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A Canadian University Made This Blatantly Sexist Video Objectifying Female Professors

Simon Fraser University removed the video and is investigating.

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Simon Fraser University has apologized and taken down a sexist video that showed a male student leering at his professor after she puts on a form-fitting sweater.

SFU

The video was made in 2014 for National Sweater Day, encouraging people to turn down their thermostats and dress warmer in order to save energy. It escaped notice on the B.C. school's YouTube page until administration shared a link to it this week in a campus-wide email.

Elise Chenier, a professor in the history department, said an instructor flagged the offensive video in an email list used by female faculty, which is where she first saw it.

“Everybody was quite horrified by it and immediately started sending emails to people in administration requesting that it be taken down," Chenier told BuzzFeed Canada.

Cannot believe the horrendous "Sweater Day" video posted by @sfu Facilities. #Unacceptable

Chenier said the video’s entire premise was going for a “cheap laugh” that belittles the authority of female faculty.

SFU / Via Elise Chenier

“The assumption is that this woman, because she wears glasses and wears her hair in a bun, has never had validation,” Chenier said.

“So real validation comes not from earning your PhD, not getting a position in your university, not from being an expert in your field — real validation comes from a student acknowledging you as sexually desirable. That’s why it’s so deeply offensive.”

“This woman is reduced to an object of sexual desire by heterosexual men. That’s all she is. She’s playing solitaire for goodness sake, she’s not even doing work.”

SFU

SFU quickly removed the video and apologized to the campus community. Joanne Curry, the school's vice-president of external relations, said she hadn't seen the sweater video until after the backlash.

"When I did watch it, I immediately agreed with the feedback we had received that the video is inappropriate, sexist, and not in keeping with our equity commitments," Curry wrote in a statement.

A spokesperson told BuzzFeed Canada that SFU is investigating how the video was made and distributed. The school is also vowing to put in place safeguards so nothing like it happens again.

Chenier, who brought the video to wider attention on her personal blog, said she was encouraged by the administration's speedy response and by the acknowledgement that it was indeed sexist.

SFU Faculty Association / Via sfufa.ca

She said she felt the issue had been resolved, but that the video controversy "draws attention to broader issues" of inequality. A report last year, for example, showed a consistent wage gap between male and female faculty at SFU of about 10%. Chenier also noted that most people in upper administration at SFU are men and very few deans are women.

“We’re working against a long history of sexism," she said.

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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