Norma Bastidas Continues Her Journey to End Violence

normaby Jarrah Hodge

On June 23, Vancouverite Norma Bastidas will be running a half marathon in a wedding dress. Specifically, she’s leading WAVAW’s (Women Against Violence Against Women) team in the Scotiabank Half Marathon to raise awareness of violence against women in intimate relationships, an issue that has a personal meaning for her.

Norma first started running for stress release about seven years ago when her oldest child was diagnosed with Cone-Rod Dystrophy, a disease that was causing him to lose his sight. A close friend was training to run the Boston Marathon and Norma started training with her.

“Within six months I ran my first half marathon. Eight months later I ran my first marathon and qualified for Boston,” she told me.

“There were things in my life I couldn’t control, but I could control training,” she added.

For her first runs she reached out to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and asked if she could help support them through her running and tying that to the story of what she and her son were going through. She said that work for her is about challenging complacency and showing it’s possible to make a difference:

“Things can change; you just need to work harder.”

The response to her telling her story was overwhelming and positive, but it made Norma realize there was another piece of her experience she hadn’t talked publicly about: her experience as a child victim of family violence and sexual assault. She found it incredibly difficult to acknowledge that past and deal with her feelings of shame even though she knew it wasn’t her fault.

“I was questioning, did I do everything I could to protect myself?” she said. But ultimately she decided she had to help other victims by breaking the silence:

“I used to be dealing with nightmares but now I’m tackling dreams. I want people to know you can go through this and survive and thrive.”

Among the dreams she’s taken on, in 2009 Norma became the fastest woman in history to run seven of the planet’s most unforgiving environments on seven continents in seven months.

In late 2012 Norma made a monumental and symbolic journey to get out her message about ending violence. Over 80 days, Norma ran an ultra-marathon spanning 2,600 miles from Vancouver to her birthplace of Mazatlan. She told the Vancouver Sun:

When I began my journey to Mazatlan, I found that many people assumed that I was running against violence in Mexico – a place that for them has become a symbol of violence. Being Mexican and still very close to my heritage and country, I am saddened by the violence Mexico is facing, but I am also saddened that this violence defines my country to many people. Mexico, too, is much more than the injustices it has suffered.

What’s important to remember is that despite the safety and security issues in some parts of Mexico, violence is a global epidemic. It does not belong to or affect just one gender, one race or one country. Violence does not discriminate.

893210_10151505519558330_1718891362_oRunning the half-marathon with WAVAW is a natural fit with Norma’s ongoing anti-violence activism. The message she hopes to send by running in a wedding dress is “to signify it’s okay to be in a relationship but only if the person treats you the way you should be treated. No respect, no relationship.”

At this point she knows she could walk away from activism, find another job and challenge herself less, but she says: “just because I have a way out doesn’t mean I should take it.” She knows what she went through is what other women and girls are living with every day.

“I either watch it happen or do something about it,” she told me, “We’re all in this together.”

Click here for information on how to support Norma and the rest of the WAVAW team.

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism Leave a comment

My Reality: Being the “Other Woman”

ringsby Phoebe Vaccaro

I had sex with a married man and I don’t feel at all badly about it. Now before you get all judge-y, as I’m sure you’ll be wont to do, let me explain myself a little.

There was a time when sleeping with someone who was attached – married, in a relationship, whatever it was – was entirely outside of my realm of comfort. It was an absolute no-go for me, especially after what I went through with my last relationship (quick recap: my ex had been cheating on me, in my house, in my bed with his boss for months, before finally telling me – and only finally doing that, via frigging Facebook, nonetheless, because he’d knocked her up). So I was hypersensitive to such circumstances for a while.

But then, somewhere along the way, I somehow became less dogmatic about my reticence to sleep with attached men…and then suddenly, I found myself in bed with a married man and not feeling at all badly about it. How’d I get to this point?

Firstly, the marital troubles of two people aren’t on me. Sure, I’m probably not helping by getting involved, even if only peripherally, but to be honest I don’t really feel like I ought to have to check every man for a marriage license before jumping into bed with him.

This man was incredibly sexy. I met him at a bar, we got to talking, and we left the bar together. It wasn’t until we were on our way to his friend’s house that it came out that he was married. I was  looking forward to the casual rendezvous, but when I discovered he was married I started to have second thoughts. After a short conflict within myself, I decided I was going to do it anyway. I didn’t know how often this man sleeps around on his wife. I didn’t know anything about their relationship. What I did know is that I am not the cause for whatever had him out seeking sexual relations with other women. Read more

Posted on by Phoebe Vaccaro in My Reality 54 Comments

Ding-Dong, Courtship is Dead, and I’m Just Fine with That

courtshipBy Alicia Costa This week the Internets has been abuzz over a piece run by The New York Times about the death of traditional courtship and a shift in our generation toward a “hook-up culture”. The culprit of this is our love for texting and avoidance of face-to-face interaction. The men are not taking us out for fancy dinners and the women are not impressed. Society in 20 years will be overrun with barren spinsters and lonely bachelors! So, I’d like to throw my hat in the ring as someone who is guilty of engaging in this “hook-up culture”. Why? I have a busy and full life. Maybe I’m a terrible woman but I find there is nothing wrong with “hanging out” instead of getting flowers and going out for dinner. I like texting and casual flings. So I’m contributing to the death of romance and I’m not sorry. I’ve been in one long-term relationship of 4.5 years. Shortly thereafter I had a disastrous attempt to turn a best friend into a relationship. By the end of this period of my life I was emotionally, mentally, and physically burnt out. Okay – I was a bit of a mess. I was chronically underemployed and both my ego and self-esteem had seen better days. I was mourning the loss of having two of my favourite men in my life and in no way had the desire or mental capacity to date. I spent a lot of time drinking and trying to get my career going. However, being a lady with certain needs I was eager to find something to sustain myself without all the emotional drain that comes with dating. So I found myself a gentleman for an ongoing casual arrangement. And it was awesome, lasted five years, and I have no regrets about it. As I’ve already outed myself as a contributor (and supporter) of the evil hookup culture I thought I’d share my tips and tricks on how to get your rocks off and not get tied down. Read more

Posted on by Alicia Costa in Feminism Leave a comment