If you’ve ever been sexually assaulted, you know that it is far more damaging than a peck on the cheek. What happened to a female CBC reporter at Squamish Valley Music Festival on the weekend was not sexual assault – and reporting the incident to police trivializes the crime that millions of women and men have endured.
On Friday, the CBC reporter was standing in the crowd at the festival creating an on-camera segment when she was suddenly kissed by a teenager passing by. It lasted maybe a second, and he took a selfie and carried on happily into the crowd. She continued with her report, smiling, and even made a joke.
It was exactly the kind of quick kiss you might give someone you just met if you lived in France, and the same type of peck on the cheek that Liberal leader Justin Trudeau gave a bride last year. It appeared to be an innocent, goofy gesture; the kisser was probably seeking his moment of fame. He’s a 17-year-old boy and saw an opportunity to be on TV. But he got much more fame than he anticipated and eventually apologized publicly after being shamed by media.
The CBC journalist decided to report the incident to police, forcing Squamish RCMP to investigate instead of focussing on keeping the other 40,000-plus festival attendees safe, and she later went on-air talking about how she had felt violated. She certainly received her own 15 minutes of fame, as the story became the biggest of the music festival, which is unfortunate because the record-breaking success of the festival itself should have been the news. The click-hungry CBC took full advantage of their big exclusive, airing full reports about the “man” (other media call him a “teenager”) and bringing up other incidents in which female reporters had been wronged on camera. Some of the other cases were vulgar, but what happened to the CBC reporter was – let’s be clear – a simple, unwanted peck on the cheek.
If you have ever been the victim of a real sexual assault, you know it’s a crime of power, and it completely changes your life. Many of us have been sexually assaulted multiple times in our lives, and also endured sexual harassment at work, and know the ugliness of the crimes can shatter lives. Sexual assault has nothing to do with publicity.
The CBC owes an apology to victims of sexual assault and to the teenage boy who was publicly shamed.
– Editor Christine Endicott