The suspensions unleashed a storm of controversy on Parliament Hill and led all parties to the embarrassing realization that they had no protocol for harassment among members of Parliament.
Two people alone in a room after drinking. Why were they in the hotel room, as opposed to anywhere else?
You can pick one perspective and come to natural conclusions that are completely at odds with each other.
It's the same thing as women dressing sexy - does it make them feel empowered, the way a guy might feel better about himself in a suit, or is it the equivalent to primate female indicating they're in heat by flushed bums or phermonal release?
I tend to be very aware of what people's body language says about their thought process. I look at people all the time, on transit, in crowd, to learn and contextualize; I look at their face to know what they're thinking, their body language for what they're feeling and their feet for where they're going.
Since #ghomeshi happened, and since the Parliament Hill thing erupted, I've been more acutely aware of how those forms of physical expression relate to me. I have a pretty intense gaze - I don't blink a lot, I'm slightly myopic, but not enough that I feel I need to wear glasses all the time. But when I look at someone, it's blatantly clear that's what I'm doing.
So, when I look at a woman and they know that's happening, how do they respond? Am I sure I'm reading their language the way it's intended or could I be interpreting in a way that, at some level, is more what I want?
As I become more aware of all this interaction stuff on a conscious level, I realize how unnatural it is. We "feel" our way through situations more than seek to understand them; we follow our gut, look for our win, etc.
The primary social defense mechanisms against this inability to look at oneself through the eyes of the other are laws; it's as true of religious edicts as it is our existing legal system. The secondary mechanism we have is trade/transaction; if we can codify human interaction in transactional form, nothing is for free and therefore some boundaries can be set.
Neither of these methods are perfect, because they still rely to some degree on that thing we are struggling with - empathy.
This is why Restorative Justice and Roots of Empathy are so effective; they're all about strengthening our empathy muscle, which in turns gives us more control of how we flex our social engagement.
We don't celebrate this. In fact, we discourage this; in our capitalist system, it's the transaction that's supposed to lead. It also happens that a competitive, transaction-based model favours those with luck on their side, as they have more weight in negotiations, as well as sociopaths who have no empathy at all.
But this is the model we're recognizing as unconducive to dynamic growth in the Knowledge Economy and structural solutions for our social woes.
It's embarrassing - let's say humbling - to realize there's no protocol for harassment. Why? Because the implication is that they people who are supposed to have all the answers don't. It's the same reason why the Jason Kenneys of the world are so opposed to apologies; it's too much like admitting weakness, which results in a weakened hand in negotiations.
Yet the truth is that protocols are only a temporary solution, as any imposed structure is. We need to design-think the answer, which means a willingness to commit sociology.
Even that isn't the full picture, because there's still a margin for error - and that's just plain inefficient.
This isn't to say there's no solution; there is.
It's not one that can be imposed from without, though - it must be grown within.
Which is another message that has been kicking around for a while.