The Canadian Armed Forces: battling between Operation HONOUR and Operation Hop on Her
In the last few years, much attention has been focused on women in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). In 2014, a Maclean’s magazine report on sexual misconduct was published; in 2015, former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps conducted an External Review Authority (ERA) investigation that detailed sexual misconduct and sexual harassment in the CAF; and in 2016, Statistics Canada published a report on sexual harassment and sexual assault in the CAF. The results of these reports indicated that the sexualized culture of the CAF, combined with problematic policies and insufficient training, as well as a lack of action by the leadership, resulted in the sexual harassment and sexual assault of many members within its ranks, mainly women but also men. The CAF launched Operation HONOUR in order to address these concerns, which was nicknamed Operation Hop on Her by some members, demonstrating resistance to cultural change. In this article, I describe CAF culture and how it relates to women and gender; outline the history of women in the CAF, particularly as relates to sexual harassment and sexual assault; examine concerns with the content and implementation of related policies; and conclude with a discussion of the intersection of culture, policies, training, and leadership. The article ends on a note of hope, with the possibility that the CAF has now begun to seriously address the organization’s sexualized culture, and discusses the tensions inherent in analysing an institution that both constructs and impedes organization change.
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Pages 19-40 | Received 25 May 2017, Accepted 27 Nov 2017, Published online: 11 Dec 2017