#MeToo #TimesUp, #BelieveHer, #RapedNotReported
BY SUSAN BAZILLI
The number one issue that faces, and unites, women around the world is the epidemic of violence against us. It is everywhere. It is the sea of patriarchy in which we swim.
I am white, able-bodied, English-speaking, Canadian-born, heterosexual, university-educated, successful in my profession, and financially independent. My various identities comprise my privilege in the world and intersect with each other. But when I walk alone in the dark to my car, my identity is whittled down to a single trait; female. I am aware of the risk of violence, of sexual assault, and of my vulnerability in that moment. But I am also aware that my risk of violence is far less than that of any woman who is Indigenous in Canada.
Going for a hike in the woods on my own is different for me than it is for a man. I still do it, and I refuse to stop because it is an experience I treasure. But in the back of my mind I always think of Wendy Ladner-Beaudry and the countless women whose names we never remember. Do any of the solo men on the trail worry about the possibility of violence, sexual assault, or even death, at the hands of another man?
Women experience male violence in all forms; endemic sexual assault on university campuses, rape in conflict, intimate partner violence, sex trafficking, forced prostitution, dowry deaths, infanticide, female genital mutilation, child marriages…. the list of atrocities seems without end. But as we learn over and over and over again, women are most at risk of violence from the men they know: husbands, partners, fathers…
The right to live free from violence is a basic human right. Violence and threats of violence endanger our ability to access all our other human rights — to work, vote, get an education, control our sexual health, raise our children, protect the babies, and so on. From a human rights perspective, violence against women affects everyone and all of society.
Here, in Canada, a woman is killed by her partner every 6 days. There has been a 25% increase in sexual assault reporting since the latest feminist hash tag movement began. #MeToo and #TimesUp are shining a light on sexual assault in ways that many in societywe have never seen before. People are not only realizing We are realizing that women don’t need men to protect us, we. Women need men to stop protecting each other.
I know how hard it is to change laws, culture, tradition, privilege, even, and especially, oneself. Change requires clarity, courage, and ongoing engagement.
What can you do? What doors can you open? What newspaper editors do you know who can write more stories? What bank managers do you know who can give more capital to women? What foundations do you run that you can ensure give more funding to women’s anti-violence services? What schools do you teach at or sit on the board of so that you can ensure they are not protecting perpetrators of violence against women? How do you educate your sons? Your daughters? Will you call men on their behavior? Will you intervene in that racist or homophobic or sexist joke or comment?
The one thing that we know has made the biggest change has been the women’s movement! Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment but as an endless succession of tiny victoriessurprises, zigzagging toward a more decent society. We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Hope only arises in community. Gloria Steinem says that hope IS activism, and activism is hope.
I invite you all to join the movement for gender equality. Being depressed or despairing is not a luxury we feminists can afford. I invite you all to join the movement for women’s equality. We have no choice but to fight for women’s rights. This is a call to action!
We need you.