On a day when the Winnipeg Free Press runs a story about over a 1000 missing and murdered aboriginal women, you don’t have to go very far to start to see why issue like these don’t get the attention and action they need.
In fact, all you have to do is look at Gordon Sinclair’s column the same day.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably the furthest thing from a Gordon Sinclair fan there is, but reading his column brought the acidic taste of bile to my throat. While his original idea for a column may have merit, his equation of violence against women is vile and disgusting:
“Men aren’t supposed to hit women, and political leaders aren’t supposed to slap big supporters of either gender in the face, but that, figuratively speaking, is what Trudeau has done to Taraska-Alcock.
Not only was she co-chairwoman of Trudeau’s leadership campaign in Manitoba — smack — she was encouraged to run after the Liberals’ popular young leader said he wanted more female candidates — whack.”
I question how this column could have even made it to print. Does the Winnipeg Free press not have editors?
I’m thankful that nobody in my family has been the victim of domestic violence and I feel for those that have. I thought as a society, we have realized how much of an issue this is. From Sinclair’s column, apparently we haven’t, so let me give you some sobering statistics:
- In 2010, there was a rate of 363 per 100,000 population of intimate partner violence. That’s 2.5 times higher than against other family members.
- 51% of the victims of intimate partner violence suffer injuries
- Over 65% of spouses accused of homicide have a history of family violence.
- 70% of the victims of domestic violence are female
- The risk of becoming a victim of domestic violence is twice as high for females as it is males.
- Women aged 15 and older account for 81% of all spousal violence victims.
And yet, Mr. Sinclair seems to think he can just insinuate that lack of political support is the same as violence against women. We wouldn’t accept this column if Mr. Sinclair had brought Ms. Taraska-Alcock’s race into it. What if instead of using Ms. Taraska’s gender as the basis of comparison ( we know he wouldn’t bring domestic violence up if Ms. Taraska was male), he compared it to racial slurs? Would we stand for that? Of course not.
Every time we refuse to take the subject seriously, every time we joke about the issue, we re-victimize the victims of violence.
And that’s what Mr. Sinclair has done here. And the Free Press, by publishing this article is no better. By not handing it back, by not telling Mr. Sinclair that his terminology is inappropriate and unacceptable, by publishing it , they give tacit approval to Mr. Sinclair’s words. They give tacit approval to violence against women.
So how do we address this? How do we fight this? Domestic violence and specifically violence against women isn’t a gender issue, it’s a societal issue. Just because as a male I’m less likely to be victimized by domestic violence doesn’t lessen the impact of the issue for me. This is something that all of us as a society have to address.
And then we read the cover story about over 1000 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women and we wonder why is nothing being done. Or even worse we gloss over it as just another piece of bad news. The columns go hand in hand you see. By printing articles like Mr Sinclair’s that demean and trivialize violence against women it acts to desensitize us, to make us forget and dismiss the impact of the issue. Wab Kinew asked on Twitter, how can 1000 missing and murdered indigenous women not be the top story? Because stories like Mr. Sinclair’s condition us to think that violence against women is a matter to be trivialized, that it doesn’t matter. That it can be joked about. That’s why. And that’s abhorrent.
So again, how do we address it? We take stands, firm hard stands, that this is not acceptable and that actions like Mr. Sinclair’s will not be tolerated in our society. We take a page out of the NBA’s playbook in their reaction to Mr. Sterling’s racist comments and react swiftly and harshly. A message needs to be sent not only to those that think domestic violence is a joking matter but also in a tangential manner to those that perpetrate that we as a society don’t tolerate it.
We do this as a society by telling the Free Press that this writing is not acceptable.
The Free Press does this by immediately dismissing Mr. Sinclair.