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Women Who Speak Honestly Will Change The Industry

As more women come forward with proof of inappropriate behaviour and harassment from men in the hockey writing community, this signals the beginning of an uprising which took too long to come about.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The first thing I'm not going to say is I'm scared or worried writing about my mistreatment and struggles in the sports journalism industry so far. I'm very aware there are implications that go along with being honest, with being what many men would call a whistleblower. I'm not about getting people in trouble or fired - it's about seeing that men who are professional to other men are not always professional and fair to other women.

When Harrison Mooney was fired the consensus amongst many men in the business was he didn't deserve to be fired. He was just making bad decisions on social media. When Steve Lepore was fired he apologized as many times as he could on twitter when things started to go sour. When Adrian Dater was fired many other men tweeted about how he was always professional and it's a shame.

Actually it's the opposite of a shame when a man is exposed for mistreating, harassing and cornering a woman with suggestive messages when he is in a position of power over her.

It's a shame it takes women to come out and say "Look at what this creep did" and face backlash on twitter from other white males denouncing the behaviour but maintaining "everyone has done that."

It's a shame there is little to no progress towards an environment that doesn't look at a person's gender or sexual orientation before deciding which tone and words to deliver their message in.

Frustrating. Demeaning. Vexing.

"You didn't have the right men beside you, no womanly voice heard from miles around you. You had these lessons passed down through generations, they've all gone bad now, they're spoiled, they're tainted." -Arkells, Systematic

Women face belittlement when they publicly announce their allegiance to any team that doesn't belong to a reality television show. The typical questions "does your boyfriend like the Leafs?" or "Oh, you like hockey? So who wears number 87?" are asked thinking they'll expose you as a fake. The assumption right off the bat is anyone who doesn't look like they play hockey can't like or know anything about hockey. The same goes for other professional sports that don't have their own female leagues to accompany them like the WNBA or LPGA.

There will always be close-minded people who don't want to share what they think is theirs. That struggle will never end, but the effort to have men see women as equals in the sports industry is an issue that continues to collapse as soon as a little progress is made. When men are fired for poor execution of social media practices according to their employer it sends the message they had a lapse in judgement, not a chronic aversion to respecting others.

In this industry there are many young men who choose to hide behind the excuse that they don't get along with or speak to women often. That becomes - for some reason I've never been able to navigate - their get out of jail free card for being a hostile member of a newsroom. It's a justification that passes as valid when being a woman shouldn't be my issue - it shouldn't be an issue.

"Just a little bit of faith is what I want, it's what I need in my institutions, so I wait so patiently. But when it happens over and over can we hear it, yeah let's hear it for the whistleblower." Arkells, Whistleblower

Over and over, there will be stories that continue to pop up from women in the industry - who do their jobs and do them well - who had to deal with unwarranted sexual harassment and abuse. Until men in all positions of all ages and ethnicities accept the fact that women are free to indulge in a male-dominated industry and in many cases do a better job than other men, this harassment will continue.

If women are brave enough to speak out about their mistreatment at the hands of men who are sorry they got caught, soon enough the cycle will stop repeating itself. Women have the same educational opportunities as men in Canada and the United States. Women before us fought for our right to vote, to join the workforce and to have an education. Now it's our turn to fight for true equality.

That means standing up even if it will rock the boat everyone tries to hold steady. Even if it means being seen as a whistleblower, even if it means pissing some men off in positions of power - the injustice will speak for itself. There's no positive outcome to staying quiet, there's nothing worse than sitting in silence knowing you should not have to deal with year after year, month after month, day after day of disrespect.

This isn't men behaving badly on twitter, this is men thinking they're entitled to it without repercussions. This is men thinking somehow women wanted the attention, they welcomed the inappropriate comments and their employers bought that excuse once or twice. Nothing is the woman's fault in these situations. Being a professional extends to off the clock hours and those conversations in your direct messages inbox. There is nothing that excuses you from harassment, there is no clause in life that excuses you from being a decent human being.

"Month by month I feel a change in the breeze, stop moving on, make your own history. Now if you want me to boil it down all you cynical bastards get out of town." Arkells, Cynical Bastards

If we keep talking, keep raising flags to unprofessional behaviour and hold those accountable for their actions, there's no reason the industry can't change.