the tilt.
What if we gave it a bit of a push? What if, as my friend Heather suggested, we turn FHRITP on its head, take its power away and give it another meaning all together? Why not?
If you could make that acronym stand for something else, what would it be?
Love to see what you would suggestion for a new meaning to the acronym FHRITP in the comments below.
And, again, not to worry if you don’t have a full idea but would still like to contribute. Just add any powerful words (no hate speech) to this google doc under each of the letters in the acronym as a jumping off point. Maybe we can find something awesome together.
And special thanks to Heather Martin, Lisa Dutton, Beryl Tsang, Marilyn Bellamy and Patti Cross for their thoughts and suggestions on rebranding and for their friendship in general. You rock.