We still have some growing to do

In this week’s issue of The Uniter, comments editor Haley Pauls examines the ongoing cultural conversation about “callout culture.”

It’s a debate that ignited to full force in the early days of the #MeToo phenomenon. While there’s been some significant activity on the early touchstones of the movement (the recent guilty verdict in the Harvey Weinstein trial being the most obvious example), there’s a reason these topics are still as hotly debated as they are.

On Feb. 28, the French Academy of Cinema Arts and Techniques presented the César Awards (the French equivalent of the Oscars). Director and convicted child rapist Roman Polanski was nominated for best director, a move that drew criticism from many.

Best actress nominee Adèle Haenel from Portrait of a Lady on Fire, who has been outspoken about her own experiences of sexual harassment in the film industry, walked out of the ceremony when Polanski eventually won the award.

While it might be easy for progressiveminded Winnipeggers to look to the French arts community’s resounding failure to address systemic sexism and click our tongues in disapproval, Haley’s piece this week highlights the fact that our own arts communities still have a lot of growing to do on this issue.

It’s easy for individuals to express support for survivors, but when it comes to systemic responses from entire institutions or communities, a mishandled situation can do more harm than good to the aggrieved parties. Haley’s article examines some of the ways in which local art scenes have failed to properly address issues of assault and harassment. But it also looks at the steps that venues, organizations and communities can take to respond to these crises in ways that are helpful, productive and restorative.

—Thomas Pashko

Published in Volume 74, Number 20 of The Uniter (March 5, 2020)

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