Sunday, July 08, 2018

Intention - Reaction - Result

Consultant Julie Lalonde suggests on Twitter:
The woman in question does not identify as a victim, did not call it sexual assault and wanted to be left alone.  
The media and partisan pundits hounded her, gave away private info and forced her to go public.
That is what is setting women back.
All due respect for her expertise as an activist and public educator, I disagree.

In an interview with CBC's The House, Ms Lalonde says (to paraphrase) she approves of Justin Trudeau's statements regarding the incident, because by giving the space between intent and impact, he has acknowledged that people can experience things in ways that were not intended and that's an important aspect of this conversation.

And I totally agree. There are lots of times when people offend without meaning to. All of us have said and done things that were taken in a manner that was unexpected and perhaps the negative reaction of the other person has caught us off guard.

But Justin Trudeau created more than *space*... he created doubt. Everything he said and how he said it rang of denial. "I'm confident I did nothing wrong" is a denial. Adding afterwards that the woman is entitled to her own version of events is hardly a validation of her feelings, it's a dismissal them. It's minimizing the *impact* and magnifying the *intent*. It goes to self-preservation, not self-reflection.

No doubt Ms. Lalonde's seminars were intended to have people reflect on their actions. Justin Trudeau has done that, and found himself faultless. The only explanation when the accused says: "I am confident I have done nothing inappropriate" is that either the accuser is lying or delusional. He has left no room for the possibility he might have done something inappropriate. He is confident he did not. Therefore, it is not his memory or his actions that are suspect, but the woman's perception.

On Twitter, Ms. Lalonde suggests that the media and pundits pushed the woman to relinquish her request for privacy and come forward with a statement.

How does she not see the PMO's initial statement that the PM *recalled no negative interactions that day* as being the main factor that has kept this issue at the fore these several weeks?

How does she not see that the Prime Minister's responses to questions have been so tone-deaf, so insulting and demeaning to the *impact* the event had on the woman, that those responses have fanned the current firestorm around the issue?

Justin Trudeau is to blame for the woman having to come forward to make a statement.

Despite contacting her to verify, as is their job, media respected her privacy and did not report her name.

The media received corroboration of the woman's version of events from the two editors she reported the incident to at the time.

The media was in no doubt the incident happened, naming her or interviewing her were not important anymore. What finally drew her out into the public was Justin Trudeau's repeated denials (I am confident I did not act inappropriately) (even after the editorial came out, I did not know to what she was referring) and his *ifpology* (variously admitting to apologizing and then qualifying it - If I apologized, it would have been because I knew she was uncomfortable -- even though he wasn't sure why).

Only after Justin Trudeau put doubt to her word, did the woman feel the need to make a statement to defend her honour and integrity in having reported the incident at all. It is Justin Trudeau who disrespected the woman initially, and through his words, goaded her into the spotlight.

The media did their job -- their questions to him were never about her. They were about the double standard he is applying to himself as opposed to the members of his party who have been brutally disciplined for lesser issues. He's barely been asked what he did or what he remembers about the incident at all.... he's been asked about his handling of it since it resurfaced... and he has reflected on himself and come up pristine.

The blame in all of this needs to be put where it belongs. Not with Warren Kinsella. Not with the media who picked up on it and asked questions. Not with the public as we try to square the Prime Minister's feminist rhetoric with his anti-woman actions. This all comes down to Justin Trudeau. Period. To suggest otherwise is to give him a pass on something that initially, was a minor issue that might have gone away if he'd accepted responsibility.

Having listened to Ms. Lalonde on The House, I suspect that she cannot put the blame on Mr. Trudeau, because he was simply parroting platitudes from her seminar. We know he has trouble thinking for himself, but he can memorize a line. Her interview contained a lot of the stock phrases he's been coming out with. I don't believe Ms. Lalonde's intent was ever to minimize the impact of any incident on the woman, but rather to enlighten men that they must be careful how they interact with women in order not to be perceived in an inappropriate way. Instead, Mr. Trudeau has taken it as a means to vindicate himself and imply over-reaction on the part of the woman. Not Ms. Lalonde's intent, but the impact is disrespectful to the woman, and the consequence is that she was forced to come forward again to defend her original statement.

Perhaps the people excusing the PM and blaming the media have forgotten that the editorial wasn't a response to being groped, but to being disrespected. It was written on the heels of the sketchy *ifpology*. It's intent was not to expose him for *handling* her, but to expose his lack of manners in the way he apologized, given the privilege of his upbringing. 

Everything the Prime Minister has said on this issue from June onward has been a continuation of the contempt and disrespect he showed this woman eighteen years ago. Blame the media for pursuing the issue if you want, but it could have been over with the words, *I concede I might have done something that could be taken as inappropriate, and I'm sorry*. Instead, all we hear is that he's confident he did nothing wrong. When the media told him she had no desire to speak about the issue again, he felt sure he could say whatever he wanted. His statements practically dared her to come forward to set the record straight.

THAT is what's setting women back.



Frances said...

Excellent summation of the issue. But I would still like to know who dug this editorial out of the archives of an obscure local paper and why. There's a lot not yet in the open about this uncovering of Justin Trudeau's past.

joseph fisher said...

I think the person that uncovered the story may have been motivated by Justin's conceit claiming to be the one without any past transgressions.
He's used the "I'm a feminist" line not as a way to improve the lives of women but as a metaphorical two by four to wack his critics with when he is unable to debate with them.
Whats going to happen next is what happened to Hillary Clinton.

Canadianna said...

I've been curious too, Frances. I doubt we're going to find out though.

I agree, Joseph. He's got to have hurt a lot of people by his own swift judgment in order to seem like he's a true believer.