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2012 Hero: Alice Moran

Nominated for: speaking up when she didn't need to.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains: the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past 12 months. From December 10 to 19, we’ll unveil the nominees, grouped by category. Vote for your favourites from each batch, every single day! On December 19 and 20 the winners from each category go head-to-head in the final round of voting, and on December 21, we will reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.


This past summer, tensions were high in the Christie Pits area after a sharp increase in sexual assaults on women in the neighborhood. Despite the public awareness work done by Toronto’s SlutWalk organizers in 2011, some in Toronto still dispensed terrible “rape prevention” advice, like former lingerie league football player (and mayor’s niece) Krista Ford, who advised women in a Tweet to “carry mace, take self-defense classes, and don’t dress like a whore.”

Ford’s tweet was swiftly and roundly condemned. But the strongest rebuttal came via an open letter to Ford written by comedian and improviser Alice Moran, who publicly outed herself as one of the women who’d been assaulted (a teenage suspect was taken into custody six weeks later). In her letter, Moran gently made the obvious point that she and the other victims had done nothing to justify the assaults that had been committed—as there was no justification for them, no matter what the victims were wearing.

This wasn’t the first time the Second City alumna had written an open letter; she’d addressed a National Post article demeaning female comics earlier in the summer, and in 2011, wrote an uncharacteristically scathing rebuttal to a Christie Blatchford column on the collective mourning of Jack Layton. But her unfailingly polite letter to Ford touched a chord, and earned her a brief but intense media spotlight, which she used to speak about the insidious behaviour of “slut-shaming.” An abashed Ford quickly apologized for her remarks.

In addition to being an ad hoc advocate for more enlightened gender attitudes, Moran was also a champion for her chosen community, Toronto’s comedians. She parlayed a deft knack for pop culture parody (first displayed in a series of viral videos for The Second City Network) into one of Bad Dog Theatre‘s most successful shows since their difficult relocation: Throne of Games, which Moran co-produced. (It’s being remounted in January at the Next Stage Theatre Festival.) Moran was also approached to co-write and star in another satire, the stage show Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody. Along with colleagues Colin Munch, Jon Blair, and Ian MacIntyre, she helped create what’s become a smash hit Stateside, with touring productions scheduled in over two dozen American cities in 2013.

Moran has, in any number of ways, stuck her neck out. She didn’t have to respond at all to Krista Ford’s errant statement, or could have responded abstractly, without identifying herself as one of the assault victims. Her choice to let us all into her very personal life in the hopes of shifting the way we talk about assault and its victims was gutsy and generous. When she performs in the remount of Throne of Games next month, Moran will be taking on a new character—that of the young princess Daenerys Targaryen, who eventually becomes a dragon-wrangling queen and slavery abolitionist. It’s one that’s nicely in the spirit of her conduct this year.

CORRECTION: December 16, 2:50PM Ian MacIntyre’s name was previous misspelled as “McIntyre.” The correction has been made to the post above.



See the other nominees who are Standing Their Ground:

Toronto Ombudsman Fiona Crean

Grace under fire.
  Daniel Dale
 

Staying professional, even when the mayor couldn’t.
  The Globe and Mail‘s Paywall

Reminding us that journalism costs money to make.


  Captain John
 

Keeping the waterfront interesting, and keeping his dream alive.
 




Cast Your Ballot


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