I attended a Ryerson University panel discussion on ‘Media Coverage of Sexual Violence on Campus’, organized by METRAC. The room was packed with young future journalists eager to hear the panelists speak on the issue. Our own Sandra Diaz was one of the panelists, along with Stephanie Guthrie, femifesto, Ron Couchman from the White Ribbon Campaign, and Cyndy Baskin, professor at the School of Social Work at Ryerson.
The discussion revolved around how journalists and media should cover stories of sexual violence in a way that is objective, respectful to the victims, and challenges social norms to drive positive social change.
Everyone in the room knew why this discussion mattered. Rape culture in Canada prevails and media has increasingly covered stories about sexual violence on campuses.
While the entire panel discussion was filmed and can be watched here, the discussion also took to Twitter and was quite vibrant.
To summarize the panel discussion, here are some tweets that may make you think, or make you cringe, and possibly give you an ‘aha’ moment.
Rape chants are happening at frosh more often than you might think. Cyndy Baskin reminds us of UBC Pocahontas chants and what they really meant to symbolize:
YWCA Canada ReTweeted Steph Guthrie’s tweet to remind us how sexual assault is trivialized in a culture of hypermasculinity:
Femifesto tweets a troubling example of cultural insensitivity and sexualisation of Aboriginal women explained by Cyndy:
Sandra Diaz steps in to explain the rampant culture of victim blaming in Canada. She urges journalists to avoid victim blaming and to remain objective:
Steph Guthrie further explains how irrelevant information can further lead to victim blaming:
Thanks to Ryerson Journalism School for further reiterating Steph’s point:
And to help any journalist, aspiring or already a veteran, on how to report on sexual violence, femifesto has created a media toolkit:
I will leave you with one last tweet, because the conversation needs to happen between everyone: