december 6

This December 6th, I Remember, And I Am Angry

candleby Jarrah Hodge

Each year I write a message on December 6th, the National Day of Action and Remembrance on Violence Against Women. Today we remember Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, and Annie Turcotte, who were gunned down on this day 24 years ago in Montreal, simply because they were women participating in a man’s world by studying engineering.

We also remember the many, many women in our own communities and around the world who have been the victims of gender-based violence since then, as well as those who have faced it and survived, and those who continue to face it every day.

It always makes me tremendously sad.

This year, though, I am equally angry.

I am angry violence against women is still so much a part of our world.

I am angry when I think about those women whose particular voices are often silenced and stories of violence not told: indigenous women, racialized women, trans women, elders, and women with disabilities.

I was angry this past Tuesday in the House of Commons public gallery as I watched a Conservative MP make a statement on the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence and seeing many of her colleagues stand and applaud the sentiment, even as their government still refuses to call a national inquiry into the more than 600 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women over the past 20 years.

I am also angry that the Conservative government couldn’t give us legislation to fight “revenge porn” (sharing intimate images without consent) that wasn’t part of a hidden agenda to expand police powers and fight cable theft.

I am angry that the B.C. government is still dragging its feet on implementing all the recommendations from the Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry Report and is forcing Pickton’s victims’ families to continue to wait for compensation.

So I note this is a day of action as well as of remembrance, and we can’t wait any longer for the action.

Groups like the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses, the Canadian Federation of University Women and the Canadian Labour Congress are using today to call on our federal and provincial governments to work together on the UN recommendation to establish a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Girls by the year 2015.

“While there are many worthwhile initiatives current underway in our communities, Canada must work with provinces, territories and other stakeholders to adopt a comprehensive and coordinated approach to address the root causes of gender-based violence. This is why we are calling on all federal political parties to support the creation of a National Action Plan on Violence against Women and Girls”, said Susan Murphy, CFUW President.

The Canadian Labour Congress’ statement says an action plan is needed to provide a “proactive, comprehensive approach to a systemic problem.”

If you take one action today, let it be this:

Visit the YWCA’s Rose Campaign site and send a message to your Member of Parliament that calls on them to support a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Girls, and a national inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women. Better yet, if you have time, take some of the key information, draft a message in your own words, find your MP’s email, and send it to them directly.

Image on YWCA Rose Campaign postcard to MPs

Image on YWCA Rose Campaign postcard to MPs

And if you’re able to do more, check out the YWCA’s December 6th toolkit (pdf) for a range of actions to take, from small to large, and a list of other resources to pursue.

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics 2 Comments

December 6

by Jarrah Hodge

Today is the National Day of Action and Remembrance on Violence Against Women. Today we remember Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, and Annie Turcotte, who were gunned down on this day 23 years ago in Montreal, simply because they were women participating in a man’s world – women the shooter perceived to be feminists.

We also remember the many, many women in our own communities and around the world who have been the victims of gender-based violence since then, as well as those who have faced it and survived, and those who continue to face it every day.

We also commit to taking action to ending violence against women here in Canada and around the world. The Montreal Massacre is part of a larger picture. Still to this day women experience more family/intimate partner violence than men. What they do experience is more severe. And we can’t forget that those most at risk of violence are women of colour and Aboriginal women.

The fact that over 582 Aboriginal women and girls have gone missing or been murdered in Canada in recent years is a tragedy. The fact that it was allowed to happen without a national inquiry is a disgrace. And while individual perpetrators need to answer for the violence, we as a society need to talk about the social forces, including misogyny, that lead to this kind violence.

We’ve been talking about it for decades but we need to keep talking. Speaking out against violence needs to happen in the media, online, and face-to-face with our family, friends, coworkers, and even total strangers.

Please also support the YWCA’s Rose Campaign and consider taking some actions they suggest:

  • Take action to change women’s lives by sending an email your MP
  • Speak up about violence in your community
  • Encourage people who commit violence to get help
  • Teach girls to protect and empower themselves
  • Raise children who can resolve conflict without violence
  •  Make sure your home, workplace and community are safe for women and girls
  • Speak out against negative media images of women and girls
  • Promote women’s economic and political equality
  • Support organizations that work to end violence against women
  • Donate your time and support the cause
Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Politics Leave a comment

More on Dec. 6: Including Women of Colour

Thanks to Black Coffee Poet for creating and posting this interview with Deb Singh of the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre about why we can’t forget indigenous women and other women of colour when observing the National Day of Action and Remembrance on Violence Against Women on December 6. It’s important to take into account Singh’s observations about why we can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach based on white women’s experiences in order to deal with violence against women across cultures.

-Jarrah

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, Racism 3 Comments

On December 6, We Remember

On December 6, we remember Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, and Annie Turcotte, who were gunned down on this day in Montreal, 1989, because they were women.

Last year I wrote an article for the Vancouver Observer about why we need to care about the Montreal Massacre, even more than twenty years after the fact. I was surprised by the vitriol the article received from people who opposed the long gun registry, which I mentioned supporting. Thankfully the opponents of the registry lost their fight in Parliament, but over the past year there’s been more reason for feminists to be concerned with violence against women than to celebrate victories.

In particularly, rates violence against Aboriginal women – part of our colonialist legacy – are still shockingly high. The Native Women’s Association of Canada identified 153 cases of murder of Aboriginal women between 2000 and 2008: a number which represents 10% of female homicides despite the fact that Aboriginal women make up only 3% of the female population. For more information and statistics, read NWAC’s 2010 Sisters in Spirit report.

Unfortunately our federal government is much better at creating ad campaigns about supporting crime victims than they are at taking real action to stop violence, especially against Aboriginal women. Recently the Harper government announced it would no longer fund NWAC’s work on the Sisters in Spirit campaign, which includes maintaining a database of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Today remember the 14 women who died in Montreal, as well as other victims of violence against women, and those women in Canada and around the world who continue to live with the threat of violence every day. We also commit to taking action, keeping situations like the battle over the long gun registry in mind to remind us that when success is possible when feminists and other progressives stand united for equality.

-Jarrah

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, Politics 1 Comment

All I Want for Christmas is for Margaret Wente to Take Some Time Off

When it comes to Margaret Wente’s columns in the Globe and Mail, my usual attitude is ignorance is bliss. Back when I still got the Globe for the crossword puzzles,  I read most of her columns, from her forays into racism against Aboriginal people, including a column in October, 2008 that prompted widespread calls for her to be fired, to her frequent lambasting of feminists. Eventually I decided for the sake of my mental health I shouldprobably abstain from Margaret Wente consumption altogether.

But every once in a while I catch wind of something ridiculous she’s written and I can’t help it; I have to respond. So it was with her column of Monday, December 7th, entitled “Montreal Massacre Death Cult”, where she complains about the “overheated nonsense” and “fevered breast-beating” she says she sees every December 6th as feminists try to mobilize against gender-based violence.

Now last week I wrote about December 6th and linked to a Star article Wente refers to, saying: “How much sophistry can you stuff into one small space?” There is a saying about a pot and a kettle that’s highly applicable here, but because I couldn’t let it go, here’s what I think about some of her arguments.

1. Wente contends that “women in Canada have never been safer than they are today,” arguing that most victims of violence are men and that society no longer tolerates spousal abuse.  While it may be technically true that most victims of violence are men, the type of violence they suffer and its cultural significance are different.

Margaret Wente ignores a) that violence against women is underreported and b) it is experienced differently given the gendered power dynamics in our society. Violence against women is often perpetrated by people they know and sometimes love. In relationships, women are more likely to experience severe violence than men. And in a society where women are still unequal, violence against women is a tool for reinforcing gender-based power dynamics.

I’m not saying any violence is okay, but there are many legitimate reasons for treating violence against women as a separate issue.

2. In the column Wente gets up on her Eurocentric high horse to try to make her point, taking pains to point out Marc Lepine’s “deeply troubled background” as the “son of an Algerian-born businessman.”

She continues expressing her view that we don’t have an equality problem in Canada at the end of the column where she points out gender inequalities in Afghanistan and India, then says, “in Canada, it’s time to get a grip and move on.” Wente conveniently ignores that much violence against women in North America is perpetrated by white people.

For example earlier this year in a situation eerily similar to what happened in Montreal 20 years ago, a man named George Sodini went on a shooting rampage in a Pittsburgh gym, where he killed 3 women and wounded 9 more before killing himself. Lousie Marie Roth has a great Huffington Post article about how the shooting relates to Montreal and to misogynist violence. Like Montreal, he singled out women because they were women. On his blog he ranted how he planned to kill women because they wouldn’t date him.

These types of shootings are extreme, but as Roth points out, our society plays a role by creating a masculine sense of entitlement that can clash with women’s push for equality. Race is not a causative factor and white Canadians shouldn’t get let off the hook.

3. Wente argues women don’t have to worry about equality because women now make up most PhD students in Canada. Conveniently she ignores the continued gender wage gap and the fact that women still only make up 22.1% of the seats in the House of Commons, among other markers of inequality.

I’ll leave it at that for this week and with any luck I can make it through this holiday season without having to read any more Margaret Wente.

 

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics 1 Comment

20 Years After the Montreal Massacre, We Remember

Today, on the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, we observe the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. With heavy hearts we remember the 14 women killed on December 6, 1989 in Montreal, targeted because they were women.

It’s also a day when we take action, take a stand, and raise our voices to eliminate violence against women in our communities across Canada.

I have a reflection on December 6th in the Vancouver Observer this week and here are some links to other writings on the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.


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Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism 1 Comment