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Gov. Gen. Mary Simon speaks out against online hate

Governor General Mary Simon is speaking out against online hate directed at her, hoping to create “a world where true justice and respect are not the exception, but the norm”.

Simon told CTV’s Question Period host Vasi Kapelos in an interview airing Sunday that she wants to use her platform and her authority to create a broader dialogue about the pervasive and damaging problem of online hate.

Last month, the governor-general announced he would close his social media posts to comments in response to a barrage of negative rhetoric.

“In recent months, we have seen an increase in abusive, misogynistic and racist engagement on social media and online platforms, including an increased number of violent threats,” Simon’s team wrote at the time.

Then, less than a month later, Simon posted a video celebrating International Women’s Day, posting those hateful comments, along with a longer message about the effects of online vitriol aimed specifically at women and girls.

“I’m speaking out about this for others who can’t for fear of retribution or retribution,” Simon wrote. “But I hope others will join me. We must continue to speak out about the consequences of harmful discourse and push back against those who denigrate women for their contributions.”

Simon writes that she “respectfully disagrees” with the idea that women and girls should have “thick skins” when it comes to online hate, never mind the idea that women in positions of power “are subject to online abuse is part of the role. »

“Of course they bother me,” said Simon. “I mean, we all get thick skin at some point in our lives, but that’s unacceptable.”

“I think this kind of dialogue that happens on social media, not just in terms of my role, but a lot of women and girls are exposed to discussions on social media that are very negative and racist and there’s homophobia.”

Many of Simon’s comments on International Women’s Day focused on the governor general race. Simon is an Inuk woman and the first Indigenous person to ever hold the office of Governor General.

“These are things that I think when they happen to me as an individual, I use this opportunity as a way to bring the conversation out into the open because I think we really need to have this broader dialogue about, What’s going on against social media? individuals like girls and women,” Simon said.

He added that it is not enough to disconnect from social media platforms or make them less visible in the hope of generating less hate. Instead, she said it was vital to stand up and speak out about what was unacceptable, something she has tried to do throughout her life.

“It’s reflective of who I’ve been throughout my career, because I’ve had to call people out on situations that weren’t acceptable to me,” Simon said, adding that the recent discussion was complicated by anonymity. Internet.

“It’s really important for me to take advantage of this opportunity,” Simon also said. “I call it an opportunity because even though it was hurtful and difficult, I saw it in a way that I could actually use the situation to open up the issue so that we could have this discussion.”

Simon said it won’t be an immediate process, but with the involvement of the government, social media companies and everyday Canadians, he believes progress is possible.

“It’s not women’s problem. It’s not a girl issue. It is a human problem,” said Simon. “I think we should all be playing to talk to our families, to our kids, to make sure they understand the pitfalls of being a part of these social media platforms.”

The Governor General’s online video coincided with a roundtable she hosted at Rideau Hall on International Women’s Day, titled “DigitALL. Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality,” along with other women leaders.

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