realinterrobang (realinterrobang) wrote,

Sexism, Harassment, Tabletop Gaming, and What it All Means for Our Canadian Police Culture

I'm not a tabletop gamer. I'm not much of a gamer of any sort, to be honest, although I do like some casual games (I don't have the hand-eye coordination etc. to play FPSs and things well at all), like mahjongg and Bejeweled. But this post by Tumblr* user De Scriptorice lays out once again that the kinds of subcultures that overlap with mine (the nerdy/geeky, like gamers and fen and suchlike) have a terrible, terrible sexism problem:

I am at Keycon, waiting for a friend to finish her Shadowrun game. One of my male friends hands me a pepsi. I take it and thank him. I wake up in a hotel bed I don’t remember. A man’s hand is inside me, jabbing and painful. I try to scream but nothing comes out. I try to move but I cannot. After what feels like a lifetime, I stagger away, ripping his hand out of my jeans. The convention whirls around me like a nightmare kaleidoscope as I beg for help. Eventually, someone takes me aside. “This is a safe convention. We have a reputation to protect. If you go to the police, we’ll say you were never here.” I nod numbly. I think I am crying, but no tears fall. I stumble into a bathroom in the lobby coffee shop and sob until I can’t breathe. When I am calm, I call the police and report the attack. “You sound drunk. Were you drinking? I’m not filing a report for some drunken slut.” The officer hangs up.

This article also highlights that Canadian police have a terrible, terrible apathy problem when it comes to any group they don't feel they need to listen to (which is pretty much anybody who isn't a white, able-bodied man over about the age of 25 or so, a wealthy white woman of over age 50 or so, and so on) -- it basically excludes anybody of postsecondary student age, women below the threshold of sounding like they're established taxpaying property owners, transpeople, the mentally ill, other handicapped people, gays and lesbians (particularly -- or even -- if they [only] "sound gay" on the phone**), people of colour, Native Canadians and others, allophones (non-native English or French speakers), and so on. I've got some personal horror stories, to be honest.

How the BC Police Fucked Up the Amanda Todd Case, where people slut-shamed a young woman to death, and the police essentially sat around with their thumbs up their asses.

In 2011, a Toronto police officer said that women should avoid dressing like "sluts" to "avoid being victimised," which launched the worldwide SlutWalks.

The local police beat an 87 year old man here bloody because he was trying to walk toward his dementia-stricken wife, who was by a police cruiser, and then charged him with resisting arrest. He was convicted, because he apparently shoved a police officer, but he says they didn't give him time to explain the situation. The pictures of the man's face in the paper were horrifying.


I called the police once because a random guy used a key to walk into my apartment unanounced, and I didn't know him from Adam. Turns out he was a property agent from the company that had just bought the building, but they are supposed to give 24 hours or "reasonable" notice. When I called the police, they said, "Yeah, we know about him; he does that all the time. What do you want us to do about it?"

Back in 2011 I was getting a series of obscene phone calls in the middle of the night from some creep who wanted me to talk dirty to him. I called both the local police and Bell Canada and got caught in a vicious catch-22 -- Bell Canada wouldn't give out the harasser's information until the police contacted them, and the police told me that they couldn't do anything until Bell Canada gave me enough information for them to follow up on. So some asshat out there got away with a dozen or so harassing calls, and may have moved on beyond me once he wasn't getting any fun out of it anymore.

Several years ago, I was walking downtown with a friend, and a police officer pulled over and started questioning us as to whether we'd seen a woman with a toy gun walking around, and did we have any toy guns. It was bizarre, to say the least.

At second hand, a former student of mine when I was teaching business writing at the local community college disappeared from classes for about six weeks. I thought he'd dropped out, which wasn't actually all that uncommon. Near the end of the semester, he reappeared, wearing a watchcap pulled really low over his face, and asked me to close the door so he could talk to me in confidence. He told me that his "psychotic housemate" had put a bunch of household chemicals in his shampoo, and when he went to wash his hair, he was terribly chemically burned and nearly blinded (would have been blinded, except he had the shower running and had the sense to get his eyes under the stream quickly). He said he'd been in the hospital for a few weeks. When he took off his hat, his head was entirely bald, and scarred, and he had almost no eyebrows left. When he went to the local police, they told him that he would have to have the college police (i.e. "Campus Security") handle it, because it was a "campus matter." The campus police told him that it was felony assault, and well past their pay grade to handle, and that he needed to work with the local city police, who basically refused to talk to him because he was a community college student. (And, I think relevantly, of perceived-to-be lower socioeconomic status than the local university^ students.)

A friend of mine from ex-work had his cellphone stolen by an aircraft cleaner after he accidentally left it on the plane after a long flight home from a client site in the US. My friend confirmed that the only people who had been on the flight were the cleaners, and used his phone's geolocation utility to triangulate its location to within four houses. He called the police and told them what he'd done, and would they please find the person who lived there who cleaned airplanes for a living for Air Canada at the local airport, and retrieve his phone? They declined.

Seems to me like this might be the real downside of Canadians' famous laissez-faire attitude -- live and let live. Sometimes living and let live and not interfering with other people's business allows a lot of bad stuff to go our subcultures and with our police.

* Why does anybody use Tumblr? It's like a real blog but harder to figure out and with fewer moving parts.

** Don't tell me that "sounding gay" or the perception thereof isn't a thing, because it totally is. There is definitely a defined stereotype of what a gay man sounds like, whether or not gay men in fact actually do or do not sound like that.

^ The difference between community college and university in Canada is that a community college is a post-secondary diploma-granting institution, generally aimed at vocational or technical training, and a university is a degree-granting institution which may or may not also have graduate degree (i.e. Masters and PhD) programmes.
Tags: argh, canada, dealings with the man, disability, feminism, ontario, please brutality, politics, the beneficent state, the system, toronto, whitebreadville

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