RCMP: This is what rape culture looks like

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture
RCMP: This is what rape culture looks like

I can't believe we don't already have a thread on RCMP Cpl. Catherine Galliford, but if we do, I can't find it. [Severe sexual assault trigger warning]

Galliford first spoke out against sustained and widespread sexual harrassment by her superior officers in November of last year and launched a lawsuit in May 2012. Galliford's claims were as shocking as they were comprehensive, alleging that during the investigation into Vancouver's missing and murdered women which eventually convicted Robert Pickton, investigators watched porn instead of working and one male colleague told Galliford he fantasized about seeing Pickton truss her up like a pig. Galliford now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and has been on medical leave from the force since 2007.

Galliford's allegations incited several other female RCMP officers to come forward and give their own experiences of sexual harrassment. At least four more lawsuits have been lodged aginst the RCMP, suggesting that Galliford's claims that the RCMP suffers from a "pervasive" culture of sexual harrassment are likely true.

However, the mounting evidence against Canada's national police force didn't stop the governments of British Columbia and Canada, on behalf of the RCMP, from issuing complete and comprehensive denials of Galliford's claims. They highlighted Galliford's alleged alcoholism and disputed the diagnosis that she had contracted PTSD. They argued that if any sexual contact occured (which they deny), it was consensual. The governments claim that any accusations of sexual harrassment were investigated immediately and deny that any culture of harrassment exists in the force.

Shame.

Regions: 
Unionist

Your thread title is exactly what went through my mind when the two governments (federal and B.C.) filed their statements of defence. This is sickening.

 

MegB

Sickening? Yes.  Surprising? Not at all.  It's a reflection of how society devalues women in general, disadvantaged women in particular.

It's also a common experience for women working in any male-dominated environment, but especially law enforcement.  Women in all jurisdictions of law enforcement are required to either suck it up, or become so traumatized that they have to abandon their career.  Sexual harassment is just one means of dominating, humiliating and bullying women.  Other methods may be more subtle, but if you're a woman in a male-dominated workplace you feel it all the time.

Whether overt or subtle, this kind of gendered bullying in the workplace is very difficult to defend against, because the kind of people who entertain themselves by humiliating women are adept at rationalizing their behavior and blaming the women they target.  In this case, those who should be holding them accountable - superiors within the organization and the provincial and federal governments - support their behavior and protect the perpetrators at the expense of those who have the moral courage and integrity to tell their story, with the knowledge that they will likely be further abused and humiliated once they go public.

ETA: Case in point, one of the fairly subtle ways of bullying and harassing me in my workplace is to deliberately misinterpret even the most innocuous things I post in order to humiliate me, belittle my intelligence and, by inferring that I don't meet the gold standard of "progressive", undermine my credibility.  As the target of such behavior I'm expected to suck it up.  I'm also blamed for the beligerence.

Classic.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

 

Be tough, aspiring female RCMP officers told

Quote:
The RCMP’s top recruiter in B.C. doesn’t believe the recent spate of sexual harassment lawsuits filed against the force will reduce the number of women interested in a policing career.

Instead of being deterred by the bad press, many of today’s new female recruits understand what policing is about and what the job entails, Supt. Maria Nickel said.

“Really, you are going into a predominantly male environment and that you need to rely on that inner strength that we all have, and to put that to your advantage when you are in any work situation,” Nickel said in an interview.

“Let’s face it, you could work for a bank somewhere and be subjected to some form of harassment. You need to be able to have that strength to deal with it. I think the bulk of the ladies who are coming out as applicants realize that.”

It's not me, baby. It's you.

 

MegB

Catchfire wrote:

 

Be tough, aspiring female RCMP officers told

Quote:
The RCMP’s top recruiter in B.C. doesn’t believe the recent spate of sexual harassment lawsuits filed against the force will reduce the number of women interested in a policing career.

Instead of being deterred by the bad press, many of today’s new female recruits understand what policing is about and what the job entails, Supt. Maria Nickel said.

“Really, you are going into a predominantly male environment and that you need to rely on that inner strength that we all have, and to put that to your advantage when you are in any work situation,” Nickel said in an interview.

“Let’s face it, you could work for a bank somewhere and be subjected to some form of harassment. You need to be able to have that strength to deal with it. I think the bulk of the ladies who are coming out as applicants realize that.”


It's not me, baby. It's you.

 

Pass the vomit bag, I'm gonna hurl.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Rebecca West wrote:
ETA: Case in point, one of the fairly subtle ways of bullying and harassing me in my workplace is to deliberately misinterpret even the most innocuous things I post in order to humiliate me, belittle my intelligence and, by inferring that I don't meet the gold standard of "progressive", undermine my credibility.  As the target of such behavior I'm expected to suck it up.  I'm also blamed for the beligerence.

Classic.

I think, working this job over a few years, it's amazing the number of ways you start to see male-dominated culture manifest itself. I suppose, ironically, there's no substitute for experience, but I continue to become more and more sensitive to the subtle, nuanced and myriad ways male voices are privileged and protected and female ones are drowned out, diminished or ridiculed. I can only imagine what it must be like for women in so overtly and militaristic a culture like the RCMP. I imagine some kind of PTSD would  be contracted by those who were never subject to overt sexual harrassment.

My sister-in-law trained as an electrician for many years before quitting just a few hours shy of completing her apprenticeship. The old boys-ish ness was too much. And I don't know many tougher women than her. She now says if any young woman asked her about entering the trades, she'd tell them to forget it. It's just not worth the pain and suffering. That's depressing.

MegB

Even the toughest of women can be broken. All it takes is a steady diet of ridicule, insult and humiliation to undermine your self-confidence and self-esteem.

As a defense mechanism that helps an individual cope with severe trauma without having a complete breakdown, I see PTSD as a sign of individual emotional strength, though I'm pretty sure it doesn't feel like it at the time.  Ask anyone who wakes up screaming several nights a week, jumps out of their skin when you walk up behind them, etc. how strong they feel at any given time.  You have to survive some serious shit to have to live that way.  I don't know whether the officer is an alcoholic or not, but alcohol abuse is another symptom of PTSD.  Self-medicating behavior.

I suspect that with the RCMP, a woman either becomes part of the dominant culture, like Supt. Nickel, or she leaves it, carrying the emotional consequences of long term harassment and abuse. Pretty lousy choices, if you can call them that.

Unionist

Catchfire wrote:

My sister-in-law trained as an electrician for many years before quitting just a few hours shy of completing her apprenticeship. The old boys-ish ness was too much. And I don't know many tougher women than her. She now says if any young woman asked her about entering the trades, she'd tell them to forget it. It's just not worth the pain and suffering. That's depressing.

Women fought and won, almost 30 years ago, against systemic discrimination and for the right to equitable hiring into good-paying skilled trades jobs at Canadian National. Their struggle went all the way to the Supreme Court. Yet, on the ground, little has changed. There was some discussion in [url=http://rabble.ca/babble/labour-and-consumption/shrinking-workforce-women... thread[/url] on these issues. I think I'll bump it.

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

This isn't about the RCMP but it's about rape culture.

Many many trigger warnings at the link.

Quote:
 the major difference between the incarcerated and the non-incarcerated rapists are that the former cannot or do not confine themselves to tactics that are low-risk to them. The undetected rapists overwhelmingly use minimal or no force, rely mostly on alcohol and rape their acquaintances. They create situations where the culture will protect them by making excuses for them and questioning or denying their victims. Incarcerated rapists, I think, are just the ones who use the tactics that society is more willing to recognize as rape and less willing to make excuses for.

bold added

Predator Theory

It's a very good article, but I still wonder why the words of admitted rapists, however insightful they are (not being sarcastic) count more somehow than the voices of women who've been raped and sexually assaulted by someone they know.

In some ways the studies actually reiterate rape myths, as if it's "news" that known rapists target specific types and most repeat.

 

Slumberjack

Rebecca West wrote:

ETA: Case in point, one of the fairly subtle ways of bullying and harassing me in my workplace is to deliberately misinterpret even the most innocuous things I post in order to humiliate me, belittle my intelligence and, by inferring that I don't meet the gold standard of "progressive", undermine my credibility.  As the target of such behavior I'm expected to suck it up.  I'm also blamed for the beligerence.  Classic.

Just noticed this. If I had a nickel for every time this classic argument had been used here by belligerent posters when called on something. In the context we discussed, you undermined a credibility not often exhibited at any rate by posting what you did. Pointing it out isn't determined to be bullying or harassment in any other circumstance.  Innocuous is a term best defined by the eye of the beholder.  It was like a golden rule here for many years that all of us encountered at one point or another.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Any other completely on-topic comments?

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Catchfire wrote:

 

My sister-in-law trained as an electrician for many years before quitting just a few hours shy of completing her apprenticeship. The old boys-ish ness was too much. And I don't know many tougher women than her. She now says if any young woman asked her about entering the trades, she'd tell them to forget it. It's just not worth the pain and suffering. That's depressing.

 

At one time I considered a trade when I was looking for something else to do.  I didn't do it for a number of reasons but one was related to this.  I talked to a couple of women in the trade I was in and they said that they did have experiences like your sister in law but not as bad. They said getting a job was more difficult then a man would have but not impossible. When I said I was more interested in apprenticing and starting my own business one of them laughed.  Ended up she started up and independent electrician business and it went no where.  People just wouldn't end up hiring her when they heard the female voice.  She said this was quite common in her business.  It's the old 'females just can't do those jobs like a man can thing' and when you're trying to get handy'man' type jobs it makes a difference.  

I was younger then and didn't quite believe it was that bad but it did play into my decision to go another direction along with costs and time needed.  I ended up going into the support worker field which was less expensive and less time to get going.  I lasted less then a year doing that more 'traditional' woman's role.  I just couldn't hack it personally and have huge respect for mostly women that do that work. I don't know how they manage for years. 

Anyways now that I'm older, more experienced and am in a different living situation I can now see what the female electrician was talking about.  I've taken on learning a lot of 'handy' stuff and though most people seem to be fine it's a regular occurance to have both men and women amazed that I'm able to do what I can do.  I've been patronized in hardware stores (who no longer get my business) and have had negative experiences with other handymen when asking questions or relating what they need to do.   Don't worry you're pretty little head type attitudes. Might as well just come out with your just a stupid women not capable of understanding this man work and be done with it.  lol   Oh and if you really want to amaze and flabergast people talk about fixing your roof. By yourself. Without a man around to help.  

Thing I've found though is that it doesn't really matter if the man has experience or knows what to do, he is just more capable apparently.  I think the penis must have some sort of genetic coding that passes on this 'man' knowledge down the generations or something. ;)   My car wouldn't start one day. I needed a jump. I have the cables just needed another car.  I was at a family chip stop and the owner set out her young sons with their car.  She was really concerned because she didn't know how to jump.  I said I do, but the sons got their own cables out and started hooking them up.  That didn't matter until they started doing it wrong.  I told them to stop. One guy argued. I asked if he had ever jumped a car before and he said no but he had seen it done.  I said I've done it dozens of times and you're hooking it up wrong.  The attitude was skeptical from all three of them.  If the consequences didn't entail my car possibly getting even more screwed up I would have just let them do it and learn from experience and get to say 'I told yah so."   I know that if I had had a penis my 'experience' would just have automatically given me the cred to override their inexperience.  I wouldn't have had to go through the detailed explanation of the right way.  

I suppose my point related to the disscussion is that with certain types of work and skillsets regardless of if its an organization or business the 'old boyishness' is still alive and kicking.  Better then it has been in the past but still with enough life to make coming up against a common enough thing.   

Slumberjack

Yeah, I know. It was the complete re-jigging of what constitutes workplace harassment, folded in on itself, which led the way.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Hundreds of women come forward to join RCMP harassment class-action lawsuit

Hundreds of current and former female Mounties have come forward from across Canada to join a class-action lawsuit alleging harassment within the ranks of the RCMP.

Lawyers expected dozens of women to contact them with allegations after Janet Merlo, a 19-year veteran of the force, filed suit in March but attorney Jason Murray said Monday that more than 200 people have called his firm in Vancouver.

"It's a significant number. It says to us there's a significant problem that people feel has happened within the RCMP with respect to how women are treated," Murray said in an interview.

And more people are expected to join the class action.

"We're still hearing from women who either are currently members of the RCMP or who have retired or left the force in other ways," Murray said. "On a week-to-week basis we're hearing from people coming forward who have complaints about how they feel they were treated when they were with the RCMP."

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Thing I've found though is that it doesn't really matter if the man has experience or knows what to do, he is just more capable apparently.  I think the penis must have some sort of genetic coding that passes on this 'man' knowledge down the generations or something. ;)   My car wouldn't start one day. I needed a jump. I have the cables just needed another car.  I was at a family chip stop and the owner set out her young sons with their car.  She was really concerned because she didn't know how to jump.  I said I do, but the sons got their own cables out and started hooking them up.  That didn't matter until they started doing it wrong.  I told them to stop. One guy argued. I asked if he had ever jumped a car before and he said no but he had seen it done.  I said I've done it dozens of times and you're hooking it up wrong.  The attitude was skeptical from all three of them.  If the consequences didn't entail my car possibly getting even more screwed up I would have just let them do it and learn from experience and get to say 'I told yah so."   I know that if I had had a penis my 'experience' would just have automatically given me the cred to override their inexperience.  I wouldn't have had to go through the detailed explanation of the right way.  

 

Great post, ElizaQ. For my sister-in-law, it wasn't so much the hiring problem (although she might have had that experience too) but the constant, incessant sexual harrassment targeting her, and the general penis-culture of sexist jokes, misogynist conversation and condescension (like you articulate so well). It's quite depressing because, as you say, you respect these women for holding out, but at what point do we say the cost on the individual of changing the world for the better simply isn't worth it?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Personally, I think the RCMP need much greater civillian oversight.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Oh, and another one: High-profile former Mountie joins RCMP harassment lawsuit

Quote:

A well-known British Columbian has come forward to join a harassment lawsuit against the RCMP, as hearings to certify it as a class action opened in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Thursday morning.

The former head of the Better Business Bureau, Valerie MacLean, says she was a young RCMP constable in Maple Ridge in the late 1970's when her supervisor, a corporal, liked to ride shotgun in her cruiser on overnight shifts.

"He would, for eight hours, on the shift, tell me that if I was friendly, if we had a relationship, it would be good for my career because he was doing my assessment."

Maclean says she complained on numerous occasions, but "nothing happened. It wasn't stopped."

When she received a poor assessment a year later, she decided to quit the force, MacLean told reporters outside the courthouse.

Now she says she has joined the lawsuit to support women in policing because she's shocked they are fighting the same battle.

Burn it to the fucking ground.

MegB

Amen.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

RCMP Class Action

A proposed settlement has been reached in the RCMP Gender-Based Harassment and Discrimination Class Action. The settlement agreement and schedules are set out below.

The proposed settlement is subject to court approval. In the coming weeks, a hearing will be held before a judge in the Federal Court (Canada) for certification of the class action and approval of the Notice to be sent to potential class members regarding the proposed settlement.  The Notice will be posted on our website as soon as it is available.

We will post regular updates as the case progresses toward approval of the proposed settlement.

“Janet Merlo and I at the Ottawa news conference announcing a settlement of the RCMP gender harassment class action. This historic settlement included an apology by the RCMP Commissioner (to my right), a host of change initiatives aimed at eliminating gender harassment and discrimination in the RCMP, and a compensation package with a total estimated value of over $100 million for women who suffered harassment or discrimination while working for the RCMP. It was a good day for current, former and future women in the RCMP. It was a good day for Canada.” – David Klein