Jane Eaton Hamilton

"At the bottom of the box is hope." – Ellis Avery.

Tag: rape

Robin Sokoloff Open Letter

from Bitch Skateboards; graphic portrays the word “bitch” above an illustration of a man shooting a woman

Thank you to Robin Sokoloff for writing the most kick-ass piece of writing I’ve read in the last two years since the election, and UBCA.

Robin Sokoloff

Open Letter For People Looking For Open Letters

I sat down at a sidewalk cafe today, popped open this laptop – ready to send some words to anyone who’s looking for perspective and support out there.

And just like clockwork, when I try to go anywhere or do anything as a woman by myself, I am interrupted.

I am just sitting here, trying to write you these words. I’m typing away. A shadow blocks out the sun above me. Someone is looming above. This is not the first time in a lifetime of men shaped looms.

“Excuse me miss. Hey miss.”

I keep typing.

“Yo ma. Ma… yo I’m trying to talk to you lady.”

I breathe. I keep doing what I’m doing.

“Yo BITCH! What the fuck! You must be some kind a bitch right? Sitting there.”

I remain unmoved.

“BITCH I’M TALKING TO YOU!”

He puts his phone on my table.

I see it. I see where this is going. I see it all.

I pause.

I do the mental math.

I close my laptop. I set it aside.

I flip the table, forcing him to tumble back surprised.

I stand up.

I pause again.

I breathe.

I lock eyes with him.

I look at him and let him see how bored I am. I look at him like he’s an ant. I look at him like he’s obviously no match and he must have been tripping.

I say, “Say it again. No please, tell me again what a bitch I am. Let everyone here know just what a bitch I am so they can hear it and understand you fully that I’m a bitch. What else you got? Just ‘Bitch’? That’s it? What was next? Please oh please, don’t leave me hanging, I’ve been waiting all day for you to interrupt my meal and piss all over me so you can get what YOU need today. Oh hey! Maybe if you say ‘bitch’ some more, maybe just maybe, the people sitting all around me, – no, shrinking all around me while pretending this isn’t happening – maybe one of these nice people will get up and come to my aid or something. I dunno? Sounds crazy right? Why don’t you just call me crazy bitch too, for thinking someone here might care more about a woman’s safety right now than their own pasta.”

No one moves. Still. All of them. Of course. Same as it ever was.

He darts for his phone at my feet.

I push him back. My two hands. On his shoulders. I push him back like we are at the line of scrimmage. That’s what that’s called, right? Football is weird. But now I’m a football player.

He tumbles back again. This has clearly never happened to him before.

He tries again for the phone.

I step on it. Not enough to hurt it, of course. Just lightly enough to say, “Nah, that’s my phone now.”

I cock my head, motioning him up the block; or else.

He runs.

I calmly and quietly pack up my things. I swing my bag over my shoulder. Same as it ever was. I mean, no one at this restaurant seems mildly concerned about my condition, so why should I be.

The waiter shuffles just inside my periphery, to dip his toe in: “Ma’am, your sangria?” – looking to me to make this nice.

“Ma’am, ummm…. are you okay?” Says the patron next to me, suddenly leaping into action now that the action is clearly over.

“Who me? Yes, I AM okay, thanks to your help! Wow, you really took action there, huh? I hope you’re all happy with your choices here today. I hope you’re all knocking back that beer extra hard murmuring ‘oh gee, this Kavanaugh thing… isn’t there anything we can do?!?’ Newsflash my friends, you just missed your chance. You just didn’t ‘do’ anything. So I thank you all.”

I wink at them.

I eye my harasser shuffling along one block up, turning the corner.

I follow.

That’s right, I follow him.

I follow him for a bit.

I follow my harasser some more.

I see him realize I am following him.

I follow him past all the other women who he would’ve tried this on, but is now too busy trying to get away from me.

I watch him awkwardly strategize for many blocks. Change tactics, and wonder who he can ask for help. But he won’t, cause he’s a man. So…

I follow him through 6 Lanes of Canal Street/ Holland Tunnel traffic in both directions.

I keep coming, kinda like it’s Terminator III.

He ducks into a Dunkin’ Donuts, and hides like a child under the window counter.

I stop right outside the store, stand just over him, and stare.

I wonder, how odd, to hide beyond a window, like I can’t see him. Ha!

I stare at him some more.

I stare at him some more.

I stare at him till he stops panicking long enough to realize there’s no way out until I give it him.

I breathe.

I breathe some more.

I light my cigarette.

I take a puff.

I take another.

I shake my head and laugh.

I walk on.

I release him.

I release him.

– – – – – – – –

If you came here looking for hope, I’m not sure I have it. No, I definitely don’t have it. All I have is my survivor’s strength to share, and my continued commitment to transparency where you are all concerned.

I don’t want to give you hope. I want you to wake the fuck up.

I’m telling every single one of you who have been too blah blah blah to believe me, support me, or fight with me – The age of your ignorance needs to end today.

The age where you birth your daughters into a system of violence, and quietly escape to the suburbs as though that will keep them safe, but it will only really stifle their screams just enough so that you can sleep through their torture – The age of your indifference ends today.

The age where you birth your sons into a system that rapes and pillages the generation after you, just as you have, and you find yourself defending a monster because you see a little Kavanaugh in your precious boy king – The age of your convenience ends today.

I do blame you. I do. I’ve been out ringing all the alarms. I’ve been out here weeding out all the weeds, and holding the line so it can inch no further. I’ve been out here defending myself, and defending you too.

And for the life of me, I keep scratching my head knowing you all have children and grandchildren of your own by now and I don’t know what the fuck you are going to do. What you think they are going to do. They are not safe from this. No, not from this – The age where you can hide this from them is over. Heck, the age where you can hide them FROM this is over.

As many of you know, I run Town Stages. That means lots of people in and out, day in and day out. Lot’s of conversations amongst friends, and even more conversations amongst strangers.

If I had a nickel for every seemly nice guy who’s tried to mack on me this week by saying, “So… this Kavanaugh thing, huh?”

And I just stare back. I figure it’s their turn to make this nice.

And they go, “Well, I mean… do you think there is any… absolutely any chance that he didn’t do it? Like what if….. I mean, there’s very little evidence and I was wondering like what if… ”

And I stop him there. I try to help him out. I try to take his side.

“Bro – Humor me. Imagine you were overcome by a bunch of piss drunk men, half suffocated, and brought to the point of ‘about to be raped’, if not actually raped in this manner as so very many women are. Think about it for a sec. Would you tell anyone? How would the people around you act if you said you had been raped? Would your family believe you? Would your job believe you? Would the WHOLE WORLD believe you? Are you prepared to be the laughing stock of every where you go for the rest of your life just to stop one man from having a job? Tell me – Is there a world in which YOU would make this up knowing it would pretty much end your life as you currently know it? And if you actually worked up the courage to tell your story, what would you do if some guy like you, no, millions of guys like you were standing here going ARE YOU SURE???”

He says, “oh…. I …shit. Yeah…. But wait, were the guys that raped me gay or straight.”

I stare back. I blink once, very slowly.

He knows he’s an idiot. He admits he’s an idiot. He just needed a sec.

“Well the thing is, women don’t get a sec when they are being sexually assaulted.”

He stands there quietly.

I stand there quietly.

He tries to change topics, says “Hey… Nice place. You work here?”

“I built it.”

He looks at me.

He looks down.

“Yeah. You weren’t expecting that either, were you….”

He stands there quietly.

And maybe he was thinking, what a bitch.

But what if he was thinking: Holy shit. I’ve gotta get my shit together.

And that’s all I want, men. Get your shit together.

I suppose my open letter for people who like open letters in dark times even though it’s always been a dark time for the people who actually build America, is this: You just pissed off one of the fiercest bitches to ever walk this earth and you still haven’t thought this though. Be afraid. Be very afraid. You left me and my friends with nothing to lose when you had everything to lose. Bad plan. Very bad.

 

“The Man in the Mirror”

If I have a favourite kind of personal essay, this sharp, beautifully composed, heartfelt piece exemplifies it. Thanks to Rene Denfeld for the rec. “The Man in the Mirror” by Alison Kinney comes highly recommended. So glad I read it.

The Man in the Mirror

“So You’ve Sexually Harassed Or Abused Someone: What Now?”

Ijeoma Oluo, writing at The Establishment, offers guidance to men (and womxn) who have harassed or abused someone. It’s advice I wish two of my exes would read and take to heart. How to be honourable, folks.

So You’ve Sexually Harassed or Abused Someone: What Now?

Jackson Katz,The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help

The power of “me too.”

“I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other. Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they’ve been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, ‘I stay out of prison.’ This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, ‘Nothing. I don’t think about it.’

Then I ask women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine. Here are some of their answers: Hold my keys as a potential weapon. Look in the back seat of the car before getting in. Carry a cell phone. Don’t go jogging at night. Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights. Be careful not to drink too much. Don’t put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured. Own a big dog. Carry Mace or pepper spray. Have an unlisted phone number. Have a man’s voice on my answering machine. Park in well-lit areas. Don’t use parking garages. Don’t get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men. Vary my route home from work. Watch what I wear. Don’t use highway rest areas. Use a home alarm system. Don’t wear headphones when jogging. Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime. Don’t take a first-floor apartment. Go out in groups. Own a firearm. Meet men on first dates in public places. Make sure to have a car or cab fare. Don’t make eye contact with men on the street. Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.

― Jackson Katz, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help”

 

Sweet criminy, Warsan.

Just read it.

The House, by Warsan Shire

“On Assault and Harassment in the Literary World”

After Bonne Nazdam’s recent article in Tin House (Experts in the Field) today’s compilation on LitHub talks about the murky, damaging world of sexual assault and harrassment in the US lit world, with writers like Anna March, Roxane Gay and Porochista Khakpour.

Lit Hub

 

Writing the body body body

nude2_oct_2016

sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2016

Michele Filgate talks to Anna March, Ruth Ozeki, Eileen Myles, Porochista Khakpour, and Alexandra Kleeman about writing the body. I so wanted to attend this panel, so I’m glad to be able to read it and share it now. Writing the body fantastic, folks. From LitHub.

Writing the Body: Trauma, Illness, Sexuality, and Beyond

Blaming victims for domestic violence: how psychology taught us to be helpless

I’ve been battered and raped. For those of you interested in preventing violence, here is an important article:

Blaming Victims

And, from Judith Lewis Herman in her book TRAUMA AND RECOVERY:

“It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering …

“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it upon herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.”

Jian Ghomeshi … A Raped Canadian Woman is Worth 1/328th of a Man

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 10.11.36 PM

There are an estimated 460,000 sexual assaults in Canada every year. That is 1,260 rapes every day, 8,821 rapes every week, 35, 287 rapes every month.*

Count them. 460, 000 Canadian rapes a year.

Imagine that. Imagine your day. You wake, you rise, you shower, you eat breakfast, you go to work, you run errands, you pick up kids, you have dinner, you recreate, you fold laundry, you watch a movie, you check the baby, you go to bed, you sleep. 24 average hours. During that time, one thousand, two hundred and sixty Canadian women are sexually violated. Not in the US. Here. In your own country. Some of them, statistically-speaking, in your own town. Some of them, statistically-speaking, on your own street.

And when you have another day like that tomorrow, the kind of day that roles by without exclamation, a new set of 1260 women will be sexually aggressed upon, and mostly by a new set of men, or by repeaters who excaped punishment the last time.

1400 rapists are convicted every year. So if we got to choose how to arrange those rapes and convictions, we could stack the women raped in one day up against the rapists convicted in one year and this is what we’d see.

1260 rapes/day

1400 convictions/year

So if crime and punishment worked here, all the rapists who rape women in the average Canadian day would be tossed in the slammer. Plus we’d put away 140 more from the next day’s rape burden, which would leave only 1120 unpunished rapes that second day. 1260 the day after that. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day.1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day. 1260 the next day.

Does this give you any idea why women are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore?

For every rape–and this is me just guessing here–I’m guessing there are 10,000 Canadian incidents of workplace harassment, street harassment, bus harrassment, harassment at home. Indulge me here. Rape and kidnap and murder are the worst manifestations of what’s going on for women in Canada. But lots of smaller aggressions happen to us all the time. Every day.

That’s called the patriarchy, aka “rape culture.” This is where it shows up what a self-sustaining system it really is. If institutions cut off our ability to respond to these aggressions at every step of the way, whether through mocking us, demeaning us, disbelieving us, telling us we’re crazy, calling us whores, saying we asked for them, saying our skirts were too short, we learn. Not to fight harder. But to give up.

Men have a choice about the patriarchy, at least about whether or not they participate and perpetuate it, but women have no such choice. It’s our birthright. The patriarchy is forced on us, force-fed to us with our Cheerios, and every girl and every Canadian woman has to figure out how to deal with it. Every day we teach ourselves how to get through the onslaught. Every day. When we’re 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 or 70, we are still learning how to deal with it.

Think about this. For every rapist we put behind bars, we let 328 go free. Lawyers tell us that we do this in the pursuit of justice. They tell us that we do this because having one innocent man go to jail is worth … anything.

“Anything” is not just an idea. “Anything” here refers to real women with real bodies with real trauma. It’s been proven in study after study that only around 5-8% of accusations are false.

We should be convicting, at the least, 92% of all Canadian rapists.

We actually convict 0.03% of all Canadian rapists.

It’s not acceptable to this country to have a man slip through the cracks and be jailed for a crime he didn’t commit (nor should it be). But it is more than acceptable–in fact, it is the daily reality, the reality our system of justice seeks–that 458,600 women in this country every year get raped without recourse to justice.

Is sexual assault a crime in Canada or not?

I don’t think it is.

This get-out-of-jail-free card worked for the men who formed our justice system and it is obviously an equation that still works.

People say it’s not that simple.

But it is.

If this system didn’t work for men, it wouldn’t be in place.

Ask Jian Ghomeshi. I’ll bet you that tonight he’d tell you it works very well indeed.

Any way you play the numbers they still add up to this:

A raped Canadian woman or girl is worth precisely 1/328s of what a Canadian man is worth.

 

Reading Stats

*I’m using gendered language but acknowledge that men are raped by women, that women are raped by women, that many Canadians do not identify as either men or women, and that trans people are subjected to high rates of all kinds of violence.

 

 

 

YES

I Didn’t Report Because Fuck You

A Shattering Day for Canada’s Survivors

This morning, Jian Ghomeshi was found not guilty on all charges. The judge: “We must fight against the stereotype that all sexual assault complaints are truthful.”

As a survivor who never disclosed to police, I am devastated on behalf of everyone who knows Jian Ghomeshi, who worked with him, who wondered about him or who didn’t have to wonder about him because they (allegedly) knew for sure.

Maybe this verdict is a different experience for people who haven’t been raped or battered, but for survivors, this is crushing. It is crushing not to be believed, to shoulder the burden of both the assault and then on top of it, the disdain from people you both need and are counting on for support and protection. I send respect and admiration for the women in this case who put themselves through the testifying madness in order to save other women from going through what they (allegedly) went through. I’m profoundly sorry, if not surprised, that it didn’t work.

This morning, Canada should be profoundly ashamed of itself.

Canada Is Raping You

The Preludes to Assaults

Here’s what you can do about Jian Ghomeshi

#violenceagainstwomen  #nonbinaryviolence  #rape  #battering #patriarchy #misogyny #JacksonKatz #JianGhomeshi #hopefortomorrow “@whattodonextIMG_3584

doodle by Jane Eaton Hamilton unknown date

People have been asking me, since my blog post about Jian Ghomeshi and violence against women went viral, what’s next? What can we do with our fury, our deep frustration? How can we stop the patriarchy so that our daughters, granddaughters, sons and grandsons don’t have their lives reduced and shattered by the very societal malaise that fractured our generation, and the generations before ours?

What’s next, folks?

You tell me.

I do know change has to start inside us. First we have to identify what’s wrong, but the next step is to  work to surpass it in ourselves–in our own homes, in our schools, in the fields in which we work, in our institutions, in the government so that we are not part of the problem but part of the solution.

As a first step, watch this Ted Talk by Jackson Katz and pass it the heck on–pass it to every one of the 100,000 people who viewed my blog post, and get them to pass it along to 100 or 1000 more.

There is a will to change sweeping this country, so let’s change.

Jackson Katz’s Ted Talk

 

Hey, abusers…

It was nothing, you say. I wasn’t planning to hurt you.

You just overreacted.

You’re just so pretty, I had to.

The things you do provoke me.

Seriously, abuser. You actually think that I know what your limits are?

One thing is heartily clear about abuse: the abuser, not the victim, determines its end-point. It’s called control for a reason.

 

How do I know that when you ask me if I’m 18 yet that it’s because you don’t want it to be statutory?

How do I know that you, cat-calling, won’t be the one jerk that follows me?

How do I know that when I wave the offer of a drink away, you won’t follow me to my car?

How do I know when you rub up against me at work that you won’t deny me a future promotion?

How do I know that when you beat up the furniture, my face is not next?

How do I know that the bruises on my arms won’t be on my throat the next time?

How do I know that when you rush towards me, fist raised, you know you aren’t going to slug me?

How do I know when you throw that knife and slur “I want to kill you” that you actually won’t?

How am I supposed to guess I’ll actually survive you?

 

You think I’m a fucking mind-reader? Buddy, I’m not. And that, my friend, is why you’re fucking terrifying.

 

If you are trying to understand abuse, I recommend this book highly, whether your abuser is a man, a woman or someone on the continuum: Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, by Lundy Bancroft

 

 

The Preludes to Assaults

Feel free to share. Note this essay and my other essays on violence are collected here at the site on my page: On Violence.

#gomeshi #ghomeshi #ibelievelucy #IStandWithLucy #BillCosby #hairextensions #truthmatters #rapeculture #cndjustice

Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted]. I don’t know you very well, but I know this: one night in early 2004, after I’d been awarded a writing prize in Ottawa, you followed me to a side room annexed to the main hall, where I’d gone to get away from the crowds, and while my (then) wife was in the bathroom or off getting another drink, I’m not sure, you put your hand on me. That hand. One of the very hands that is being discussed in court this week. You closed the distance between us and you massaged my shoulder/neck while talking to me about how I needed to relieve the stress of my big win. Eventually my (then) wife returned, you dropped your hand (that hand), and we smiled politely and “uh-huh’d” while you bashed the Rockies, BC and, in particular, Vancouver.

You didn’t ask me if you could massage me. I guess you assumed you could touch me. The way men, the entitled 50%, have always assumed they could access women’s bodies at will. You were a star, and your status helped me to tamp down my resistance. I don’t know why the hell you picked me, as I had just been on stage thanking my (then) wife; I was obviously queer and out and significantly older. Maybe I was just the only woman alone during that function? I do know that a number of other men, and people elsewhere on the gender spectrum, have previously in my life singled me out for non-respectful interactions. The truth is, I did not step back, Jian Gomeshi, you [redacted], and I excoriate myself for that now. I should value myself more.

I was taught to be polite. I was taught to smile and nod and always, always be friendly. I was told that friendliness could get me out of pinches, even save my life, and indeed, through the years, this mostly proved to be true. Doing what men tell you to do is just a good idea. Not doing what they tell you to do can be disastrous.

I wish it weren’t so, because they would be illuminating, but stats for close calls don’t exist. The binds we’ve escaped because of our own instinct or intelligence or cunning remain undocumented.

Let me talk about what you touching me was and was not, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted]. Because you had followed me and waited until I was alone to approach, what you did was strange and mildly unsettling. I felt a sense of disquiet. But given my sexual orientation and marital status, I also didn’t take what you did particularly seriously. That night I stayed up with another Canadian literary luminary getting drunk and laughing until 4 a.m. He certainly didn’t massage me and I’ve never written a post about his bad behaviour, nor would I. Guess why? There wasn’t any.

Okay, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], I get that what you did to me was not a charge-able assault, or, arguably, even an assault. I didn’t take it as one, then, and I don’t now. But I’m going to tell you what it was. It was the something else that so many of us experience 1000 times a year as Canadian people assigned female at birth, and trans–and let’s name it for what I now believe it was: the prelude to a potential assault.

The preludes to potential assaults are these: language or behaviour or touching that create in their  targets vague senses of unease that we “get over” as the day or week wears on. There is so much of this kind of crap slung in women’s directions in the average day that often we don’t even bother mentioning an encounter. We don’t tell our spouse. We don’t tell our employer. We don’t call a friend. Because these little infractions against our sovereignty, these thousands of small infractions, intended to train us to patriarchy, are par for the course. But we all understand what they’re actually telling us: they’re actually reminding us about what could happen.

If, say, we get uppity. If, say, we say no. If, say, we fight back. If, say, he woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

A year before you massaged my back, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], you allegedly hurt Lucy de Coutere. And there were alleged other victims, too. With that same hand you extended to me. With that very same hand you used to caress me. If the allegations are true, you wrapped that hand around victims’ throats and choked them. If the allegations are true, you used one of your hands to slap and punch your victims.

But guess what, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], let me tell you something about society. There are lingering effects to minor harrassment. Harrassment is a bridge built of a substance called continuum that Canadian women walk over every day of our lives from the day we are pushed into our pink worlds to the day we close our eyes the last time. And on that bridge are guys, nice guys, scum nozzles, and turds rolled in sprinkles. On that bridge of spectrums are guys (and some others) with their hands out, fingers waggling. Guys demanding we pay the toll. We’ll let you cross, they say, but only if you’ll smile. Only if you’ll give us a little kiss. Only if you’ll stop a minute and chat. Only if you’ll go home with us. If you want an “A.” If you want that promotion. Only if you get scared, because we appreciate scared. Only if we get to bash you in the head, throttle you, rape you and leave you for dead.

They say, We know you like it. They say, You asked for it.

You know what this mountain of harassment (and worse) does to the harried? It makes us queasy. It makes us question our interpretations. It makes us question our importance. It makes us scared to go out at night. Nervous to walk our own streets. Careful to lock our windows. It makes us tamp ourselves down.

It does all that because it’s meant to do all that. That’s exactly what it’s for.

The truth is, we aren’t fully enfranchised members of society, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted].

This all has a name, this systemic oppression. It’s called misogyny, and in Canada we need an inquiry* to untangle its octopedal arms so we can root it the hell out of our country, and unfasten our institutions from it. Imagine the productivity here if all our population was equally enfranchised. Not 50%, or 60%, or 80%, but 100%?

Really, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], I want you to stop and think about that. I want you to imagine a different world, a world where one class of people can’t get away with (allegedly) treating another class of people violently.

Because right now, in part because of you, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], we people who’ve experienced violence are triggered. We are not just thinking about your behaviour, and your lawyer’s behaviour, we are thinking of so many other times in our lives where someone else has behaved badly, where someone didn’t respect and honour us.

Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], this is all coming back up for us, all at once, until it pools like another Canadian ocean under that bridge men have been having us walk, tying us together across the country in one collective wave. We are thinking about times someone followed us onto the bridge. Times we were groped. Times we were pressured. Times we were coerced. Times we were held against our will. Times we had brusies. Times we were battered. Times we were raped.

This collective will says, We are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.* Pretty soon, if we have our way, you guys with your baitings and assaults are all going to tumble off that bridge and drown in a big cold ocean of women rising up.

Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], ours is a world that celebrates the male. You know what else is part of our oppressive system? Not letting women drive, or vote, or own property, or go out without male accompaniment. Saying that girls are not good at math, giving girls passive toys, not letting women go to unversity, glass ceilings, few female politicians, women earning less than men for work of equal value, women bearing the brunt of child-rearing and housework, women who perpetuate stereotypes even as they obtain jobs where they could change them.

All that stuff we call sexism? That is just misogyny written in semen. Men like you built the world. You built it to work for you. And it works for you most of the time.

We are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.*

Some men are up in arms this week, cautioning Canadian women to calm the fuck down. Don’t get your sweet little heads all in a tizzy, they say, in Canada we have something called due process. This is supposed to happen to complainants in court. Ultimately, it protects all of us.

In Canada, during due process, victims get psychologically battered, and we, the potentially violated, are standing upright while court is in session, quite out of order, and questioning that. We are saying This is not okay. This is an abridgement of Canadian values and Charter freedoms.

We are saying to the survivors of spectrum violence and to the brave, fierce women in court: We believe you and we stand with you and our support will never waver.

Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], isn’t this quite the amazing system men have developed for themselves over the centuries? This system where women are achingly vulnerable, taught from a young age to submit, while the other half of the population (and a few strays from our side) takes advantage? Because let’s face it, what our patriarchy requires more than convictions, and we all know it, is an intact status quo.

So Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], thanks for the back rub. But just so’s you know: I’m an anti-fan.

 

 

*A Canadian inquiry on misogyny is the idea of barbara findlay, QC

*adapted from “Network,” the movie

Canada is Raping You

This talk talks about violence as a men’s issue and I recommend it highly: Jackson Katz’s Ted Talk

If you are trying to understand abusive minds, I recommend this book highly, whether your abuser is a man, a woman or someone on the continuum: Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, by Lundy Bancroft

Here is a very good blog post about this situation: Bone, Broth and Breastmilk

For people worrying about due process, this article, citing rape conviction stats in Canada: 1 in 1000:

What’s Really on Trial in the Jian Ghomeshi Case by Anne Kingston

The Oracle of Chappell Street

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‘Wolf Lake’ by Elizabeth Bachinsky

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from ‘Wolf Lake’ by Michael V Smith and E. Bachinsky

I stay too often in my own head with my praise for fellow writers. This film Michael V Smith made from Elizabeth Bachinsky’s powerful poem “Wolf Lake” is one of those lapses. This terrifying narrative never really left me after I saw/heard it the first time, and then today when I started to build a story from similar circumstances, I felt it again, the blunt blow to the heart, and wanted to share it.

It is on Elizabeth’s home page. Scroll down.

 

After the plane got down safely

After I didn’t fall out of the sky when my plane had an emergency landing, my friend and I sat in her living room with just the tree lights on drinking wine in the middle of a snow storm.  You couldn’t see much outside except that white snow mounded everywhere, covering the sharp edges.  It was minus something but with the wind chill -40, which I learned is the same in Celcius and Farenheit.  Two cats, one all white and one all black, curled up beside us or under the tree.  It smelled like apple cider–cinnamon, cloves, cardamom. Blue lights, red lights, yellow lights.  Wrapped presents.

My friend said to me that when the Jian Gomeshi news broke, she kept remembering sexual assaults; they were like zombies breaking out of the ground.  She had one of those moments where things suddenly got clearer–she realized that when women get violated, mostly it’s just another event in a long line of assaults.  We get away as best we can, we brush off, we probably don’t report it (because who in their right mind wants what would happen then?), we may not even think of it for long because it’s happened so many times before.  We just go on.  We’re women.  That’s what we do.  We go on.

The white cat started climbing the trunk of the Christmas tree.  My friend shooed her away.  The cats went outside though I thought they’d freeze like cattle in Alberta fields, from their feet up.  I told my friend that I had a cat once in Cochrane and I slammed the door too fast during a cold snap and her tail broke off.  Verushka, her name was.  The cats came back in and weren’t frozen anywhere.  We refilled our wine glasses.  For a long time, we talked about divorce court, but then after all that, we didn’t want to pour more wine; we just had to go to bed.

 

 

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