A few months ago, a woman close to me told me about the male violence she faced growing up. Immediately I felt rage and sadness but at the same time numb as her story was not the only story I’ve heard. Her story was connected to millions of other women and girls who had endured male violence and were still living with their abuser, living in fear and shame or had completely stored her story of abuse and violence deep inside her to never come out. Then there were some women who did speak out to name their abuser and were only to be shut down by the institutions that uphold the patriarchy. The very same institutions that protects the rights of men (the abusers) and fails to not only acknowledge the women’s attacks on her but also refuses to hold the men accountable.
Here I was, listening to my friend share her story and only to think about how her attacker would continue to live as a free man. I knew the system was not in our (women’s) favour. She did report the violence to the Vancouver Police Department and she was told that it was “a long shot.” She went through months of gruesome work to have the police come back to her and say, “sorry, there’s nothing we can do. Our hands are tied.” I watched her enter depression from not only the trauma of being sexually abused but now the trauma that the system was inflicting on her. The trauma of having to repeat her story over and over again to not only the Vancouver Police Department but also to numerous friends and family who just couldn’t believe that “someone like him could do this.” Questions towards my friend were brought and asked, “Maybe it didn’t happen since you waited this long to tell someone,” or “are you sure?” or “why are you wanting to ruin his life?” Questions all blaming her, the victim and not once did they ask the man, the abuser, “why did you hurt and abuse her?” Not once did they say to him when he went around door to door at family members homes, “We believe her, we know you did this.” Some even had the nerve to tell her that they’ll believe her only when the court system tells them he’s guilty.
As each day passed she continued to loose people close to her to the patriarchy and watched how the system really was failing her and all women. More stories came out in the headlines on sexual assaults taking place on campuses across Canada, workplaces, in our homes and so on. Each time we watched the government acknowledge other issues and pass bills to decrease the amount of systemic violence on other groups of people and yet, violence against women was still not recognized. Just today, I reviewed the City of Vancouver’s Women Advisory Committee October Minutes and under the section, “Violence Against Women,” it stated, “No progress.” It feels like no matter what, violence against women was here to stay as nobody could come up with the right solution. My friends and I are harassed on the public transit system and what the city and institutions alike come up with is more resources for women AFTER the incident has occurred. What about before? What about educating the men and targeting advertisements to them to not assault women. Educate men that violence against women is not tolerated in our society.
Yea, it’s a hard thing to do. Violence against women is absolutely everywhere. We know that it’s seeped in our language, media and culture. It’s so normalized that we can’t acknowledge that issues like prostitution is violence against women. Liberalism which is supported by the Patriarchy now promotes prostitution as “Free choice,” and “agency” for women. I listen to privileged white women tell me that prostitution is a form of their sexuality and pleasure but I know that my sisters of colour are forced and driven into prostitution due to their race, class and gender. I know that race decides which form of prostitution we’re going to endure and that Indigenous women and girls are overrepresented in prostitution, and that Asian women are over-represented in massage parlours; I know that men fetishize on our skin colour as colonialism has inflicted various stereotypes on women based on their race. I know that the poorer we are, the more likely we are to enter prostitution and the more vulnerable we are to exploitation; I know that our gender is THE reason as to why women are preyed upon by men to enter prostitution. Then I get told by the same institutions that there’s “nothing we can do” about prostitution as it’s the oldest profession.
I don’t agree. I don’t agree that the same institutions that cannot bring women justice by holding their attackers accountable are the same institutions that will protect us either. Women’s interests are not our governments interests. We are living in a false reality that boasts how we strive towards equality but yet the police force do not arrest pimps and johns and continue to turn a blind eye. Or when the court system tells my friend that there’s nothing they can do about her case because the accused has claimed his right to silence. Seriously?! Perhaps Mariska Hargitay (Law and Order: SVU) has set up an expectation too high for women that the police will do everything in their power to bring us justice and no matter what, they were not going to give up…
Here’s my public service announcement: Women are angry and we have and we will continue to revolutionize the system that continues to oppress us. We’re going to keep organizing, keep mobilizing and keep revolting against the system because the system was not built to serve and protect us. The system was built to serve and protect men. No matter how hard the system organizes to work against us, we will continue to get more angry and push through. Watch out because I warned you. My sisters and I are coming for our justice against the men who have not been held accountable.