Sunday, October 18, 2009

Women are Persons too! Day in Canada

On October 18, 1929, the Canadian Supreme Court determined that women are "Qualified persons under the law." This meant women could be appointed to the Senate, Judiciary, and were entitled to all the rights and privileges granted under the Canadian constitution, known as the British North America Act. Eighty years ago, Canadian women were fully enfranchised (except for the women of Quebec, who weren't granted the right to vote until 1940). Only eighty years ago-literally in the lifetime of our grandmothers. We've still got a long way to go for women to be fully equal citizens, both as the de facto reality of laws on the books and facts on the ground.

Check out some more info on Person's Day and October as Women's History Month in Canada here: http://www.cd.gov.bc.ca/women/whm/persons_day.htm

And the violence continues...

I was going to post something fun today; a list of my favorite TV shows and other things I'm enamored with at the moment. But instead, when I woke up, I saw a friend's status saying that she was freaked out about the stabbing last night up at our main campus. I was slightly alarmed, but as violence seems to be a regular occurrence up there, I pushed it out of my mind and continued with my morning. My internet was down at home so I couldn't get online to check the sadly ubiquitous email from my school alerting us to the violence that had occurred. Typically, this violence is against women at the school, with frequent break-ins tied to sexual assaults, rapes, threats and attempted attacks. I headed to my local library and on the way got a text from a different friend asking if I had heard about what happened last night. I told her all I knew was there had been a stabbing, but knew nothing else.

It turns out that a student was stabbed in the middle of campus after a fire alarm was pulled, forcing everyone out of the Student Union. A fight ensued during the evacuation. This student was a 20 year old football player, a starting cornerback named Jasper Howard. He was stabbed multiple times, along with another student, and died shortly after in the hospital due to his injuries. This is, according to the Hartford Courant article, the third Connecticut college student murdered in the last 6 months. This is the first student of the three who was a man.
I have a paper to write and an exam to study for tomorrow, but I can't really focus. The stabber got away and is at large. I hope & pray that since so many people were around someone saw something that will help catch the killer. This is so tragic and terrible! UCONN has some serious issues with violence, security and safety of its student body that it needs to handle. What is so ironic about this murder and makes it even more tragic is that it comes on the heels of the 30th anniversary of the "Violence in Our Community" Metanoia, which means a changing of the mind. In 1979, there had been many incidents of racial violence and a brutal sexual assault of a grad student. Students demanded time to reflect and come to grips with what was happening on their campus. Campus was shut down for two days and all of the 10,000 students attended vigils, lectures and discussions on what was happening, why it was happening and how to try and stop it. Sadly, 30 years have passed, and as I mentioned before, we get emails all the time about violence at the main campus against women. The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and UCONN is observing Metanoia all month long at all of our campuses. We have planned events that work to raise awareness, educate, and help those who have been victims of violence know they aren't alone. A major aim is to get the alarming facts out there: 90% of the time, a sexual assault victim knows their attacker; 1 in 4 women by the age of 21 have been victims of sexual assault; and most importantly, no matter what, it is not the victim's fault.

Violence in our community is clearly still happening, and at an alarming rate. A friend commented on this murder on fb asking the very serious question "How many deaths will it take till too many have to die?"
We're all waiting, working, praying, and hoping the answer is no more.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Like I breathe...

I miss blogging. I miss writing. I miss the daily, weekly, even monthly chance to analyze, integrate and reflect on the madness of the world through the typed word in this forum, this wondrous medium of the blog. I don't even get to keep up with reading other people's blogs! It's quite ridiculous- tonight I read my bff's blog at its new address for the first time, even tho she moved it months and months ago- since around the last time I posted.

I hate twitter, but am beginning to think it might be a good way just to get all the cool, amazing, disturbing or must read links and features that I come across, since I don't really manage to send out mass emails to my friends and family to make them aware like i used to. FB only reaches so many folks, and since I hardly ever blog, I know the limited readership I once had I have pretty much lost. I hesitate to write now in ways I never did. I worry about the future, about whether giving these words an immortal life on the internet is something I really want to do.

Our super-plugged-in-around-the-clock-data-mining present has not lead to a more open, accepting, understanding and inclusive society; instead, it has lead to a more invasive, judgmental, prying, damning attitude that seeks to impose all the sexist, racist, classist, homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic ideas and standards upon those of us who interact with the virtual world this way. That might be inaccurate- it's really imposing all of those oppressive, institutionalized standards on everyone in society, not just those who participate in web 2.0 through blogs, emails, post to boards, twitter, facebook/myspace/social networking sites, shopping online, listening to internet radio or downloading podcasts/mp3s/pictures/books/documents.

It really concerns me that Van Jones was recently sacked (he technically resigned) because of right wing pressure brought to bear on political views he held when he was younger (he admitted to believing in Communism) and on signing a petition from Color of Change, the progressive group he helped start focused on the needs and issues of people of color. He is the first Obama administration casualty of the right wing smear machine, but not the first Obama-related casualty since his campaign began (Obama had more than one coordinator of Muslim outreach resign during the campaign b/c of rightwing attacks on their past affiliations).
Since the right wing is so thorough and effective at painting progressives and anyone who disagrees with them as evil, unpatriotic undesirables who must be marginalized and punished, it worries me. Does it concern anyone else out there?