Practice what you preach….

January 7, 2006 at 7:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practise witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” Pat Robertson, US Politician, 1992.

It’s been three weeks since the university shut down for the holidays.

Three blissful weeks of vacation, of doing absolutely nothing, of being solitary and reclusive. Certainly there were days where I became googly-eyed, longing for the outdoors but still feeling the need to stay inside, by myself. I’ve gone days at time this holiday without any human contact except through online messaging. No phones, no visits, no socializing.

I’ve never really had this time before to be utterly alone. Holidays were usually spent with family, visiting old friends, every day packed. This is the first year that I’ve had where I didn’t go “home” for Christmas – so there was no one to catch up with. I can’t say I regret it at all. Now, not only I am going back to work on Monday, but friends are returning from their own holidays. Let the visiting begin.

***

I’ve had multiple talks with friends this week about the boy. I’ll go months at a time without thinking there might be the slightest chance for anything more than friendship between us. I deny myself this, not allowing myself to believe there might be a chance.

It’s self-preservation.

Yet another person asked this week if the boy and I were together. More than friends. I wonder what it is that all these other people see that I don’t see? That I’m unable to see?

A friend asked me yesterday, what if he did return your feelings? Have you ever thought that maybe he does?

No.

It’s self-preservation.

****

Let’s jump around today. My thought patterns are random, probably from sitting inside watch depressing films all day. 21 Grams. Definitely not a movie about drugs, as I had assumed.

I had many discussions this week on violence against women again. V-Day, the movement to stop violence against women and girls. Certainly it’s been criticized for it’s exclusion in the past of some groups of women, for not being inclusive to all women, for being ethnocentric. Transexuality has been one of those critiques, and the lack thereof, in the past.

The inclusion of the optional performance monologue “They Beat the Girl out of My Boy… Or So They Tried” into The Vagina Monologues has addressed many of those concerns. However, although the monologue itself – a beautifully written montage of various voices of transwomen, written by author Eve Ensler after lengthy interview – addresses violence against women in a new light, to audiences, does it still do that for those performing and organizing the shows themselves?

The discussions where I work this week have been centred around which optional monologue to perform. There’s the trans-monologue. There’s a monologue about domestic violence on native reserves. In the past we’ve done optional monologues on women in Islamabad and Juarez, Mexico. How do you choose which monologue to perform?

The central debate this week has been that “The Crooked Braid”, a piece written about domestic violence on American native reserves, does more to address one of the central functions and purposes of V-Day and The Vagina Monologues – the ending of violence against women. The argument has been that this piece addresses specifically violence against women, while “They Beat the Girl…” is more about sexuality.

I’d argue exactly the opposite. To limit the themes of “They Beat the Girl out of My Boy… Or So They Tried” solely to being about sexuality is an enormous misunderstanding not only of this piece, but of transexuality and the experiences of trans-women as a whole. For too long transwomen have been isolated from our society, even from productions such as The Vagina Monologues which purport to look at empowerment for women. If we can’t accept transwomen and look at the oppression that they themselves go through, then what are we doing as feminists?

The systemic violence of oppression and ignorance that transsexuals and transgendered persons face is part of sexism, part of patriarchy, part of violence against women. Perhaps as feminist women, we need to look more at our own socialization and roles in society. Just because we’re feminists trying to save the world doesn’t mean we’re immune to being oppressive ourselves.

Media and pop culture have created a typified image of violence against women – the most common images portrayed being domestic violence and rape. It would be mistaken to assume that these are the only types of violence against women, however. Why should domestic abuse and rape be the most symbolic and representative types of violence against women? That assumption minimizes the countless other types of violence that women go through – both on a systemic and individual level. It says that one person’s violence is more important to get rid of than another’s, that their experiences, their traumas, their heartaches and abuses are more important.

Mimimizing violence against women, whatever form it may take, does nothing to stop violence against women. It can only perpetuate it further.

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2 Comments »

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  1. I do not really understand these…concerns of Pat Robertson.

    Q

  2. I recently went to a worshop on transgender awareness as it relates to student life.

    I can’t even explain the myriad of thoughts that intersected and diverged in my head. It reminded me of the internal struggle that we really don’t see, as well as the exclusion that happens everyday as a result of our daily ingrained actions.

    For me, the end result was a great desire to love.


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