Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Valentines Day Message

I haven't written about the Newtown Connecticut shootings yet.  I have plenty to say on the subject but I wasn't ready.  I was too sickened by it.  And I didn't want to just respond with my gut.  I wanted to think long and hard about how I feel about this issue and then respond. 

I was deeply changed when I learned about the Montreal Massacre.  In 1989,  a gunman walked into an engineering classroom at the École Polytechnique in Montreal.  He asked the 60 or so students to divide up by gender and sent the men out of the room.  He proceeded to kill the remaining women telling them that he was there because they were feminists and he hated feminists.  When one of them tried to insist they were not all feminists, he said that if they were women studying to be engineers than they must be.  Fourteen women were killed.  Even today, there are debates about whether this was an act of violence against women. 

In 1998, Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden killed five people in Jonesboro, Arkansas, four students and a teacher at their middle school.  All those killed were women. 

In 2006 Charles Carl Roberts IV shot ten girls, killing five in an Amish one room school house in Pennsylvania. 

I could go on an on with this list.  To see more, click here.  What strikes me about all these shootings, however, is the similarities of the shooters.  What do you see?  White?  Yes.  Male?  Yes.  We live in a culture of fear that teaches us to fear men of color.  Big mistake. 

While we spend all our time discussing gun control and mental illness, I want to step back and figure out what these young men were taught about women and girls and respect.  I think therein lies a big piece of the puzzle. 

I couldn't write about this after it happened because I am tired of girls and women being killed all over the world.  I hate all the NCI-CSI-SVU shows that center their shows around the horrific killing of women.  We know it happens, I don't want to WATCH it. 

This Valentines Day (my favorite day of the year as some of you know!), the V-Day Movement, started by Eve Ensler is organizing 1 Billion Rising.  Check it out.  UMass Dartmouth is participating, along with hundreds of other cities, towns, schools, and communities to stand up and say we need to stop the violence.  Find an event near you and go support it.  Be part of the solution.  Stop watching television shows that base their plots on dead women.  Think about what other things you can do to help.  Speak up.  Interrupt hate speech.  Stop rape jokes.  Speak up when women are put down.  Defend others different from you.  Practice self-love.  Get help if you need it.  Change the world. 

Happy Valentines Day.  Love, Juli. 

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