Refusing to take responsibility for male violence

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The sad reality is that few women in this country can claim that they have lived a life free of sexist violence, whether they are the one in four women who will be raped by men they know and trust or the 30 per cent of women will be physically assaulted

Just last week, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a friend who needed to leave her house because she had just been beaten up by her male partner. She is a young and vibrant woman and she was surprised by this violence.

Unfortunately, however, in Canada violence against women is more prevalent than most of us are willing to believe, and few men are willing to take responsibility for their actions. Making headlines for the past weeks in B.C. has been a case in point: the disgraced Mayor of Port Coquitlam, Scott Young.

Presiding over the growing suburb just outside Vancouver, Mayor Young has been getting a lot of bad PR lately for his unwillingness to resign over his arrest on April 4, 2007 after allegedly breaking into the home of his ex-girlfriend carrying on his person a rope that one can only assume was going to be used as a weapon with potentially deadly consequences — if she had been home alone.

After spending days in jail, Mayor Young was released and charged on multiple counts including assault and harassment. Certainly unworthy of Worship, this is not the first time the Mayor has been arrested for physically assaulting a woman; in 2002, he was charged with assaulting his ex-wife (the charges were stayed), which resulted in conditions against him.

Last week there was a rally organized by Brenda Moore, a friend of the victim, with the help of citizens in Port Coquitlam and local feminist anti-violence groups, calling for the Mayor's resignation. The organizers of the rally were forced to take action by Young's obstinate refusal to step down, which also comes in spite of his fellow councillors unanimously calling for his resignation.

In the classic bait and switch move, Young is claiming that he is taking responsibility for his actions by going to recovery for alcohol abuse. It does not take a logical genius to see the two are apples and oranges.

Alcohol is a depressant and can make one more uninhibited. But the booze doesn't make you a racist, a sexist or a batterer; it might just make you have trouble concealing that unseemly side. Excessive fatty foods can make one irritable. So, maybe the next time a prominent man is violent against a woman he will publicly and courageously vow to stop eating hot fudge sundaes.

Furthermore, that deeply unfashionable word, patriarchy, also probably has a little something to do with it. As in, I can't remember the last time I had a few too many drinks and then concocted a plan whereby I broke into my ex-boyfriend's house carrying a lethal weapon. In fact, the worse crime most women can be accused of when intoxicated is a little unsavoury drunk dialing.

The sad reality is that few women in this country can claim that they have lived a life free of sexist violence, whether they are the one in four women who will be raped by men they know and trust, or the over 30 per cent of women will be physically assaulted by an intimate partner. We as women are constantly told that it is when we are alone, without a male “chaperone,” that we are in danger of being attacked. This position is, of course, completely illogical in our society where violence against women is so prevalent and yet so underexposed.

Mayor Young, like most men, has refused to take responsibility for his actions. If we cannot rely on politicians and lawmakers to follow the laws of a civil society, then we can expect the “average Joe” to follow in their footsteps and fist marks. It is a sad statement that Mayor Young just does not get it and it appears that it will take an ongoing citizens' campaign to oust him.

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