Opinion by SarahCronin
If you look at the average Marian girl’s keychain, you might not be surprised to see mace along with their house or car keys.
Given the frightening and graphic harassment or assault stories that appear all too often in the news, it makes sense that we would go so far as to carry a regulated weapon with us at all times. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in three women face sexual harassment at least once in her life. This is way too high of a number for our modern, civilized world, so it begs the question: how is this still happening at such a high rate?
According to a survey taken by Pollfish in Oct. 2017, one in five men don’t think that sexual harassment is a fireable offense and 45 percent of men have witnessed a sexual harassment, with only one-third of them stepping in to stop the situation. Opinions like these can perpetuate a toxic environment that allows for such a high rate of harassment to happen.
Around a month ago, a report of a professional hockey player allegedly sexually harassing a female security guard came out. That player is Auston Matthews; a centre for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the first pick in the 2016 draft, 2017 Rookie of the Year winner and current cover star of the NHL 2020 game. A Montreal Canadiens fan (rival team of Toronto) released a Scottsdale court appearance listing that included Matthew’s name and a charge of “disorderly conduct.” Initially, this sparked speculation that Matthews had gotten into a bar fight or done something laughable. The story took a darker turn when it was revealed that this charge was from a complaint filed by a female security guard who was working outside Matthews’ condo.
According to the guard, who is a military veteran with PTSD, a group of intoxicated men, including Matthews, tried to get into her car at about 2 a.m. as a “joke” and while walking away after being told off, Matthews dropped his pants to spite the guard.
Once this hit the news, Twitter’s hockey community exploded. While some users thought it was a funny joke, others were appalled that Matthews could potentially get away with such behavior. The interesting fact is that most of the people who were disgusted by this event were women, while those who thought it was simply a “boys will be boys” incident were men. If any woman who was put in a situation where a group of drunk men tried to get into her car at 2 a.m., she would no doubt feel extremely concerned for her own safety.
This is not something we should let Auston Matthews get off the hook for. This is a dangerous message we are sending if we allow harassment to be seen from the perpetrator’s perspective, as a joke or a drunken mishap. This is the kind of incident that should be told from the victim’s perspective, as a disgusting act of assault. Given Matthews is a person of such high stature and admiration from young athletes, we should be holding him to a higher standard. If we, as a society, want to end the alarming numbers of sexual assault and harassment, this is the kind of event we should take seriously.