CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt’s recent decision to confront a group of Toronto FC fans who thought shouting the sexually explicit taunt “F–k her right in the p—y” during a live broadcast was “hilarious” made headlines around the world. The incident, which was captured on video, revealed the ugly arrogance of adult men who consider this kind of behaviour acceptable. The consequences have been significant, however. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) has vowed to ban the taunters for life for their actions, and CBC reports that one of the men depicted in the video, a Hydro One employee who was making upwards of $100,000 a year, has been fired as a result.
Hunt talks about how she feels about the encounter, her feelings about viral video culture, and why harsh responses to this conduct may be the way it’s eradicated entirely.
What an ugly experience. How do you feel about it now, after a few days away from it?
Well, the attention is overwhelming. I knew this story would get attention, but I didn’t know it would go viral this way; it’s everywhere. But the positive thing out of it is that it’s sparked a discussion, and I think in the end that’s what I wanted, that’s what CityNews wanted, that’s why we took the stand and went with the story because we wanted to put an end to it and the best way to do it is to spark this discussion.
The fact that so many people are reacting in such a positive way to this makes me feel that this behaviour is not accepted by most people.
It is tolerated to some extent, though. Why?
Lives are busy and maybe it happens so much you sort of shake it off. Well, that’s what we do. We’re reporters; we’re pretty tough. We’re used to people slamming doors in our faces and stuff like that. We’re used to criticism. We can shake it off pretty easily, but this is just time after time after time. It’s annoying.
How many times do you think you’ve just shaken it off?
Almost every day on the job.
Was this the first time you decided, OK, buddy, I’m going to ask you why you just said that?
No, I’ve confronted people before with one-liners like, “Have some respect,” or “Oh, you’re so funny.” It takes time though, and I’m usually interviewing somebody [when it happens] and the person I’m interviewing is normally mortified and I might have to explain to them that this is a thing and let’s just forget it and move on.
The thing that I found most surprising about the video is how arrogant the guys you confronted were. What did you make of their shamelessness?
For me, that was the most upsetting part: that they just didn’t understand why this was offensive. They didn’t get it. When the guy went on about the “vibrator behind my head,” I’m going, like, in my head, You guys aren’t doing that to me. That just sort of made me almost get to the point of This isn’t even worth continuing this conversation.
I do want to make it clear that these weren’t the guys who said it at me. I heard them planning to do it, and that’s when I turned around. That’s what happened. It happened to me twice in a row and then I heard these guys conspiring to do it again. I turned around and said, “Were you waiting for me to go live so you can say, ‘Are you going to f—k her right in the p—y’?” and he said, “Well, yeah, because it’s hilarious.” That’s when I’d had enough. It had happened twice in a row in five minutes and throughout the game and then I heard these guys thinking about it and then I just gave them a piece of my mind.
Do you find that kind of behaviour is getting worse because we’re in a kind of a viral video/prank culture?
I don’t know why all of a sudden it’s socially accepted. I don’t know when that happened or why that happened. I know this “f—k her in the p—y” thing started in the States as a prank and it just went viral and it continued and people thought it was funny. I don’t know why people still think it’s funny. It wasn’t funny the first time let alone the millionth time. I don’t know why guys think it’s funny or don’t think it’s offensive… We didn’t do this to vilify those two specific guys, they just happened to be the guys I confronted and they were just an example of what we deal with often on this job almost daily.
Those guys you confronted weren’t teenagers. They looked like they were well into their 30s.
I believe that they were in their 30s; they’re grown men in professional jobs. But that’s the thing about this phenomenon, I’ve had a 12-year-old say it to me and then I’ve had a businessman in a suit. It’s shocking.
What’s your response to MLSE’s suggestion that they’ll provide female reporters extra security in future? Do you think that’s a necessary step?
I’m not sure they said female reporters, but just reporters in general. To be honest, in those large crowds it is hard to control [the environment]… Big crowds are always rowdy at sports events. I don’t want to blame sports events, but you get a large crowd and alcohol is involved… so it’s always been a little difficult. I think it’s a step in the right direction if they want to provide some security for us.
What’s your response to MLSE’s statement that they’re going to ban the guys who said what they said?
It’s harsh. We didn’t go out to do this, to vilify these guys. Unfortunately the way it’s gone down is that they’ve become these examples. I don’t know, I’m still just dealing with all the aftermath right now. Is it too harsh? Maybe. But will anyone ever say this to a reporter again? Maybe this is what needs to happen for respect to be had in this situation.