April 22, 2015 8:17 pm
Updated: April 29, 2015 8:54 pm

#SafeRedMile? Obscene FHRITP trend spurs ‘pussy cats consent’ team

A A

WARNING: This story contains graphic content. Discretion is advised.

Above: A recent string of on-air incidents with vulgar language has forced staff to speak out and police investigating, Jayme Doll reports.

Story continues below
Global News

CALGARY – The Red Mile is a source of pride for Calgarians who want to share in the recent Flames playoff victories, but it’s also turned into a place where some locals don’t feel safe. Thanks to sexually-charged chants from crowds and an obscene viral “prank” that involves grabbing reporter microphones and yelling “F–k her right in the p—y” (FHRITP), many journalists also feel at risk.

Police told Global News they are considering making a public plea using photos or video of offenders to track them down in order to lay charges. If convicted, suspects could face $5,000 or six months in jail.

READ MORE: No parking on the Red Mile for rest of Flames playoff games

The incidents have prompted a group of Calgarians to create a Facebook group called The Pussy cats consent awareness team on Red Mile. The group plans to meet at Western Canada High School on Thursday, April 23 before Game 5 of the Flames playoff series. Stasha Huntingford, one of the group’s organizers, said the aim is to raise awareness about what consent means.

“The media pranks that are happening were really triggering for a lot of people who have experience with sexual violence, so we just wanted to talk about consent and raise awareness about what that means,” she said.

“[The FHRITP prank] contributes to the objectification of women. It is a sexual assault to force those words publicly. … It is shaping our culture of what’s acceptable, what our children are growing up with.”

Huntingford says many of her friends who live in the area don’t feel safe walking along 17 Ave. during Flames playoffs, and she believes Calgary can celebrate without the “level of sexual violence” she’s seen.

READ MORE: How is consent determined in sexual assault cases?

Watch above: Global’s Stefan Keyes is interrupted by a man shouting the obscene phrase during a live report on April 15. 

Global’s Stefan Keyes experienced the FHRITP trend outside the Ship and Anchor Pub on 17 Ave. S.W. last week during a live report, after which police contacted him to say they are opening an investigation. He said it’s happened to him before, but this was the most “successful” and “intimate” incident. Keyes believes people do it because they think it’s funny and they’re trying to “get famous.” He says it’s important to speak out about why it’s offensive.

“It’s vulgar, it’s disrespectful, particularly to women…there are children watching,” he said. “It’s a little selfish to get off on a prank like that when there are thousands of viewers that are trying to enjoy their news, and you’re taking away from that.”

Calgary Herald reporter Erika Stark tweeted about two experiences where her microphone was grabbed from her hand, and shared the entire experience in a blog post.

Erika Stark FHRITP

Online responses to Stark’s experience have ranged from messages of support to people trying to minimize the impact of the experience, saying it’s a harmless joke.

“Here’s the thing,” she wrote. “When you invade my space, grab my mic and yell that…you’re disrespecting and harming me as an individual.

“And in this case, you’re disrespecting someone who has survived sexual assault.”

The FHRITP has been traced back to American “film maker” John Cain who uploaded realistic-looking clips to YouTube of reporters being interrupted with the phrase in 2014.  Mediaite.com debunked the hoax, showing it’s actually Cain’s voice edited with real television footage to make it appear legitimate.

In a past interview, Cain was quoted as saying it’s “not an attack on women in any way.”

“In fact, I love women and I would FHRITP all of them if they wanted,” he told CBC.

When asked if he’d had a change of heart after learning that some women feel like it’s a form of sexual assault, Cain told Global News he still thinks it’s “pretty funny” and laughs every time he sees it done.

“I honestly believe that everyone who talks about FHRITP right now is only doing it for ratings because it works. My shirts (sic) sales go way up every time it’s on the news,” he wrote in an email.

The increase in incidents has led to some reaching out to Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Calgary police, with questions on what will be done to make people feel safe.

But Huntingford says there are many reasons why it’s traumatizing to file a report with police and go through the justice system.

“They ask you what you were wearing; it doesn’t matter what you were wearing,” she said. “Statistically everyone is very close to someone who’s been sexually assaulted, and there’s a spectrum of sexual assault and that includes things like street harassment, which is not a compliment.”

READ MORE: Why don’t victims or bystanders report sexual assault?

Nenshi’s reference to 2004 includes instances of women flashing crowds along the Red Mile, many times after being surrounded and/or taunted by crowds — similar to taunts that can be heard in 2015.

“There was one very vivid demonstration of that where the woman flashed and the crowd kind of converged on her and started to tear her pants and had her pants down significantly…and other members of the crowd intervened and stopped it from happening,” said Calgary Police Insp. Peter Davison in a 2004 interview with Global’s Nancy Hixt.

“The continual hounding of the crowd and in many, many cases where people were actually touched and attempted to have their clothing removed or in some way be sexually assaulted,” said Davison in 2004.

With files from Nancy Hixt

© 2015 Shaw Media

Report an error
Global News