There’s almost nothing I like more than enjoying great pizza on a great patio. I, like many 30 somethings who live in the GTA, had found the perfect presentation of both, in a tiny little town in Prince Edward County.
When I heard this summer that the owner had been accused - many times over - of sexual misconduct in the workplace, it was heart shattering. “More? Him too? How many more women will come forward? How many more men will be outed for abuse?” Was it a surprise that a chef-owner had taken liberties with female employees and customers? Sadly, no, but the extent to which the water ran deep was.
My immediate instinct was to join the boycotting bandwagon, and refuse to patronize the patio or the winery again. Because, solidarity. But superficially, selfishly, I did not want lose one of my favourite haunts because of someone else's terrible behaviour.
So as the summer went on, I found myself wondering if little old me refusing to go there could really make a difference? I started to question if maybe I wasn’t over reacting, and if maybe I could go there, quietly eat my pizza, not post anything on Instagram to support them, and leave?
Embarrassingly, this is what I did. The lure of the memory of many happy memories spent on that patio won, even over my conscience. And when I went?
The pizza tasted like shame.
With every bite, I was horrified I was now an active participant in financially supporting a man who has willfully violated women. With every glance around the patio I felt anger, anger towards hoards of people who hadn’t bother to give a damn that many other women had experienced the violation, much of it on this very patio.
And I realized, starkly, that I was now a part of the problem. Every patron there listening to 70s R & B and passing little jars of spicy peppers around was part of the problem. Just by being there, even in the allegation stage, felt like a demonstration that I/we too did not support women who’d been subject to gross and violating behaviour resulting from a power differential.
It's our responsibility to be a part of the solution, even on a micro level, if we want to affect change, and I learned this hands on. Each of our actions that cause ripple effects to the world around us, and that day when I ignored my intuition and sense of morality - to appease my own social life - I felt the ickiness the comes from not using those actions for good.
When someone speaks up, it’s our job to listen respectfully, and act according to how we’d want to be treated in the same position. It’s that simple.