Photos by Allison Baker
Robyn Doolittle sits with her legs crossed on a throne of Toronto Star newspapers. A beige dress hugs her tiny body. Red lipstick makes her lips pop against her skin. Strappy black heels accentuate her legs. Her long, dark hair is curled and falls down onto her shoulders. She wears a confident and determined expression on her face—an expression that says: Challenge me, I dare you.
The image of the Ryerson graduate, now known worldwide for being one of the three journalists to first view the Rob Ford crack video and now the author of Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, accompanies a 5000-word feature in Flare.
After the piece was published, Doolittle awoke the next morning to find 10 angry emails in her inbox, many from professional women in Toronto. One email was from a lawyer telling her that her photo “undermined feminism.” The other emails echoed the same message. But Doolittle didn’t stand for it. She replied to them on Twitter: “I can be a feminist and wear heels and red lips. I posed because I felt like it.”
Doolittle is a woman who I deeply admire and respect. It was a privilege to be in the audience when she came to Ryerson for a question-and-answer session last Thursday. I was outraged to hear that women had criticized Doolittle for looking too sexy in her Flare photo. I think that she looks fierce and beautiful. Doolittle’s shoot doesn’t make her any less of a strong or talented reporter.
The photo also says that women can be smart and beautiful and fierce—and most importantly, it is a symbol of triumph for females trying to compete in male-dominated industry. It practically screams that female reporters don’t need to limit themselves to smaller stories because of their sex.
I want to cut that Flare photo of her out and stick it on to the side of my mirror. I write this because that image of Doolittle represents the person who I want to be—not just as a journalist but also as a woman. That person is someone who completely fearless.
And fearless Doolittle is: When she was 16, she walked into the office of the Sarnia Observer and convinced the editor to give her a job as a teen columnist. A few years later, she threw a fit when her boyfriend was asked to leave prom after being racially profiled. Then in her final year at Ryerson, she published an editorial with the headline “Fuck you, John Miller,” after Miller, a professor at Ryerson, reduced her staff at The Eyeopener.
Then as a city hall reporter for the Star, Doolittle did something even more gutsy: she took on the mayor of our city. And not just any mayor, but a mayor with a reputation as a bully, with two siblings who have a history of criminal activity.
Doolittle’s most fearless moment though, came after she published the crack allegations against Rob Ford. It was when half of the city called her a liar. In that situation, a lesser woman might have given up, but not Doolittle. No, Doolittle knew what she saw was the truth and was determined to make Toronto see their mayor for who he really was. And she succeeded.
If she isn’t a woman other women aspire to be like and who makes feminists proud, I don’t know who is. So to all of you Doolittle haters out there: don’t put her down; instead, praise her. Doolittle is a strong, sexy and fearless woman who has moved modern-day mountains for her fellow women—one fearless move at a time.