Our Executive Director, Angela Marie MacDougall, was on CBC’s On The Coast with Gloria Macarenko this past August 29, 2022.
Angela was interviewed about recent accusations of sexual misconduct against Arcade Fire front man Win Butler has been by 4 people and the response by fans calling for the band to cancel their world tour.
Full CBC interview transcript:
Gloria: Now Canadian band Arcade Fire is set to begin their world tour tomorrow in Dublin, Ireland, but there are some fans across the world that are calling for that tour to be canceled and for their tickets to be refunded. That is after news broke this weekend, that front man, Win Butler, is accused of sexual misconduct by multiple people. This story was first reported by Pitchfork Magazine, and it follows a number of stories this year involving Canadian celebrities and allegations of sexual violence. So for more, we have reached Angela Marie McDougall. She is executive director of battered women’s support services. Angela Marie, hi there. Good afternoon.
Angela Marie Dougall: Good afternoon, Gloria.
Gloria: Where does your mind go first, when you hear about these kinds of stories?
Angela Marie Dougall: Well, we’ve had quite a few very high profile cases of celebrities and sports stars who have been where survivors have come forward and shared their experiences, experiences of sexualized violence. And I think that it’s always a challenging piece because within media and the social media kind of platform environment, we end up having a very polarized discourse ranging in extremes, frankly, in terms of how people are responding to the cases. I’m not surprised actually that we continue to hear reports of sexualized violence by celebrities. In part, because we hear so many reports of sexualized allegations, from non celebrities, who of that survivors discuss and want to share their experiences and also seek a measure of justice. I think it speaks to the culture right now. Of course, we’re still in a journey within Me Too. We still haven’t addressed more broadly the systemic and institutional and the deep roots of sexualized violence in Canada. And this is another opportunity for us to do that.
Gloria: Well, you bring up something interesting there. I mean, this story broke over the weekend. No charges have been laid against Win Butler. We don’t know if any police investigation will take place when Butler, he has denied the allegations, but even so longtime fans, people who say Arcade Fire’s music has deeply impacted their lives. Many of them have immediately turned around and they say, no, they don’t want to go to the upcoming show. So I guess, how do you interpret that immediate response?
Angela Marie Dougall: I think it’s many things, but one part of it has to do, I believe with an idea of a community response. I think that there is a recognition that so many of these instances of sexualized violence don’t end up being measured within a criminal legal system response because of the ways in which this kind of sex life violence happens between individuals. So I think that we’re continue to have the court of public opinion, which I’ve said it long, long ago when we were talking about other celebrities, Harvey Weinstein, for example, Bill Cosby. I said the court of public opinion in the context of sexualized violence is a court. And it’s been an important part of a cultural shift. And we’re in the middle of that right now. I know that people don’t necessarily want to hear that, but it’s the result of survivors coming forward and the general public seeking a measure of justice. And so I think what fans are saying is yes, that you’ve meant a lot to me in my life. And we want you to be accountable for these allegations. And I think that’s a reasonable response in light of the very few mechanisms that we have right now to really address sexualized violence.
Gloria: So you’re signaling a little bit of a cultural change on that front. Now, one of the allegations laid out in the article, it revolves around non-consensual sexting. It says that when Butler was sending pictures of his genitals to an 18 year old fan who asked him to stop. So what does this tell you about how our understanding of consent could be evolving?
Angela Marie Dougall: Well, all too many women and people who have been on the receiving end of an unsolicited pic of a man’s genitalia will say that it’s fairly commonplace. It’s inappropriate. We haven’t actually that the issue of consent with respect to sexing and sharing images and the sharing of genitalia in terms of men sending dick pics is something that I think is an important part of the cultural shift. We talk to survivors all the time. There’s so many women and others that I know that have been on the receiving end of an unsolicited pic. So that is a piece of consent and it is within the scope of sexualized violence. Most definitely, it’s on that continuum and it needs to be another piece of this reckoning and a recognition that sharing of sexual images, images of nudity of body parts needs to be agreed to.
Angela Marie Dougall: And there’s all kinds of learning that we have now. In fact, our website has a long list of ways in which to sext in a way that’s safe and that includes consent. But if we understand the context of sexualized violence, it is about power and control. And so the sharing of unsolicited picture of genitalia is a piece of a boundary violation in the context of power and control. And so I think that this is an important, another piece of a very important conversation that we’ve been having for recent times. And we’re getting at some of the deep ways in which it manifests for those celebrities, but also we see it certainly with just everyday people.
Gloria: Again, when Butler’s response to these allegations, he says that no non-consensual activity occurred. He does admit to knowing and having sexual contact with the four people who alleged misconduct. His statement also says he was drinking a lot at the time to deal with the pain of his wife’s miscarriage and that he has “long struggled with mental health issues and the ghosts of childhood abuse.” So that’s when Butler’s response, what do you make of that bearing in mind, he has hired a crisis communications team here?
Angela Marie Dougall: Well, and of course he would, I mean, the public relations ends up being a big piece of this. And we then want to blur the blurred and kind of muddy the water if you will, and start to bring in our social problems, the personal problems that he has, his histories. But at the end of the day, we come down to some very clear social contracts that we understand and that I think are understood and sexualized violence is it stands above and beyond what I think these personal issues are. And though they may have been part of the context, the sharing, the allegations that I’ve read in the report that you mentioned at the top, Gloria, are part of, again, a bigger, broader discussion, and we cannot get misled, I think, by whatever his personal issues were at the time and get back at the heart, which is around the power and control and that we actually want to continue to believe survivors. And that we know that for those survivors that have come out and shared their experiences, this is not an easy thing at all to go to make visible your experiences, especially when we’re talking about celebrities, because of how much backlash there is in media and social media.
Gloria: Angela Marie, before we let you go. And we do have to wrap things up here, but how do you hope to see the media coverage of these stories evolve?
Angela Marie Dougall: So this is a bigger, I love this question. And it’s something that I think is really important. I mean, obviously we don’t want the sensationalize of it. We have to begin to continue to recognize that and put it in the context of Me Too, and that we are in a cultural shift and it’s going to continue. And there’s some really great resources that I know that have been created that are about using the right words and understanding the context. And I think that, of course, I appreciate any time that organizations that are doing the frontline work, get a chance to weigh in as well.
Gloria: Hey, thank you very much. I’m sure this story will evolve from here, but we appreciate your time today.
Angela Marie Dougall: Thank you, Gloria. All the best to you.