Anti.Violence.Project @ UVic
Ending Gender Based Violence – Prevention.Support.Action
The Anti.Violence.Project (AVP) is committed to addressing and ending gender-based violence on campus and beyond.
We strive to provide anti-oppressive and sex-positive services, advocacy and action on-campus and off to people of all genders, in partnership and collaboration, in order to address and resist gender-based and all forms of violence.
This year marks the 24th Anniversary of the shooting at L’École Polytechnique in Montreal. For those unfamiliar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89cole_Polytechnique_massacre
This event triggered a national outcry and broke silence surrounding some of the types of violence perpetrated against women. Many mainstream discourses were challenged and Lépine’s actions began to be talked about as a result of systemic sexism, as opposed to the work of someone “deranged”; a discourse that demonizes the person committing the act, enabling the underlying causes to remain invisible and thereby keeping the power (i.e., patriarchy) that fuelled it, intact.
Last year I did my undergraduate thesis on the ability of Post-Secondary education to transform the self-narratives of working class female-identified people. I talked to other folks who felt like their education actually enabled them to talk about themselves differently, and what this might mean for their identity. Each interview brought a new voice and a particular experience that belonged solely to the person speaking. At the same time, because of some of our shared identities, I felt profoundly affected by the experiences of the women I talked to. I could see myself in some (but most definitely not all) of their stories. Through my thesis work I began to explicitly understand the importance of stories. They are how we come to know our world and they determine how we are situated within it.
The reason I chose to write something about the annual memorialization of those who were killed twenty-four years ago rests in how I am able to see bodies that look like mine remembered and honoured each year, when the story of Polytechnique is told. My whiteness, my education, and the ways that my gender is most often read are privileges that I share with the women who were murdered that day. Each year when this event takes place I’m told that bodies like mine matter and that they’re worth protecting, but living with a feminist lens is a constant negotiation that pushes, pulls, empowers, and demeans. It fights violence and it can perpetuate it, and when I’m faced with events such as this, that work within the framework of what many call feminism, I can’t help but stand there and say “Yeah, but…”
So yeah, this event is important and has done more than I probably understand to further action against gender-based violence, but what about the stories that aren’t told at these events? What about the bodies that aren’t and will continue to not be protected, or honoured, or remembered? I can’t sit here and say I’m fighting violence against “women” when bodies, no matter what or how many characteristics they may have in common, do not have a shared experience and face violence in different ways and in varying degrees.
When at least six hundred Indigenous women in Canada have gone missing or been murdered since 1990 and the people responsible have no names and no faces, it becomes difficult to tell myself this event has been made for them. When state statistics about marginalized communities are used in mainstream discourse, how does this event empower those within them to challenge the violence perpetuated by the state in these communities in the first place? When women have to choose between protection against domestic violence and protection against deportation, in what way is the memorialization of bodies like mine helping them? When, fuelled by racism and privilege, women are committing acts of violence against other women, how are we supposed to heal together?
I often see December 6th events enacted by telling a story, and as I begin to become more conscious of the ways that stories can determine representation I suppose I just want to say how important I’m finding it to attend and contribute to events that value and make space for the stories of those who are not represented in the story of the “Montreal Massacre”. Part of recognizing privilege is stepping down and acknowledging all that I, and everyone else, can learn from those who occupy identities that experience violence in ways that are often silenced by the most powerful institutions in our society.
**If interested, an event is happening TONIGHT to remember, honour and listen to many people affected by gender based violence:
“Ending Gender Violence: Poetry and Other Performances”
Date: TONIGHT Friday, December 6
Time: 5 – 8 PM
Location: Victoria Multicultural Centre, 1415 Broad Street, Coast Salish Territories
Liza is a community member volunteer at the Anti Violence Project.
In the past few months, I have witnessed the unfolding situation at the University of British Columbia. I heard about the frosh chants promoting the sexual assault of underage women. Shortly after, commerce students engaged in a similar ritual imitating Indigenous drumming and circle, calling themselves the “Pocahontas” group and chanting white men, steal our land. Since then I have heard about the 6 confirmed sexual assaults by a man on UBC campus and the Sauder School Commerce Undergraduate Society voted (with a 70% majority) to not fund a sexual assault counselor in light of these events mentioned above.
The University’s RCMP detachment has placed this situation as a top priority, placing more officers and patrols on campus and putting extra time and energy into finding the male suspect. As the efforts by the RCMP continue, I wonder about whose responsibility it is to prevent violence. The message I see coming from the government is that women need to stay extra vigilant.
Wait, this sounds familiar.
Earlier this year at the University of Victoria, a woman was attacked by a man while jogging along Mystic Vale. The immediate response from the Saanich Police (and the University) similarly asked women to be vigilant.
I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t seem to make sense to me. In both cases, white men perpetrated these assaults on women. In both cases, the reaction was to tell ‘all women’ to be ‘vigilant’ about their surroundings. As I witnessed the events and community responses, I have wondered where the men were who could be speaking out to address this violence. One thing that I have noticed is the lack of – or silence – of men’s voices on the issue of gender-based violence and racism. Why is this? What roles can men and boys play in this dialogue? How do I help in preventing violence against women and people of all genders?
These common responses to acts of men’s violence against women makes invisible the role of men who cause harm. It also leaves out how we as men can hold each other up to better standards. Part of this conversation needs to include a conversation about what it means to “be a man” today. This conversation around manhood, or masculinity, is an interesting one to me. As someone who grew up being told these messages of masculinity, I heard (and continue to hear) stories that being a “real man” meant being tough, strong, emotionless (except anger), and that femininity was to be devalued. As a racialized, mixed-raced man, I sometimes hear conflicting messages. As someone who aims to unravel my own privilege, I believe that these stories about masculinity are not monolithic. There are many masculinities. There are examples of being a man that, historically and currently, challenge that notion that men have to wear a mask of toughness and violence. These are stories that I think we need to tell more, because these dominant stories of masculinity need to be questioned and challenged.
My point is that I think this conversation about masculinity gets to the heart of the issue of violence. While many men are violent, it is not a biological condition. I would argue (and many others have argued) that it is the connection between violence and masculinity that is the issue here. I think this violent masculinity results in the acceptance or normalization of violence, to people of all genders and backgrounds (that includes harm committed towards men).
In many of the conversations, it seems clear that there is a message for young women to take precautions to prevent this violence. At the anti.violence.project, we believe that while it’s everyone’s responsibility to prevent violence, we also believe that we should be having conversations with men. Most violence is committed by men. However, many men do not commit violence. I believe that those of us who identify as men have a valuable opportunity to speak out against this violence, to be role models and active bystanders. We have a chance to say that colonial and gender-based violence are our issues too, and they need to stop.
There are many men taking up this conversation. I feel happy knowing that I’m not alone in these efforts to engage men, and that there may be a momentum growing.
One of those men is Jeremy Loveday. He recently created a video, speaking to how gendered violence is a man’s issue. That this is a challenge we must take on, a conversation that needs to happen.
I’ll leave you with this and echo Jeremy’s challenge: Men, let’s talk.
Mon 4th: 11:30am to 3:00pm
Tue 5th: No Support
Wed 6th: 9:00am to 10:30am ; 12:30pm to 2:30pm ; 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Thur 7th: 10:00am to 12:00pm
Fri 8th: 10:00am to 12:00pm ; 12:30pm to 2:30pm
CALL / EMAIL/ DROP BY for SUPPORT
Support hours are posted weekly and are posted on the website and door.
For immediate support outside of hours listed, please call the Victoria Sexual Assault Center’s 24 hour information and crisis line at 250.383.3232.
Click the link below to download our brochure:
What We Do at AVP
Offers information about our services, a description of gender-based violence and the social and cultural contributors, and information for someone who has recently experienced gender-based violence.
For Immediate Release:
h3. Solidarity March in Victoria for Elsipogtog
h3. Friday, October 18th at 11:00am at Centennial Square and marching to Parliament.
CALL FOR DONATIONS:
Non-parishible foods, camping supplies and financial donations are being collected tomorrow at the rally and also at Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group at UVic in the Students Union Building. There is a caravan heading east to the Mi’kmaq blockade leaving Friday evening.
Staff will be at the VIPIRG office until 5:30pm today (Thursday) and from 9am tomorrow (Friday). Money donations can also be slid under the door of B120 in the SUB.
“On the morning of October 17, 2013, approximately 200 RCMP – some dressed in military fatigues and armed with snipers – stormed a Mi’kmaq anti-fracking blockade and camp near Rexton, New Brunswick. Journalist Miles Howe, on site, described the situation as “RCMP having their guns drawn.” RCMP have confirmed at least 40 arrests, with reports of Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock as well as Mi’kmaq Warriors being targeted. Media reports have also been pouring in of people being tasered, having police dogs set on them, and rubber bullets being fired – including at young children.
According to eye witness Susan Levi-Peters, “There are people who have been tasered…It’s Oka all over again and it’s sad because we said all we need is public consultation…These Warrriors, they are not militant. They are youth and they have had enough…The blockade was being mounted with drums and feathers.”
Since the summer Mi’kmaq residents, as well as anglophone and Acadians, have confiscated fracking equipment and blockaded the road leading to an equipment compound leased to South Western Energy or SWN. SWN is a Texas based energy company that has been attempting to conduct natural gas exploration in the area’s shale formations. If significant deposits of gas are found through seismic testing, SWN would then employ the highly-polluting and water-intensive extraction method of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, to extract natural gas deposits from shale gas formations.
While industry sells fracking as a “green transition fuel,” Robert Howarth from Cornell University, says it clearly: “Shale gas is worse than conventional gas, and is, in fact, worse than coal and worse than oil.” A number of doctors, including the the New Brunswick College of Family Physicians, have called for a moratorium on fracking. Various jurisdictions, including France, Quebec, and New York, currently have moratoriums on fracking.
Last week, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services hand-delivered a request to SWN Energy’s head office in Houston, Texas. TSolidarity March in Victoria for Elsipogtoghe request, on behalf of the Mi’kmaq, was for “all projects, leases, and permits issued to SWN Resources by the Government of New Brunswick come to a halt until all Mi’kmaq-L’nu, and Wabanaki communities, as sovereign individuals are Meaningfully Consulted, and that we are able to come to an informed decision as individuals.”
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