Rape Culture at the University of Ottawa

28 Feb

On February 10th, 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

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 1.56.05 PM

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

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 1.56.45 PM

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

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 1.57.07 PM

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

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 1.57.41 PM

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.

ETA: comments are now closed on this post

275 Responses to “Rape Culture at the University of Ottawa”

  1. Auntie Alias March 2, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    Did you receive a letter from Larochelle’s lawyer? According to a CP article:

    He also provided The Canadian Press with a copy of a letter he sent to the author of a blog which has discussed the matter openly.“Nothing in my client’s statements are misogynistic, “slut-shaming,” or refer to “rape,” wrote Michael D. Swindley in that letter.

    WTF?

    • JD March 3, 2014 at 2:58 am #

      If you have received a Cease & Desist letter about this, please consider posting it or quoting the key demands & reasoning here, as well as the firm/lawyer(s) sending it. This could greatly help us understand what legal arguments are taking shape around this.

  2. Alma Matters March 2, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

    Their parents should get a copy of this “conversation” because they should hang their heads in shame at the kind of boys they raised (certainly not men of upstanding character; that’s for sure). … Calling them animals would be an insult to the animal kingdom as no animals on this planet treat their females the way humans do. … Absolutely abhorrent! They should be expelled immediately and charged with libel, defamation of character and uttering threats of violence. And, IMHO, banished to the Gobi dessert to fend for themselves, as the wild beasts that they are.

    • im in a jock strap and cowboy hat right now ;) March 3, 2014 at 4:43 am #

      You’re the type of self righteous prick id love to see choke on the smell of your own farts. Btw that’s not an actual threat that I’m going to forcibly make you choke on your own fart you basic, one dimensional waste of air.

      First, the beautiful animal kingdom that you love so much is slightly more accepting of rape (surprise sex) than these young men. All you crazy feminazis go around looking for the next excuse to be outraged. This conversation does not even come close to promoting or encouraging rape. It is little more than a few young men having a PRIVATE conversation involving some taboo humor. To say anything past that is man shaming and nothing more. If this were three women having a spirited conversation about what they’d like to do with a man, it would be considered playful and perhaps sassy (ex. sex and the city). It certainly wouldn’t be in the news and most likely the women involved would not be having the same vitriol hurled their way.

      Take your head out of your ass and go educate your children and other youths about how to treat women properly instead of vilifying these young men.

      They were not talking about raping her. They were using expressionism to create comical visual images of someone they dislike. Grow a sense of humor.

      ps. sorry for the feminazi comment but you’re neurosis bothers me more than I can express in words

      Regards,
      chauvinist pig

    • Joe Campersas March 3, 2014 at 5:34 am #

      Hello,
      I admit that these boys deserve to be punished. Yes what they done is very wrong, but IMHO, they do not deserved to be banished to the Gobi Desert to fend for themselves. That is stupid. Plus, there are animals that do rape each other, like chimpanzees and orangutans.

    • Ashley March 3, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

      you do realize this was a private conversation.. how should they be expelled or charge with defamation of character.. no comments were directed towards her. Learn the law please.

  3. Jeff Kstiw March 3, 2014 at 12:16 am #

    I’m amazed at the amount of overblown attention this is getting. It’s sad when people blow things out of proportion and vilify people who really don’t deserve it. Are the guys asses? Yes. Have I said things almost as bad? Probably.
    But it makes me sick that these people get so indignant about a conversation like this, and then go home and read their copy of 50 Shades of Grey and masturbate while thinking about a man dominating them, hacking their emails, leaving bruises, negating their consent with the use of drugs, and overall intimidating them. These are all things done by Grey in the book, and worse. But that’s okay, because he’s hot and rich, and it’s just fiction, right?
    Well, 50 million copies of a book that promotes abuse of women seems to me to be a little more significant than five assholes making crude comments because they’re sore losers. I wonder which is more likely to promote rape culture. Fucking hypocrites. Women cry rape culture, then they go contribute to and support literature that perpetuates it, all because they choose to see it as erotic romance.
    Try taking that same tactic here, and see it as inappropriate banter that we all know exists and will never eliminate. It won’t actually convince someone that they should go rape a person just because their friends were talking about it, although the 50 Shades series is more likely to both encourage stalker and abusive behavior in men who see women admiring it, and also discourage women from speaking out about real life behavior similar to the book.

    • Auntie Alias March 3, 2014 at 2:08 am #

      Please tell me you haven’t actually threatened to rape someone for revenge.

      This conversation was about a real person. It’s not a work of fiction.

      • Douglas March 3, 2014 at 9:58 am #

        How did you even draw this conclusion?

      • Ashley March 3, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

        this conversation was never directed to her… you do realize that.. don’t you

      • Auntie Alias March 3, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

        @Douglas

        Jeff said, “Have I said things almost as bad? Probably.”

    • Deanna March 3, 2014 at 5:42 am #

      While I’m trying to see your point, and I have not read the book, it is any women’s right to fantasize about anything she wants. And if two consenting adults choose to participate in domination or email hacking etc, thats their right and choice. If I choose to read a book about this because it turns me on that’s also my right and choice even if I never actually want to participate in any sexual act portrayed in the book.

      In my opinion 50 shades of gray in no way promotes rape culture as its two consenting adults that make the choice to participate in every sexual act (like I said I haven’t read the book so please correct me if I’m wrong). This conversation is rape culture as rape culture is a culture that can casually joke about rape! I.E someone should punish her with their shaft. This is not a conversation about being sexual attracted to her. Which I assume would go along the lines of how much they would like to sleep with her. Which would still imply that they would respect her decision to say no. To punish her with their shaft would imply that they would not respect such a decision. The point of bringing this conversation public is to help make inappropriate banter like this non existent by educating everyone not just men that jokes about rape are serious and will not be tolerated.

    • wheresalex March 3, 2014 at 5:47 am #

      You make a great point about the book propagating this culture, but I don’t see why one cancels the other out. They’re both wrong.

    • brent lidstone March 3, 2014 at 9:13 am #

      I have to disagree with this wholeheartedly on one basis, and that is that it was a private conversation.

      Its said in the article that it doesn’t matter whether or not the conversation was private. Well, yes, it does. I’m not apologizing for their behaviour but a comment said in private conversation, meant as an extremely crude joke I might add, does not constitute a threat but any means. From a legal standpoint its sort of ridiculous.
      The conversation obviously made someone feel very uncomfortable because she was sent it, but to use the word “threat” in this context is sort of absurd. The comments were not intentionally harmful or scary to anyone. The unintentional consequences of their actions will be having their characters and leadership severely judged, probably being thrown from their posts. Good. But to say they should be expelled? Please, that’s crazy. You can’t open the door to people being expelled because of comments they make in private conversations. That’s severely infringing on free speech. Its also not hate speech if it wasn’t intended to harm.

    • Constance Corbett March 3, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

      Perhaps you need to understand, these guys are your leaders. This is a threat of bodily harm. You seem to think that the book 50 shades of Grey is giving permission for the rape culture to exist. If you read Mein Kamph do you feel you have permission to start a war? Or you read the newspaper, you feel it’s ok to do whatever is being talked about? There is this division between what someone reads and real life. Maybe you missed that day in school. What people fantasize about has nothing to do with the targetted “we’ll damage her” attitude of the boys = they have proved they are bullies, unfit to lead.

      Then there are the enablers..I’ll buy you a beer if you enact your shared vision on target x. I’ll by you two I’ll buy you a case if cohort 2 does it. This is where they become liable. Same as a person who hires a hitman. Payment for harm is just as bad.

      None of this would have been said if it was a Man. Nor would those children still be sitting in seats of power if they were being held accountable immediately.

      Lets remember children that Twitter and Facebook are the same as standing on a podium and announcing attitudes to the world. Backpeddaling saying “oh it was a joke’ when obviously it’s bad looser, said in anger is another attempt to free them from being held responsible for their words. Responsibility is something that needs to be making a comeback. I am appaled that a Canadian University Student Body Leadership would think uttering threats against women is ok. Explains a lot about the leadership that the University of Ottawa is engendering.

    • Andrew Waterloo (@Andrew_Waterloo) March 3, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

      Wow.. You should copy down what you write and read it again in a year. Hopefully by then this will embarrass you. Even the ‘private’ conversation didn’t have elements of sexual violence it will still be inappropriate and still be considered sexual harassment in adult society. You have to remember that this is a conversation between student leaders about a colleague, the same student leaders that should be helping to protect people from becoming victims of rape and sexual harassment.

      The fact that you’re going off on a tangent about 50 Shades of Grey indicates that you have a whole lot to learn about consent. Wholly ignoring the fact that it is sexual fantasy and considered trash by most, you really can’t judge people’s beliefs from the book they’re reading. In fact, you’re contributing to rape culture by espousing the belief that the book a person reads indicates their sexual attitudes to the point where having them say something different makes them “hypocrites” who shouldn’t say anything when another woman is threatened with a man’s “shaft” for being in a position of power.

      People are outraged because these guys should simply no longer be in their leadership positions. There shouldn’t be a fight to have them punished.

      You know what promotes rape culture more than 50 Shades of Grey? It’s men like you who barge into these conversations trying to tell women that problem is some aspect of their behaviour.

    • Anonymous March 3, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      This is a joke right? I mean you do realize that because someone would fantasize about rape or being dominated, it does not mean she expects it, or wants it in real life? How many of us, women AND men have thought of being dominated? Now, how many of us actually want this? You’ll find what’s in your fantasies is no where near how you expect to be treated by people around you.

      This article is absolutely frustrating and your reaction to it is even more saddening. It is not an “overblow”. This is a real human being, I repeat: human being. You would not expect a man to be treated this way were he to be in a higher position. It’s not because a book sells to thousands of people that cases like this become acceptable. Not any more that it is okay to rape women because a movie is made about it. If just one case like this becomes acceptable in comparison to a book, how many more are we going to accept? Women already have to fight enough for their rights and also their place and you would want us to shy away from saying “I will not be treated this way” because you believe it is over reacting? I am really sorry for you and for the ladies in your life.

      Your arguments are ridiculous and very immature and I encourage you to revise your vision and realize you are encouraging the young men’s behaviors with your misogynistic comments.

  4. Robb Davis March 3, 2014 at 12:59 am #

    I would like to say ” I am coming to get those guys ” , but that would be a threat. As a man I am intolerant of boys who harm or threaten others. Too bad so many good boys died fighting our enemies overseas. Those boys did not deserve to die. They died as men. Too bad there are so many enemies in our country. So many enemies died as boys. I fear no one boys.

  5. beedleybee March 3, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    What is unbelievable is that one of these men is a member of the Criminology Student Association. They would be smart to remove him. Or at least use him as a case study (he’s the one who made the rape remark).

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