Business, community groups disappointed in club's lingerie charity fundraiser
Canadian Progress Club says event was 'grossly misrepresented,' will review fundraising moving forward
Two women's business and community groups in Saskatoon added their voices on Wednesday to those disappointed in a recent charity fundraiser which featured women in G-strings and bras dancing for men on a raised walkway.
The comments came as the downtown Saskatoon chapter of the Canadian Progress Club said a recent story by CBC News had "grossly misrepresented" its Boys Lunch Out event, and that the club is committed to "creating inclusive and positive environments."
In a statement to CBC News, Business and Professional Women of Saskatoon stated its disappointment that the club "doesn't see that the message of their event and the goals of their club's philanthropy are so far out of alignment."
President Caval Olson-Lepage said she was "shocked" to learn such events still took place in Saskatoon.
"There needs to be more answers from the Progress Club. Why is this continuing?" Olson-Lepage said.
Pat Peever, co-chair of the Saskatoon Women's Community Coalition, agreed.
"What are these men thinking about these women? I was hoping we'd be doing better in 2017," said Peever, whose coalition represents local business groups, educational institutions and social agencies such as the YWCA.
Peever said she was saddened to be talking about the objectification of women on Dec. 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
She said the key is to educate everyone, especially young people about gender equality and respect for all people.
The club held its 36th annual Boys Lunch Out on Friday, raising money for a number of charities in the city.
On Tuesday, the St. Paul's Hospital Foundation returned a $25,000 donation from the club.
The Progress Club issued a written statement Tuesday evening disputing how the event was characterized.
"We believe the article has grossly misrepresented the event itself and all those involved, [but] we have heard the concerns that people have shared," the club said. "We will now take this important opportunity to consult with our valued partners to review all fundraising practices going forward."
One Progress Club member reached Wednesday morning said no one from the club was interested in commenting.
On Friday, a CBC reporter was ejected from the event after shooting a short video, which shows a dozen women clad in underwear and gyrating to pop and rock music.
During the event, a male MC made sexual jokes — with punch lines such as "That's what she said" — while his female counterpart implored the men to order more drinks.
Events were scheduled Thursday evening as well, according to the club's website, when fewer than 50 VIP donors were taken by bus to a secret location for a "model photoshoot party."
The site promised "one-on-one" time with some of the top models.
"We put a drink in your hand and drive you to the location. Free liquor and food will be steadily supplied by our handpicked waitresses," it said.
Reaction from attendees was mixed. While some called the event harmless, others said it clearly objectified women.
A basic table at the lunch cost just under $1,000, while a VIP table went for $3,675. Perks included better views of the models and up to 45 free drink tickets per table.
One of the attendees said before he left, the event had raised $90,000 through tickets, 50/50 draws and auctions for a chance to drive a race car, attend the NHL all-star game and take trips to Las Vegas.
CBC News was contacted Tuesday by three women who said they worked as models at the event and wanted to tell their story. However, by late afternoon, all said they would not be commenting and asked their names not be used. One said they'd been told not to speak to the media.