Monday, March 12, 2012

Keira Knightley Experiences Domestic Violence

It’s a funny thing to be posting this video now, I remember watching it a year and a half ago. I found it powerful at the time but because of life I didn’t dwell on it.  However, for no reason I can think of it popped into my head this afternoon.  I felt I should look it up and share it with everyone else. 

The beginning could be the start of any number of commercials: Keira Knightley selling makeup remover for the woman on the go, your standard car commercial or movie trailer.  But the shot of a man framed by the glass windows shifts the entire mood. I really didn’t want Keira to get off the elevator.
Maybe it’s because I’m a filmmaker that I find this is a really moving psa.  When Keira Knightley looks directly in the camera “breaking character” I was ready to shout cut before she asked me to. 

"The Cut" was an advert made by Women's Aid, a UK charity.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rape Prevention on Campus

On February 1, 2012 diverse actions took place in nearly every university and college community across Canada for the National Day of Action.  As a member of the FemRev Collective I had an opportunity to speak at the University of Manitoba, voicing the issue of campus safety. 

This is what I had to say.  

Violence against women is a pervasive problem across Canada and university campuses. 
Taken from our university’s website under security services:

  • 51% of Canadian women have experienced, at least, one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
  • 60% (approximately) of women who experience sexual assault are the targets of more than one such incident.
  • 27% of women aged 18 to 24 have experienced violence in the past twelve months.
  • 6% of violent incidents by men other than spouses involved a weapon or an object that was used as a weapon.
  • Only 6% of sexual assaults are reported.
Over the past year I’ve seen a rise in victim blaming when it comes to violent crimes committed against women particularly sexual assault. Rape isn’t an accident and it isn’t isolated. It thrives in a community where aggression, disrespect and violence are ignored or tolerated.

When I say violence I’m referring to verbal abuse, assault, sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence, and dating violence.

In my research for this speech I found endless information on rape prevention all directed at women, “helpful” tips on how to not get raped. The truth is, there’s no such thing as a rape prevention tip for potential victims, because the only way to prevent being raped is to never be in the same space as a determined rapist. Something we have no control over.  Vulnerability only exists if danger is present.
With that said, I am for personal responsibility to the community. Non-violence is up to every single one of us as individuals to commit to. Having an awareness of each other and working together for our collective safety.  Some of you may be familiar with my work; The Men’s Banner Project.  It is a visual, performance and interactive based artwork developed for men which asks them to make the promise not to use their hands in violence against women, not to ignore or tolerate the violence they witness. The banner is a tool to begin dialogue, show support and build a stronger community through art.  I started at this campus almost five years ago and now I’ve brought the Men’s Banner across Canada. It is my belief that not all people are violent and men can be a positive force in stopping violent crime.

The only real prevention tip I can give is, Don’t Rape.
If a woman is walking alone at night, don’t rape her.
If you see a classmate at a party, don’t rape her.
If your friend has had too much to drink, don’t let him rape anyone.

It is our right as students to attend classes, study and socialize in a safe environment.
It is our right to demand the university has adequate resources for preventative security measures.
Violence against anyone is unacceptable whether it is directed against children, women, men, seniors, people with disabilities, visible minorities or anyone else.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Shit Canadians say to Aboriginal Women

"Drawing attention to the abuse and victimization Aboriginal women face as a result of negative stereotypes in Canadian culture. Activism project for Women's Studies class in reflection after watching the Stolen Sisters documentary."  Description of the video on Youtube. 

This was difficult to listen to all at once. I've had every statement here in some form said to me. It's an incredible thing that my experiences have been shared all across Canada by other Aboriginal people. That the racism (and it is racism) I thought came from individual people, fellow classmates, teachers and strangers I've met was just that, an individual attitude. But, that isn’t the case. Like it’s said in the video systemic racism is ingrained in society’s treatment of Aboriginal people.  Aboriginal women are devalued and the violence they face is trivialized.  
As I work to eliminate violence against women I continue to encounter these false stereotypes placed upon myself and my people. It’s getting to be exhausting.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dignity Revolution Syria

Most of my posts relate to violence against women or the aboriginal peoples of North America. But, I’m against the oppression of all people and violent acts of any kind. I believe combating violence against women is working toward a peaceful world for everyone.   

Tonight I had the opportunity to sit and listen to what is happening in Syria.  Truthfully I did not know much about Syria beyond what I’ve seen in the news.  As a metis woman I’m all too familiar with matters concerning indigenous people represented incorrectly, partially or not at all in the media. The lecture I attended was led by Canadian Syrians, asking for support from the Winnipeg community. I feel it is important to share what I learned and continue to learn more on what’s going on.    

This video is of a flash mob event that happened at The University of Manitoba.

I cried watching this, a lot of the people in this video are my friends and I could not imagine a world without them. It’s frightening and heartbreaking to comprehend not only the loss of life happening but the pain experienced. 

What they are asking for us to do:
Pray for Assad’s end and the revolution triumph. If you don’t pray, wish well for them.
Tell your family members and friends about the Syrian struggle.
Donate for refugees and support relief efforts.
Call your MP and demand an immediate Canadian action to protect the Syrian people.
Call Stephen Harper to expel Assad’s ambassador to Ottawa. 

For more information contact