In 1986 Sheila McIntyre – a Queen’s Law professor and feminist – wrote a now infamous memo about gender bias and discrimination in law schools. Almost 30 years have passed since she spoke about the abuse she endured in her first year of teaching at Queens Law School.
Reading the McIntyre memo now is like being in a time space continuum. Have things progressed for women in law schools since the 1980’s? In some ways, certainly. Has the underlying culture changed substantially? Not really.
The fear of speaking out, the professional and personal risks that accompany talking openly about personal experiences of discrimination, bias, sexual harassment, assault and rape, persist.
Because we are still largely paralysed by this fear – irrational, inchoate or real – the McIntyre memo stands as a symbol of speaking out, almost 30 years on.
Why we need to reopen this blog
This blog represents the culture change that we need and that collectively, men and women, we can make happen now. But only if we speak out and do not allow our fear of censor – as in, stop complaining, don’t rock the boat, don’t criticize the powerful, suck it up – to stop us.
It is very important to us that this blog continues to be vibrant and to be a source of ideas, solace and inspiration to its readers.
Why do we care so much about this?
Because the existence of this blog means that we are starting to have a conversation 30 years in the making.
Because the continued life of this blog is a recognition that we need to find ways to be more open about experiences that left us confused, lonely and even ashamed.
Because this blog represents our pushback to the secrecy and shame that has sustained an epidemic of sexual assault, rape, abuse and harassment.
Because this blog reminds us, through the stores of its contributors, that none of us are really alone with these experiences, because they are shared by so many.
New blogs on our tipping points
Sheila McIntyre was brought to her tipping point while teaching. In the next four weeks we shall be posting a series of pieces about what motivated people to come forward and finally break the silence about the abuse and harassment they have experienced.
The Blog is back. Join us in extending and expanding the conversation and breaking the silence.
Brady Donohue (Windsor Law 2014) & Julie Macfarlane (Professor, Windsor Law)