Home/Rehtaeh Parsons, Violence Against Women/Rehtaeh Parsons, Photography, and Glen Canning

Rehtaeh Parsons, Photography, and Glen Canning

Edit (07 Feb 2015 17;30): Added a comment from anther model I’ve worked with.

Edit (06 Feb 2015 13:42): Anther model I worked with wrote me. Her comment, minus her name, follows this article.

Edit (06 Feb 2015 11:20): A model I worked with wrote me. Her comment, minus her name, follows this article.

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I have an old photograph of myself taken around 1974 and in it I’m holding a Kodak Brownie and standing in front of a car that was vandalized in our Edmonton neighbourhood. I was 11 years old and it seemed to predict a future in photography for me.

I spent years shooting as a hobby and the only professional work I did was as a photojournalist for the Halifax Daily News. I picked up the odd job here and there but never really made much of it. For me, it was a fun thing to do and I look back at it fondly. I’ve since moved on to other things and I regret that.

As many photographers can tell you, if you spend any time in the craft you’ll eventually move into portraiture. Being able to shoot people is a handy skill to have, especially as a photojournalist. To learn the hows I took a couple classes with professional photographers and models, both male and female. I look back at it as a great learning experience and haven’t really thought much about it. It seems like a life time ago.

In a way I guess I should have seen this coming. I have an old account still set up on a modelling web site and another on an artist site. I set them up in case someone wanted to reach out and work with me but also to get feedback on the images I produced and see what others are doing in the field. It’s how you learn lighting, composition, framing, set up, etc. Three of the models I worked with remain good friends – although mainly through Facebook. One of them, Ali Knorr, died in a car accident a few years ago. ALL of them were adults save one whose mom wanted some photos of her daughter at Peggy’s Cove.

It’s sad how sometimes you can look back at your life with a sense of fondness, yet when someone else does it they see only what’s in their hearts and pound away judgement on their keyboards as if they know you and everything you’ve ever done.

No one said much about my photographs until my daughter died. And only than they spoke words that said volumes about themselves but very little about me. It started with a troll who confessed to harassing Amanda Todd. He now harasses Amanda’s mom Carol and our family. He claims Carol killed Amanda and he writes the same about me – that I killed Rehtaeh to shut her up because I was abusing her. He constantly says he’s sending detailed files to the police and they’ll be arresting me soon. Same for Carol. Nothing has happened of course because the man is sick in the head. It’s horrible to think what some people find pleasure in.

So, this asshole found my portfolios and claimed it’s pornography and abusive to women. Of course he did. That’s how he views the world so what else would he see? He sees something someone enjoys and he turns it into something sick – just for the torment and thrill.

No one paid much attention to him other than the odd men’s right activist (MRA) who hate anyone that speaks up about violence against women. They loved using this against me as if it meant something but to me it didn’t. I could honestly care less what they think of me. I know who I am and I don’t answer to them or base my feelings around their twisted view of the world. No one pays any attention to them anyway.

Things changed this past week. The troll has a web page with my images published and he shares it as much as possible with anyone and everyone who writes about Rehtaeh. His commentary goes along the lines you’d think – Glen Canning is a sick pervert who gets off taking photos of young women. And, much to his pleasure I’m sure, someone took the bait.

I’m not going to mention names. I like to think the people on your team deserve better and when it comes to violence against women and sexual assault, infighting only hurts those we need to help. I’m not going to post the web site either, although I’m sure it won’t be hard to find.

It’s not lost on me that I deleted my photography account (I don’t think the people I worked with would appreciate the labels) yet my images, as disgusting as this certain someone claims they are, remain published on her anti-porngraphy web site and on the site of a really sick man. There’s social justice for you.

That’s politics and that’s what happens when agendas get in the way of working for change.

The article in question includes these comments:

[su_quote cite=”WTF?”]I do not know if he is actually involved in the BDSM community, but I have heard that is very hard to escape from.[/su_quote]
[su_quote cite=”omg! OMG!”]I don’t doubt Glen Canning feels anguish over the death of his daughter. I hope that I goodly chunk of that anguish is down to him trying to reckon with the fact that he helped to pave the way for both her rape, her public humiliation…[/su_quote]
[su_quote cite=”classic victim blaming”]So that’s her dad? Explains a lot. She grows up in a toxic soup of sex “positivity.” … And then, when she lives the nightmare, she finds out they lied.[/su_quote]
[su_quote cite=”just wow”]Rehtaeh Parson’s certainly spent the last two years of her short life in terrible mental torment, but what about before the rape? What sort of emotional poison is it for a female child whose father obviously sees her (or at least girls exactly like her) as disposable jack-off implements – to the degree that he actually creates more of this hate literature and puts it out into the world? [/su_quote]

Some people saw things differently:

[su_quote cite=”via Facebook”]How easy it is for people who call themselves “allies” or “activists” to snipe and criticize and sit in judgment of those who don’t do social justice their way. To snipe at front line workers is especially galling — I’ve seen it too often. And no one seems to see the irony.[/su_quote]
[su_quote cite=”via email”]I don’t know if you remember me, but I was the ___ student who wrote her thesis on ___ ___ ___ ______ and Rehtaeh’s story. I read that piece _______ ______ wrote on her blog. She went to ___ journalism too, in my year. I just wanted to tell you she’s completely out of line. She conflates a lot of things in her writing, that is to say I consider myself a feminist and I completely disagree with a lot of what she writes. You can’t conflate pictures of women with pictures of women posted without their consent. She makes me feel crazy. Just wanted to tell you that.[/su_quote]

It’s not lost on me that the Amanda Todd pedophile commented on the article as well and his comment is still there, even after I identified him.

Some people like to do, some like to watch, some like to judge. We all have our strengths and we all have our vices.

She wrote me saying she only wanted me to see the connections. I know there are connects between objectifying women and rape. Believe me, I know. I have a butterfly urn in my living room to remind me. I don’t need someone judging my life from ten years ago just so they can act like a hero for pointing it out to me and use Rehtaeh’s name for the attention.

If there’s one thing I know about speaking out against rape as a man it’s that other men will hate you for it. The MRA’s have been comical in their rage. But as much as I have to deal with from them I will say they are at least honest about how they feel. They’re not going to write me an email saying their “hope here is not to attack or shame you or ruin your reputation” while still holding the knife stuck in my back.

So… photography.

Photography was something I enjoyed for a very long time and all this talk has reawakened that spirit. On Monday I went out and bought a new camera – a Fuji X100T. My hope is to get back into the craft as a way to find some enjoyment and peace in my life. My wish would be that when I look through the viewfinder I see the world through better eyes than those who seek only to judge and condemn based on standards they can’t even meet themselves.

Am I going to keep speaking out? After this I honestly had doubts but what else can I do for my daughter but speak out?

Comment from KC:

[su_quote cite=”KC”]Hi Glen. I’ve seen the media attention and the attacks and I’m so sorry that is happening to you. Where should I comment? My comments are simply that my experiences with you as a photographer have always been 100% professional and that the type of photography and shots we’ve collaborated on are simply those that we are both happy and comfortable with. There is / was nothing pornographic about the work you’ve done.[/su_quote]

Comment from TS:

[su_quote cite=”TS”]My feedback. Oh goodness this opens a can of worms big time.
I have had the discussion on modeling nude-topless-implied in comparison to pornography with multiple men in my life. I am very much 100% against porn. It is a very hard thing to be with a man who watches porn and pretty much every man who has a functioning sex drive watches it….
Almost evey man i have dated in the past 9 years (since i began modeling), when i mention how much it hurts me that they watch porn, begins to accuse me of modeling porn. They say that my impled and or topless work is just as bad as porn. They become very defensive and use that as their escape.
They LOVE my photos up to this point. Consider them art, beautiful, creative etc. But the minute i bring up how porn hurts me, they tell me i am a porn model. I have never once modeled porn….i do not model for the use of other peoples self pleasure… it is a ridiculous concept.
I guess what i am saying is, most people use what they can as ammo. If someone were to sit down with these people and logically explain to them what pornography is (a sexual act- photography;video;live performace) that is created for the sole purpose of sexual pleasure… maybe then they could understand that using a female or male form without clothing in an artistic manner is NOT pornography and they should find something a little more stable to use as a fallback

Also- how in the heck does pornography link with you speaking out against rape??

Some people just dig for any way of attacking.

I hope my feedback has helped at least a little. I fully support you as do many others.[/su_quote]

Comment from HL:

[su_quote cite=”HL”]Yes since I was part of that shoot I can confirm in fact it was not pornography. There were no sexual acts committed.
The way we were dressed was our choices. We were young and thought dressing that way was sexy. It was also just out of the 90’s so the style was to the year of course. It was a learning experience for us all. This is not a reflection of the work you do now you weren’t in creative control either you were a second camera testing angles. As a model I found you almost non existent. You were using what was given.
People like to talk glen we all know this. And your daughter felt the edge of it. But let’s not get psychiatric or psychological on them. I will however say that you are very professional and you need to brush these people off.
And if anyone try’s to put you down tell them to pound salt. It’s YOUR life.
Judge away small minded people! I can see right through people like this.
Forget them. You know better.
I also have artistic nudes for public viewing. I have a unique body and I am proud to share it. People can talk but they will talk more when they are jealous or can’t look at themselves in the mirror [/su_quote]
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I have some other posts coming up. Clearing my head – Rehtaeh, Christie Blatchford, methane gas in Nova Scotia, calling rapists victims, ….

Please comment. Let me know what you think. I can’t grow unless I’m challenged. I can’t heal without help.

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If you have experienced sexual assault or abuse, the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres provides a list of rape crisis centres, transition houses and women’s centres that may be able to offer assistance. Click here for the full list >>

15 Comments

  1. Philip Rose April 25, 2015 at 8:31 am

    It would be nice if I was allowed to defend myself, Glen, but that’s not really your style, is it?

    • Glen Canning April 25, 2015 at 8:46 am

      If you want to defend yourself I’ll be more than happy to allow you it so long as you use your true identity. If you don’t have the guts for that you’re not worth the time.

  2. merle48 March 10, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    “It’s sad how sometimes you can look back at your life with a sense of fondness, yet when someone else does it they see only what’s in their hearts and pound away judgement on their keyboards as if they know you and everything you’ve ever done.” This IS the major problem with the abundance of Mass Media. Everyone seems to know you better than you know yourself! They will sometimes research and disparage every single tidbit about your life as if they’ve got the WHOLE STORY—the INSIDE SCOOP. It’s fascinating and deplorable all at once. Just remember Bob Dylan’s song, “Everybody Must Get Stoned.” Yes you’re “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” Just keep on forging ahead.

  3. sparkle February 14, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Wow, even though I mostly disagree with Meghan Murphy, I have never had a lower opinion from her now. I have no problem with your photos but I can understand some who might. But still- given all that you have been through it’s pretty vile of her to do this to you. Unfortunately there will always be opportunists like her who go after people who don’t fit into her impossible view of feminism and the pile on continues for page clicks. Shame on you Meghan. Know that the majority of people support you and it makes us sick what happened to your daughter and to your family. Keep fighting the good fight for all of us. I know what it’s like to have no control over your Internet image and be sexually assaulted. Why is Meghan going after you and not the parents of those assholes who committed egregious acts against your daughter? Where is their blog post? What kind of solidarity does she have?

  4. not-a-PROPER-feminist February 13, 2015 at 1:53 am

    I was just blocked on Twitter by one of Meghan E Murphy’s close supporters
    because I failed to show agreement for her ‘proper’ version of feminism.
    Last time i checked nobody has the patent to anti rape culture activism.
    No woman has a right to co-opt another woman’s experience of feminism
    because she feels herself to be more “victimy.”
    I gotta give Meghan E Murphy a little respect
    because she herself – at least had the courage to briefly debate with me without resorting to the block button.
    I am saddened that activists feel it is their job to “police” other people’s activism.
    Glen you should follow your instincts and continue your advocacy.
    You won’t always get everything right, but you have already made a difference.
    #OpJustice4Rehtaeh

  5. MiztressTia February 11, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    I read most of what ‘she’ wrote on her twitter feed as well as her article tonight. It left me with a sick pit in my stomach with how someone can twist things so out of proportion. I used to model and have worked with a number of photographers. Nothing that I saw was in any way objectifying of the women that you shot. It is one lone twisted mind, ok..two twisted minds that feel the need to shame others. It says a lot more about them than what you had done while doing your photography. And what it says isn’t all that great. I got blocked by her shortly after I made a few comments, I’m not surprised. It shows how much of a bully she is….my way or the highway, and full of misandry. She wouldn’t know an ‘ally’ if it hit her in the face….as tempted as I am do volunteer to do so. Her ’cause’ is certainly not mine. Keep doing what you are doing to reduce violence against women in your way Mr Canning. There are a number of us who appreciate all the grief, struggle and heartbreak you and your family went through to help others. Thank you.

  6. Joe February 10, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    I read how you’ve been attacked by Megan Murphy and her radical feminist allies, and it’s sickening. These are sad people with serious emotional problems and a desire to blame men for how their lives have turned out. I know it’s frustrating and hard to ignore, but try your best to do so.

  7. Kims Korner February 8, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    One day, I happened to stumble upon the man’s blog that you’re referring to. It was like a train wreck. As horrible as it was, I couldn’t seem to look away. Although I think everyone has the right to free speech (as long as it’s not hate), I couldn’t BELIEVE what I was seeing in his blog and I honestly don’t understand how he can continue to do this. I’m going to assume you’ve notified the police about his … slander. I don’t understand how this person can keep writing all the hateful things he does to you, Leah and Carol Todd. HOW can all this be stopped? Why hasn’t his blog been shut down? It’s hate. Pure and simple. And it’s almost like you’ve pissed this man off in another life, because he’s certainly fixated on spinning his vitriol at you. But he’s one troll, among your many supporters.

    Keep speaking out! Rehtaeh’s message is an important one, and you and Leah are her voice now. Stay strong. Speak loud, we’re listening!

  8. KF February 6, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    As a survivor of years of molestation and rape I applaud you!! Keeping following what your heart tells you to do. My thoughts have and always will be with your family.

  9. Kayla S February 6, 2015 at 2:16 am

    Keep on keeping on Glen. Please know there are so many people who love and support you.

  10. Kathy J Minnis February 6, 2015 at 12:53 am

    I am so sorry that you are still being tormented by these sickos after everything that you’ve already been through. Don’t allow their distorted reality start to warp your memories or alter your view of yourself. So much has already been accomplished in Rehtaeh Parsons’ name, and I believe its just the beginning. Rehtaeh must be so proud of you and her mother for continuing to speak out and seek justice. Please keep speaking out. Her story needs to be told.

  11. Emilie February 5, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    so sorry about your loss, and how people lack the humanity to treat you with anything else but caring and respect after what happened. Keep speaking out. People need to hear you.

  12. november rain February 5, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had to deal with this. I support you, for what an anonymous comment is worth.

    • Glen Canning February 5, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      Anonymous comments are worth the world. Thanks!

  13. Starr February 5, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    Please don’t stop speaking out. You help so many others. You have a gift for sharing and getting other people engaged. It feels like we are actually gaining ground with regards to violence against women. The vitriolic reaction of the trolls and the ones who are threatened by ending the silence, says you’re having an effect. It’s an awful lot to ask of you and your family. You been through so much and paid the ultimate price. I believe you, Leah, Rehtaeh and all your family and friends are making a difference. Most of us have faith in your good intentions Glen. We hear you speaking from the heart.
    With thanks,
    Starr

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