So maybe this is going to be a little weird.
A while back (long while back, now) I wrote a post about some of the stuff that came up during “Slutriot” (a twitter-chat that I participated in, back in August). I wrote most of the post on the subject of whorestigma and how “whore” is a threat (of stigma, but also of violence, of “you’ll get what you deserve”) used specifically to police specifically women’s sexuality, even as it’s also a job description that applies to people of numerous genders. I wrote about how I don’t want to throw the gender diversity of sexworkers under the bus in order to address the sexism and misogyny that deeply tangled in the roots of whorestigma, but that I also don’t want to lose sight of those roots by saying things like “men, women, and non-binary people involved in the sex industry” when, disproportionally, it is cis women and trans women who work in the industry and, disproportionately, it is cis women and trans women who bear the brunt of whorestigma and whorephobia, and who get murdered on the job.
And I feel a little bit like that about Day of Action on Violence Against Women. Because I know women who have been seriously fucked up due to their female abusers’ actions. Hell, I’m married to one of them. I’m aware of how “sisterhood is powerful” can be twisted up with fears of rape-you-straight dyke-bashing and an over-arching cultural assumption that “women are passive” (and therefore not violent) to result in both a huge amount of under-reporting and, I suspect, a huge amount of dismissal of reports (see also “How we teach our kids that women are liars” although that doesn’t just apply to queer women), with regards to queer women’s violence against other queer women.
And yet.
Incidents of violence against women do not occur in a vacuum.
When the polytechnique masacre happened (in 1989 – 24 years ago this December 6th), there was a lot of talk about how it was a “lone madman”, of how the shooter was “crazy”. And very little about how this event was an extreme manifestation of a systematic problem.
A man murdering women because they had something that he felt entitled to and resented them for having and not giving up?
That happens all the time.
We live in a culture that says women are worth less than men, that our needs should take a back seat to their wants.
Of the 230 domestic homicides in Ontario between 2002 and 2007, 92% were committed by men and only 8% by women, according to the Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee.[1]
83% of all police-reported domestic assaults are against women. This pattern is consistent for every province and territory across Canada. (emphasis mine)
…There’s a derailing technique where the derailer basically says “But _____________ gets done to X, too!”[2]
It’s not “derailing” to point out that violence against women is sometimes committed by other women. But, as much as women’s violence against women needs to be recognized as a real thing, I think that part of the point of marking December 6th as a day of rememberance and action on violence against women, is to be aware of – and to work against – the systemic gender-based inequalities that make murdering us a viable option for “conflict resolution” by the almost-always-men who claim to love us.
Just some thoughts.
Ms Syren.
[1] Click that link for a discussion of how intersecting marginalizations further increase women’s vulnerability to domestic violence.
[2] You see it made fun of by people mock-wailing “But what about teh menz???!”, for example.