“A HumanMade Affair”

“A Human-Made Affair”:

Art Matter’s Society presents a two day event at the Kariton Gallery in conjunction with the Abbotsford Art’s Council.  Saturday, September 24 and Sunday the 25th .  Saturday is  a global day of 100 Poets For Change where organizers hope that poets, singers and speakers will gather at 11 AM. In Abbotsford that is a TBA location as of yet.  The displays and workshops will be starting at 1 PM at the Kariton Gallery.

A Human Made Affair will run from 10 AM-4 PM featuring workshops on ‘made’ items that relate to books like making bookmarks, altered books, steam punk books and there will be workshops on both days on Self-publishing by Penny-a-Line Promotions.

In the evening from 6:30-9:30 PM join poets, writers and performance artists for readings, mingling and conversation.

We are looking forFraserValleywriters who want to read from their work—there is also an opportunity for their chapbook of poetry or novel to be sold at the two-day event. We are still open to any book-related workshop ideas anyone might want to offer.

Contact Gwynne at gwynne1@telus.net

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What is a feminist?

Tired of arguing what it meant to be a feminist, I decided to find out just what a feminist is . . .to me it used to be burning my bra, taking birth control pills, free love and taking a stand for equality for women.  Life was a lot simpler in 1969 when all I had to worry about was free choice, equality and misogynistic pigs.  Younger women look at me and ask, “There are all kinds of feminists, what kind are you?”

What kind?  It made me think about what feminism means now and what it meant in the past.  I knew what some of the ideals of feminism were but had to do research to sort through.  I also wanted to answer the question; is the women’s movement dead? Old feminists who run non-profit organizations and women involved in action committees often lament, “We need to mobilize, the women’s movement is dead.” 

 So, what is feminism and is the women’s movement dead? 

Liberal feminism is a philosophy based on the principal of individual liberty.  Liberal feminists believe that inequality of women stems from the denial of equal rights and from a learned reluctance to demand equality.  As suggested by the term liberal, these feminists believe that equality is gained through social and legal reform.  I don’t think I am a liberal feminist.  I agree in part but can’t commit.

            In the seventies I thought I was part of the radical feminist movement.  I certainly was radical but I have never completely believed that women’s oppression is the worst form of human oppression.  Although I embraced women controlling sexuality by way of birth control and abortion when I was twenty, I no longer see things that way.   I know I will create a lot of argument by saying this, but the so-called sexual revolution destroyed a lot of women.  In an attempt to be in control, many women ended up being promiscuous, having abortions they didn’t want and instead of being a strong woman, lost self-esteem and clarity.  The major goal of radical feminism was to eliminate violence against women by men.  A worthy goal but we didn’t succeed.  I am no longer a radical feminist.

            The roots of socialist feminism were planted in the 19th century but still are at the core of all feminist belief today . . . women’s work is underpaid.  It is a lot more complicated than that and led to Marxist feminism which sought the dissolution of women’s economic dependence from men.  Both valid and good points but limited in scope to what I think a feminist is.

            In the seventies lesbian feminist called for the complete upheaval of the sexist patriarchal system.  That didn’t work in the mainstream but spawned many womyn-only events.  Lesbians were labeled racist and exclusionary and today the lesbian feminist movement is but a shadow of what it was.

            I had never heard of standpoint or anti-racist feminists but apparently they arose out of the fear that mainstream feminism was too focused on white, middle-class women.  This type of feminism looks at the needs of women as individuals by trying to understand the context in which certain groups of women live.

            When I got older I considered myself a not-so-radical feminist.  Now that I am old and wise, I appear to be a post-modern feminist. Post-modern feminism seeks social harmony rather than gender equality. The ideal is equal rights among genders, no blaming and placing less emphasis on the physical differences between men and women. Departing from other feminist beliefs, post-modern feminism places the responsibility for the actions of the movement on the individual rather than the government.

            There is a lot of argument over this wave of feminism saying it is too kind and gentle to make any change.  I would point out here that the histrionics of the past have not stopped the highways from being littered with murdered women.  Taking responsibility for our own actions and the choices we make makes more sense to me then finger pointing and blaming. Men are as frightened in today’s world as we are.  Men are as addicted and abused as we are.  We live in a diseased society.

            Naomi Wolfe is considered to be one of America’s foremost feminist thinkers and while she has come under attack for having visions of Jesus she says quite simply, “I believe each of us is here to repair the world.  She calls the feminist movement fractured and is aware that people are waiting for the Jewish girl to cross-over.  Feminist critics accuse that there is no room within feminism for spiritualism. Just a thought, but maybe that is why the movement is fractured.

            The women’s movement was strong in the sixties and seventies and brought with it positive change but it seems that now the women’s movement has turned on itself. There are women’s groups that war with one another; definitions have become more important than truth, and women do not support one another.  Is the underlying discord about non-profits chasing government funding dollars?

            The women’s movement was an amazing force and should not be written off because of the internal weakness now.  Maybe the focus is on individuals and our ability to make change one person at a time; stand for what we believe in and not be swayed by political funding.  Too many sisters have been bought off by political patriarchal sugar-daddies who write the cheques.  I refuse to say, “in solidarity’ anymore.  It has lost its meaning unless you belong to a union.

            I know this view will make me unpopular but I am unpopular anyway.  I don’t conform to the standards set by the women’s groups with the money.  I’m not angry at men or governments, just tired.  Tired that women and children are still being killed and recognizing that the disease runs deeper then violent men acting out rage against women and children.  It is time for us all of us to stand on our own to heal and love and care.  Reach out and help another woman who is struggling, take a moment to mentor a child, stand up against the bullshit and the rhetoric.  Women are dying; ravaged by beatings, burnings and brutality. 

            The women’s movement is dead because the strong thinking women who fueled the fire quit fire-walking and are now only poking the fire with sticks.

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Spreading the Word

A few Arty Award nominees

A few Arty Award nominees!

Although the Abbotford Art’s Council Arty Awards have been postponed until October 22, 2011–the nominees met May 28 for some pictures and a chance to receive thir award nomination certificates.  I have been nominated for a Literary Award.  I don’t have the names of the other nominees at this time as the Art’s council has not released them-other than Dave Farmer who has been nominated for Art’s Supporter. I will keep you posted as soon as I get a list of the nominees. I’m the one in black in the front . . .as I always say when you are getting run out of town, get in front of the crowd and pretend it’s a parade.

Copies of Ramapge:the pathology of an epidemic can be found on the Island at

Volume One Books-Duncan

Ten Old Books – Duncan

Salamander Books – Ladysmith

In the Fraser Valley at

Murdoch’s Bookshoppe-Mission

In Vancouver

People’s Co-op BookCommercial Drive

Sites:

www.penny-a-line.blogspot.com/

www.gwynnehunt.wordpress.com/

www.ragmag.net

Gwynne Hunt on Hub Pages

email gwynne1@telus.net

Shelley Haggard has sent me some reviews of her new poetry book . . .she will be one of our readers when we do our A Human-Made affair this fall.  About The Haggard Road”:

Mark Striebel says: I love your book! What I appreciate most in the poetry that I like is the great depth without too much ambiguity.
I appreciate the frankness and brashness with which you bear your soul in your writings. 
 
John Herl writes: You show in your love poems strong emotion, a raw reality but sensitive softness. As with your video poems; they have a heartbeat to them. I am fascinated by your choice of photographs. This is a very, very good book.


There is a great website www.peacexpeace.org and they have just published a portion of my piece Can We End Violence Against Women (by Gwynne Hunt)–check it out.  This is the second time they have included my work on their pages and I am honoured by that. Women from all over the world share their stories and concerns on these pages.  I am also publishing health and life-related articles on my Hub Pages-check that out as well. Don’t forget my original site www.ragmag.net where you can find a ton of stuff including some of my lighter and funnier pieces.

There are a lot of self-published writers out there who are finding it hard to promote their books–a friend of mine Shelley Haggard just released her book of poetry The Haggard Road and I would like to offer these pages to other writers as well–send me your stuff and let’s create a space to share our work.

Shelley Haggard was born and raised in Fort St. John, BC and has since lived in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, and now resides in Mission. She began writing at an early age and likes to say she has left no inner or outer stone un-turned. She has won several prizes in poetry contests and has been published widely in various anthologies; many of those poems are included in this first book effort. Another creative interest is photography and some of her photography is included as well. Reading her poetry and stories in public is another area of strength for Shelley. Please check out her video poems at www.youtube.com/shelleyhaggardpoems

“I have tried with this first book to share my love of writing and occasionally the spark of where an idea germinates from. I feel there are many poems in this volume for the reader to connect to. The photos stand alone as stories and sometimes punctuate the poetry. I am very proud of this effort and hope you’ll enjoy the ride on The Haggard Road. The cover photo ended up inspiring the book title; it is a real road sign from Barriere, BC (with a ‘The’ photoshopped in) where my father’s side of the family has its roots.”

Shelley Haggard

In keeping with promoting writers and other creative folks Art Matters Society is planning a Human-Made Event this Fall in Abbotsford–a chance for artists, writers and photographers to show their stuff–if you are interested, get in touch.  gwynne1@telus.net

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Can we end violence against women?

Violence against women—will it ever end?

by Gwynne Hunt

Violence against women is a well-documented fact.  I have spent the last six years researching and compiling a database of names of missing and murdered women and children. It started with Mary Billy’s Facing the Horror: The Femicide List. Doing research for a play I was working on, I tracked the book to a dusty shelf atSimonFraserUniversity inBurnaby,BC.  After contacting Mary she agreed to send me the original newspaper clippings she had gathered over ten years of sitting at her kitchen table doing the research alone

Mary’s collection of names and stories were self-published to a poor response.  It seems nobody cared.  When I got the book I sat down and read the 400-page manuscript and as Mary had predicted it was a case of facing the horror. I read page after page with dread and sadness.  Sometimes Mary’s pain is an overwhelming shadow on the pages.  I found myself running my finger over a name like you do when you find a loved one’s name on a headstone.  There was so much sadness on the pages I was overwhelmed with grief. Mary had collected and told the stories of 1, 850 women murdered since 1989 when Marc Lepine went on a rampage and killed thirteen students and one female employee at Ecole Polytechnique, Universite de Montreal.

When the newspaper clippings arrived in carefully labeled photo albums I knew I had to archive her work and began to cross-reference, research and start a database.  I realized I could not only become ‘the keeper of the list’, I had to do something with it. For five years now we have held a Memory March to honour and inform.  I’ve written two plays that have been performed around the lower mainland, Vancouverand the FraserValley; Mary’s List and Missing. I have just completed a book called Rampage; the pathology of an epidemic and in it I tell the stories, present the list and offer some causes and concerns. Why are we not ending the violence?

Not that I care for labels but I would have to define myself as a post-modern feminist-activist seeking social harmony rather than gender equality. That is not always popular with die-hard radical feminists who only wanted to end violence against women when the journey began back in the seventies.  But all the bra-burning and ‘womyn-only’ events have not changed the way society sees and treats women. I no longer think it is ideal to blame one gender.  We must put the responsibility for the actions of the movement on the individual rather than the government.  We have to stop placing blame.

Reports from Canadian women reveal that 81% have been pushed, shoved or grabbed; 61% have been threatened or hit; 44% have had something thrown at them; 38% have been beaten or choked; 35% were slapped, 27% were kicked, beat or hit, and 16% were sexually assaulted.  Between 1994 and 2003, a history of family violence was present in 6 out of 10 spousal abuse cases. It is a generational problem and the cycle needs to be broken. But a new statistic that has arisen that should cause great sadness is that older women are more likely to be assaulted by family members then older men.  In fact four out of ten older women will be abused and touched by violence.

Sexual assault and abuse pervasively run through this country like a quiet stream.  Studies show that among adult Canadians 53 % were sexually abused as children and something we rarely talk about is that 31% of men were sexually abused. It is no wonder we live in violent and broken societies.  A 2005 report by the Canadian Centre for Justice tracks family violence and reports on the effect the statistics have on our communities. It was discovered that on any typical day in 2004, there were 6,000 women and children in shelters, the majority of which were there to escape abuse.

Women are more likely to miss work later in life if they experienced violence in their lives. Health-related costs to sexual abuse and violence reached into the billions of dollars by the nineties.   Our prisons are full of men and women who committed crimes while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Approximately 80% of major crimes are committed while under the influence.  The majority of people with addictions come from violent or abusive backgrounds. We go around and around, slapping band aid solutions on a gaping wound that cannot he healed.

Child sexual abuse is not something you can ‘get over’ with a few visits to the counselor. But there is a lot more than sexual abuse that is keeping this country sick and troubled; abandonment issues can cause problems in later life.  Many children are in foster care, given up for adoption, left unprotected by a parent and lose a loved one at an early age.  Even being left in the hospital at a young age can have traumatic outcomes.

However we can’t blame the parents and the caregivers, it is time for the wounded to take responsibility for themselves and find a way to be productive, healthy members of society.  Too many people shelve their abuse, neglect or the violence and never deal with it.  You have to. We need to be aware of the issues that affect people before we can change the role that society plays.

Sexual assault is a difficult issue to deal with but what exactly is sexual assault? The Department of Justice defines sexual assault as forcing someone to engage in sexual intercourse or any other sexual act, not stopping sexual contact when asked to and any kissing, fondling, touching, oral/anal sex or sexual intercourse without consent.

Sexual abuse involves using a child for sexual purposes; fondling, inviting a child to touch or be touched sexually, intercourse, rape, incest, sodomy, exhibitionism, or involving a child in prostitution or pornography. If you think about it, it would be hard not to know someone who has been subject to one or several of the above definitions. It would seem that the 53 % of women and 31% of men is a low number given the definitions.

This is a societal problem but the ability to stop this abuse and violence is in the home where we know that children under the age of twelve are most likely to be sexually assaulted. And it is not of any surprise that 97% of all sexual assaults are at the hands of men and as only 20% are stranger assaults we only have to look at our fractured families to find the sickness. 64% of sexual assaults take place in the home

We first have to recognize the role we play and then take steps to stop the violence and abuse. Abuse and neglect cause a mental disorder and you can’t just ‘suck it up’ and ‘get on with life’.  If you are a survivor, and most of us are, take some steps to heal yourself and then you can help others in your family by example.  Break the cycle, break the silence.

Recognize that you don’t want to stay stuck in the place you are in and quit feeling sorry for yourself, quit masking your feelings with drugs and alcohol; quit running away. Recognize that you have a legitimate reason for being angry but you need to forgive the abuser and yourself in order to heal and move on.   There are no simple answers to healing a broken soul.  Take the first step; recognize you are broken and then seek ways to become whole. We can stop the violence, neglect and abuse one brave person at a time.

Society needs honour women; in their roles as mothers, wives, sisters, grandmas, aunts.  The stigma of being a sex trade worker or drug addict needs to be addressed with love and compassion.  We need to quit looking at women who are violated and murdered and think, ‘that won’t happen to me—I live in a good neighborhood, I don’t sell my body or hitchhike or live on a reserve’.  That type of racist, blame-thinking keeps us feeling superior and untouchable. And yet domestic violence is the reason most women are murdered.

When was the last time you stood up at a party and admonished a joke-teller who was telling demeaning jokes about women, or about anybody?  When was the last time you checked the video games your son was playing—violent games that award scores for killing ‘hookers’?

We are all responsible for the missing women and the murdered women and children.  We should not allow violent material, pornography and sexist video games in our homes. Our boys are growing up with less respect for women than their fathers had and that is a scary thought.

We have to change the language we use.  We need to quit allowing pornography into our homes and boycott movies that desensitize rape and murder.  We have to stop buying products from companies that produce commercials that objectify women.  An obsessive addiction to pornography has been linked to serial killers but at the very least the violence we absorb is turning our children into uncaring violence junkies.

Mary Billy believes that we won’t see a decline in violence because, as she says, “We live in a patriarchal society and any time we forget that, we are dreaming in technicolour. Even our police system is a semi-military organization.  It is well-known that over one-third of all female police officers, firefighters and military women are raped or suffer sexual harassment.”

Homicides of women appear to be down slightly but violence reports are higher.  StatisticsCanadahas shown a dip in the numbers of women killed every year from over 200 to between 165-175.  Seventeen percent of Canadians accused of murder in 2006 were accused of murdering a spouse of former spouse—72% of the victims were women.  Over the eleven previous years, the rate was 82%.  But I maintain that there are so many missing women we cannot determine if they are dead and if we knew the real numbers, they would be up not down. How do we know that a large number of missing women are not dead? Serial killers are smarter, sneakier and more aware of how to hide bodies then ever before.

There has been a lot of controversy overVancouver’s Downtown Eastside murdered and missing women.  It took years of agitating by family members and friends to get the police to do anything about the large numbers of missing women.  Many argued that had the women been from middle-class or nice neighborhoods the cops would have been looking for them a lot sooner.  That is true.  If sixty-nine (the number changes depending on what agency is involved but sixty-nine was the highest number to appear on the list at one time) women disappeared from a good neighbourhood there would have been search parties.  There would have been a public outcry, wouldn’t there?

Canadians have to stop looking at murdered women as belonging to individual ethnic groups or from sharing particular socio-economic backgrounds, certain neighborhoods, or as being involved in a dangerous trade, or having a particular addiction; all women are in danger.   Lines should not be drawn.  It keeps us too focused on coming up with excuses.  We need to focus on the reasons that we allow such anger and violence against women.  We not only allow it, we breed it.  The youngest domestic violence victim between 2003-2005 inOntariowas only fifteen, the oldest victim was 89.

The same report listed the most common form of death was stabbing which is personal—the rate was 41 %.

As long as we base ending violence on funding we will never make significant changes. Women’s groups compete with each other to fund programs. Strong feminists, who used to fire-walk, now simply circle the flames poking the ashes with sticks.  It is my experience that women’s groups do not support one-another.  There should be no competition in the war against ending violence.

As I interviewed grassroots workers for my book and compiled the list, I felt more despair and frustration because I could not find a definitive answer.  We have problems with our justice system—with ineffective restraining orders, light sentences, early parole.  We label and dissect women, objectify and demean women.  We look to the government to solve all our community problems—hands out-stretched for more money to fix this or end that; instead of taking control of the problem in our own homes first, in our heart and in our lives.  We are so used to quick-fixes we get lost in the fine balance of healing our communities.  We have lost our vision in many cases.

Women stood together to get the right to vote, in the sixties and seventies women stood together to get better pay, better child care, health care, education and to end violence.  Huge goals have been achieved in pay equity, child care, health care and education but we are stuck with the violence we grew up with still surrounding us.  In that respect, we have not come a long way.

We need to respect the missing and murdered women with memorials—the memorials we have now across Canada are mostly for the 14 women killed in 1989; a few for individual women who were murdered.  Where is the memorial –the black wall that would stretch across this country naming the dead, paying tribute to women who have been killed?  Even inVancouver’s Downtown Eastside when we hold our marches and walk toThorntonPark—we sit on benches that have been erected to honour the fourteen women killed inMontreal.  What about the women killed by Willie Pickton—the women murdered and taken from the streets—where is their memorial?

Feminist Marilyn French once said that’ patriarchy is tricky and we mustn’t underestimate it.  It is enormously difficult to reduce violence’.  We have to begin.  Every member of society has to take responsibility.  Eliminate the negative words we call women.  Don’t ask what she was wearing when she was raped. Don’t feel good and safe because she was in the wrong part of town.  Do not get comfortable in your home—most women die there.  Do not get comfortable with your age—more grandmothers are being killed than ever before.  It is part of that problem we have with fractured families, a lot of time grandma is the one taking care of the neglected angry grandson.

In 2004 a 14 year old mentally troubled boy raped and defiled his grandmother inWinnipeg. Because he can’t be named, neither can she—she is on my list as 79 year old unnamed grandmother. I want to honour her. Her grandson smothered her and her nude body was spray painted and stuffed into a closet.  She had been repeatedly raped and disfigured with a knife following her death.  Even her dog had been poisoned. She struggled fiercely to survive and we can only imagine her suffering.  He got six years. Lucky for us, he did not get out in 2010 because he has not cooperated in prison—he is frequently caught with pornography in his cell and masturbating in front of female guards.  But he will get out and he will live next door to one of us.

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Gender Violence & Self-Mutilation

Disfigurment; real & self-imposed  by Gwynne Hunt

Who would have ever thought that cheap sulfuric acid would increase gender violence towards women?  It is estimated that over 200 acid mutilations occur in Bangladesh every year.  Our western publications cover cases of gender violence on a regular basis.  Shocking but not overwhelming until you really think about how many women are burned and mutilated for dowry disputes and domestic fights.

I read a report last year about a woman inBangalore,India who is blind and disfigured because her boss who was in love with her threw acid on her when she refused to return to work and his advances.  Hassena is not alone as it is estimated that thousands of young women in India have been burned when they have spurned lovers or have tarnished the family honour.

A report from Cambodia claims that not only men use acid to disfigure women but other women prefer this method of revenge.  It is reported that two thirds of acid attacks are perpetrated by women.  An angry wife of a government official threw acid on her husband’s 17-year-old mistress.  In a poor country like Cambodia where girls don’t have equal access to education, beauty can be the only way to a comfortable life.  The aim of disfigurement is not to kill but to strip a woman of her beauty.

In western culture we find other means of attacking women’s self-esteem so they literally disfigure themselves with anorexia and bulimia.  During the selfish generation of the 80s it was popular to believe that you cant be too rich or too thin.  Fat people have always been seen as not as bright, not as desirable, not as acceptable.  Ugly women aren’t very popular.

A healthy body image is the most important tool a woman can have today to succeed.  We are held back by our fear of being unacceptable and most of our vulnerability comes from the way we look.  The average woman sees 400-500 advertisements a day and by the time she is 17 she has seen 250.000 commercials.

Advertisers often put huge emphasis on sexuality and the importance of physical attractiveness.  Being thin and beautiful is the ideal standard  for women.  The diet industry generates billions of dollars in revenue each year.  Marketing tactics tend to stress the health benefits of being thin but it is really about looking good.

Women compare themselves to other women.  If you watch commercials with nothing but thin women you begin to feel bad about your tummy and your flab.  Look at all the shows on television where the wives are beautiful thin model types and the husbands are fat, overgrown boys.  Yeah, isn’t that every boys dream?  Men don’t feel the pressures to be beautiful and thin as much as women.

Certainly there is a trend for men to wax, pluck and exfoliate these days.  More men exercise and take care of themselves and many bow to the same societal pressures as women.  But no man feels the pressure to be beautiful as much as a woman does.  Men can be slightly homely and still pass for attractive if they clean up nice.  A homely woman is a homely woman and women are still judged by their looks more then men.  You rarely hear of a man being disfigured by a jealous girlfriend.

How we define what is beautiful depends on society.  Regardless of era  there has always been an expectation for women to be beautiful and destroying her beauty the greatest insult.

In the early 1900s women attempted to contort their bodies for that thin corseted hourglass look. Flappers in the 1920s were supposed to be free of those Victorian traditions with their flat-chested skinny little bodies.  They were still slaves to being desirable and beautiful.  We went from full-body curves in the 1950s to the skinny Twiggy look of the 60s and evolved into the 80s feeling smug because now we were just being healthy and fit.  Healthy and fit with lovely faces.

Only about 4% of women in the 90s obtained that frail waif-like look naturally.  Now most women don’t have the large breasts and narrow hips that the models do.  Skinny gaunt women with that ‘junkie’ look tend to be junkies.  The average woman is 5 foot 4 inches tall and weighs at least 140 pounds.  Most of those average women spend enormous amounts of time trying to look like 4% of the population.  So the norm is not set by our peers but by the media, advertising and marketing.

How many older women do we have to see on television that have had face lifts before we feel sensitive about our own waddles?   So more women are heading to the plastic surgeons to look good and mutilate their own bodies to look like what they perceive the rest of the world does.  Supporters of do what every makes you feel good don’t take into consideration that is societal pressures that makes us feel bad.   In the 50s, 50-year-old women looked like 50-year-old women.  Now 60-year-old women look 40 and that leaves the majority of women feeling fat, stupid and ugly.

If make-up makes you feel good about the way you look, ask yourself this simple question, if nobody wore make-up would you?  Not likely, because we would all look like we just got out of bed and have uneven complexion and blah eyes.  We base our appearance on what everyone else looks like.  When it was a fad in the early 1900s to have a straight nose women wore a horrible contraption called a nose shaper that was metal and adjusted by screws.  Today, they just get nose jobs.

Young girls use make-up to look attractive and older, older women use make-up to look attractive and younger.  Women don’t wear make-up to look attractive to men . . . we wear it to look attractive to each other and to fit in to what society says we should look like.  We strive every day to fit the description.

There is such a huge emphasis placed on flaw-concealment.  Beauty icons worked hard for a natural look in the 60s.  Then towards the end of the 80s we had the Madonna women who symbolized what a woman was supposed to be then.  Very sexy, feminine but in charge, in control.  A big homely women in charge would be called a lesbian.  So, as I understood it I could be woman and I could be strong but I had to look devilishly cute while doing it.

Cosmetic surgery has simply raised the bar and made looking good even more obtainable and while I wear make-up and do my best to look good I balk at surgery and find I am overly annoyed at my sisters who go under the knife to maim and cut themselves.  They are leaving us hard-nosed realistic women behind like the ugly stepsisters while like Cinderella they run off to the ball with everything they ever wished for.

From the turn of the 20th century to now the predominant feature of beauty is the importance of outward appearance and obsession with everything beautiful.  Beauty is linked with success and success to happiness.  You can destroy someone’s happiness if you take away their beauty.  We may not have a rash of acid throwing in North America but gender-violence is on the rise against women and girls.

Strong women on this planet today don’t have to wait to be attacked or maimed– we mutilate ourselves in order to keep looking good.

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Ending violence

Every year 160-200 women are killed in Canada. We know about 100 children are murdered every year as well. What are we doing about it?

Do you even know what is going on in your back yard? next door?  What about in your own house? Do you use derogatory language when talking about women, allow sexist video games in your home, tell blonde jokes?

We have to change our language and the way we talk about women, the way we label them, dissect them and demean them.  I’ve spent the last six years working on The List of 4,000 missing and murdered women and children in Canada-3 years on my newly released book Rampage:the pathology of an epidemic. For five years now we have been doing the Memory March-a walk/vigil to honour the women and children. But for many years before that I have worked in my own way to help ease the violence against women by doing Spirit to Heal workshops, producing plays with an anti-violence message and by my other writings.

I would love to come to your group meeting, your club, organization or event and speak about the issues we are facing and how we can change the way we think, how we can make a difference.

Contact me at gwynne1@telus.net to book a time.  We can change the world one person at a time.

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Reader’s Respond

I just found this on tumblr. but did not put the writer’s name on it as I don’t know it-just a blog I found interesting about Rampage:the pathology of an epidemic

I’m reading a new book Rampage;the pathology of an epidemic. It’s by Gwynne Hunt and it is basically about a list. Specifically, the femicide List. Gwynne Hunt took the task of completing a list of all the murdered/missing women across Canada (and children, as well, eventually) from Mary Billy in approximately 2005.

In “Rampage” she gives the reader a ist of names, one letter list per chapter and offers comments and stories about her experiences putting the list together, organizing marches, and most commonly, about the victim’s listed. I am only on the third chapter “c” so it’s not very far in at all . . .but already I think this is a worthwhile read. Even if it is painful.

 

I just finished reading Rampage and I have to say I think you did a hell  of a job on it. I know you got started on the ‘List’ thanks to Mary Billy but I have to say I thought the way you formatted the names in the book made it easier to digest the sad content. I am sorry as hell for the women who have been murdered and or disappeared. I am sorry that you have this enormous responsibility of trying to record these terrible events but I wanted you to know I am grateful for the truth of what goes on in our big back yard of a country. My words are small and may not reach many ears but I will keep writing and trying to bring the issue to light.
Your book is HUGE and I know you will keep the faith. Your book, your work, is amazing and I have the utmost respect for everything you do. You are brave and strong and wise and don’t forget how pivotal this work will be to effecting change. Just hang in there, you and Mary will see, I know it!
 
much love Shelley

(Shelley Haggard-poet-Mission, BC)

Hi Gwynne,
Got the book yesterday and read it cover to cover. Other than too much Mary Billy, it’s a terrific thing you’ve done. It brings it all back, that deep, deep hurt to the heart at the violent nature of these murders. Such hatred against women, it boggles the mind. And makes me think there is something much deeper going on. I wonder what that is?
 
Thanks again for this huge effort. You must be proud. I hope you are. None of us can fix it alone, but each step each of us takes counts in the overall solution, or at least betterment of treatment of women. Not to say that we don’t still have a long, long way to go.
 
I hope this book gets the exposure it so deserves. Stay in touch and let me know how it goes, okay?
Love,
Mary 
(Mary Billy-poet-activist-Squamish, BC)
 
Hi Gwynne:I rec’d your book yesterday and read it from front to back last p.m.  You
did a great job and I commend you for your tenacity. I certainly identified
when you mentioned how mentally exhausting it is to maintain the list and
try hard not to internalize how tragic these senseless deaths are.  I now
realize why at times, I just can’t open the file and begin new postings.
Also, we are on the same page where our thinking is concerned.  I agree that
we need both genders to speak against the violence and male bashing solves
nothing.
Thank you so much for allowing me to contribute to your book. 
I have recommended to a couple of people to send away for it.
Regards,
Barbara

(Barbara Mills-activist-Toronto, ON)
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Editor’s Notes

“Spring has sprung, the grass is riz”.  That phrase is often credited to Ogden Nash or ee cummings but the author is anonymous-the title of the poem is “Spring in the Bronx”

March 19th–the day before spring sprung in Abbotsford, BC we held our fifth annual Memory March and the International Celebration of Women.  Poorly attended because people are apathetic about missing and murdered women and children. Who cares? Not in my backyard–but women are murdered in our backyards everyday. 

I didn’t realize how depressing it was working every day on a book about murdered women and children-well, I realized it was depressing but I didn’t think I was that burdened by it-it was a job that had to be done.  Now that I am finished I feel happy again. I realized I had not been happy for a long time. Whenever my grandkids are around I am happy but the rest of the time I have been very burdened. But now it is done.

I hope there is a ground swell of support for my book-it deserves to be read for the incredible content and to honour the women and children. I wrote it to archive the work of grassroots workers, and to record the names of the missing and murdered.

So far, there has been no rush to buy Rampage:the pathology of an epidemic.  I’ve done all the groundwork I can to make it available on-line, emailed hundreds of women’s agencies (sold one), waited for relatives to show support buy buying a book but beyond a cousin who bought and sold 15 books and another second cousin selling 3 or 4, most of the relies have remained silent.  Doesn’t concern them I guess or interest them.  I have friends but lots of people know me from years of doing The Vagina Monologues-we probably directed over 300 women over the years . . .my guess is, a good number of them know about the book. I haven’t sold one to any of the ‘giners.  We raised $70,000 for non-profits around the lower mainland and Fraser Valley-organizations who work to end violence against women . . .hmmm, no sales there either.

I could take it personal but the book is too huge for that, it is not personal–not to me, but to the 4,000 names I carefully collected and lovingly added ot the pages, it is personal; to the families, the ones left behind.  The book is to honour them.  Raise awareness. Fuel the outrage we should all feel and yet after emailing 170 women’s groups across the country I only sold 1 book.

I have yet to get the book into the bookstores and know my market is through going to events and speaking; and I will get there but in the meantime, I had thought that with all the people I know and all the events I have organized and all the hearts I have touched in these last 20 years that my book would have been scooped up within the first few weeks.

But that was not meant to be and I have to reflect on the small support system I do have and appreciate the few who share my struggles and who even give a damn.

If you give a damn, you can order the book by emailing gwynne1@telus.net

pay by cheque or Visa or Master Card

$22 plus HST plus shipping=$29.64

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Memory March Press

Gwynne Hunt believes the death of any woman and girl due to violence is inexcusable.

So inexcusable that she has organized an Abbotsford Memory March, a silent walk and ceremony in remembrance of the hundreds of women that go missing or are murdered each year across Canada.

Hunt hopes Abbotsford residents of all genders and ages feel equally outraged, and will attend the march on Saturday to remember the victims of violence and work for change.

The event follows hard on the heels of International Women’s Day today, a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

While women have secured many gains over the last few decades, freedom from violence is not one of them, said Hunt.

“We had the feminist movement in the 70s, but 40 years later the violence against women is still the same,” she said.

“There’s lot of equality in other ways, but not as far as violence is concerned.”

An average of 200 women and girls are murdered annually, said Hunt, who intends to display the names of almost 4,000 victims of violence at the end of the march in Thunderbird Memorial Square.

The catalogue of names is something Hunt took over in 2005 from another women’s rights activist, Mary Billy, who started the Femicide List after the Montreal Massacre in 1989 when Marc Lepine murdered 14 women.

“Mary wanted to list the names,” said Hunt.

“We all knew the name of Marc Lepine, but she couldn’t find the names of the victims anywhere.”

Seeing the names of murdered and missing women is important and makes their deaths more real, more concrete, she added.

“We need to honour all these women and children who are gone,” Hunt said.

“I don’t think many people know how many women are dying in a violent way.”

The Memory March is the fifth to be organized by Hunt, but it is the first time it’s being held in Abbotsford.

Previously, the event took place in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, but Hunt decided it was time to bring attention to violence against women in her hometown.

“I feel strongly there needs to be more of this kind of action in this city, and other smaller and medium-size cities, rather than just in large urban centres.”

The march is not just about grieving, but empowerment as well, as participants feel connected and hopeful of change, said Hunt.

Everyone is welcome at the event, she added.

“Feminism today is everyone working together [for change], rather than pointing fingers,” she said.

“We need to change the violence in homes and the violence we subject our children to.

“If we become more aware it, maybe we can change the problem.”

w The Memory March is Saturday, March 19 and starts at 10 a.m. from the Mill Lake water spray park at 2310 Emerson Street. The march will travel to Thunderbird Memorial Square adjacent to City Hall for the final ceremony and vigil. This year the Memory March is followed by arts performances at the International Celebration of Women from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and/or from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Best Western Regency Conference Centre, 32110 Marshall Road. Tickets cost $6.

For more information visit ragmag.net/memory-march/.

RBaker@abbotsfordtimes.com

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Rampage:the pathology of an epidemic


My business is as a publisher of small poetry chapbooks, memoirs, social activism books and cookbooks. As a writer, creative writing teacher and as a playwright, I offer all editing and writing services.

“Rampage; the pathology of an epidemic” is my own work. The cover is a painting by Kristen Hunt-Jones and winner of the People’s Choice award for a 2010 Amnesty International fundraiser event in Vancouver.

On March 19th, the book ‘Rampage; the pathology of an epidemic’ written by Gwynne Hunt was released at the International Celebration of Women in Abbotsford. The book is Hunt’s personal journey over the last six years working on the book and the Memory March (a walk/vigil honouring over 4,000 missing and murdered women and children in Canada). It includes interviews with grassroots’ workers she met. There are a lot of individual, concerned people who work to end violence against women. One of those women is Mary Billy, a writer and activist in Squamish. There are interviews, case stories and conversations with family member’s who have lost loved ones. The book is not about how we are going to end the violence but an examination of the problems, concerns and stereotypical thinking that keeps us trapped in a cycle of violence. Included are the names of 4,000 missing and murdered women and children that have been compiled for The List.

The book archives the struggles of grassroots’ workers who actively try to raise awareness and focus a light on the violence against women. Domestic violence accounts for most of the murders but media tends to focus on ethnic groups and women at risk. All women are at risk and it is time society stood up united to end the violence.

Rampe:the pathology of an epidemic

cover by Kristen Hunt-Jones

 

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