How a tough #MeToo conversation forged a closer bond between a Saskatoon father and daughter

It was through social media that Portia Crowe discovered her father was out of step with the #MeToo movement. But he was thoughtful, and in the end, the two found common ground and formed a closer bond.

Father's 'not all men' tweet started a rift that ended with a deeper understanding

Portia Crowe and her father, Bob, were always close, but a disagreement over the #MeToo movement eventually brought a deeper understanding and a closer bond between the two. (Portia Crowe)

Unless the British daily The Guardian is part of your day, you may have missed a recent story about a Saskatoon father and daughter brought closer by the #MeToo movement.    

Like all family stories, this one is complicated.

I couldn't believe that this guy that was my idol — I looked up to him — that we were fighting about something like that.- Portia Crowe 

"I think he just didn't realize how important it was," Portia Crowe said in an interview with CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

Crowe is a business journalist in London, England. So it was through social media that she discovered her father, Bob, was out of step with the #MeToo movement when he tweeted, as she recalled, something along the lines of "not all men do these things."

London calling

A series of increasingly tense texts followed, where father and daughter could not find the tone and context needed to establish common ground and come together on a complex issue.

A telephone call was scheduled to clear the air.

"I couldn't sleep before we had the talk," Portia said.

"I couldn't believe that this guy that was my idol — I looked up to him — that we were fighting about something like that."

There are certain conversations that are difficult to have with a parent - especially a father. But Portia Crowe is grateful she had the chance to talk to her late father, Bob Crowe - a well-known Saskatoon TV producer - about sexual abuse and harassment. 7:35

#MeToo is much more than a hypothetical discussion for Portia and her mother, who've both shared their own experiences on social media.

Portia said her father is, in many ways, a feminist. But like so many men, he didn't know how to respond to public stories of sexual harassment and assault.

Portia Crowe said her father became one of "those" men.  

"A lot of women, when that hashtag surfaced — the #MeToo hashtag last year — felt we're all voicing this, we're all sharing our stories," she said.

"But it sort of feels like we're just screaming into a void, because we're not hearing anyone say, 'Yes, I hear you.' No one is saying, 'Oh, I hear you and I'm with you,' or 'I stand with you and know you are not crazy.… We believe you.'"

In advance of that scheduled phone call, Portia got busy putting together a series of articles on issues like "mansplaining" and emotional labour that she promptly sent off to her father. 

"He was shocked. He didn't realize how upset I was," she said.

Bob Crowe listened carefully. Father and daughter came together again, and then he sent out another tweet, urging dads to reach out and talk to their daughters.

After listening carefully to his daughter's point of view on the #MeToo movement, Bob Crowe was inspired to send a tweet urging others to open up lines of communication. (Bob Crowe/Twitter)

Healing the rift 

It was an important gesture. Crowe was a leader in the community, a well-known film and television producer and co-owner of Angel Entertainment and Bamboo Shoots.

Just weeks after that telephone call, Bob Crowe died.

Portia said she is so grateful for having found the courage to not shield her father from the pain and hurt she experienced with his initial tweet, instead asking him to do the work, and find understanding.

"It's very easy to say, 'My dad, we are in a fight,' you know.… I'm really glad we didn't let it fester."

Crowe said her dad was, in many ways, a feminist, but like a lot of men, found himself uncertain how to support women who were speaking out. (Submitted by Portia Crowe)

She is equally grateful that her father listened carefully, and then acted.

As Portia said in an article about her conversation with her dad published in the Guardian this week, it made writing his eulogy easy.

"Dad made every effort to better understand the world from my perspective, and had no problem admitting he could be wrong," she wrote.

"He proved that everyone can learn, change, and continue to progress — even, as he would say, 'old dudes' like himself."

With files from Saskatoon Morning.