While it is legitimate for the players who weren't in Thunder Bay that night or weren't aware that an assault took place to feel a deep sense of injustice, I would like to shed a light on an obvious fact that has been quite irritating since the beginning of the investigation. None of the players in the team have spoken up and publicly condemned what has happened: not one.
The reality is that domestic abuse is far too common in society and that includes Canada. According to a Statistics Canada study 50 per cent of women in Canada have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. Think about that for a minute. Look around your office, your classroom, the street your walking on; statistically every second women you see will have suffered violence. And domestic violence is not just limited to people we don't know or people we don't see. Think about your friends and your family, your co-workers, and your classmates -- any of them could be victims of domestic violence.
I know the Bantlemans, and I too have taught at international schools in Asia. I met my husband--a guy from Edmonton--in the Middle East, and we had twins in Bangkok. I know the lure and the realization of what Mrs. Bantleman describes as wanting "to learn more about the culture and the people" of a far off land. I also can imagine how powerless you would be if incarcerated in a foreign country.
When the headlines fade, the daily, persistent, and pervasive violence against girls and women around the world will continue unabated and generally unreported. And it will persist until people and their governments start connecting the dots between these headline-making atrocities and the everyday, out of the headlines, violence targeted at girls and women on public streets, in the household, in the workplace, and in and around schools and why these incidents happen.
Today marks one year since I last saw my daughter Rehtaeh alive. The last time we spoke, the last good bye, and the last "I love you." She got out of my car and walked into her mom's house. On the way home she asked if we could stop at McDonald's. How I wish we did, one last time. Rae passed away April 7, 2013. It's been a year-long nightmare but I try to keep hold of myself. Now that I'm outspoken about our daughter's struggles I've unfortunately attracted the attention of the worst society has to offer. They send messages reminding me Rehtaeh is "worm food," she's dead because I failed as a father. But it's mainly through talking that I've learned the difference Rehtaeh made and the impact she's had on others.
Fear is a tactic repeatedly used to stop the denunciation of violence against women and to keep women oppressed. This fear forced on women by the patriarchal social order encourages women to remain silent and allows society to mask men's violence. Individually and collectively, we ask men to reflect on the ways in which they can question the exercising dynamics of power against women and contribute to the denunciation of men's superiority and domination.
First off, and since International Women's Day is around the corner, can we take a minute to define 'rape culture' for those who seem to think it's an irrational and highly charged blanket statement that seeks to vilify all men for all sins? Even men who consider themselves feminists don't often get it, because they too come from a place of unconscious privilege.
Tuesday's sentencing of anaesthesiologist George Doodnaught -- to a decade in jail for sexually assaulting 21 women under his care during surgery -- should have been good news. But I read this comment from the presiding judge: "There are no reported Canadian cases in which an anaesthesiologist sexually assaulted sedated patients in an operating room during surgery." This has happened before, and in my home town.
Rapists rely on other men to excuse and justify their crimes against women. Other men who'll laugh at their jokes, invite them to parties, play sports with them, introduce them to other women. Men who'll give them jobs, feed them, and help them blame their victims even if it's by indifference. Men, good men, need to stand up and do to rapists and their supporters what we do to child molesters. Imagine the difference it would make if a man who jokes about rape and always doubts victims entered a room to silence, whispers, stares, and looks of disgust from other men. There is no difference between a man who rapes and a man who befriends and defends him.
Do not treat the victim as if they are a person with agency and thoughts and feelings. Tell yourself that it's rational and logical to want to know all sides of the story, though you never want to know the other side, the perpetrator's side, when your house is broken into or your wallet is stolen or your child is hit by a car. Tell yourself that we can never know for sure what happened and since a man's life can be destroyed by accusations of rape, it's best to err on the side of caution. Do not think about the girl whose life was destroyed when she was seven. Above all, never, ever, ever think about the ways that you might be complicit in this.
Rob Anders, a Conservative Member of Parliament in Calgary, has announced that he will introduce a private members' bill seeking to reintroduce the crime of "rape." The proposal has met with some enthusiasm in some circles. That is not surprising. Well before the language of "rape" was excised from the Criminal Code, in 1983, the idea of collapsing all forms of non-consensual sexual touching into an all-encompassing offence of "sexual assault" was deeply controversial. One of the concerns raised is that, by restoring "rape" to the Criminal Code, other forms of sexual assault will be perceived as less significant.
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.