Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Story

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve certainly heard the news this week about a certain Canadian media member being accused of sexual assault by several women.  As a result, discussions have cropped up about consent and anonymity. And, as could be expected, questions have surfaced about why none of these women went to the police.

I must first admit that I’ve wrestled with writing this all week. It’s never easy to come forward when you’ve been silent for so long. But sometimes certain issues come to light, or certain discussions arise that make you feel like you can’t be quiet any longer.

What I’m about to say is something only a handful of people know.

What I’m about to say is something I’ve never told my family.

What I’m about to say is something I’ve never told most of my closest friends.

I don’t know Jian Gomeshi. I’ve never met him. But I do know what it’s like to be sexually assaulted, because I was sexually assaulted.

Twice.

The first incident happened seven years ago. I was at a Halloween party organized by a friend’s boyfriend at a bar on Crescent. I had been drinking, and didn’t know many people at the party. I’ve never had trouble meeting and talking to new people, and so this wasn’t much of a concern for me. I met a group of people that I began chatting with. When they invited me to come back to their apartment for an after-party, I foolishly agreed.

Red flag #1. I didn’t know these people. I had been drinking. I shouldn’t have gone with them. But I did.
When I arrived at the apartment a few blocks away, I excused myself to go to the washroom. When I came out, only two people remained. One girl, and one guy. Red flag #2. She lived across the hall, she said, and was going home to bed. She left, and I was left alone with this guy. Red flag #3. The guy and I chatted about nothing of consequence, and soon found ourselves kissing. I eventually stopped him, realizing that this was not something I wanted to do, and he was gracious... At first.

As I got up to fetch my coat, he tried to kiss me again. I tried to politely decline, explaining that I didn’t know him and needed to go home. That’s when he grabbed me and pushed me into his bedroom. He forcefully kissed me, and pushed me down onto his bed, pinning my wrists above his head. I squirmed, but he was much stronger than I was. I repeatedly asked him to stop, but he didn’t listen. He grinded his pelvis against me, and I could feel his obvious excitement on my hip. I panicked and mustered up all my drunken strength to push him off of me. I quickly gathered my belongings and rushed out of there.

I headed back to the bar where the party was, and saw a friend at the door. I was visibly shaken and upset. I told him what had happened, and he convinced me to call the cops. We went to his apartment to call the police and wait for them to arrive. I didn’t want to talk about what had just happened, but I felt like it was my responsibility to do so. I figured the cops would have my back.

When the police arrived, I explained what had happened. I couldn’t remember specific details like the address or the apartment number. I just knew it was somewhere downtown, a few blocks from Crescent. I had moved from the south shore to Montreal only a few months prior, and didn’t know my way around the city very well yet.

“You’ve been drinking this evening, miss?”

“Yes.”

“And you went back to his apartment?”

“Yes.”

“You know that guys have expectations when you agree to go back to their house.”

“...Yes....”

“And you’ve been drinking. Maybe you changed your mind. But men have expectations.”

The rest of my discussion with the cops wasn’t much more helpful than that. They decided that since “nothing” actually happened, and since I couldn’t recall where the guy lived, that there was no sense in filing a report. So I didn’t.

***

A year and a half ago, I was out at a bar downtown in early May watching a Habs playoff game with some friends. I didn’t have a bus pass that month, and decided to walk home after the game. It was about an hour walk, and I opted to use a busy, well-lit street as my route of choice.

When I was just a few blocks from my house, a man began making obscene comments at me. Given the fact that it was late at night, and I had no interest in this belligerent stranger in the street, I ignored him and kept walking. He approached me, blocking my path. I muttered something about not being interested and wanting to go home. He pulled a knife out of his pocket and held it to my throat. I looked around, and there were no cars or pedestrians in sight. He forced me behind a closed grocery store, pushed me face-first against a brick wall. I do not wish to get into details, but suffice it to say that what happened next was something I definitely did NOT consent to.

When it was over, I collapsed to the ground. By the time I had gathered myself, he was gone. I walked the rest of the way home. I texted a friend. They asked if I went to the cops. I lied and said that I did. But I did not call the cops. I did not file a report. (NOTE: I did make sure to get myself checked out medically in the days that followed. I’ve been diligent since to ensure that everything checked out and there were no long-term negative effects to my physical well being.)

Physically, I am fine. But I’m far from okay. Nothing has ever been the same. I don’t trust men in the same way that I used to. I’ve had a series of dysfunctional relationships with unavailable men ever since. I’m addressing it, and dealing with it, but I’m a work in progress.

I’ve never spoken up about what happened because I thought people wouldn’t believe me. I’ve never spoken up about this because I didn’t want my father to find out what had happened to his little girl. I’ve never spoken up about this because I was drinking both of the times that I was sexually assaulted. Because I was walking alone late at night. Because I was wearing a skirt. Because I put myself in situations that I shouldn’t have. I’ve never spoken up because I’ve felt dirty, ashamed, and humiliated. But I am speaking up now because what I’ve finally realized, after all this time, is that it wasn’t my fault. I did absolutely nothing to deserve being sexually assaulted.

This is my story. I am one of many. I understand why women don’t come forward. I understand why women don’t go to the police. I am one of those women. I have chosen not to let myself be a victim, but rather to move on with my life and be awesome. That’s the only way that I feel like I can regain control.

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like to talk about the “big stuff”. If something really gigantic happens, or if something is really bothering me, the odds are good that I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t particularly want to be talking about it right now.


But I’m putting my name to a story for the women who can’t. I’m coming forward for the women who can’t. To them I say, I understand. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should handle yourself after being sexually assaulted. Only you can decide what’s the best way for you to deal with it, and what’s the best way for you to heal. 

There is no right or wrong. 

I support you and whatever you decide. 

I am with you. 

I am you.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sappy post about how much I love the Habs and my job


The Habs just got eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. I’m feeling sappy and sentimental. Bear with me.

For a lot of Habs fans, 2014 will be remembered as the year that the Habs got closer to the Stanley Cup than they have since 1993. For a lot of Habs fans, 2014 will be remembered as the year that Carey Price solidified himself as an elite goal tender, and silenced his detractors by back stopping Team Canada to an Olympic gold medal, before carrying the Canadiens further into the post season than they’ve been in 21 years. For me, 2014 will mean so much more.

First, let's back track to 2011, when Zdeno Chara laid out that infamous hit on Max Pacioretty. I thought #67 was dead. I sat in the lazyboy at my dad’s house in complete shock. I was a McGill student at the time, and couldn’t get myself out of bed to go to school the next day. I was overtaken with concern, and sadness. I stayed in my room all day, listening to what was then known as Team 990. Radio had always been an incredibly powerful medium to me (my dream job ever since I was six years old was to be the play by play announcer for the Montreal Canadiens) but in that moment, I knew I HAD to make a go of it, and try to get into radio. I applied for my internship at the station soon after.

Let's jump ahead now, past my internship (where I spent over a year waking up at 3:30 AM every day to work with the Morning Show guys), to when I was hired as a pinch hitter board op. Then, the lockout! But it thankfully ended in time to salvage a shortened season.

The 2013 season was the first time that I had the opportunity to co-host the pregame show on TSN 690. It was actually my first chance to co-host a radio show at all. I learned so much from my co-host that season, Ted Bird. Ted is a phenomenal broadcaster that I grew up listening to, and have come to respect all the more after having had the privilege of working alongside him.

Another first for me in the 2013 was the realization of a childhood dream; a seat in the press box at the Bell Centre for a Habs game.

I remember the day well (let’s face it, it was only 15 months ago, and I’m only 27, so my memory is pretty sharp). I was so nervous, but I hid it pretty well (I think). Ted came with me to the rink to pick up my press pass at the media entrance. He led me up the stairs and down the hall to the work room, where I hung up my coat. We then took the elevator up the 8th floor, walked down the steps and onto the press box. (DISCLAIMER: I have tears in my eyes and I’m getting goosebumps all over again just THINKING about that moment).

As a kid, I thought that I would never get to have that moment. When I told people I wanted to find a way to get paid to watch the Habs, people laughed at me. Well in that moment, I wasn’t even thinking about the nay sayers. The only thing running through my mind were these three words: you did it. (side note: the Habs lost that game 6-0 to the Leafs)

Flash forward to a scary summer, where the fate of TSN 690 was up in the air. I was heart broken. I felt like I had finally found my place in the world. I was finally happy after spending years struggling to figure out who I was and where I fit in. In a tremendous display of support, our listeners literally SAVED the radio station. My eternal gratitude can never truly be expressed for what you, the listeners, did for us. I don’t know what I would have done without my happy place. 

The hockey season started back up, and I found myself with a new pregame show co-host, Abe Hefter. A broadcaster who picked up the mentoring process where Ted left off. Abe has already taught me so much about radio, sports, and the Habs. I’m proud to call him a friend. 

The pivotal moment of this season for me, came a few months into the season, when the Pittsburgh Penguins came to town. The station was down a reporter, and since I already had a game pass for the game, could I handle reporting duties for the visiting locker room? Sure! Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. 

Calm, cool, and collected (NOT), I made my way to my seat in the press box (#86 for those who've been up there). I was nervous, but the lovely Jessica Rusnak talked me through where I needed to go and what I needed to do. Microphone in hand, note book and pen tucked under my arm, I joined the gaggle of reporters waiting to gain access to the Pens locker room after the game. I walked in, and I wish I could say that I had the same sappy, goosebumpy moment as I did when I stepped onto the press box for the first time, but instead I was overcome by the STENCH of sweaty men. For reals. NHL locker rooms smell really gross. But I digress. 

Anyway, I made a bee line for my favourite hockey player, el capitano, Sidney Crosby, stuck my mic in his face, and confidently asked him a question about PK Subban potentially being his team mate in Sochi. He smiled, and answered. When I finished up in the locker room, I made my way to the area where head coach Dan Bylsma would address the media. But wait! Who should I walk by? Mario Lemieux. No time to stop. No time to gush. Work mode. Keep moving. Join the scrum of reporters. Rush back up the press box. Upload and edit the audio. Send it into the station. Pack up. Walk out of the building. Call my dad. 

I had the privilege of covering several more games this season, and I feel like this is only the beginning. Since making the decision to get into this crazy business, I've done everything from traffic reporting, to producing, to reporting, to board opping, to hosting, to MCing events. I find myself lucky enough to be part of the CJAD and TSN 690 teams, and I couldn't be prouder of the amazing work that we do on both radio stations.

This has been an amazing season, not just for the Habs, but for me. I work with such an amazing group of people, who I continue to learn from every single day. 

To Shaun, Elliott, Ted, Sean, Sean, Jess, Abe, Tony, Conor, Rod, Mitch, Mitch, John, Sergio, Amanda, Knuckles, Steph, Simon, Eric, Marco, Dave, Jay, Noel, and everyone at TSN 690, thank you for helping me grow.

To the TSN 690 listeners, thank you for listening. Thank you for saving us. Thank you for supporting us.

My dreams are coming true faster than I could ever have imagined, and I’m so grateful for that.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Academy Awards - Nominees and Predictions!

It's time for the annual Oscars post! Who's nominated, and who will win. Let's dive right in.

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:
Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

It seems like poor Leo is always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Whenever he delivers a stellar performance, there's always someone who was just ever so much better. Oddly enough, the guy that will take home Best Actor this year made a cameo in The Wolf of Wall Street, and was excellent in his brief appearance in that film as well. Matthew McConaughey will win for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club.

SIDE NOTE: Christian Bale was only nominated because he's Christian Bale. I thought that he was borderline unwatchable in American Hustle. Would have preferred to see Joaquin Phoenix get some love for Her.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

I can say with certainty that Cate Blanchett delivered the most spectacular performance of the awards season in Blue Jasmine. Her portrayal of a woman coming to terms with losing everything (her husband, her wealth, her stability) and being forced to start from scratch while dealing with mental health issues in a very "wasp-y" fashion was absolutely riveting.

SIDE NOTE: Amy Adams received a nomination for American Hustle? Seriously? Her performance was awkward and her accent faded in and out. I thought that she was the worst part of the movie. If anything, she should have been nominated for her role as Joaquin Phoenix's bestie in Her. She was great in that.

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

This is as close to a lock as you can get. Jared Leto's gripping performance as a trans-sexual suffering from AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club was superb. Major fist bump to Jonah Hill, though, for his second Oscar nomination, as he was fantastic in The Wolf of Wall Street, and Michael Fassbender was equally good in 12 Years a Slave.

SIDE NOTE: Notice how everyone from American Hustle got acting nominees? It seems that doing a David O. Russell film appears to be the recipe for awards season success. Bradley Cooper was good. Oscar good? No. He was way better in Silver Linings Playbook last year. Too bad Daniel Day Lewis was Abe Lincoln's doppelganger & ruined Brad's party.

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)
Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
June Squibb (Nebraska)

This is perhaps the closest category of this year's Oscars. My personal preference would be to see J-Law win her second Academy Award on her third nomination, but I have a feeling that Lupita Nyong'o will win this year. 12 Years a Slave was a tough movie to watch, in large part because of her performance. Sally Hawkins gets props from me though, as her Blue Jasmine character was awesome.


BEST DIRECTOR:
David O. Russell (American Hustle)
Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Slam dunk. Alfonso Cuaron. If you saw Gravity in IMAX 3D (as it was meant to be seen), you'll understand why he's hands down everyone's pick for best director this year.

SIDE NOTE: I'm elated that I don't have to RAGE about this category this year. Ben Affleck was hands down the best director last year, and didn't even get a nomination?! Who'd you piss off, Ben?

BEST PICTURE:
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

I'm the only person who didn't like American Hustle, it seems. Lots of people have it as their favourite for Best Picture this year. I, quite frankly, could barely get through the movie because I found it so boring, and the performances so lacklustre. Were it not for Jennifer Lawrence, I probably would have turned it off. Captain Phillips kept me on the edge of my seat, and I thought that Tom Hanks was excellent (notice his snub?) Dallas Buyers Club was an "okay" movie with beautiful performances. Gravity was a cinematic masterpiece. Her was gutwrenchingly heartbreaking, and the fact that there isn't a way to recognize Scarlett Johansson for HER performance is a travesty. Nebraska was mediocre, in my view. Philomena was wonderful (I was actually quite surprised. I wasn't expecting to sympathize so deeply with Dame Judi Dench's character, nor did I expect to enjoy Steve Coogan's performance so thoroughly). 12 Years a Slave was hard to watch. The Wolf of Wall Street was tremendously fun and entertaining from start to finish.

My Pick: The Wolf of Wall Street. Hands down, the best movie that I saw this year. Her comes in as a close second, for me.

Who Should Win: 12 Years a Slave. This movie was right up the Academy's ally. AND it's based on a true story. Don't chicken out à la Schindler's List & Saving Private Ryan, Academy. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

Dark Horse: Gravity. Often the film that wins for direction will also win Best Picture. If Alfonso Cuaron does indeed win Best Director, Gravity has a shot at all the marbles.

Biggest Snub: The Butler. It came out in August, which is pretty early for movies that consider themselves as Oscar contenders. Forrest Whittaker was robbed of a nomination in the Best Actor category, Lee Daniels was robbed of a Best Director nod, and this film easily could have at least garnered a Best Picture nom, given that there is room for ten nominees, and only nine films received nominations this year. Not sure what the story is here, or why this movie got no love whatsoever.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back...

This week, it was announced that Geraldine Heaney would be among the 2013 inductee class at the Hockey Hall of Fame. As was the case when Cammi Granato and Angela James were inducted in 2010, misogyny reared its ugly head. “Who?!” said men everywhere. And sexist rants prefaced by “I am not a sexist” disclaimers surfaced. A third woman in the HHOF?! What a travesty!

If you don’t know who Geraldine Heaney is, then that’s on you. Arguably the greatest female defenseman of all time, Heaney was a pioneer of women's hockey, along with Granato and James, and was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame with the other two women several years ago. Heaney is often referred to as “the Bobby Orr of women’s hockey” (likely because of this goal), but her style of play was more comparable to that of Larry Robinson. Seven world championships. Two Olympic medals.

But I’m not here to argue the merits of ladies who I’m clearly not alone in thinking are deserving HHOF inductees, but rather to question the outcry from crotchety old men when discussing the three women that have been inducted. It’s not the NHL hall of fame. It’s not the men’s hockey hall of fame. It’s not the white people hall of fame. It’s the HOCKEY hall of fame. Last time I checked, these women had ice under their skates, sticks in their hands, and gold medals hanging from their necks.

Why is it that whenever the perfect storm of strides towards gender equality and debate collide, there is outrage, shock, disbelief, and most disconcerting, gaslighting from men? (side note: I of course don't mean ALL men, and given the nature of this piece, I realize how dangerous of a generalization this is.)

Gaslighting is a term that I’ve become familiar with from a vocabulary standpoint, thanks to an article that I read recently. In reality, gaslighting is something that I’ve had to deal with my entire life, being someone who is outspoken on equality (and I’ve never limited myself to gender equality; I’ve always been extremely vocal in my opinions on marriage equality as well. But that’s another topic for another day. I digress.)

What exactly is gaslighting? In short, it’s being goaded into a debate, and then being made to feel crazy, overly emotional or sensitive when taking up your cause or viewpoint. Any time that I don’t find a misogynistic joke funny, or try to point out an instance of blatant sexism, before I can even get two words out, I’m met with “here we go”, or “don’t you have a sense of humour?”

Given the profession that I’ve chosen, sexism is something that I have to deal with on a weekly, daily and hourly basis. I’ll always be someone who knows a lot about sports FOR A GIRL. I’ll never be able to admit which athletes I find attractive without losing all credibility (YAY DOUBLE STANDARDS!). I’ll always be asked about what it’s like to be a female in a male dominated sports media world before being asked actual questions about the sports that I cover (hey guys, what’s it like being a man in the sports media world?). I’ll always be accused of liking sports to impress and snag a man (because there’s nothing insecure men love more than being schooled in hockey knowledge by a girl… Cricket, cricket…) It comes with the territory, and it’s something that I’ve learned I'm learning to deal with, and sadly, that usually means ignoring it. But sometimes, I can't keep my mouth shut.

I’m sorry if being marginalized isn’t something that I fancy. I’m sorry if I don’t enjoy being likened to a farm animal. I’m sorry if the fact that I was raised to be an independent, secure woman who doesn’t NEED a man to take care of her make YOU think that I’m a lesbian (because what single, sports loving girl ISN’T a lesbian?! HURRAY FOR STEREOTYPES!) I refuse to settle for mediocrity, I refuse to be made to feel like a lesser human being, and I refuse to keep quiet when I see something that I deem to be an injustice. I am not a man hater. I am not naïve. I simply call it like I see it.

There are many undeserving people enshrined in the HHOF in Toronto, but Granato, James and Heaney are not among them. And brace yourselves, “old school” boys (side note: why are sexist, racist, homophobic people referred to as “old school”? Sure, sexist, racist and homophobic are words that possess negative connotations, but these are negative attitudes, are they not? But once again, I digress.), these ladies are not the last to be inducted. Danielle Goyette, Kim St Pierre, Cassie Campbell. These are all names that will see consideration in the coming years. I hope that someday, this won’t be cause for national debate and outcry.




Sunday, January 6, 2013

POST-LOCKOUT BLUES

So you've decided to boycott the NHL now that it's back. Well, that's nice. How very nice for you. Why don't you give yourself a nice pat on the back? That's such a wonderful idea, I can't believe that you are the first disgruntled sports fan who has ever though of doing such a thing (not to mention stuck to your guns!) GIVE ME A BREAK. The second Chara throws down a questionable hit on a Habs player, you'll be back in the mix, arguing whether or not Shanahan should ban him from hockey forever. The second Lars Eller nets another 4 goal night, you'll be chanting "Ole Ole Ole" with the rest of us. The moment Carey Price puts up back-to-back shutouts, you'll be crying for the Vezina. The SECOND the Habs string together a decent winning streak, you'll be planning your vacation for late June, in the event of the inevitable 7 day bender surrounding the Stanley Cup parade. 

I hope that you realize just how utterly ridiculous it is that you think that you boycotting the NHL will have any effect whatsoever. ESPECIALLY in a market like Montreal. There are THOUSANDS of people who will gladly fill your seat at the Bell Centre. If you really think you can "hurt" the NHL and the players the way that they hurt you by depriving yourself of something that clearly makes you happy, you're only fooling yourself (and being stupid, to be honest).

Look, I understand that you're mad. I'm mad too. But I'm trying to focus on the positives, such as HAVING HOCKEY TO WATCH. I don't see how being a stubborn ass will do anything. It's not going to deter "them" from putting us through the exact same thing in 8-10 years when this CBA expires. 

At the end of the day, the NHL is a business, and businesses exist to make money. Perhaps you'll feel very pleased with yourself that they're not getting your money, but they'll get theirs in the end. You came back the last time, and you'll come around eventually this time. The only person that loses by boycotting the NHL is you. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can shut your self-righteous trap and go back to chirping opposing fan bases about how much cooler your team is.