Monday, 17 December 2012

On Walking, Biking, and Victim-Blaming: An Explicit Connection

This article took me some time to write, and in the course of the time that I began writing until it was publishable half a dozen more accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists hit by cars surfaced in the news. For a while I tried to keep on top of the latest ones and update the first paragraph accordingly, but there are simply too many, which goes some way towards proving my point in the first place.

Hey, I wonder how fast that car's going.

On Monday morning of last week, 6 people were struck by cars in Toronto in the span of an hour, all while legally crossing or waiting to cross the road. That seems like a lot – and it is, it is a lot, a rash – so surely there was some connective factor this morning? Something to learn from so many violent interactions in a single morning? Indeed, says traffic services Const. Clint Stibbe, the common factor was “dark clothing worn by pedestrians”. If those pedestrians had been wearing lighter clothing, then, they may not have been struck by the cars that struck them. What if they had been younger, if they had not been pushing a stroller? Did they make sure all the cars were going to stop at the crosswalk before they started walking? Did they? And if, as Christopher Hume asks in the Toronto Star, Monday's pedestrians were all crossing legally, “why should the colour of their clothing make a difference?” Indeed.

So, to summarize the coverage: a person is the victim of a violent act, a crime, and in the aftermath of that crime we ask each other what the victim did or did not do to invite the violence on themselves.

This is victim-blaming, pure and simple.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Oh, You Have a Degree? Then You Must Have a Job!

Laurie Penny had a piece in the Guardian yesterday, in which she discusses the enormous amount of fear and stress young people feel about their student loans and their prospects for employment.

This is something I know.

Oh, is THAT what I'm meant to do!
Penny writes from London, where I have struggled to live before, and I know how difficult it can be (homeless! In January! In Camden!). Though I live now in Ontario, the path my country and province are following is the same as London - increasing ideological austerity even in the face of concrete evidence that it is fiscally reckless and harmful for almost everyone. Though, as with everything in our mess of a hierarchical system, it is most harmful to the people who have already been harmed by it - that is, single parents (mothers, usually), people with disabilities, people in industries with low job security, marginalized racial groups, people without homes, and on and on. The poorer you are, of course, the harder austerity measures hit.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

December 6 1989 Day of Remembrance

Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the Montreal Massacre at the École Polytechnique, when a man "fighting feminism" killed 14 women and injured 10, as well as accidentally injuring 4 men who were caught in the crossfire. It is a testament to how much work still remains to be done on the issue of male violence against women that when I sat down to write this post, nothing more than a link-roundup, I didn't even know where to start. In the aftermath of Kasandra Perkins's murder and Jovan Belcher's subsequent suicide, there seems to be no end to the mournful and outraged and bone-weary discussions of male violence against women.

If you're in the KW area, I hope you can find time to attend Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women this evening. There are candlelight vigils tonight in pretty much every town in Canada, so take a look at your local paper to see what's going on around you.

Specific to the Montreal Massacre:

  • Julie Bindel in the Guardian on how the events of that day impacted the Canadian radical feminist movement
  •  Supriya Dwivedi in the National Post on the validity of the vigils that will be held today (there aren't many comments yet, but a likely tw for when they start to appear. This is the National Post, after all)
  • Stephanie Levitz in the Huffington Post on the Canadian long-form gun registry, which was sparked by the Montreal Massacre, and which the Conservative government is in the process of dismantling (oh, goody!)
  • Lynda Muir, director of the Women and Children's Shelter of Barrie, in the Barrie Examiner on how little progress has been made on violence against women in Canada.
On Kasandra Perkins and naming male violence against women:

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Makeup For Babies! Super Great!

In my last post I mentioned a speaker at a conference about domestic violence showing a picture of himself as a 3-year-old, looking, sure, adorably rough-and-tumble, and using it to illustrate that "all children are at equal risk for being abusers" and that gender difference hadn't set in yet. That little boy, he asserted, did not even know he was a little boy! He was just a gender-neutral small person!

Girls like purses because they used bags to gather berries.
Wrong. Oh, oh, so wrong; I wish he was not so wrong. But he is so. Wrong.

It was an offhand remark in the conference, and I didn't address it at the time because it seemed like a derail, but the more I think about it, the more it sticks in my craw. How dare this guy not know how early this messaging starts? Before babies are even born we're talking about them in terms of their gender, buying pink blankets for girl babies and blue blankets for boys, as though the baby zirself will be confused as to what their genitals look like if they don't have the label of a blanket. That may seem like a small thing, coloured baby blankets, but they are illustrative of the way we treat humans differently based on whatever colour blanket they were born into (whether they fit in it or not). Because there is makeup for babies, and because makeup for babies is almost not even the most egregious example of this kind of shockingly early gender manipulation. Makeup! For babies!