Imagine for a minute a society that has no sexual assault at all – a society that is totally rape free. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if on this strife-torn planet such a place could actually exist? Think about it: a place where women and children (and men) could live their entire lives not having to fear that someone might invade their bodies (and their spirits) through sexual aggression. Where a date would never turn into the thrust and parry of aggressive sexual advance and attempted refusal.
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Missing men? I was recently reading my new issue of Canadian Parent magazine. (The magazine was a very fitting gift from an extremely kind relative – fitting since I am both a new Canadian and a new parent of a little girl.) But while the magazine – which is generally pretty good – is called Canadian Parent, the reality is that it is basically aimed at Canadian mothers. To be fair, the summer issue did have three brief pieces that mentioned trying to involve men.
(Warning: this post discusses sexual violence in graphic detail.)
“We are going. But we are leaving our seed behind.”— a West Pakistani soldier, leaving Bangladesh, 1971.
Anyone who reads this blog can rather easily come to the conclusion that I oppose violence against women and that I support women’s full equality with men. In my writing I advocate for the rights of women, and for the safety of children. So of course this makes me one of the good guys, right? Because, after all, any guy who says all of this great stuff simply must be on the side of the angels. He must be a guy we should all feel totally safe with and have utter faith in. We should even trust him with our kids. Right?
“A lot of work to be done.” A few years ago I attended a talk that was supposed to be about the “third world feminisms” that were emerging in the townships in post-apartheid South Africa. When the presenter walked in, I was surprised to see that he was in fact a he – and that he was in fact a white guy from the USA. As the man spoke, he referred to the African National Congress as being made up of “petit bourgeoisie,” and I got a pretty good sense of his political orientation.
As I wrote in a previous post, the media these past weeks has been repeatedly playing taped phone conversations where the famous actor/director/producer Mel Gibson can be heard ranting at his ex-partner Oksana Grigorieva. He threatens to bury Grigorieva “in a rose garden,” and the tapes seem to prove that Gibson hit Grigorieva in the face hard enough to damage her teeth – while she was holding their baby in her arms. His rants are full of racist and misogynist slurs, and one of his favourite words seems to be c***.
I knew Lucas* to be a great guy. He is popular. Funny. Extremely bright. Totally sweet. Actively involved in civil rights and social justice work. So it was a great pleasure to see him when he stopped by my office one day at the supervised child visitation centre I was running. He asked a whole bunch of questions about the work we did there, and about dealing with the abusive men who were our clients.
“Wow, it’s quite a program you’ve got here, Bill,” he said after I gave him a tour.
“Thanks! How are things going with you?”