June 26, 2016 10:00 am
Updated: June 26, 2016 11:13 am

How ’20 minutes of action’ inspired Toronto fathers to teach their sons about misogyny

WATCH: Toronto dad Ryan Spelliscy discusses the campaign #20minutesOfAction4Change


When Ryan Spelliscy heard about the Stanford rape case and the father of the perpetrator who described it as “20 minutes of action” he wasn’t just angry – he was motivated.

He took issue with the father Dan Turner, who wrote a letter defending his son saying a prison “is a steep price to pay for 20 of minutes of actions.”

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“It’s obviously a pretty deplorable way to define rape,” Spelliscy told Global News. “It pissed off a bunch of dads here, we said ‘when as dads are we going to step up taking the onus on ourselves to have a conversation with our sons?”

READ MORE: Stanford rapist Brock Turner’s dad defends son’s ‘20 minutes of action’

Spelliscy, a father of two, founded the group called “Dads Who Give a Damn” along with other fathers who work at the J. Walter Thompson ad agency, where Spelliscy is chief creative officer at their Toronto office.

JWT rolled out the campaign #20MinutesOfAction4Change on Father’s Day, appropriating the notorious quote from the Stanford case. The campaign asks dads to sit down with their sons for 20 minutes to talk about women’s rights, sexual assault and consent and help “put an end to rape culture.”

“There has been some amazing work done in this space but too often it has been done by women and women’s groups, and there hasn’t really been a group of dads to sit down and talk with their sons,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘Your bravery is breathtaking’: Joe Biden writes open letter to Stanford rape victim

Darrell Hurst, a managing director and vice-president at JWT, took on the challenge of #20MinutesofAction4Change to speak with his 12-year-old son.

“It’s a simple, brilliant response in our minds to the words of Dan Turner,” Hurst told Global News. “I went right to the relationship I have with my son and started to think about the things we talk about and the way he was growing up.”

WATCH: Darrell Hurst says the campaign hopes to ‘raise the bar’ for father

According to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada Police-reported data show just over 173,600 women aged 15 and older were the victims of violent crime in 2011, a rate of 1,207 victims for every 100,000 women in the Canadian population.

READ MORE: ‘You took away my worth’: Stanford rape survivor addresses attacker

Hurst and Spelliscy are hoping to lead by example and show their kids the proper way to treat women.

And it’s not just the Stanford case that is fuelling the campaign. The repeated misogynistic remarks from presumptive presidential candidate Donald Trump and high-profile cases like the Jian Ghomeshi trial have shone a light on the need to discuss consent and sexism with a younger generation of men.

Hurst said he’s made good on the pledge and found the time to speak with his son Eli.

“For me and my son it’s come in a number of little talks. Finding those windows and opportunities to talk are the trick,” he said.

The social media campaign partnered with the White Ribbon Toronto, an organization works to end violence against women.

“We are looking to see if we can get fathers to be better and raise the bar for what we expect from our behaviour and what we expect to be teaching our kids,” said Hurst. “We need to take on that responsibility of being better and helping our sons learn the right to treat people and in particular how to treat women.”

WATCH: Why don’t more women report rape? 

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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