In Canada, every 4 days a woman is killed by a family member, usually a male family member. Let that sink in for a moment – every 4 days a woman dies. We have a serious problem. Indigenous and LGTBQ women are over-represented.
All weekend we have been hearing about David Wayne Bobbitt and the alleged assault he committed by tying a woman up for 12 hours, repeatedly beating and assaulting her while her 2-year old child looked on. He has been described as dangerous someone the public should not approach. With all of the descriptive words the CBC could have chosen to refer to him on the radio, today they chose “Penticton business owner.” When I heard this I was completely incensed that they would dignify him with a respectable title.
As a feminist, I should not be surprised that the patriarchy is alive and well and almost always willing to give the man the benefit of the doubt. Clearly the crimes he is alleged to have committed do not befit the description of ‘Penticton business owner.’ In fact, by referring to him in this manner, the media is minimizing his alleged crimes. He is not in anyway being shamed for what he may have done instead he is a business owner.
When society allows men a free pass to abuse women we all suffer. It also sends a message to other men that nothing really bad will happen to you if you assault your wife or rape a prostitute. This culture we live in is steeped in the idea that women and children are chattel. In fact, up until the last century women did not have rights or legal standing. Even today, although we have ‘equal’ rights in principle things are hardly ‘equal’ when men can choose to physically over power us and do whatever they want to our bodies. Consent? What is that?
It seems like there has been an inordinate amount of violence against women lately. UBC student and Fullbright Scholar Rumana Manzur, beaten by her husband in Bangladesh has now returned to Canada for medical treatment. He gouged her eyes and bit off part of her nose. She will never see again. Another South Asian woman was killed by her husband last week. The Crown had to have murderer Johnson Aziga declared a dangerous offender because he continued to have sex with women without telling them he was HIV-positive.
I wish I had answers and prescriptions for change. What I do know is that we must change the discourse that surrounds women and how some men perceive us. Men must educate their sons to treat women with respect. Men have to learn that women are not there to serve their needs. Women have free will and, like men, can do or wear what they want, go where they please and have the right of agency. Anything less than this is unacceptable.