Tagged: Sexual Assault

#MeToo so #NowWhat? by Kathryn Anderson

“So you can see how the passive voice has a political effect. It shifts the focus off of men and boys and onto girls and women…it’s a bad thing that happens to women, but when you look at the term ‘violence against women,’ nobody is doing it to them. It just happens to them…men aren’t even a part of it!” Jackson Katz

I read this quote as part of a post shared on Facebook in the wake of the #MeToo campaign that has been so pervasive across social media this past couple of weeks. MeToo originated over a decade ago with black activist Tarana Burke and has seen its recent resurgence due to a Tweet sent out by actor Alyssa Milano following news coverage of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

One of the original intentions communicated by Burke when she initiated MeToo 10+ years ago was “empowerment through empathy” – particularly to let women of colour know that they were not alone in these circumstances of sexual harassment and assault. In an interview with Ebony magazine, Burke said, “the power of using ‘me too’ has always been in the fact that it can be a conversation starter or the whole conversation ― but it was us talking to us”. Now “us” has become a much wider context with the passage of time and the advent of social media.

The sheer magnitude of #MeToo on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms has been overwhelming for many, myself included. I’ve heard from several people that they were not prepared for what such widespread disclosure would bring up for them emotionally, whether they had experienced sexual assault/harassment directly or it had happened to someone they knew and cared about.

In one regard it can be helpful to feel a sense of solidarity with others who’ve experienced these circumstances; as Tarana Burke intended, we feel less alone.  So much so in fact, that there has been a cascade of allegations made post-Weinstein, notable examples include:  Just for Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon, Amazon Boss Roy Price, even Kevin Spacey has come forward to acknowledge his wrongdoing in a same sex interaction with a younger actor when Spacey was 26 and his counterpart was a 14 year old male.

On the other hand, for me #MeToo begs the question, NOW WHAT?  Obviously we see the inescapable fact that millions of women have endured sexual harassment and assault.  I’ve seen plenty of other examples from men these past few weeks too. Even so, we are still only seeing a selection of those folk who have chosen to disclose and have means and access to media/social media to do so.

We see discourse has begun…yet where does it lead?  Collectively as a society and individually as citizens, what do we DO with what has been learned?

Tarana Burke points out, “It’s beyond a hashtag. It’s the start of a larger conversation and a movement for radical community healing. Join us. #metoo

We encourage you to ask yourself #NowWhat? 

Here are two actions you might consider taking in response:

One is to attend the screening of A Better Man, co-hosted by SWOVA and the Salt Spring Film Festival on Wednesday, November 22nd from 7:00 – 9:30pm at Artspring.  Tickets are $10 and are available at the box office or online.

The filmmaker describes the movie as a “fresh and nuanced look at the healing and revelation that can happen for everyone when men take responsibility for their abuse. It also empowers the audience members to play new roles in challenging domestic violence, whether it’s in their own relationships or as part of a broader movement for social change.”

A second action is to read and reflect on this well-written article by May Warren:

Article: Toronto Metro – A Critical Turning Point, Oct 19/17

Photo credits: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Pedersen [#MeToo]; Dandelion Initiative [#NowWhat]  Follow on Twitter: @dandelioninit

Results: Southern Gulf Islands Survey on Consent and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response

During the month of May in 2016, a community wide survey was launched throughout the Southern Gulf Islands on Consent and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. The survey was funded by the Status of Women Canada as part of an on-going project spear headed by Salt Spring Women Opposed to Violence and Abuse (SWOVA) Community Development and Research Society.

A summary version of the survey results is found here:
SGI Consent & Sexual Assault Project Survey Results InfoGraphic

The full report is in the process of being updated with edit corrections and will be reposted as soon as possible.

 

Taking Back the Night

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by Kiran Dhingra, MSW, RSW, Executive Director

As I write these words, it is a few days after the Take Back the Night march that took place in our community last Friday June 10th, 2016.  The event was organized from a ground swell of supporters in response to a woman who had recently been sexually assaulted in the community.   I know that we like to think that violence, especially sexual crimes don’t happen here on this beautiful island paradise. Of course, we know that’s simply not true.

It is a sad reality that not everyone is safe on this Island.  Many of us, especially women and children are at greater risk of having violence perpetrated against us, usually by someone we already know, although not always.  Sometimes it’s a stranger or someone we hardly know at all.  My hope is that everyone will feel safe in our community as that is a right we all deserve.

That is why SWOVA, has been working toward eliminating violence through prevention and education programs that empower our young people for the past 20 years.  SWOVA was born out of a terrible act of violence toward a woman in the community that happened in the early 90s.  At that time, community came together because it wanted to help and do something to support the woman who had been assaulted, but also because it knew that there were other women out there who needed a safe haven; a place they could go to start healing.

So, my mind comes back to this most recent act of violence.  Only with the survivor’s strength and courage to speak out about what happened, and her desire to find a way to take back the night, are we reminded yet again of the impact and importance of the issue of violence against women right here on Salt Spring Island.

There is tremendous power in that act of courage, as well as in all the people who organized, attended, marched, cried, got angry, and made calls for change and awareness.  SWOVA stands with you and supports you.  In closing, I share these words, written by poet and author, Maya Angelou,maya-angelous-words-wisdom-0_240x340_11

“Having courage does not mean that we are unafraid. 

Having courage and showing courage means we face our fears. 

We are able to say, “I have fallen, but I will get up.”

Sexual Assault Hits Mainstream Media By Lynda Laushway

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The New Yorker magazine’s recent cover photo is of thirty-five women who allege that they were sexually assaulted by actor Bill Cosby over a period of decades. Some of the alleged victims have come forth on their own for years but their claims were hushed up, silenced or diminished.

It wasn’t until thirty-five women reported together that society actually started to pay attention.  Why did it take this long and why did it take this many alleged victims before people would listen?  We can speculate that it was because the alleged perpetrator is a famous man who had the outward image of a loving TV persona. We can speculate that it was because the alleged perpetrator had many well-known supporters. We can speculate that it was because the alleged perpetrator had a lot of money and could pay good lawyers and media relations people.

Many of the women’s reputations were damaged during the years of allegations, with rumours, gossip and the denigration of their integrity. What is the price that women face when they report sexual assault, particularly when a man of power and wealth is involved?

There are many issues to ponder and they strike at the heart of our society’s view of women, men and sexual assault.

 

By Lynda Laushway –  Consultant to SWOVA