Dupont le matin is a talk radio program broadcast on CHIK-FM (NRJ 98.9, Quebec City) from 6:00 am to 10:00 am Monday through Friday. It is hosted by Stéphan Dupont and his associates Marie-Pierre Simard and Hugo Langlois. They discuss various current events, as well as political and social issues.
Between 7:00 am and 7:30 am on January 16, 2015, the hosts talked about the evolution of the role of the sexes, more specifically the transformation of men’s and women’s social roles since the time of their grandparents. Dupont recounted a discussion he had had with a friend the previous day on that very subject. (A fuller transcript of the exchange can be found in Appendix A, available in French only.)
Dupont: No, we don’t want to go back to Jo’s era. It was matri..., it was patriarchal. In those days the father went to work and the woman stayed home. Indeed, what we said yesterday might be very, very, very sexist given that women do go out to work, and it’s just as well that it wasn’t on the air, but took place leaning up against the bar.
Langlois: I am Charlie. Listen. I have the right to be sexist if I want!
Dupont: Yes, you have the right to be sexist if you want; but at the same time.
Dupont: [...] You know, my mother stayed home a long time. But then, when they start going out to work that’s when the roles change. And that’s where we are today. Just as well and that’s the way it is. Nevertheless, it’s true that things have changed.
Langlois: And, um, sometimes things don’t go in the right direction. That’s because you need, you need to end up somewhere in the middle if you want things to work out for everyone. For the guys, for the girls and easy for the kids. You have to find a middle ground, you know. We can’t. We were too far to the left in the time of Jo and his bib. But now, we may be a bit too far to the right where certain things are concerned, but, but it’s our fault.
Dupont: Yeah. It’s the guys’ fault?
Langlois: Well yes.
Dupont: It’s not the girls’ fault.
Langlois: We let them walk all over us. Yeah. Hey! It’s no secret that we didn’t know any better.
Dupont: Hey! What did our friend say? Can we repeat what he said? He said “When girls started giving blowjobs, they took control.”
Langlois: What really has me laughing is… the way of improving the discussion.
Dupont: He said my grandmother, she didn’t give blowjobs! She couldn’t control anything! If she had started giving my grandfather blowjobs, there’s no doubt he would have said “We’ll give it a rest tonight!” For heaven’s sake. It’s a bit crazy, eh?
Dupont: The news segment is also brought to you by tomorrow’s special issue of the daily Le Soleil entitled “The Power of Fellatio”, not to be missed at all the better newsstands. [Laughter] No, but they want to re-launch Le Soleil. Go ahead and get some story files. Call me. I’ll give you some headlines, for heaven’s sake. Just imagine the front page plastered with “The Power of Fellatio”; everyone will read that. You know, no, I’m going there at 6-12-12.
Langlois: Does it work?
Langlois: That. [laughter]
Dupont: Well, I can’t forbid that, except if we want the guys to regain their place. Are we going to forbid that? Maybe it could be. But, no, I’m against rules, you know. Let’s stop. Here is the news.
On January 20, a listener filed a complaint about this program. According to him, the comments concerning [translation] “blowjobs” constituted “sexist comments”. CHIK-FM responded on February 10 that [translation] “the comments were not intended to be prejudicial towards women”, but acknowledged that they were “inept”. The broadcaster indicated that it had [translation] “taken the necessary steps to ensure this never occurs again in the future.” The complainant was not satisfied by the response and emailed his Ruling Request to the CBSC on February 10, adding that he questioned what measures the station had taken since, in his opinion, host Dupont continued to make inappropriate remarks on the air. (The full text of all the correspondence can be found in Appendix B, available in French only.)
The Quebec Regional Panel examined the complaint under the following clauses of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code:
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 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 – Stereotypes
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 7 – Degrading Material
Broadcasters shall avoid the airing of degrading material, whether reflected in words, sounds, images or by other means, which is based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.
The Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and listened to the broadcast in question. The Panel concludes that CHIK-FM did not breach any of the aforementioned Code provisions.
It is clear to the Adjudicating Panel that the hosts of this radio program, which targets men between the ages of 25 and 54, use colourful language reflecting the tastes of their target audience. That being said, the discussion that morning dealt with the evolving role of each sex from the time of the hosts’ grandparents to the present day. The context in which the comments offending the complainant were made was absolutely not sexist. On the contrary, it was meant to show that the role of women has evolved in a positive way since they first entered the labour market and they are no longer men’s servants. Where the men are concerned, they too have learned to perform certain domestic tasks, and that it is important to find a balance that works for everyone.
That’s because you need, you need to end up somewhere in the middle if you want things to work out for everyone. For the guys, for the girls and easy for the kids. You have to find a middle ground, you know. We can’t. We were too far to the left in the time of Jo and his bib. But now, we may be a bit too far to the right where certain things are concerned, but, but it’s our fault.
With respect to the comments that are the subject of the complaint, namely [translation] “When girls started giving blowjobs, they took control”, there is indeed a certain vulgar tone in the choice of words. They do not, however, constitute abusive or unduly discriminatory comments concerning women under Clause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethics or Clause 2 of the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, nor a negative stereotype based on gender under Clause 4 of the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, anymore than degrading material within the meaning of Clause 7 of that same Code.
Indeed, over the years the CBSC’s jurisprudence has been consistent in defining what constitutes abusive or discriminatory comments, stereotypes and degrading material. In the past, the Council has ruled that jokes with a sexual connotation, while in bad taste, do not necessarily constitute degrading or pejorative comments or the exploitation of women.1 In another decision, the Council did not deem the fact that the host described women as “pieces of ass” to be abusively discriminatory towards women.2
In contrast, in certain files, notably involving the remarks made by Doc Mailloux, the Council concluded that the psychiatrist’s comments about women regarding their [translations] “feminine malice” and their “castrating” behaviour as the source of a broad spectrum of social ills did breach Clause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethics and Clause 4 of the CAB Sex-Role Portrayal Code.3 In those cases, the psychiatrist’s harsh comments regarding women in general were made by someone whose position as a psychiatrist lent him an aura of respectability in the eyes of some audience members.
In the present case, there was no malicious intent on the part of the hosts. The discussion dealt essentially with the evolution of men’s and women’s roles in society during the last few generations. While the terms used by the hosts were in bad taste, the Adjudicating Panel is of the view that their remarks did not amount to abusive or unduly discriminatory comments based on gender within the meaning of Clause 2 of both the CAB Code of Ethics and the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, nor to negative stereotypes under Clause 4 of the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, and that they did not present any degrading material within the meaning of Clause 7 of that same Code. Lastly, the Panel reminds readers that the CBSC is neither a censor nor an arbiter of good taste. It is, however, a guarantor of free speech.
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, CHIK-FM provided an adequate 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. It may be reported, announced or read by the station against which the complaint had originally been made; however, in the case of a favourable decision, the station is under no obligation to announce the result.
1 See CHTZ-FM re the Morning Show (Secretary’s Day) (CBSC Decision 92/93-0148, October 26, 1993) in which the host’s comments were: “Today is Secretary’s day, just make sure you are a gentleman when you ask her to take dictation, you understand”.