One in three women will be sexually or physically assaulted in their lifetime.
It’s a shocking statistic and one that two BC Lions football players used at Southern Okanagan Secondary School in Oliver today to underscore the importance of ending violence against women.
“We have to change the things that we say, the media we consume, so that we are not objectifying our women,” said Defensive Back Eric Fraser to the crowd of highschool students gathered on bleachers in the gymnasium.
Fraser and fullback Rolly Lumbala are touring seven Okanagan schools in five days as part of a province-wide initiative called “Be More Than A Bystander.”
“To hear us talk about ‘Hey lets be respectful, let’s have healthy relationships, let’s treat women with respect’, I think it carries a lot of weight,” Fraser said.
The message is being well-received by high school students both male and female.
“When you’re in high school it’s hard to stand up sometimes and these guys gave a lot of good options for that,” said grade 12 student Mikayla Podmorow.
“I liked the advice when they were like, make it awkward, that was kind of new, I never really heard that before,” added grade 12 student Harmen Dhaliwal.
“Just respect, and consent always,” said another student.
The issue surrounding sexist and vulgar comments about women was thrust into the spotlight during the U.S. Election campaign after a bombshell recording was made public of then Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump speaking with Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush in 2005.
“I don’t even wait and when you’re a star they let you do it, you can do anything. ‘They let you do it?’ Grab em by the pus**” Trump can be heard saying, not realizing he was being recorded.
Trump later dismissed the lewd remarks as “locker room talk” which these professional athletes call offensive.
“You have to be more than a bystander and you have to cut it out, call your teammates out on it that this team, that is not how we are going to talk. We are not going to demonize women on this team, we are going to stand for something,” said Lumbala.
Grade 12 student Skyler Thompson said the distasteful comments about women and girls can be prevalent among high school athletes.
“It is more popular with hockey players or football players or jocks to have that locker room talk… I feel like the culture thing, we really need to break that.”
The BC Lions have reached 80,000 students through in-school presentations over the past four years.
B.C. was the first to launch this kind of campaign and since then the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Football Saskatchewan have also followed suit.
“Now more teams are taking part in the program now and it’s just awesome to see the CFL backing this program,” Lumbala said.