In yet another day of stellar BC news we are informed that, yet again, the RCMP have fucked up. This on the heel of news yesterday that sexual assaults in Vancouver are up 21%. Yet again women are victims of crimes that completely and utterly change their lives by being exploited by men. I am completely and utterly disgusted. You will note, however, that I am not surprised.
Let’s take the first incident. Apparently some RCMP officers and some civilian employees decided to watch two women having sex in the drunk tank. Given the possibility that they may have a medical crisis requiring assistance they were being watched on CCTV (closed-circuit television). The last time I checked monitoring for ill heath effects did not include watching people have sex.
What kinds of beliefs about women would allow these men, in positions of authority, to watch two women having sex? Clearly they needed to objectify these women. Women are treated as commodities in our society. Often used in advertisements, women are the purveyors of sex used to sell so many products. We are also inundated with images of women in popular culture where women are portrayed in all sorts of roles: wife and mother, slut and whore.* Women are viewed as incompetent. If a woman is in a position of power she must be a bitch, emasculating or a shrew. Women cannot express any strong opinions without being suspected of having ulterior motives. Strong intelligent women are not allowed to simply exist and be successful. Instead women ‘go under the radar’ by being good wives and mothers and staying within proscribed roles.
Women who are not viewed as successful have a much worse experience. Likely women who end up in the drunk tank are not women from the upper classes who drank a little too much wine. These women enjoy privilege safely in their warm houses. If statistics hold, the women were likely Aboriginal and/or women of colour, came from abusive backgrounds and may have been survival sex trade workers. Of course I am generalizing here but traditionally these are the women who get picked up by police for being on the streets drunk and causing a disturbance. These are likely the same women that Robert Pickton targeted and we all know how important those women are to police and society in general.
So how does all this tie in with the 2 women having sex in the drunk tank? For many men, lesbians and lesbian sex is the ultimate threat. Lesbians don’t need men which some men find insulting and the flip side is that every frat boys’ dream is to watch 2 women having sex. So here we have 2, most likely disenfranchised, women having sex. I find it somewhat insulting that the RCMP are bringing up issues of consent given that both women have been released without charges. Is it not possible that these women might have been lesbian? Maybe they were seeking comfort with each other in a world that provides very little of it for them. Perhaps they felt valued with each other. They may have even known each other. I think the whole thing about consent is a bit of a ruse to deflect from the fact that seven men watched these women have sex for several minutes. In those moments what was going through their heads? One does not need to speculate too much. Clearly no one was thinking they needed to stop it.
It is no wonder that these kinds of things happen. After all the day before Jim Chu, Chief Constable of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) announced a 21% increase in sexual assaults. Chu then goes on to ‘reassure’ people that the increase is not in violent sexual assaults. Instead the increase is in ‘groping.’ Somehow ‘groping’ is less traumatic than straight on sexual assault. All I have to say is ask a woman how sexual assault has impacted her life. Chances are you won’t have to go too far out of your living room for an answer. Flash back to the incident in Kamloops and you have to wonder if the comments about consent were specious. Clearly, if something looks consensual it just might be. I am sure they are throwing the ‘consent’ issue up as a way to deflect from the fact that RCMP and city employees watched the video. Now, apparently, the tape will be “reviewed,” no doubt by more men, to determine how long each employee watched. At some point the women stopped it is unclear if the staff stopped them or they finished? At what point does the exploitation stop? Will the people tasked with reviewing this video do it from a respectful place or will it be just another round of free lesbian pornography.
I am angry about this situation. I have been angry for a very long time. I am sick and tired of the acceptance and the making excuses for men’s behaviour towards women. Almost all violence perpetrated against women is committed by men. I know that not all men are rapists. There are many good men in the world who are amazing fathers, brothers, sons and husbands. However there are still far too many men who rape and assault women. We must do better for the next generation.
*Interestingly, our discourse does not have similar words for men with the same connotations.