When Canadian comedian Jen Grant blogged about her awful experience with sexual harassment while performing at a corporate event in Toronto recently, she probably had no idea that it would blow up and start a real and meaningful dialogue.
“There’s a 51 per cent chance that my buddy here will have sex with you. And I will take the other 49 per cent,” Grant recalled her country club “heckler” as saying. As she continued her performance, the audience member continued the harassment in what Grant describes as a “rapey” tone. It all cumulated in her being unable to continue with her set and leaving the stage in tears.
Since then, the story has been picked up in various news outlets around North America, with many of Grants fellow comedians — including Corner Gas creator and star Brent Butt — chiming in with their own support.
Ok…I got a little angry & couldn’t fit it in a tweet, so I put it here: pic.twitter.com/dtxzgNGWda
— Brent Butt (@BrentButt) May 23, 2015
Butt is just one voice in a much larger discussion that has sprouted up on social media about the difference between heckling and sexual harassment, with many Canadian comedians and personalities weighing in. Michelle Shaughnessy, a Toronto-based comedian, attempted to clarify the issue:
Meanwhile, former The Listener star and Wipeout Canada co-host Ennis Esmer approached the issue with his trademark upbeat sarcasm.
If you’re a hetero male who can’t tell the difference between heckling & harassment, try it with a male comic next time. That should be fun.
— Ennis Esmer (@heyennisshutup) May 24, 2015
Possible heckling alts for harassers of female comics: 1. What I would do with some manners! 2. Wanna get respected? 3. Show us your agency! — Ennis Esmer (@heyennisshutup) May 24, 2015
Canadian comedy showrunner Mark Farrell, who worked with Butt on Corner Gas, was a little more direct in his approach.
2/2 And then the shit they have to go through afterwards if they talk about it…Anyway FWIW, I admire them.
— Mark Farrell (@someMarkFarrell) May 22, 2015
Meanwhile the man who targeted Grant has reportedly been suspended from his job at Transcontinental Media. His name and info have not been released.
Of course the treatment of females in pop culture isn’t exactly a new conversation. Amy Schumer has recently become a spokesperson of sorts for females in the industry. Thanks to her videos showcasing the treatment of women on talk shows or highlighting the difference between how the sexes are treated when it comes to being cast as leading characters, people are beginning to see the light.
Just watch this clip from her show, Inside Amy Schumer, appropriately titled “Last F**kable Day.”