I often tell people my job as a journalist is rewarding because people always surprise me. They surprise me with their willingness to invite me in, and share their stories. We often come into people's lives when they're going through their very worst or very best moments. It's a real honour to be entrusted with those poignant moments, and it surprises me every day.
But there's also a terrible, growing trend of disgusting surprises on the job. Reporters — women and men — are being subjected to a particular vulgar catcall. Often it's shouted from a car as it's driving by. Usually they're hoping you're live on the air. And they're yelling something I don't want to repeat: FHRITP.
FHRITP stands for f--k her right in the p---y.
It was trending on Twitter across Canada Tuesday after it happened to a CityNews reporter outside of a Toronto FC game. Except once they yelled it into her microphone, Shauna Hunt fought back. She asked them why they did it. Now the video of her confronting them has gone viral.
Hunt told them it happens to her ten times per day and I don't doubt it. My dad called me one evening from Manitoba because he'd seen it happen live on a broadcast — and he fumbled to explain what he heard before I cut him off and told him I knew what they said.
In the past year, it's happened to me on College Avenue in Regina outside of Balfour Collegiate. It happened twice in one day as I tried to film promos outside of the Country Jamboree in Craven. It also happened to my male colleague, Adam Hunter, three times in one week while he covered a story at the Court of Queen's Bench just last month. It's happening all the time.
The people doing it are somebody's friends, brothers, and sons. They may also be your employees, co-workers, daughters, and sisters. It's not limited to the male population. In fact, the person who yelled it at me most recently, from outside a car window while breezing past a high school, was a girl of about 16.
I wasn't broadcasting live and I remember feeling relieved that it wasn't spread to all of our listeners and viewers. But it doesn't matter if two people or 2 million are subjected to it. It's equally invasive and disgusting.
As with any job, there's a lot of assumed 'occupational hazards' when you work as a reporter in the public eye and it does require a bit of a thick skin. You might be subject to unfriendly words from people who don't like your news station, or the news station they think you're from, or the news altogether.
I can take that.
Some people like to assume our views or stories are biased and make accusations about our work. I can take that, too.
Here in Saskatchewan, you can expect to freeze a little bit when you need to show and tell people just how dangerously cold it is on the prairies. I can take that any day of the week — and I do, often.
But when people yell something vulgar, misogynistic and rude at me or into my microphone, I shouldn't need to tell them it is unacceptable.
Shauna Hunt asked her hecklers what their mothers would think about them doing that. Please think about your mothers, sisters, friends and other women in your lives when you yell something that's meant to degrade me, and all the women you've ever met.
My workplace is one of my favourite places in the world. Don't subject me to sexual harassment while I'm doing my job.