The Golden Women’s Resource Centre
Healthy relationships lead to healthy families, healthy families lead to healthy communities and a healthy community is everyone’s responsibility. Statistics Canada reports one in four women experience violence every year, that is 20,000 women in British Columbia every year and these are the reported cases. In many cases children are exposed to this violence, growing up with the belief that violence against women is okay. It’s not okay.
How do we work towards ending violence against women when violence in itself is so normal in our society? The entertainment industry presents us with violent movies, violent video games and violent television shows where characters are dehumanized to create a guilt-free, entertaining violent movie.
For example, any movie that sees zombies or the “bad” guy getting shot, stabbed, run over, punched, kicked, etc. is entertaining because it seems reasonable, these characters are threatening and show no emotion other than the desire to hurt the “good” guy.
But, when a character is developed in, for example, a love story and you fall in love with them as a viewer and they die and their loved one is left to pick up the pieces, it’s often sad, bringing a tear to our eyes because we care. Yes, Hollywood knows what they are doing.
So, when women are dehumanized in society by being labeled with derogatory, and are portrayed as sexual objects in the media, and she experiences violence, we get into the complicated mess of disempowering her and blaming her for the abuse somehow, like she must have deserved it, like she must have done something, rather than pointing our fingers at the abuser and ourselves for the acceptance.
Short skirts are not an invite to sex. Expressing an opinion is not an invite to threats. Being independent or intelligent is not an invite to control through violence.
Control in relationships often leads to many forms of violence and abuse; physical, sexual, emotional, and financial, often leading to psychological trauma, financial hardship and even death.
Prevention and change starts with each of us. We can balance our intake of violence through consciously choosing not to be exposed to it in entertainment. We can listen to both sides of the story with an open heart. We can try to remember that the women we see in lewd advertisements and music videos are somebody’s daughter. We can learn to recognize unhealthy relationships and how to help.
This year, during Prevention of Violence Against Women Week, members of our community are invited to the Golden Women’s Resource Centre’s annual Clothesline barbecue on April 19 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Kumsheen Park, to take a pledge to commit to ending violence against women; find out how you can help prevent violence against women; and see her side of the story by viewing t-shirts painted by women from our community expressing their experience of violence.