Feminist Perspective on the G8/G20?

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Feminist Perspective on the G8/G20?

I'm hoping wiser feminists can help me.  Here are the pieces I'm trying to put together:


The G8/20

The allegations of sexual assault of girls and women arrested this weekend by the police

A comment in a thread earlier today, where an ally made a (rhetorical, I know) comment that perhaps the wives and daughters of the cops should be dumped in a freezing cage so the cops can see how it feels - this was said in defense of the young women arrested this past weekend

Discussions with the people I work with, of wide political opinions. The two predominant things they have been talking about about this weekend are being disturbed by seeing images of teenage girls being arrested, held in the rain by the cops and being pissed off seeing teenage boys and young men "rioting" on the streets of Toronto, without appearing to be arrested.

My perception that the mostly male black bloc exercised their tactics, then blended in to the peaceful crowd or left - which I don't think respects others' tactics - and many young women suffered the consequences. (I don't actually know how the arrests break down by gender and age.)

Concern for a feminist activist I know and respect who I believe is still incarcerated. She strongly supports (or has supported) DOT.

The argument that "what counts" in this fabulous? victory is that no one is talking about what Harper wants to talk aobut. And we'll waste this opportunity it we get too analytical and wring our hands over this and that. (When I hear "what counts" I think of Marilyn Waring, Counting for Nothing - What Men Value and What Women Are Worth.)

My two beautiful children, but today, particularly my daughter.


I'm not even really sure what I'm asking for here.


Ripple, like you, my first concern is the actual sexual assaults made on women by police, along with stories of suggestive taunting as women prisoners were being ID'd, threats of what might happen to women who go on being "protestors," and so on. I think most of us believe these stories right away because we live our physical vulnerability -- it all just sounds so probable -- and then some of us have experience.

We need a serious investigation, although I don't know how that's done if most of the charges have been dropped (obviously part of the plan). How does any of these women (if they're willing to testify publicly, which they understandably might not be) get a chance to witness in public? One route I can think of is what the ICRC did with about a dozen people who'd been kept at CIA black sites and tortured -- because they'd had no opportunity to communicate with each other, their repeated descriptions of the same treatment became legally persuasive (not that anyone's doing anything with that yet, but it's possible). It would be great if someone could organize a debriefing project for the women arrested last week -- send out an invitation to women who are willing to give a statement, signed or pseudonymous, and then assemble those into a report. It would be even greater if we could get some institutional support behind such a project that could raise its profile.

And then my own impressionistic reactions to what I've picked up only from a distance: Someone I read somewhere said that the cops were mainly arresting "young women and small men," which is kind of a brutal way to put it, but it has a certain verisimilitude. How can we get that message out, that the cops have a nose for the vulnerable? That that pattern shows up again and again, all those big tough guys armed and in armour but completely ineffective except in massive groups and when they're taking down the helpless.

The macho swagger overkill -- which Blair keeps up in his every public appearance -- just drives me wild, beyond anything I can articulate. I know that's not all men -- as a lover of men I think I have pretty good credentials, but that default setting so many seem to have -- "I can always dominate if I'm challenged too far" -- leaves me chewing nails. Physical aggression disgusts and infuriates me even as it scares me; paternalistic condescension drives me right 'round the bend, and of course that's what we're now getting from most of the civil authorities in suits who are acting as apologists for the police.

I know that a lot of feminists believe we should stop hiding behind our physical vulnerabilities and just make ourselves strong and brave. I semi-wish I could think that way, but I can't -- I'm too old, not strong enough, head not in right place, easily intimidated everywhere but in words. And I don't really see how anyone, woman or man, has a chance against a solid line of robocops except in vast numbers. Words and numbers are the best I can think of.


writer writer's picture

Was at an inspiring meeting last night. Was disappointed that every single person on the formal speakers' list was male. In the open section, a young woman spoke very movingly about her experience on the weekend. She was detained. She asks that people not focus so much on the Black Bloc. The violence done to her was done at the hands of the police. She said they would have found an excuse to do what they did, Black Bloc or no Black Bloc.


I hope this story is appropriate here. It's based on a [url=http://www.quebecsolidaire.net/actualite-nationale/representante-de-queb... conference[/url] given by Québec solidaire yesterday, with both its co-spokespersons (Françoise David and MNA Amir Khadir) in attendance.

Emilie Guimond-Bélanger is a 21-year-old elected member of the National Coordination Committee of Québec solidaire, and a student in social work at Laval University. She was arrested at a U of T dormitory, held for 60 hours (Sunday morning to Tuesday evening), strip-searched twice (once by an open door where men were walking outside), no bed or blanket throughout (slept on cold concrete), no toilet access for the first 6 hours, and had difficulty getting adequate food despite her hypoglycemic condition. Many times she and other women detainees were laughed at by police.

Fellow Québec solidaire NCC member Bill Clennett also pointed to the targeting of Quebeckers by police. He himself was stopped in his car while on the way to the courthouse to check on detainees. The cops invoked their "special powers" to search the vehicle and force other passengers to show ID. They then "ordered" them to go back to Québec! Clennett later heard one judge in a bail hearing say: "People came from Quebec to the streets of Toronto to smash things and cause mayhem."

[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGjlHWarXeg&feature=player_embedded]Here's the video of the press conference.[/url]


writer writer's picture

This scoop happened overnight, hours before the vandalism. Thanks for sharing, Unionist.


[URL=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/christie-blatchford/black-b... Blatchford[/URL] throws a gratuitous reference to "a female filmmaker from Montreal" into her swooning interview with Blair today.

OMG! I mean, female? filmmaker? from Montreal? Well, we all know what that leads to, don't we.  *rolleyes*

We also all know about Blatchford and uniforms, but there does seem to be a Quebec meme in the establishment spin.

writer writer's picture

I couldn't finish that piece of shit by Blatchford. Good on you to read it through, skdadl!


I couldn't either. I could already predict how it would go.  There's nothing Blatchford likes better than a person in uniform or a position of authority.


Sexism and ageism are rampant amongst police thugs. Add Lesbian to the mix and the brutes have a heyday bullying and intimidating or trying to.  High profile women have immunity if they are known to the cops. Same old, same old... I experienced this at the University of California atBerkely in 1964!!!!!!!!!

b star

Trust Christie Blatchford and the mainstream media to glorify men and render women's oppression invisible. We must speak up and speak out. Trust me, women will be the targets more than men as we go forward--BACKWARD--in the next steps of police violence against the vulnerable all sanctioned  or covered up  by the mainstream media and right wing politicians.