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Gabriel O'Brien
Municipal man of mystery.
Municipal man of mystery.

Gabriel's posts

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It's worth reading the comments from Linden MacIntyre as well.  These are two of the folks that prompted me to want to work at the CBC many years ago.

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My friend +Jamie Cashin wrote a pretty good open letter about aggressiveness amongst the hairier gender that I think is worth sharing.  It reminds me of a really good piece of advice I got a long time ago, but that's a different story.
An Open Letter to Aggressive Men

A few nights ago something happened to me that is still bothering me days later. I was driving along the roadway and I needed directions to a gym I knew was nearby. I pulled up along side a female pedestrian in my car and called through my passenger side window “excuse me, can you help me?” She turned away and sped up a little. I didn’t realize at first why. I matched her walking speed and called again, this time a little louder… “excuse me, can you help me?”  Suddenly the reason she was ignoring me was clearly conveyed by her body language… my pulling over alongside her, on a dark street had somehow made her very, VERY nervous.

I felt bad. I felt bad for her because I had a hunch why she was nervous. Here was a loud, large male, approaching, and nearly “cornering” her. Now the question is what do I do about it. I could drive away, but then she would be walking home nervous and wondering if this person would drive around the corner and wait for her to walk by.  I decided to try just once to lessen her nervousness and did the only thing I could think of… I called out “I was looking for the GoodLife Fitness and I thought it was in this block”. As I did so, I swung my car away from her so she had several “escape” routes… conveying friendly body language as well as one can using a car. She seemed to relax right away and said “Oh… sorry…. it’s back the other way, one block”. I bid her good night and left. I wanted to get away from her and let her forget how she felt for a brief moment. It was a horrible feeling.

Earlier this year I was walking to my car which was parked a few streets away. A few seconds after passed a female walking in the other direction, I realized I had forgotten my laptop and decided to go back to my house and get it.  I turned around and broke into a run. My sudden direction and speed change must have been taken for aggression by the female, because she let out a sound that can be best described as one of fear, and began to run, all the while looking back at me. I stopped my run immediately and waited for her to “get away”. I said nothing. What could I say?

These are not isolated incidents. I have had women react this way to me before when they are alone. And I know it’s not me. It’s the way some men treat women that has caused this. My being 6’2” and of stocky build doesn’t help.

When I first decided to write this, I felt like I should apologize to women for the behaviour of some of those of my gender who have created this culture of fear. But I have decided that’s not the message I want to convey. That’s not the correct audience. This letter needs to be directed at the ones who have caused this problem.

So this letter is to you men who hit women, you men who don’t treat women with respect and dignity, I am pissed off at you. I am pissed off because you have not only made it impossible for many women to feel safe in what should be innocuous situations, but you have made it impossible for men who aren’t assholes to break into a run, or ask a young lady for directions. You have created a culture of fear and distrust. You have sullied the reputation of my gender and I am sick of it.

Now many of you may be thinking there are aggressive women too who have contributed to this culture of fear, and I say, yes, I guess that must be true to some degree. You may also point out that there are some males who because of their smaller stature or physical appearance or even their mannerisms may also experience fear and distrust of their own gender. But I am tired of the “yes buts” being used to counter an argument. I am not going to let you diffuse this one that easily. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that there are still far too many men who display aggression in situations where aggression is not appropriate, and those men are ruining it for the rest of us who are decent, reasonable folks.

We’ve had enough. The women who don’t feel safe answering a strangers query for directions have had enough. And not just women… this one is for the children who learn fear from witnessing their moms abusive boyfriends and fathers behaviour; this one is for the slender male who doesn’t feel safe walking home at night; this one is for the transexual who has to deal with these situations and much MUCH more; this one is for the gay man who does not feel safe walking home alone from the gay bar.

All these groups and all the decent men too, are a huge majority to your minority. So to you, mr. aggressive “man”, the decent men of this world have had enough of your crap, and it’s time for you to think about what it is that defines a “real man”. I’m going to help you with it. A real man is one who knows he’s accountable for his actions. A real man is one who knows how to control his anger, his rage, his behaviour, and how to communicate with another human being to resolve a situation. Real men are not bullies. It’s time for you to grow up and become a real man. If you want to show the world how truly strong you are, showing restraint and control in all situations is the best way to do it.

As I write this letter I know it’s mostly only going to be seen by those who already know all of this. None of the men who need to read this letter will ever read it. And even if some of them did… would it really make a difference? Here again, thanks to the behaviour of a few, I feel powerless, helpless. I wish I knew what I could do to change this situation.

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Welcome to the civilized world UK!

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I'm not much for Xmas, but this is one of my favorite readings.

The first time I heard "The Shepherd" I was driving home from some mundane event and I actually stopped and sat in the driveway for the entire remainder of the show just to hear how it finished.  This has since, by pure coincidence, happened two other times.  A nice Christmas/ghost story for an aviation/RAF nerd.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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I was going to post some sort of incoherent rant about this myself and then I discovered that these cool cats were doing so and were much more eloquent.

I don't know if the issue is quite so serious in Canada and not that I'm suggesting an equivalence between indirect sexism and open rape and murder threats, but I know I'm pretty shocked by things I hear even in my workplace on a daily basis.

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Facts are often interesting.
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