In the Blog
Questions About Violence Against Womyn, Media Coverage, & Racism: The Murder of Aqsa Parvez
This is a Facebook post written this morning by my good friend and cultural critic, Dave Hudson. (Psst: we are reviewing his band Spymachine 16 in the next print issue!) I have been watching this media coverage and working a 12 hour shift at work today (I’m on my lunch break), so I don’t have time to write about it myself, but Dave has given me the ok to repost this to the Shameless Blog:
“I’m saddened and outraged to hear, in the news, of a 16 year old girl killed by her father, apparently over her choice of dress & lifestyle.
But the mainstream media and dominant public reaction I’ve seen has been disturbing. In particular, a lot of folks have been turning it into a case of a “clash of civilizations,” drawing on characterizations of “the immigrant” as a source of brutal patriarchal violence in contrast with the freedom that so-called “Western culture” has to offer. In an environment in which anti-immigrant sentiment seems to be intensifying, I’ve been hearing folks who I’d never have expected been making offhand comments about immigrants (read: non-white immigrants) as a threat to “Canadian values” (of “tolerance,” “liberalism,” etc.).
Canada has a long legacy of violence against womyn that continues with brutal acts of physical violence & murder, lifetimes of gendered economic violence, constant day to day abuse through social norms of beauty and propriety, and on and on. And our foreigh policy — from our increasing inaction on climate change to the dealings of our companies abroad to our role in Haiti & Afghanistan — is no small source of violence for womyn in the majority world.
The murder of Aqsa Parvez happened less than a week after December 6th, yet the mainstream media coverage does little to situate her death within the context of a mainstream society in which womyn face violence and, yes, murder because of how they choose to live their lives, dress, and so on.
It seems to me that focusing on this matter as one of a “clash of cultures” does a disservice to efforts to address the violence that womyn face on a societal scale, drawing attention away from Western cultural complicity in such violence.
How do we go about talking about such incidents, recognizing that, yes, narratives of culture may figure into them, without recourse to the kinds of racialized legacies described above?
Here are a few insightful speeches on violence against womyn from the “Women’s Resistance: From Victimization to Criminalization” conference in 2001 (hosted by the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres):
UBC professor and feminist cultural critic Sunera Thobani: http://www.casac.ca/conference01/audio/PLEN1/1-4.MP3
OISE’s Dr. Sherene Razack: http://www.casac.ca/conference01/audio/PLEN6/6-02.MP3
I’ve left a lot out because I’m writing fast. So fill me in. Thoughts?”