Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/5/2018 (1299 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s a classic case of dog bites postal worker, and in a media world that loves the unusual rather than the mundane, this is a story that will no doubt have legs for days.
Afghan war veteran and Brandon realtor Glen Kirkland says he was pressured into having sex with Quebec NDP MP Christine Moore in 2013, and felt that the female member of Parliament used her position of power to her advantage.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has suspended Moore from her duties with the party temporarily and ordered an investigation. For her part, Moore has said that she welcomes "the opportunity to participate in the independent and fair examination of these allegations." She added, "Out of respect for the fairness and the integrity of the process, I will not be commenting further on these allegations at this point."
Moore is the first woman in the House of Commons to be investigated for sexual impropriety. She was also the author of an emailed complaint to fellow NDP members last January about alleged sexual harassment by Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir, who was eventually expelled from caucus by Singh.
In an interview with CBC on Wednesday morning, Kirkland said he would like to think he would be treated in the same manner as women who have come forward in these charged #MeToo times. However, reading the comments online, it’s clear that Kirkland, like many of the women who have made similar allegations before him, is facing an uphill battle. Some are wondering why he is making the story public only now, after five years.
But as Kirkland points out, it’s the media who came looking for him, and not the other way around. Indeed, Frank magazine, which offers a satirical view of the workings on Parliament Hill, hinted way back in November 2014 that Kirkland was being "aggressively" pursued by Moore.
Kirkland says everyone seemed to know about Moore’s actions, and yet no one did anything because he is a guy and she is a woman — and so it was a joke and not something to take seriously.
Unfortunately, Kirkland isn’t wrong in thinking this. For men who are sexually abused by women, it is difficult for them to be believed and thus difficult for them to come forward. After all, men are supposed to always want sex, always be open to sex, always be interested in sex, aren’t they? If they say no to a woman who is obviously willing to give it, then are they "real" men?
American researchers Lara Stemple and Ilan Meyer determined in a 2014 study that men experience the same rate of sexual victimization as women. In a more recent Scientific American article, Meyer and Stemple pooled four years of the U.S. National Crime Victimization Survey data and determined 35 per cent of male sexual-assault victims had at least one female perpetrator. And in that same article, Stemple and Meyer pointed to a national study from the United States that determined that "over their lifetime, 79 per cent of men who were ‘made to penetrate’ someone else reported female perpetrators."
These are mind-boggling statistics, but necessary to confront in order to fully understand the complexity and importance of the #MeToo movement and the importance of consent.
Because what Kirkland keeps repeating, in all the media interviews he’s conducted so far on this topic, is the issue of a power imbalance.
When he met Moore, he had just provided emotional testimony at a House of Commons committee in which he outlined his experiences since returning to Canada after suffering injuries while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan.
According to Kirkland, Moore pursued him — and because she was an MP and he was in the military, he considered her to be kind of his boss. So, he didn’t question what he was being asked to do.
While Kirkland also makes it clear he’s not crying rape and does say that the sex was consensual, he has exposed the issue of power, because that’s what it is always about — not sex, but power and the power differential.
At the same time, this story should not be given more time and more attention than any of the other stories we’re hearing from those who have summoned the courage to speak their truth to power.
No, Kirkland’s story shouldn’t become a salacious headline, built on novelty, that keeps it in the news cycle longer than any of the other #MeToo stories before it. But at the same time, just because he’s a man and she is a woman, it shouldn’t be treated as a joke and it shouldn’t be ignored.
We need to recognize that some women have power and can use their power inappropriately, just as men do. Equality cuts both ways.
Shannon Sampert is an associate professor in the department of political science at the University of Winnipeg.