Sunday, November 3, 2013

A "shameful" protest?

Today, this article came out to denigrate and shame UBC's Take Back the Night march.
Arno Rosenfeld, the author of the piece, writes, "But here’s what the activists decrying the RCMP and colonialism are missing: these assaults aren’t about rape culture or colonialism, nor are the RCMP or the university doing anything wrong. The RCMP aren’t victim-blaming by telling students not to walk alone. They are offering sound advice about how to stay safe at night."

I am nothing short of appalled by his statements. Rape is about rape culture. Rape culture is about rape. For a person of privilege to claim that it not about rape culture, or not about colonialism, is terribly inappropriate - colonialism and misogyny intersect and cannot be pried apart, thus colonialism is implicated in insidious ways. Just because they are not immediately apparent on the surface does not mean that they are there.

The problem, for me, with this march, was that Vancouver Rape Relief, an organization known for its discrimination against trans women, has been allowed to take such a prominent role. At present, there are 450 comments on a Facebook thread, which has women insisting that they are not transphobic yet defending an organization's idea of "women-only space" that excludes trans women. The event page has been entirely unmoderated, and the hate that has appeared there is astounding. Seeing the Take Back the Night event page on Facebook explode into a triggering platform for misogynist (including transmisogynist) trolls is disturbing. So yes, this march was problematic, and I am very concerned about its organization. However, it was thrown together by a handful of students who wanted to make an immediate response to a very pressing event. I'll forgive its inadequacies if these organizers learn from their mistakes and do better next time, particularly as the transphobic comments come from Vancouver Rape Relief supporters/volunteers/staff who were not necessarily affiliated with the march (their intensely problematic statements are another post for another day).

Shame, however? To tell survivors that their protest is shameful is putting salt in a wound. This march had issues, and there is an awful lot of work to be done. I am not ready to applaud the organizers for their work. But please, do not call women's activist work surrounding work "shameful." We have enough internalized shame to cope with, and we certainly do not need more. Shame on this culture, not the survivors who speak out against it.


Anonymous said...

I like your response. I totally agree that that article is appalling...i only read about half and skimmed the rest cus it was so ridiculous. I go to ubc and i took a womens studies course last year and it was incredibly eye-opening. I've been interested in feminism for a while during high school but learning about intersectionality and going into gender in depth and more was just astounding. you read things for the first time and it's just "how is this so hidden? why did i not realize this before?". it makes me so sad to think that other people are not understanding and educated about trans women and men. its ridiculous. i look at my own views about trans and they are understanding and supportive and i do try to be those things as much as possible....but you compare your measly education and view on such matter with other people and it is just unbelievable how people can be so, i don't know, out of touch? delusional? inept? anyways i just rambled but thanks for the response! :)

Dragon said...

Thanks! This is...actually the first non-spam comment I have ever had on my blog. A couple of years back I promised a cookie to the first commenter.

*passes Anonymous a cookie*

To be honest, though, Laura Fukumoto says it better on her Tumblr