‘Be­ing a woman re­mains the least safe you can be’

Vicky Mochama on We­in­stein al­le­ga­tions

StarMetro Halifax - - NEWS - Vicky Mochama is Metro’s na­tional colum­nist. She ap­pears ev­ery Mon­day, Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day.

Be­ing a woman re­mains the least safe you can be.

After rev­e­la­tions from the New Yorker and the New York Times that ilm pro­ducer Har­vey We­in­stein is a serial preda­tor and al­leged rapist, he has been ired from the ilm com­pany he co-founded. Since al­le­ga­tions arose last week, more and more women have come for­ward with sto­ries of ha­rass­ment, in­clud­ing Gwyneth Pal­trow and An­gelina Jolie.

It would be shock­ing if it wasn’t sick­en­ingly fa­mil­iar.

There are the ru­mours that “ev­ery­one knew” but not ev­ery­one knew. There are the peo­ple — friends, as­sis­tants, col­leagues — who looked away when they knew that dan­ger lurked for some­one else. This is time and money work­ing in tan­dem. Money bought lawyers who won him se­crecy and si­lence that, in turn, gave him over three decades’ worth of time to abuse women.

And there is the man him­self: a ma­li­cious, cruel man whose be­hav­iour can only be ex­plained by know­ing that some men love power as much as they hate women.

In many ways, We­in­stein’s preda­tory be­hav­iour hid in plain sight. Mag­a­zines en­vi­sioned his re­tribu­tive and men­ac­ing per­son­al­ity as drive, bom­bast and ge­nius pol­i­tick­ing. His friend­ships with politi­cians and celebri­ties pro­vided cover for him to tar­get those he per­ceived as vul­ner­a­ble, us­ing that same power and priv­i­lege.

We­in­stein’s time is up. So too is Bill O’reilly’s, Bill Cosby’s, Jian Ghome­shi’s and (fa­tally) Roger Ailes’. What­ever re­demp­tion these preda­tors may at­tempt should be re­sisted and not al­lowed to suc­ceed.

Oth­ers have suc­cess­fully evaded ac­count­abil­ity in the public eye — Mel Gib­son, Ter­rence Howard, Mike Tyson, Ben Roeth­lis­berger, the pres­i­dent of the United States — but the col­lec­tive mem­ory of women is long. I do not in­tend to for­get.

These are the per­pe­tra­tors we know. They are not out­liers.

Women con­tinue to face a con­sis­tent level of dan­ger. Since 1999, other crimes have de­clined but sex­ual as­sault has re­mained con­sis­tent, ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics Canada ig­ures re­ported in the Globe and Mail. In 2014, the per­cent­age of sex­ual as­saults re­ported to po­lice was less than one per cent.

Of those that are re­ported, a Globe in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that po­lice dis­missed a ifth as “base­less” and thus un­founded — a dis­missal rate higher than any other crime.

In We­in­stein’s case, the Times re­ported only one case brought to po­lice. Pros­e­cu­tors de­clined to charge We­in­stein de­spite taped ev­i­dence of him ad­mit­ting to as­sault.

Too of­ten, women carry the bur­den of men’s vi­o­lence. Iden­ti­fy­ing as a woman and be­ing a racial­ized woman in­creases the like­li­hood that a woman will ex­pe­ri­ence sex­ual and phys­i­cal as­sault, ac­cord­ing to stud­ies com­piled by the Welles­ley In­sti­tute.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cana­dian Women’s Foun­da­tion, a woman is killed by an in­ti­mate part­ner ev­ery six days.

Yet the vis­i­bil­ity of vi­o­lence against women has not de­creased the dan­gers for women.

Basil Borut­ski got in his car, drove to Carol Cul­leton’s house and killed her. They were friends. He killed Anas­ta­sia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmer­dam on the same day in 2015. He had dated both women. He now stands trial in Ottawa, ad­mit­ting he killed them but deny­ing it was mur­der.

Vi­o­lence dis­pro­por­tion­ately inds women; when it does not end our lives, it marks us.

If there has been a fem­i­nist rev­o­lu­tion, it has re­vealed the dan­ger of be­ing a woman. It has not changed the men who cre­ate that dan­ger.

Vi­o­lence dis­pro­por­tion­ately inds women; when it does not end our lives, it marks us.

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