Today is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women...

As I get older, I find that I get more emotional on December 6th. It's kind of like I've been attending these events since I was a child, sometimes organizing them as an adult, and always, always participating. I feel like I'm growing up, but this is just staying the same. There's still so much violence and hatred towards women and sometimes it feels like it's not getting any better and there's no end in sight.

Two things really get to me about December 6th. The first is my enormous rage, anger, and sadness about violence against women. This year, especially, feels like a banner year for violence against women and girls. I feel like everywhere you can turn and see some Canadian media you are consuming a recent report about violence against a girl or woman. None of these reports analyze the role of gender and say that this was gendered violence, when it is.

Here's a short list of what happened SO FAR this year, and what about it is shaking me to the core:

1. Last winter Canadian news was scandalized with the arrest of Col. Russell Williams. Details aside, he was charged with two first degree murder charges (and later he faced a total of 88 charges) and within the first 24 hours of his arrest, the media and his "supporters" reported that "he's such a great guy", a "community leader", and an "upstanding gentleman". The court case began and raged on and this man has been put to jail and an arduous court case for the murder of two (young) women. The majority of the news around his case focused on his sexual deviance, rather than the fact that our society continues to allow these mother fucking men to rise to positions of power in our institutions. There needs to be better screening to ensure that men are aware of their role as possible misogynists and violence makers, and institutions need to give men the space to have a different take on women (rather than to just continue with the traditional patriarchy). Of course Williams was in the wrong and did terrible terrible things, but why can't we also hold the institution that encourages patriarchal behaviour to also be responsible? huh?

2. The spring brought us the death of Kimberly Proctor. 18 year old high schooler from Victoria who's burned remains were found adjacent to the Victoria regional trail, the gallopping goose. Was it intentional? Was it a homicide? Was it a random act of violence? no one knew! And then in the early fall the real truth began to be heard in the news. An ex boyfriend and a friend fucking LURED her to their house where they killed her, put her body in a fucking duffel bag, put some gasoline in the duffel bag, CARRIED HER BODY ON THE CITY BUS, and took her to the trail where they burned her.

This one is probably the most jarring for me from this year. First, people in Proctor's family and community IMMEDIATELY realized she was missing (that made the news within a day). She had deviated from her regular routine, she was last seen at a bus stop, etc. People cared that she went missing; responsible adults knew her routine and were concerned when it became different. And they should've been. These boys (16 and 17 at the time of the death) obviously did not have responsible adults in their lives (or the accomplice's lives). Who's house did they take her to? Was one of these boys living outside of his parent's house? So, if he had his own house, was MCFD involved? HOW COME NO ONE HEARD ANY OF THIS GOING ON WHEN IT WAS HAPPENING? Also, we obviously live in a fucked up world if these boys are using facebook and email to carry out this detailed and meditated plan to murder this young woman. Planning it for a year? And, they took her body on the city bus? There was probably a good 36 hour period where these boys weren't interrupted. Where are responsible adults (teacher? why the fuck weren't they in school? why weren't the teachers calling the house looking for the kids? why didn't the bus driver question the large bag? and why wasn't kimberly proctor told never to trust any boy EVER?)

3. Oh September! The leaves slowly begin to change, the sun sets earlier in the day, and kids go back to school, and have parties where they gang rape their classmates, take pictures and put them on facebook. I'm not sure how many ways we can say this isn't cool, it's unacceptable, and it's RIDICULOUS that these young men are allowed to have this sort of social behaviour without getting immediately blacklisted from school, their communities, and the earth. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THEIR WORLDS THAT IS TELLING THEM THAT THIS BEHAVIOUR IS A-OK? If you know someone in high school (or are in high school) you need to immediately tell them about this happening and tell them why it is wrong. a) you never hurt ANYONE like this for any reason, b) use social media responsibly!, c) respect women/girls and other marginalized and oppressed peoples! JERKS!

4. Most recently a number of young women have been murdered in our old stomping grounds, Prince George. And even more recently the murder of a 15 year old girl in Fort St James. I'm still not emotionally mature enough to deal with, or even begin to theorize and work towards dealing with the death of women in the north. So, I have nothing angry or helpful to say, except FUCK YOU PATRIARCHY.

Now I'm tired, worked up, etc. I have all these rants and suggestions for Capital F Feminism for making December 6th more effective, but I don't think I can get there right now (too much stuff to doooooooooo). Maybe next year? Or, just find a copy of my thesis :) XO


yarnsalad said...

Well said - I think it's important that your discussion here is in the tone of rage, because these stories you describe are outrageous.

In 1999 when I was attending UVic, I had a story published of when I was drugged and raped in Greece in 1993. Statistics say that one in three women will be raped in their lifetimes, and those are only the reported rapes. The whole point of publishing my story is to get it out there, to get conversations going, to put a face to rape victims. Things that are not discussed are perpetuated, and that's why these discussions are necessary.

The federal government recently launched a program for victims of crime - I think it's called something like Victims Matter. I have great hope that this program will be useful and serve its purpose.

I must beg to differ with you one one point though, and that is there are men out there women can trust. They seem few and far between but these are the men we need to align ourselves with, for they are the only role models with integrity that the sons of the future may have exposure to.

diandra said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I agree with you, there are men out there that we/women can trust, but I wonder if we tell teenage girls not to trust young men whatsoever and then give them the tools to get those young men to earn the trust of young women...would that change anything? My whole life I've been under the impression that any man you meet wants to 1. rape you, and 2. marry you and make you his miniservant (ha!). How can we empower and enable young girls to have the tools to get men in their lives to act appropriately and teach them with respect? I think that's where my "you can't trust men" comment was coming from.

p.s went to the college today and put out good vibes for you! XO

KT said...

With the status of women on a global level where it is currently at, I feel like young women need an extra class in school to teach them to identify patriarchy and to interpret their value using measurements outside of anything in mass media or relationships. If young women understood they have value because of what they contribute as individuals they would not feel like they need to seek any validation from men.Maybe it would empower them to not accept any treatment from any man that does not reflect the value they would know they posses.

I loved this post, you are my capital F feminist hero <3