It's been almost a year since a gang rape in Delhi overtook the news cycle and sparked protests and discussion about women's safety, sexual violence and patriarchy in India and around the world. On the eve of that anniversary, when we start to ask if there have been any real changes in policing, education and everything else, Anurag Kashyap (Dev D, That Girl in Yellow Boots) releases a short film called, That Day After Everyday, that looks at sexual harassment, surveillance and violence in India.
Last week my 12-year-old son and his friends used a term I hadn't heard before: "rape face." So we sat down to talk. He was emphatic that #rapeface wasn't actually about rape and rolled his eyes with a "mom, what's the big deal?" We need to be having these conversations with our kids and with our own peers about reclaiming words like rape if we want to start making a big deal about putting an end to rape culture.
I didn't realize that I wasn't a virgin until the day, after coming home from Grade 1, I finally worked up the courage to ask my mother what sex was. I remember experiencing a strange sinking feeling as she calmly described to me some vague approximation of the terrifying ritual which a group of older boys I knew had been forcing me to perform with them for some time. When I started to become acquainted in later years with the world of feminist activism, I immediately felt alienated by the ways in which mainstream feminist movements approached things like sexual empowerment and body acceptance. Almost 10 years later, the face of popular, "sex-positive" feminism seems to have changed very little.
This isn't the blog post I intended to write as my first contribution to Huffington Post Alberta. A lover of the arts, I wanted to be lightness and color, attempting--in my own way--to bring more much deserved attention to Calgary's burgeoning arts and culture scene. But then, things happen that derail me. Things like the 2013 Wimbledon women's champion--Marion Bartoli--being verbally assaulted online because she's "too ugly to win"(more on that later) and Marte Deborah Dalelv, of Norway, being acquitted of consensual rape following a business trip to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
According to a recent study, nearly one-quarter of adults aged 18 to 34 said women may provoke sexual assault by being drunk and 17 per cent believe women invite assaults by wearing short skirts. These antiquated attitudes are not held by the old-fashioned or aging demographic but by younger Canadians who. Why?
Bodily autonomy doesn't just refer to the freedom to have an abortion, it also refers to the freedom from unwanted acts against the body -- including forced pregnancy. For once I think there could be an issue where pro-life and pro-choice supporters can ally, but for some strange reason it seems no one is talking about it.
Every time it feels like things can't possibly get any worse, Toronto politics finds a way to stoop to a new low. Rob Ford is engaged in yet another race to the bottom. Nonetheless, it's interesting to examine the attacks on Sarah Thomson, and the painfully-flawed logic behind them. But it's really worth examining the true meaning of the statements, and what it says about how sexual assault claims are treated. Exactly what burden of proof do we require before we believe a woman who claims assault? It seems that the court of public opinion requires a higher burden of proof than any other court in the land.
Every six days a Canadian woman is killed by her partner. As of 2010, there were 582 known cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Globally, one in three women will be a victim of violence -- being raped, beaten or abused in her lifetime. In some parts of the world a girl is more likely to be raped than to learn how to read. But women have taken a backseat to the government's other priorities.We could certainly be doing more to help women who are suffering from HIV/AIDS, which in many cases in the developing world results from rape.
Senator Brazeau's arrest and jailing dominated the news this week. However, thousands of Canadians who have been through even the most minor domestic violence incident know that criminal law is applied with no mercy and no balance, well before anyone gets their day in court. While Senator Brazeau is the man in the spotlight, thousands of other Canadian men and women accused of a range of domestic violence have suffered the same punishments and the same obstacles to reconciliation while waiting for criminal courts to make decisions.
Whenever I hear someone state there are options for women when they are being confronted by a potential rapist, a shiver runs down the length of my spine and a knot forms in the pit of my stomach. It's not that I disagree that fighting off would-be rapists is appropriate in some cases. I just don't want to see one more guilt trip dumped on women who have been sexually assaulted and are made to feel that not screaming and/or not fighting is labelled "do(ing) nothing"! Are we still asking "Did she stop it?" instead of "Why did he do it?"
In advancing women's sexual rights in Canada we have made a critical error. We have deleted the word rape in public discourse and done a disservice to society as a result. I believe society has a case of disassociation when it comes to the term "sexual assault." It is problematic when ten people give you ten different definitions of a crime. I want details. I want specifics and I want the word rape brought back into the lexicon of everyday discussions.
Last week, I found myself -- yet again -- explaining why it is wrong to blame women for being sexually assaulted. Since a woman can be deemed "bad" for anything from wearing a short skirt, to not covering her hair, to having an opinion of her own, the game is clearly rigged. So I don't play. I don't care what a woman wears, says, or does: she does not deserve to be sexually assaulted. Period. Let's ask the real questions.
Dear a lot of people, but specifically Ms. Krista Ford, I feel like you owe me a moment of your time, even though we've never met. The circumstance being you called me a whore. I should clarify: I'm one of the victims of the recent string of sexual assaults in the Annex. 'Sup? It's nice to make your acquaintance. For the record, I was sexually assaulted while wearing a knee-length polka-dot dress. The last time I wore that dress, it was to Easter dinner at my Gran's, where I'm fairly certain I could make little to no money whoring.