Today marks the 17th anniversary of the death of 14 women, shot dead at Ecole Polytechnique.
Barbara Marie Klueznick
This morning when I woke, the clock radio was tuned to the CBC as usual, and Sounds Like Canada host Shelagh Rogers was talking to three people who had called in responses to a segment from the day before
, about the book Remembering Women Murdered by Men. One of the thoughts that was expressed by two of today's guest was a general unease with the title of the book itself. No one wanted to say it was wrong -the numbers are unquestionable
But at the same time, the title seemed to make even Shelagh and one of the female callers a bit uncomfortable. It seemed to sit as not quite right to them, and thinking on it I think I have a theory as to why.
I think that it needs to be acknowledged first, that while rare, it does happen that physically abusive behaviour in relationships is sometimes perpetrated by women, and emotional abuse is common enough from both sexes. I think those exceptions help to illustrate that the problem has very little to do with anything hard wired. I think it's a gendered problem. As in the rolls assumed to be conventionally appropriate to men and women based on their sex. Its about dominance games, and the acceptance of our opposite sex as true peers, and not the other side from another planet.
In the end I agree with Shelagh's guests, who concluded that the book title is not objectionable, but makes them uneasy somehow. I think we need to listen to the twinge they had, and I do as well, whenever we feel this problem is being simplified in a way that may undermine finding a solution.
The book title works well to do what it should; Making us think about this truth and begin to ask questions. But we should not let it simplify our view of the real problem.
And I think that problem is the popular notion of dealing with the opposite sex as an alien species, one that needs to be controlled or held at arms length, and put down, either literally or metaphorically when it's seen as out of line. It seems to me this common model will inevitably lead to abuse regardless if the one holding those ideas is a man or a woman.
The truth is that so far, as far as we know there are very few real behavioural differences hardwired into the sexes, and that many of those we take for granted as being male or female are as much the result of social conditioning and roll playing as biological gender.
These ideas are pervasive because of the way people are raised, not wired. They are taught to see the opposite sex. And this is the responsibility of both sexes, of society as a whole, not just men. And they can change.
So for today that's my two cents. Take a moment to think about all the assumptions you tend to hold about the opposite sex, and really everyone else while were at it, and question why you would think they would apply to all individuals.
Why is it that we tend as a society to be so reluctant to take on a little more work in our day to day dealing with each other, by putting aside our time saving assumptions and actually get to know the others that you meet. Are we really that lazy?