Friday, February 18, 2011

Toronto Police 'Slut" Slur is a SYSTEMIC Discourse That Should Not Be Forgotten

I have to say I am amazed by the powerful pulling together of the feminist community and all communities during this TRAUMATIZING time

While we are pulling together in action and solidarity we need to keep in mind that this 'victim-blaming,' misogynist, sexist, uninformed, patriarchal discourse that was shown by the slut slur is not merely isolated to the police force...but traverses into all other societal institutions as well.  This language can be seen within many forms of social media, rape reports, LANGUAGE, gender, sexuality, sex ed courses, some parental teachings.. to name but a few examples.

I think this presents the feminist community, queer community, humanist community and ALL for an opportunity to come together to EDUCATE and MAKE SOME NOISE about these deeply ingrained ideologies that have been formulated on a long withstanding, complex history. Further, it will allow us to to force accountability of York University, all universities, and the Toronto Police force.

We should all recall through the powerful work of Jane Doe after her stranger danger rape in 1989 the changes in major legislation she allowed surrounding police practices on rape, laws regarding women in the court room during their rape trials and most importantly EDUCATED about rape discourse. The fact of the matter is however, not disregarding her passion and hard work, these discourses are STILL in play since 1989 and no substantive changes have been made since then.

Further, we should recall that during this period Jane Doe changed the law to force the police to warn women in the community when there is a serial rapist in the area. However, as we can see at York University this summer it took the police THREE MONTHS to warn women that there was a serial rapist in The Village after multiple REPORTED rapes as it was not deemed as a threat to the community until AFTER they had a male in custody.  Who defines what this 'threat' to community is then? Quite obviously, the misogynist tactics embedded within the police force. (and there are MANY other examples that could be named but I will leave it at this)

It is during this time of action that we need to recall of these this tactics employed by Jane Doe  have not fully been brought into fruition.  It is during this time we need to recall the systemic HISTORY of language, legislation, medical practices, religious morality, capitalistic economic structure and gendered violence etc... 

Bravo for solidarity, bravo for strength and courage. Make some fucking noise!! 


Thursday, February 17, 2011

No More Institutionally Inflicted Violence on the York Campus


By now I'm sure most of you have read the article or heard word.

(Essentially during a "campus safety information session" a Toronto Police officer suggested that to not get raped, you should "not dress like a slut".)

What I'm proposing is ACTION done in regards to this. 

While an apology may come about, what an apology does is BASICALLY say - "we can continue to enact any type of verbal violence we want to - and WILL do so. IF we get caught or if ENOUGH noise is made, we'll rescind on the statement."

 So yes - I'm choosing to call this an ACT OF VIOLENCE - it is not a "mistake", an "error", a "surprise", an "oversight" as the various bodies will try to frame it. 

Regardless of the' how', the end result is YET ANOTHER  hateful, misogynistic, disgusting message sent out into the York university campus, the city surrounding. another piece of violence which works to further disarm, degrade, and debase.

As a York student, I'm exhausted to say the least. Exhausted that despite ALL OF WHAT HAS OCCURRED - that there is STILL another case of where sexual violence and hate crime is NOT TREATED PROPERLY. 

Can York get some more research up in here? Can they maybe take one less annoying, accosting corporate schmoe who somehow manages to accost us daily as we try to get some education - and train them to do proper research? 

Perhaps they can share this researcher with the Toronto Police - and he can pick a better person to send to teach students about "CAMPUS SAFETY"? 

As someone with a brain and eyes, I can't even begin to discuss how outrageous, how IRONIC, and how flat-out outdated this violence was. (occuring during a "campus safety" speech. Ironically, this guy ended up causing more violence than he did safety.) 

As a Toronto citizen, I expect better of the police force that my money goes towards. I expect that the force which represents one of the most diverse communities on the planet (and here I'm not simply referring to race/colour) has the wherewithal, intelligence, and insight to better train their staff, and to better PICK the staff who will represent them.

As someone who champions intelligence and logic, I bemoan the fact that York University and the Toronto Police are becoming SUPERSTARS at grossly misinformed, misaligned actions that do nothing but further inflict systemic violence upon their own people. That they are actually not taking extra efforts to say - "hmm, why do I have such a horrible reputation among my own community members" and try to ADDRESS and FIX this the core reasons.

YES this was on the part of the Toronto Police - but I would expect York to make a better effort on this - perhaps get a copy of the speech the police officer would say, perhaps be present when they pick an officer to speak, etc.

This is not an isolated incident. Here we have York championing their "SAFETY AWARENESS' with phrases like "OWN IT! [your safety]", which let us know in bright font that YES - YORK IS LETTING YOU KNOW, ANY CRIME COMMITTED WAS THE FAULT OF THE VICTIM! 

Then we have York making the "oopsie" of sanctioning advertisement by one of the Vanier rapists. Oops! they said.

What we really have here is the end result of an entire pathway of cognitiion laden with misogyny, hate, ignorance - the type of mind that wouldn't think to research into a company before throwing up their ad for a body of over 60,000 people to see.

We've experienced ENOUGH violence done by the so called benevolent rulers we submit to.

I'd like everyone to please imagine - imagine the feeling that one of the victims of the Vanier rapes would have felt, walking through her campus and coming across the ad for the "Live Green" card. I'd like you to imagine how a person who experienced sexual assault would feel when a body of authority tells her in a place of "higher learning" - it was your fault. 

With these actions, whether intentional or not, these institutional bodies rendered a feeling of worthlessness, of vile disgust within these people.
With this action, the Toronto police officer ERASED the systemic reasons for rape, violence, hate crimes.
He ERASED all the violence, hateful remarks, disgusted looks experienced by ANY body of marginalization. 

With an action, I hope we can restore at least a smidgeon of the respect lost for victims of sexual assault that day. 

With action, we can make VISIBLE again the people who have experienced assault and rape on campuses, only to be told it was their fault, be left in the dirt by their administration and their police force. 

If we are to define a person who is a "slut" as one who "demeans themselves before a source of power", I'd like to posit that when this officer brought his disgusting, bile-filled, ignorant, hateful, woman-bashing words onto our campus, he let us know that he's a "slut" - a slut to archaic notions, to stupidity, to the institutions which have disciplined and regulated bodies since their inception.

If we are to define someone who is a slut as one who "asks to get fucked", I'd like to posit that when this officer opened his mouth , he made himself a slut - because I'm about to fuck him up so hard.


I'm asking for us to band together - in the name of all the REPORTED cases of violence (verbal, physical, metaphorical, spiritual, etc)  in Toronto and at York, in the name of all the UNREPORTED, IGNORED, TOSSED-ASIDE, DOWNPLAYED cases of violence.

What can we do?
- What I think would really make noise and help solifidy our message is a PROTEST: this can be through a constant barrage of letters sent each and every day to the 31 Division,or  can be a organized protest in FRONT of the 31 Division and/or at York. SIGNS, banners, etc with facts about rape (real facts, something the officer apparently does not know about); a neverending ASSAULT on the police station who trained him and the officer himself.

- This needs to be a PHYSICAL protest. Mulling about in our groups and talking on facebook will only have limited effect; we've got enough momentum that it can translate into real, powerful, message-sending people power.
- Please spread the word to people on/off campus, people who don't live in the city but have friends who do, etc. Please talk about this act of violence on your blog, on your twitter, to your local volunteer group, etc.

Letting this one slide only works to reinforce this officer's beliefs, letting him know he's in the 'right'. It's just unfortunate that in this day we still have to deal with this type of ignorance. Yet, we very much do have to deal with it in our day-to day lives, and thus letting the systemic sources of our fuckin oppression know that it's not going to pass this time is something we've got to take up. 

Please contact me or leave a message here if you are interested in taking part in this protest.

- Alyssa 

facebook: Alyssa T

Friday, February 11, 2011

Consciousness Rising

 Something's been bubbling under the supposedly indifferent veneer of York University's student body consciousness for the past few weeks. 

With the gradual approach of March tailing my feet, I'm finding myself thinking what better event to look forward in March than International Women's Day?

Having said that, it's worth noting that this particular year is quite the special one for 2011 as it marks the first global centenary year for the holiday. Trust me when I say that 100 years is no small accolade. 

March 8th not only honours the work of the Suffragettes and delves in the celebration of women's successes within social, economic and political realms, but also has the mighty effect of reminding us of inequities still needed to be redressed. 

To me, this day becomes ever the more relevant to recognize because of its haunting capacity to remind us that oppression can indeed be stripped of it's hold.

And not just solely the oppression of women, but also the oppression of indigenous peoples across continents, migrant workers, immigrants, LGBTQI communities, and just about everyone else. 

To me, International Women's Day has become a marvelous metaphorical umbrella that encapsulates the spark of a larger movement to do away with all forms of oppression.

It's with these ponderings in mind that I'd like to showcase a few events about to take place at the Keele campus of York Univeristy.

For one, our club is partaking in the organization of an event titled "Voices Rising" alongside the work of the Graduate Students Association (GSA) and SASSL (Sexual Assault Survivors Support Line). 

Hosted by York's Centre for Human Rights on Monday March 7th at 7:00 pm, Voices Rising is essentially to be a remarkable night of spoken word, live music and art all focusing on the empowerment of women.

The name of the event stems from the observance of how as a people, we inhibit the capability to rise from the barriers which hold us back through the medium of our voices.

Performers include:

Brenda MacIntyre 
 "Medicine Song Woman"

A multiple award-winning singer, traditional Native hand drummer, inspirational speaker and emerging visual artist.
Sara Marlowe

A social justice singer. Past performances: Nuit Blanche, ARCfest, International Women's Day Events, and Songs for Peace.


 Lara Bozabalian

Spoken Word Artist; a member of the Toronto Slam Poetry Team. She is the author of four chapbooks, Exhale to December, The Morning Glories, New Dream and Free, and her first full length collection, The Cartographer’s Skin, will be published by Piquant Press in May 2010.

Amani (Anne-Marie Woods)
Anne-Marie Woods is an actor, dancer, narrator, poet, singer, producer, creative consultant, and playwright. Anne-Marie’s extensive background spans from her love for Youth, Arts and Culture. She was a member of Acapella singing sensation, Four The Moment, for twelve years. This Nova Scotia based singing group, had international acclaim and was credited with receiving the first African Canadian Artist Of The Year Award at the East Coast Music Awards.
 Having said this, not only is the event accessible for those with different abilities, but is also an all ages event where you can enjoy our festivities on a pay as you can basis

Donations of course, will be going to the Canadian Foundation of Women:

If you fancy yourself a user of, the link is provided right here: <>

Another fabulous event being held that I thought would really highlight the marvelous work being done on the notion of intersexuality is the second part of a two-lecture series being hosted by the Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance at York University (UKPC@ York for short) . 

While their first lecture focused on exposing the reality behind the commodification and racialization of labour in Canada , their second lecture series focuses more on the context of the broader Neoliberal political agenda and how such an ideology has had the effect of reinforcing the said commodification and racialization of labour in Canada.

Below is the contact information should you be interested in attending this mentally stimulating affair.

“Exposing Canada’s Neoliberal Agenda:
The Context Behind the Commodification and Racialization of Labour in Canada”

1st part of UKPC@York’s public lecture series Guest lecturer Emmanuel Sayo, Philippines Canada Task Force on Human Rights (PCTFHR) 
Stong College, Room 302, York University 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario Wednesday, February 16th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM 
*Free to the public*

For more information, contact: Aila Comilang 
Facebook: Ugnayan Ontario 
Twitter: ugnayanontario