Osgoode Feminist Collective (here on FB) have created this December 6 memorial in the main open space of the law school. You can read the texts they created for this project below/after the jump.
“Because anything less than a yes, should be a no. But often, that’s not good enough. Because in order to make a point, we have to be someone’s wife, mother, daughter, sister or aunt. Just being, is not reason enough to warrant dignity and respect. Because our bodies are shredded apart and devalued. And then devalued again on a sliding scale from light to dark. Because being a woman means you are more likely to experience some form of gender-based violence in your lifetime. And being a black woman makes that 35 per cent more likely. Because being transgendered makes you 2.6x more likely to experience intimate partner violence. Because at least 21 trans women have been murdered this year in the US and more than 80 per cent of them were women of colour. Because we cannot and will not separate our overlapping identities of being trans and/or woman and/or person of colour and/or any other identifier into in neat little boxes. Because we live at these intersections, where violence explodes. This is why we remember and acknowledge the events of December 6, 1989 and why we push to make safer lives for all women.”
Lindsay Blair Holder, 2L
Because although they are our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, cousins and friends, Indigenous women continually face disproportional violence due to crimes of hatred and racism. Because Indigenous women between the ages of 15 and 44 are 3.5 times more likely to experience violence, five times more likely to die as a result of violence, and seven times more likely to be involved in a homicide than women of any other ethnicity. Because while the number of non-Indigenous women reporting the most severe forms of violence has declined by 43% since 1999, the number of similar attacks against Indigenous women has remained relatively unchanged staying at 54%. Because although we are not your “Pocahotties” or “Sexy Squaws”, the identity of Indigenous women continues to be lowered to nothing more than a sexual novelty at Halloween. Because Indigenous women are two times more likely to experience sexual assault than non-Indigenous women, and because although we have been demanding a national inquiry into the 1200+ missing and murdered Indigenous women since the 1980s, we have still not received one. Because if we cannot develop a better understanding of the problem, we will never be able to break the cycle. And because we do not want any more Stolen Sisters. This is why we remember and acknowledge the events of December 6, 1989, and why we push to make safer lives for all women.
Sabrina Molinari, 2L, on behalf of and with the endorsement of the Osgoode Indigenous Students’ Association
We are not so distant from the front lines of war. The front line of war is Flemingdon Park, where a woman was punched in the stomach and robbed. The front line of war is Sherbourne Station, where two girls were shoved and verbally beaten down. The front line of war is on Bloor and Bathurst, where a female pedestrian wearing a scarf around her head to keep warm was pinned against a wall. The front line of war is at our fingertips, in the stories we tell each other over social media; that Muslim people don’t understand our ways, don’t share our values, don’t belong. They are other. The partition between us and them evidenced by the piece of cloth on a Muslim woman’s head. She represents all that divides us, and bringing her down is bringing down our enemies. The front lines of war are not just in Syria and Iraq. The violent war against Islam manifests within our own communities through violence against women – Muslim women – who make invisible ideological barriers, visible. If distance and arbitrary geographical boundaries are what make us complacent as Canadians, it’s high time to think about the war and challenge the ideas that fuel it, because the war is not so far away–and, as is far too common, violence against our women is a byproduct of that war.
Nabila Khan, 3L
Remembering our fallen sisters is important if we are to continue to grow and work towards a truly inclusive society. 70% of the world’s 1 billion living in poverty are women and girls. 1 in 9 girls in the developing world are married before they turn 15. Because 1 in 4 women in North America will be sexually abused in their lifetime. Because in 2015, I still have to explain to well educated men that her dressing a certain way or walking alone never means she was asking for it. We mustn’t forget.
Harjot Dosanjh, 3L
The murder of 14 female engineering students at L’Ecole Polytechnique was motivated explicitly by misogyny. The murderer’s actions were exceptional, but his anti-feminist sentiment, rationalization of violence against women, and the blame he placed on women for the violence committed against them, are not.
As we recall the horrific events of Dec 6, we must keep in mind the many shades of violence and misogyny that women continue to face in academic spaces, and the frequent failure of both educational and legal institutions to meaningful address those experiences. The online incitement to shoot and kill feminists at the University of Toronto this fall, and the failure of the University to identify the targeted group in its warning to the community, offer just one example of how much we have to still have to worry about, and how close to home.
The sexualization and dehumanization of women from a young age also underpins a culture that is dismissive of gendered violence against young women at school. The recent case of R v Jarvis demonstrates how the law perpetuates this attitude. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that a teacher who surreptitiously recorded videos of his female students’ cleavage was not guilty of voyeurism, because the judge had a reasonable doubt as to whether the observation was for a sexual purpose. When the sexualization of young bodies is so normalized—so pervasive, even in a court of law—that we can no longer recognize it as such when it rears its head, we take for granted the insidious nature of the culture that incubates this violence en masse, and more importantly, we do an injustice to those individuals and communities who most directly fall at the mercy of this culture.
Dana Phillips, PhD Candidate
They say I am defiant, unruly, and aggressive.
I say the darker the flesh the deeper the roots.
The historical and contemporary exploitation of my body.
It carries trauma.
It is sexualized.
It is not celebrated
It is not believed.
It is silenced.
If I am not reflected in a tokenistic manner then I am left out of mainstream organizing, public debate and political discussion.
Is it racism or sexism?
Is it racism or sexism?
At times my race renders me silent when trying to draw attention to gendered based violence.
At times my gender renders me silent when trying to speak about racialized form of violence.
Thus, my story remains untold.
I am told I am supposed to be strong.
By 15 years of age, I am more likely to experience sexual abuse, and I am less likely to report it.
I am three times more likely to die at the hands of my abuser.
I am rarely protected when I am found beaten or murdered.
All the while those who have sworn to protect me use excessive force against me.
Yet no one is talking about me.
The brutality, the abuse by my community.
I am to call the police and turn to the justice system.
The same justice system that is has been systemically killing my community.
Honey, you can’t grasp my trauma.
Until you begin to look at my life, intersectionally.
But I can no longer remain invisible, degraded or tokenized.
Let’s remember the violence that is perpetuated against Black women.
Andrea S. Anderson, PhD Candidate
Thank you to these students – most of whom were not yet born on December 6 1989 – but all of whom live in the world that created December 6, and the world that experienced it.
You Belong Here. We Belong Here.
The image below links to Status of Women Canada’s pages on December 6th.