U of Ottawa, the Oscars and Us

By Pam Dillon

It’s one of those days that, as a mom, I’m scared.

As a mom of boys at the edge of adulthood, I’m gathering my words for a family meeting after school. It’s a meeting about Ottawa U, the Oscars and Us.

Having witnessed the youngest’s high-tech efforts for a class project earlier this week, I’m wondering if I need a PowerPoint presentation or a video with flashy graphics and music.


How can I get through to them?

How can I get through to you?

How can I get it through my own head?

Misogyny starts and ends with us.


This time last year, I wrote a blog post about the squirm-inducing experience of watching the Oscars with my sons:  “This gala show about honouring and paying tribute to people was also about disparaging and shaming them. Along with all the razzle dazzle and Cinderella gowns there was a putrid downhill stream of sexist, racist, fill-in-the-blank-ist one-liners.”

I blamed the host, Seth MacFarlane. Now I know better.  Yes, MacFarlane shilled bigotry for laughs. With a song-and-dance number called We Saw Your Boobs, he denigrated the world’s best actresses in front of 40 million viewers.

However, what’s noticeable—at least to me—this year is how complicit we all are in spreading intolerance.  All of us. Every time you and I objectify women, every time we commodify them or devalue them, we hurt ourselves and our families. Every time we publicly criticize an actress at an Academy Awards show for being too fat or too thin or too old or too botoxed, we perpetuate intolerance.

And we’re horrified by the revelations of a sexually violent Facebook conversation between male U of O student leaders? We’re shocked and outraged by news of U of O’s alleged rape culture and the suspension of its hockey team?

We need to look at why. Those are our kids. Those are our emerging leaders. What are we teaching them through our own behaviour and attitudes?

I have a kid in university and one on the cusp. The younger one is a hockey player and a leader. I don’t want him to be having that Facebook conversation. I don’t want him to be thinking it’s okay to shame or disrespect or violate women. I don’t want to hear that my son did something reprehensible at an “away” game.

At 3 p.m. at our house, we’ll be having the talk. And I’m reminded, now, of one of the things my mom used to say to me: “Everything matters, Pamela.”

Yes it does. All those little messages we explicitly and implicitly share with our kids shape them and shape the future of our society.

Let’s show some respect.

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