After the employees shared the vile image, several leaders have come forward to make note of the sexism that underlines our political discourse.
Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault
If you thought the hate against 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg couldn't get any worse, think again. It is bad enough that major leaders across the world, including United States President Donald Trump, have made her the target of many a nasty joke or jab. However, this time, things have crossed a line. Recently, employees at Canadian oil company X-Site Energy Services allegedly circulated cartoon sticker decals depicting the activist being raped, Global News reports. The sticker apparently featured a silhouette labeled "Greta." The firm has since come forward to deny that the image was ever circulated on social media, though they do not refute that the stickers were printed and shared in the first place.
Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Councillor Michelle Narang claimed she almost cried when she saw an image of the graphic sticker. "I sat on it throughout the day and thought, ‘There’s no way I’m going to be quiet about this because it’s not okay,'" she said. "It's absolutely not okay." Therefore, she shared her thoughts about the sticker in a post uploaded to Facebook. She stated, "This company represents everything that the oil and gas industry needs to fight against. I am absolutely sickened that X-Site Energy Services would think that the hard-working men and women in the energy industry would condone this representation of a child clearly being raped."
Narang decided to confront X-Site Energy Services about the stickers. She contacted Doug Sparrow, the company's general manager, to ask if they really had created and then circulated the stickers. She said, "His response when I asked him if he was aware that there are stickers circulating with his logo depicting the rape of Greta Thunberg. He said yes, that he is aware. And I said, ‘So you are fine with an image that your company condones the rape of children?’ And he said, ‘She is not a child, she is 17.'" When Global News contacted Sparrow to ask if his company had printed the image, he merely responded by stating the image had never been shared online. He claimed he had been fielding several phone calls about the incident "personally and business-wise to mitigate the damage that has been done."
Was he defending the image as he did during his phone call with Narang? He said, "I’m defending the fact that I never posted it. I never posted it. I’m not a pedophile. I’m not what they say. Alright? I’m not that guy. We did not post that picture." Sparrow had no comment when asked what he thought of the sticker. "We did not post those stickers or pictures on social media," he simply responded. "They have been tagged on our accounts — personal and company — which I’m shutting down right now to try to mitigate the damages. We did not post that stuff on media, okay?"
At present, the police are not investigating the incident as they do not believe a crime has been committed. While Alberta Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have been made aware of the image and stated concerns about the sticker decals had "been forwarded appropriately," Red Deer RCMP completed its own investigation into the matter. Officers determined "the decal does not meet the elements of child pornography... nor does the decal depict a non-consensual act that would be a direct threat to the person." Nonetheless, local government officials have chosen to come to Thunberg's defense. Alberta’s Culture, Multiculturalism, and Status of Women Minister Leela Aheer tweeted on Thursday morning, "This is not what our province stands for. Whoever is responsible should be ashamed and apologize immediately. I stand with Albertans against this horrendous image." She called the decals "completely deplorable, unacceptable and degrading."
Thunberg, too, responded to the decals. She affirmed in a tweet, "They are starting to get more and more desperate... This shows that we’re winning." It seems the young climate activist refuses to back down. Narang, who showed her teenage daughter the sick image, hopes this incident will bring to light the deep-rooted misogyny that exists within our political discourse. "If [my daughter] can see through that and see the message, I’m pretty sure a grown adult man who is a leader in the industry — a business owner in the industry — should be able to see and understand the message that he’s putting out there," she said. "We do not rape women and girls to teach them a lesson. This is not our oilpatch. We can’t have this representation of the oil patch and the oil companies and of our industry be accepted as normal. People need to start speaking out about it. It's not okay."