CKMF-FM re Énergie le matin (commentary about men)

FRENCH-LANGUAGE PANEL
CBSC Decision 16/17-0678
2017 CBSC 13
November 21, 2017
A. Noël (Chair), G. Bonin, J-F. Leclerc, M. Lorrain, C. Scott

THE FACTS

Énergie le matin is the morning show on the Montreal music radio station CKMF-FM (Énergie 94.3).  The program is broadcast Monday to Friday from 5:30 to 9:00 am.  It is hosted by Dominic Arpin, Mélanie Maynard and Jonathan Roberge.  Commentator Rosalie Bonenfant appears on the program on Fridays.

On November 26, 2016 at approximately 8:00 am, Bonenfant provided the following commentary:

[translation]

Pre-recorded male voice:             Warning.  What you are about to hear could contain sarcasm and irony.

[introductory sounds]

Pre-recorded male voice:             Here is Rosalie Bonenfant.

Host #1:               Oh, it’s the moment we await with impatience each week.  Already, Rosalie, people have written to us saying, “Hey, have I missed Rosalie?”  No.  We present you Rosalie every Friday at 8:00.

[They talk about Bonenfant’s haircut]

Host #1:               And so, this morning, you’re going to talk about femininity?

Bonenfant:          Well, yes and no.  Actually, this week I want to propose a toast to men.

Maynard:             Oh!

Bonenfant:          Uh, so it’s a toast that I drafted while my body was origamically doubled over in pain with menstrual cramps, so you’d better like it, okay?!!

Maynard:             Yes.

Host #1:               [laughs & applauds] It’s already super great!  It’s really good!  Keep it up, Rosalie!

Bonenfant:          Today I raise my Diva Cup to you guys without whom we would be woefully deprived.  [hosts laugh]  Because you all know that we girls are a bit ditzy so we often need your help to know what to do with our own bodies.

I noticed that when you look up the word “féminine” in a French dictionary, you’re automatically sent to look at the word “féminin”!  And that’s not for nothing, eh?  It’s just because men are smarter than us.  Isn’t that true?  They would have us believe that our femininity belongs to us.  But ladies, did you know that it’s men who invented spiked heels, lipstick and breast implants?  You know, we’re lucky to have men to help us look beautiful.  How else would we please them?  [hosts laugh]

So la-dee-da and thanks, first of all, to Jean Airoldi.  Thanks for making us cry inside plexiglass boxes.  Without you, who would tell us that we’re too old and too ugly?  Thanks to you and our new duds, we happily look cute at work while being paid a fraction of the salary of our male coworkers to do the same lame job.

Thanks, boys, for always immediately assuming that any time we’re angry or emotional, it’s pre-menstrual syndrome.  Thank goodness you do because it justifies the fact that we react at all or, even worse, have opinions.

Thanks for inventing rejuvenation creams and anti-stretch mark serums.  Without you we would look like the imperfect humans we actually are, and we might even think that it’s okay!

Thanks to you mansplainers for whining that we’re too demanding and impulsive and that our self-pity is unwarranted.  We need you to bring us back down to earth sometimes!  Hey, we already have the right to vote; what will it be next?  That we’ll start to feel safe when walking alone at night?  That we’ll develop discerning minds or hear feminist commentary on the radio?  You know, at some point, woah.  [hosts laugh]

Thanks for grabbing our asses when you feel like it, even if we don’t know you.  It makes us proud.  We’re happy to feel like we’ve successfully fulfilled our primary function, which is to please you.

Thanks, guys, for inventing an anti-rape nail polish so we can be elegant despite the fact that we’re always just a piece of merch-, a piece of meat that you don’t need consent to bang.

Without taking anything away from the invention, which is fairly ingenious – basically it’s a nail polish that, when you’re wearing it, allows you to detect date rape drugs in a drink.  Personally, I think it sounds a bit stupid.  Does a little bit of make-up really put us at risk of being raped?  I don’t know about you, girls, but that makes me feel pretty vulva-nerable.

Host #2:               Oh!

Maynard:             Vulva-nerable?

Bonenfant:          At the same time, it’s true.  You have to be careful not to look too pretty.  Guys are not that strong.  It’s hard for them to resist us.  Imagine if they also had to respect us.  No, no, clearly it’s we who have to be careful.  That’s something that radical feminists understand.  Why do you think they dress like lumberjacks and don’t shave their legs?  It’s certainly not because they feel more comfortable like that or that they’re free to do what they want!  Tsk.  It’s to protect themselves by repelling males!  It sounds like a lot of effort, but, you know, it’s worth it if you want to respect your own body.  We’re not, we’re not all so lucky to be messed up Aboriginals carrying hepatitis.  Because, according to Jeff Fillion, those women sure know how to reclaim their own bodies!

Host #2:               Hmm.

Bonenfant:          So, certainly now, thanks to the invention of super Cutex, we can maybe anticipate the danger, but, still, it would be better if that time spent inventing gimmicks to protect us could be invested into educating the threat.

And so, I’m going to take the time I have here to give you guys a mini course, but rest assured I’ll make it quick because I know you’re not good with a lot of blah blah blah.  It was Cosmopolitan that said it.  There was an article that explained ten ways to orally please a man, but none of the ten ways mentioned a single word.  And it needs to be be made clear.  This short course goes like this:  My body is my body.  It’s not yours.  You have your own body, so leave mine alone.  Hm?!

And just one small parenthesis, to those of you men who say you respect women, but who consume hours and hours of elaborate porn where women dressed as schoolgirls are doing impossible feats, and who then don’t understand why we’re not in the mood for “sexy time” with you:  I know that she seems like she’s really into it, the girl on your computer screen with the daddy issues, but we’re not getting paid to act like that, so maybe we’re just not all interested in you getting all up in our faces with your pleasure.  Okay?

You know, guys, we fought really hard to prove that we can do anything you can do, that we have the same value, that we’re just as strong.  But for now, it’s still you who have the big end of the stick, so please just watch out for us.

Hosts:   [applaud] Wow!

Host#2:                Well done!

Maynard:             Well done!

Host#1:                She’s funny.  She’s smart.  She’s relevant.  And Michel Vincent, who is a fan, uh, from the very beginning, he’s our content director here, he wrote, “Holy shit”.  That’s, we all know Michel too.

Host#2:                Yeah, yeah.

Maynard:             [??]

Host#1:                “Yvon Deschamps is having an out-of-body experience.  Well done, Rosalie.  Ah, irony.”  Seriously –

Maynard:             Wow.

That same day, a listener filed a complaint about the segment.  He explained that it was not the monologue as a whole that was the subject of his complaint, as it constituted legitimate expression of an opinion.  His complaint was that Bonenfant [translation] “treats men as a homogeneous group throughout this anaphora” because she began many stanzas with [translation] “thanks, guys, for …” instead of “thanks, guys who …”.  According to the complainant, Bonenfant [translation] “insinuated all men are sexual aggressors” and left the impression that all men are incapable of maintaining a discussion of more than a few minutes and are “inept at understanding the simple concept of consent”.

The station responded to the complainant on December 29.  It wrote that the commentator intended to be humorous, as evidenced by the warning at the beginning.  CKMF-FM noted that [translation] “the editorial was directly related to current events” and Bonenfant “did not intend to insinuate that all men were aggressors”.  The complainant filed his Ruling Request on January 12, 2017.  He did not accept the broadcaster’s arguments, noting that [translation] “the mere acknowledgement at the beginning of the show that the commentary ‘could contain irony’ does not serve as an absolute and irrefutable justification of the critique.”  He highlighted the sexist aspect of the segment.  (The full text of all correspondence can be found in the Appendix, available in French only.)

THE DECISION

The French-Language Panel examined the complaint under the following code provisions:

CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 2 – Human Rights

Recognizing that every person has the right to full and equal recognition and to enjoy certain fundamental rights and freedoms, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no abusive or unduly discriminatory material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.

CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 3 – Sex-Role Stereotyping

Recognizing that stereotyping images can and do have a negative effect, it shall be the responsibility of broadcasters to exhibit, to the best of their ability, a conscious sensitivity to the problems related to sex-role stereotyping, by refraining from exploitation and by the reflection of the intellectual and emotional equality of both sexes in programming.  Broadcasters shall refer to the Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming [since March 17, 2008, replaced by the Equitable Portrayal Code] for more detailed provisions in this area.

CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, Clause 2 – Human Rights

Recognizing that every person has the right to the full enjoyment of certain fundamental rights and freedoms, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no abusive or unduly discriminatory material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.

CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, Clause 4 – Stereotyping

Recognizing that stereotyping is a form of generalization that is frequently simplistic, belittling, hurtful or prejudicial, while being unreflective of the complexity of the group being stereotyped, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no unduly negative stereotypical material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.

CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, Clause 10 – Contextual Considerations

Broadcasts may fairly include material that would otherwise appear to breach one of the foregoing provisions in the following contextual circumstances:

  1. Legitimate artistic usage: Individuals who are themselves bigoted or intolerant may be part of a fictional or non-fictional program, provided that the program is not itself abusive or unduly discriminatory;
  2. Comedic, humorous or satirical usage: Although the comedic, humorous or satirical intention or nature of programming is not an absolute defence with respect to the proscriptions of this Code, it is understood that some comedic, humorous or satirical content, although discriminatory or stereotypical, may be light and relatively inoffensive, rather than abusive or unduly discriminatory;
  3. Intellectual treatment: Programming apparently for academic, artistic, humanitarian, journalistic, scientific or research purposes, or otherwise in the public interest, may be broadcast, provided that it: is not abusive or unduly discriminatory; does not incite contempt for, or severely ridicule, an enumerated group; and is not likely to incite or perpetuate hatred against an enumerated group.

The Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and listened to the broadcast in question.  The Panel concludes that there is no code violation.

The Panel observes that Bonenfant’s lines that began with “Thanks, guys, for” could be interpreted as generalizations that apply to all men.  Certainly, had she begun her phrases with “Thanks, guys, who”, as suggested by the complainant, it would not have led to the same interpretation; it would have clearly limited her criticisms to only those men who actually engage in the negative behaviours she identified.

Even if, taken literally, Bonenfant’s remarks lead some listeners to believe that they apply to all men, without distinction, the Panel considers that many listeners would have understood that the monologue in question made ample use of humour and exaggeration in order to draw attention to some serious societal issues that were generating considerable public discussion at the time.  The fact that Rosalie Bonenfant’s remarks were intended to be humorous was evident from the very beginning.  The very introduction to the editorial, read by a male voice, set the tone for the presentation:  [translation] “Warning.  What you are about to hear could contain sarcasm and irony.”

Unduly negative and generalized statements about all men clearly violate Clause 3 of the CAB Code of Ethics and Clause 4 of the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, both of which cover stereotyping based on sex.[1]  That said, Clause 10 of the Equitable Portrayal Code sets out several exceptions that mitigate the application of the aforementioned clauses, particularly in the case of humorous or satirical comments.  While some individuals might have taken Rosalie Bonenfant’s comments at face value and perceived sex-role stereotypes, in the view of the Panel Adjudicators, the initial advisory and the commentator’s tone clearly indicate that her piece falls into the exceptions of Clause 10(b) of the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, that is comedic, humorous or satirical content.  The reactions of the hosts, two of whom were men, further evidenced the satirical nature of the piece.

The Panel concludes that the exception set out in Clause 10(b) is applicable in this case and there is no code breach.

Broadcaster Responsiveness

In all CBSC decisions, the Panels assess the broadcaster’s response to the complainant.  The broadcaster need not agree with the complainant’s position, but it must respond in a courteous, thoughtful and thorough manner.  In this case, CKMF-FM provided a reply to the complainant, outlining its view of the broadcast.  The broadcaster fulfilled its obligations of responsiveness and nothing further is required in this regard in this instance.

This decision is a public document upon its release by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

[1]CKAC-AM re Doc Mailloux (six episodes) (CBSC Decision 06/07-0168 & -0266, August 23, 2007)

Appendix

La plainte

Le CCNR a reçu la plainte suivante par l’entremise de son formulaire Web le 26 novembre 2016 :

Station :                               Énergie 94.3

Nom de l’émission :        ÉNERGIE le matin : Rosalie Bonenfant

Date :                                    2016/11/26

Heure :                                 Vers 8h00 AM

Préoccupation :                Avant d’aborder le fonds de la plainte, je souhaite préciser que l’ensemble du texte lu par Mme Bonenfant n’en est pas le sujet; bien que certains passages puissent être qualifiés de « crus », ils constituent néanmoins et selon toute vraisemblance l’expression légitime d’une opinion.

Dans ce segment d’émission, madame Bonenfant s’attaque, par une longue anaphore dont chaque strophe débute systématiquement par « merci les gars de (…) » à plusieurs maux et comportements causés, selon elle, par les hommes en tant qu’individus et en tant que groupe.

Le premier passage qui m’a dérangé est le suivant : « Merci de nous pogner une fesse quand ça vous tente, même si on se connaît pas. Ça nous rend fières pis ça nous fait plaisir de sentir qu’on remplit avec succès notre fonction première qui est de vous plaire ». L’utilisation des mots « merci les gars de » plutôt que « merci les gars qui » ne laisse aucun doute sur la portée universalisante de ce propos. Madame traite les hommes, tout au long de cette anaphore, comme un groupe homogène. Ici, elle assimile tous les hommes à des agresseurs sexuels, nonobstant leur passé criminel (puisqu’il s’agit de cela). Ces propos, qui avancent sur le sentier de la haine et du mépris envers les hommes, brise vraisemblablement l’article 2 du Code de déontologie de l’Association canadienne des radiodiffuseurs.

Le second passage sur lequel je voudrais que vous attiriez votre attention est le suivant : « Bon, c’est sur que maintenant, grâce à l’invention du super Cutex, on peut prévenir un peu le danger, mais ça serait quand même pas pire qu’on prenne tout le temps qu’on passe à inventer des cossins pour nous protéger pis qu’on l’investisse à éduquer la menace.

(« ) Ben tiens, moi je vais profiter du petit moment que j’ai ici pour vous donner un mini cours là-dessus, pis vous allez voir j’vais faire ça vite vite parce que je sais que vous êtes pas très bon avec le blabla. C’est le Cosmopolitan qui l’a dit. Y’avait un article qui nous expliquait 10 façons de vous plaire oralement, pis aucune des 10 façons citées comportait un seul mot, fac ça a le mérite d’être clair. Le petit cours va comme suit : Mon corps c’est mon corps ce n’est pas le tien. Tu as ton corps alors laisse-moi le mien. »

En affirmant ceci, elle souligne non seulement que le genre masculin dans son ensemble est constitué d’individus n’ayant rien compris au consentement sexuel, ce qui en font de surcroît des agresseurs sexuels, mais qu’ils seraient également complètement illétrés, incapables de soutenir une discussion de quelques minutes et tout aussi inaptes à comprendre le concept fort simple qu’est le consentement. Elle n’hésite d’ailleurs pas à utiliser un langage infantilisant, tels que « vite vite » ou encore « blabla » pour illustrer sa thèse méprisante.

En conclusion, ces vers sont au mieux empreints d’un sexisme évident, au pire outrageants et parfaitement inacceptables.

La réponse du radiodiffuseur

CKMF-FM a répondu au plaignant le 29 décembre :

Nous avons pris connaissance de votre plainte déposée le 26 novembre dernier au Conseil canadien des normes de la radiotélévision (« CCNR ») concernant la chronique de Rosalie Bonenfant dans le cadre de l’émission ÉNERGIE le matin diffusée sur les ondes d’ÉNERGIE 94,3 à Montréal le 26 novembre dernier.

Soyez assuré que les préoccupations de nos auditeurs nous tiennent à cœur et que nous prenons vos commentaires au sérieux. Nous sommes désolés que cette chronique vous ait offensé. Nous avons écouté la bande-témoin de la chronique en cause et sommes d’avis que Rosalie Bonenfant n’a pas voulu assimiler tous les hommes à des agresseurs sexuels ni à des illettrés incapables de comprendre le concept de consentement tel qu’indiqué dans votre lettre. Le ton adopté par la chroniqueuse se voulait satirique puisque ses chroniques sont toujours sous le signe de l’humour. Au début de la chronique, il est d’ailleurs indiqué : « cette émission pourrait contenir du sarcasme et de l’ironie ». Nous pensons cependant que la chronique n’était ni dégradante ni méprisante envers les hommes. De plus, la chronique était directement liée à l’actualité étant donné le fait que les agressions sexuelles subies par des femmes ont fait les manchettes dans les médias dans les derniers mois. Selon notre analyse des décisions rendues par le CCNR, les propos en cause ne constituent pas « des commentaires abusifs ou indûment discriminatoires quant au sexe ». Nous sommes donc d’avis que madame Bonenfant n’a pas violé les articles 2 et 3 du Code de déontologie de l’ACR ni les articles 1 à 5 du Code sur la représentation équitable de l’ACR.

Bell Média est une entreprise sérieuse dont les stations visent toujours l’excellence dans leur programmation. Nous espérons que vous continuerez à écouter ÉNERGIE.

Nous vous remercions de nous avoir fait part de vos préoccupations et n’hésitez pas à communiquer avec nous pour toute question ou commentaire supplémentaire.

Correspondance afférente

Le plaignant a déposé sa demande de décision le 12 janvier 2017 :

Le diffuseur affirme que les affirmations de leur chroniqueuse n’étaient pas de nature sexiste. Il apparaît toutefois, non seulement à première vue mais aussi suite à une analyse sur le fonds, qu’ils se trompent.

Par ailleurs, la simple affirmation en début d’émission selon laquelle la chronique « peut contenir de l’ironie » ne saurait servir de justification absolue et irréfutable contre la critique.

Les articles 2 et 3 du Code de déontologie de l’ACR ont clairement été enfreints lors de ce segment. D’une part, l’affirmation selon laquelle les hommes « ne sont pas doués avec le “blabla” » vient renforcer les stéréotypes sexuels à l’encontre des hommes. Qui plus est, il est illogique que l’affirmation selon laquelle tous les hommes sont portés à commettre des agressions sexuelles dans la rue ne peut être qualifiée de sexiste.

Suite à une requête du CCNR, le radiodiffuseur a envoyé une transcription du texte, avec la note suivante le 17 janvier :

Bonjour,

Voir ci-joint le texte de la chronique. Pour son rôle, elle est collaboratrice une fois semaine à l’émission, le vendredi. Comme le thème de la chronique l’indique, le tout est basé sur le sarcasme et l’ironie. On veut le point de vue d’une femme dans la vingtaine sur l’actualité, ses humeurs, etc…

Voilà, j’espère que le tout vous soit utile.