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April 25, 2018

This is not okay

On Saturday I came across a scene that was surreal, whose pieces I couldn’t put together until the whole thing was explained to me. My husband was standing on the corner of Bloor Street and Spadina Avenue with our children picking up litter as a part of our neighbourhood clean-up—and this man was screaming at him about feminism. Not very articulately, mind you, and one got the impression from this man’s oration that he wasn’t one of the world’s great thinkers. He was yelling, “Fucking feminists. Go to India! That’s where they need you.” Which, incidentally, is one of my favourite rhetorical strategies, enabling a speaker to be misogynist and racist at once. And my husband was being remarkably patient for a person who was being screamed at while picking up litter in the street with his children. He kept saying, “Raising up girls doesn’t mean bringing other people down.” Repeating it like a mantra. Eventually the man continued on his way, no doubt to an engagement that was probably very pressing. And I realized the origin of this conflict, which was the button my husband wears on his coat, a button from the Women’s March in January.

If the brutal events of Monday afternoon had never happened (and I refuse to call it a tragedy. A tragedy suggests something inevitable, natural, but terrible. Brutal murder is not a tragedy) then that weird scene I came upon on Saturday would be an amusing anecdote, that one time my white husband was screamed at for feminism and told to go back to India. A bizarro version of the status quo—but what happened Monday affirms that this is the status quo. Attitudes like this man’s, and that of a man who’d see fit to run down a street full of women, are shockingly widespread and normal. And of course not everyone who holds those opinions is screaming on a corner or partaking in a murderous rampage. That’s not the point. Obviously these men are unhinged, but my point is that anti-feminist rhetoric is the fuel.

It is not so much that a man could hate women enough to feel entitled to go out and commit an act of mass murder that surprises me—I was ten years old in 1989 after all. This is the world I’ve come of age in. I also know that Monday’s violence is really not such an anomaly—Canadian women are murdered by their male partners all the time. But what continues to baffle me again and again are the people who refuse to see it. The people who claim that misogyny is not a thing, and that strong women don’t need feminism, and even that feminism is hurting men. Even worse: that feminism is the cause of this kind of violent behaviour, as though women have brought it on themselves. Fully absolving us all from taking responsibility for our part in perpetuating a culture that teaches men to act this way.

This is not normal. This is not okay.

3 thoughts on “This is not okay”

  1. Juliet says:

    I agree. But just on another earlier point you mentioned: picking up litter on the city streets? That kinda shocked me. Don’t you pay taxes for the city to do that?

    1. Kerry says:

      It was Earth Day! Special occasion and neighbourhood get-together—and we got lunch.

  2. Agreed, agreed, agreed. People are weird. So many live a life that is permitted now BECAUSE of feminism’s fight for equal rights, yet don’t see it at all. The blindness and irrationality of so many is what really gets me down sometimes.
    Signed, Hornswoggled

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