10 March 2008

The Assumption of Shared Prejudice

One of the more frustrating challenges of being a male who supports, defends, and promotes feminism is the day-to-day problem of having to contend with other males who believe that you share their prejudiced perspectives about women. Because you are also a male, they believe that telling stories about women who have to take off their clothes for money to survive are entertaining and a way to bond, that calling women degrading names is acceptable, and other common acts of day-to-day misogyny can occur because it is believed to be a safe space to do so. These stories or acts can occur without prompting or come out after something one would not believe could prompt such a response. When they happen at the workplace it can contribute to a negative environment in which the women feel uncomfortable dealing with certain men, and the men--using the crude "bro's before ho's" mentality--band together in the belief that they must close ranks and support each other in the face of the overwhelming presence of women in the work place.
It is the responsibility of male feminists to do their part to overcome this challenge and not remain silent--we must break those closed ranks. When a male colleague gets off the phone after a frustrating conversation with a woman and calls her a "stupid bitch," we must confront that. When the guy sitting next to you starts to tell you a story about that time "his buddy" had a bachelor party or went to the local strip club, we must say that we are not interested and shut that discussion down. These acts by our colleagues are, as I said earlier, toxic to a work environment--indeed, they are sexual harrassment. In differentiating ourselves and demonstrating that we do not share the same prejudices about women as our colleagues, we can contribute to a more positive and healthy workplace and enhance our own relationships with the people around us.

25 February 2008


The lack of posts in the past 10 days is not due to any lack of material to post about; rather, like many feminists who spend a lot of time focusing on violence against women, I simply needed a bit of a time out to step back and get some time away from focusing on violence against women. It can often be overwhelming having to pore over the news stories to read about the latest gruesome rape and murder story, or the latest large child pornography bust, or any of the other news items that pop up pertaining to violence against women and children. It's hard work that emotionally wears you down and can cause you to question your confidence in humanity's ability to overcome patriarchy and all the nefarious aspects that are contained therein. It is neither natural nor inevitable that men rape, assault, kill, or turn women and children into pornography--but there are times when one wonders if the necessary changes to reduce the horrific rates at which these acts occur can be implemented. There is no thirst for justice on the part of the public, no pressure on government to change, no sense among many younger men that the actions of recent generations are wrong and that we need to go in a different direction. All of this combines into an occasionally-occurring sense of futility and despair at humanity's inability to want to improve collectively.
That's where refreshing one's batteries can be helpful. By scaling back the scope and scale of activism, even for a brief time, we can pull ourselves out of those negative feelings and come back with a new, or more determined approach, to create change. I knew that when I reached the point where I couldn't stop thinking about some of the truly awful things I've read recently, that it was affected my day-to-day ability to stay positive, I needed a respite. Now, however, I am back. Regular posting will resume later today or tomorrow.

Lastly, there is a book out there that seems very interesting after an initial glance, one that promises to comprehensively examine the attitudes and perceptions of rapists. Written by Joanna Bourke, it is simply called Rape, and it examines the history of the practice over the course of the past 150 years. If anyone has read it, can you recommend it?

15 February 2008

Sword-Wielding Attacker Gets Lengthy Prison Term

This very nearly ended up being a first-degree murder case. As it is, this man will not see the light of day for a very long time for what he did to the woman he supposedly loved and their unborn child. It is a horrific story of what fear case inspire men to do to women.

Man gets 14 years for sword attack
Victim still suffering effects of assault, loss of unborn son
By SHERRI BORDEN COLLEY Staff Reporter Fri. Feb 15 - 5:48 AM
Charlene Knapp can no longer hold or play with her six-year-old daughter. She has gone through several surgeries and faces many more after suffering life-threatening injuries last July when her former boyfriend stabbed her 15 times.
On Thursday, Alan Bryan, the man Ms. Knapp once loved and was supposed to marry, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for attempted murder for stabbing her with a sword in their Dartmouth apartment on July 31.
"She could feel her intestines coming out as she tried to put them back in," Crown attorney Alonzo Wright told Judge Alanna Murphy in Dartmouth provincial court.
"She begged for Alan to call 911."
Mr. Wright asked the judge to sentence Mr. Bryan, 43, to 15 years to life. Defence lawyer Luke Craggs recommended five to six years.
Ms. Knapp, 28, was pregnant with Mr. Bryan’s baby boy when he attacked her and left her for dead in their Lakefront Road apartment. Ms. Knapp had earlier told Mr. Bryan she was leaving him.
"The pain was unbelievable, I felt like I was dying," Ms. Knapp read from her moving victim impact statement in court. "I remember praying to God for my daughter to be OK."
Ms. Knapp suffered a punctured spleen, lung and diaphragm and had several holes in her bowel.
She had to be revived twice before her initial emergency surgery at a Halifax hospital.
The couple had been together for about four months. Ms. Knapp lost the baby shortly after the attack.
"He was terrified of being a bad father . . . and one day he just snapped," Ms. Knapp told reporters after the sentencing. "So the only way he could get rid of the baby was to get rid of both of us."
Mr. Bryan’s diary detailed his plan to kill Ms. Knapp and their unborn child, Mr. Wright said.

Someone Murdered Karissa Boudreau

This story has been in the headlines for some time now here in Halifax. It was only yesterday, however, that the missing person was confirmed to be Karissa Boudreau, along with the announcement that the case is now a murder investigation. Details are still not fully divulged on the matter, but we now know that someone inflicted trauma before killing her. This is a very sad story, and it has taken a real emotional toll on the small town of Bridgewater and spread across the province. Let us all hope that the murderer is found and brought to justice.

Who would kill Karissa?
Trauma on body shows missing 12-year-old girl was a murder victim
By BEVERLEY WARE / South Shore Bureau Fri. Feb 15 - 5:38 AM
BRIDGEWATER — THE CASE OF A MISSING 12-year-old girl that gripped Bridgewater for more than two weeks took a shocking turn Thursday when it officially became a murder investigation.
Dental records confirmed Wednesday that a body found on the outskirts of town just before noon on Saturday was that of Karissa Boudreau. The body was found within walking distance of her home.
Trauma to her body showed she was murdered, police said at a news conference Thursday.
The murder is the first in the town since 1992.
"Obviously this is going to hit our community pretty hard," said Sgt. John Collyer of Bridgewater police. "I just want them to know that the full resources of the Bridgewater Police Service and the RCMP are involved in this investigation and we’re putting all of our efforts into trying to bring this to a successful resolution, and obviously we will do our utmost to ensure the safety of the community."
Police said no one has been arrested and they have no suspects. Investigators believe the killing is an isolated case but won’t say how they reached that conclusion.
"The Bridgewater Police Service and RCMP are appealing to the general public for their assistance and any information regarding this incident," said Const. Grant Webber of the RCMP.
"We’re hopeful someone saw something" and will contact the RCMP, Bridgewater police or Crime Stoppers.
Police know how and when Karissa died but aren’t releasing that information yet. Nor are they saying whether the Grade 6 student was sexually assaulted, or if she was killed where her body was found or it was dumped there. An autopsy was performed Wednesday.

13 February 2008

Attempted Sexual Assault in Dartmouth

As always, I'm going to rail at the headline. In university professors always tell you not to use a passive tense, yet the media does an awful lot of it. "Man Assaults Women in Dawn Attack" would be more accurate: it makes the attacker visible and it has an active voice. It's amazing how many women are groped, but there seems to be a paucity of males groping, the headlines would have us believe. There's probably also a lot of people wondering why she was out alone at such an hour, when she should have been aware that there's drunken balaclava-wearing males roaming the streets.

Woman groped in dawn attack Wed. Feb 13 - 5:32 AM
A woman who was getting into her car to go to work early Tuesday was sexually assaulted by a masked man on Dartmouth’s Highfield Park Drive.
Halifax Regional Police said the attacker jumped the 25-year-old woman from behind at 6 a.m. and pushed her to the ground.
He then groped her and tried to remove her clothes, but the woman was able to get away from him and run into her building, police said. Her car was parked behind 15 Highfield Park Dr. at the time of the attack.
The suspect is white, 5-9 and has a medium build. He had a deep voice and seemed to have liquor on his breath. He had grey facial hair and was also wearing a balaclava, dark coveralls and black gloves.
The victim didn’t need medical treatment.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact them at 490-5016 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

No Justice

This is shocking to read. It is always incredible when a court finds that women, particularly children, have made up allegations of sexual abuse. The traumatic event of having to recall those horrors is not something many--if any--people would do simply to get someone they "dislike" out of their lives. There are many out there who like to point fingers and say that women make up stories of rape and sexual assault "all the time," and they are going to use this verdict as evidence of that. The reality is that false allegations of rape and sexual assault hover around the same level as other false allegations--somewhere around 1%-2% It is not a common occurrence.
What makes this verdict so galling is that the judge accepts that physical violence was a common event in the household, and that the father was so evil that "cruel" was an "understatement" to describe him. Yet because the sister-in-law didn't like him, he found suspicion when these women claimed sexual abuse. He also mentioned that the children didn't come forward at the time. Apparently he doesn't understand that these events are so traumatic and the level of fear is so great in these types of circumstances that many children do not come forward for many years, some never, about their experiences of abuse.
Truly, these 4 women have not received justice.

Father acquitted of sexual assault
By JENNIFER STEWART Court Reporter Wed. Feb 13 - 5:33 AM
A Halifax man accused of sexually assaulting his daughter, stepdaughters and sister-in-law was acquitted of all charges Tuesday.
The man, who cannot be named because it would identify the four complainants, was charged with eight counts of sexual assault and sexual exploitation.
He was alleged to have repeatedly touched and fondled the girls between 1984 and 2003, while at their homes in East Preston and Halifax.
All three girls, who were between 11 and 19 years old during the alleged assaults, testified in Nova Scotia Supreme Court that the defendant was very strict. They said he often punished them physically and took advantage of them when they were alone. The defendant denied all the allegations at trial.
On Tuesday, the judge said he ac-cepted the evidence of the women that the defendant ran a strict household where beatings were not uncommon.
"He ruled the roost with an iron fist," Justice Kevin Coady said. "To call (the defendant) cruel would be an understatement." But he wasn’t so sure about the allegations of sexual abuse.
"I am suspicious of (the defendant’s) guilt, but I am left with a reasonable doubt," he said. "Suspicion is just not enough."
Justice Coady said he was troubled that the eldest daughter didn’t proceed with charges when she first reported the alleged abuse in 1993, if for no other reason than to protect her younger siblings.
He said he was also wary of the fact that the sister-in-law admitted that she disliked the defendant and didn’t come forward until after the girls went to the police in 2005.

06 February 2008

This is a follow-up to a story originally posted last month on the 16th. I will reiterate what I said then as well: the fact that this man is a rapist doesn't even merit headline billing because it's not as "sexy" of a headline when compared to his "foot fetish." The media go with the glitz as opposed to substance more often than not, but in a case such as this, why? It makes him sound as if he's just a silly boy being a boy with his "deviant" interest in women's feet; the reality is much more sinister, and it is incumbent upon the media to report accurately, even if it hurts people's sensitivities.

Risk assessment sought on man with foot fetish
Sentencing adjourned until March 7
By STEVE BRUCE Court Reporter Wed. Feb 6 - 5:48 AM
A Halifax man who pretended to be a reflexology student to get women to allow him to rub their feet will undergo a risk assessment before being sentenced next month.
Michael James Fells, 25, was convicted at trial in Halifax provincial court Jan. 15 of sexually assaulting a woman by rubbing his genitals against her feet and of committing common assault against her aunt.
He also pleaded guilty to assaulting three other women and to single counts of fraud and breaching probation.
Judge Michael Sherar was to sentence Mr. Fells on Monday but the Crown asked that a risk assessment be done through the province’s sex offender program. Sentencing was adjourned until March 7.
Interesting defence this predator's legal team used: "inquisitiveness." This is actually not entirely surprising. Most porn consumers get bored of "vanilla" porn and seek out ever-more extreme imagery in order to get their excitement. Sometimes it ranges into extremely violent adult pornography, be it BDSM, "gonzo," or acts involving animals, and sometimes, like with this man, it ranges into the realm of child pornography. Porn makers consciously go for a "young" look with many of the women, infantilizing them via their dress, appearance, and other means. Clearly the search for ever-younger women carried this individual into child porn. It is readily apparent that this "bachelor" was a regular consumer of pornography who felt the curiousity to venture into looking at children in order to achieve his porn-induced orgasm. Will anybody connect the dots and realize that his venturing into child porn is part of a continuum of what happens with many pornography consumers? Probably not. For those that want to know more about this trail, read Dr. Diana Russell's study on pornography; additionally, the book Pornified, writted by Pamela Paul, discusses the trend among men to find more and more violent images in order to satisfy their pornographic demands. It is compelling and highly informative reading. Full story available by clicking the link.

Man jailed weekends for downloading child porn
By STEVE BRUCE Court Reporter Wed. Feb 6 - 5:34 AM
A 28-year-old Halifax man will be spending the next few weekends in jail after pleading guilty Tuesday to possessing child pornography.
Ryan Russell Inglis, 28, of Lucknow Street downloaded a dozen pictures of partly clothed or nude girls onto his computer using Limewire file-sharing software last June, Halifax provincial court was told.
Defence lawyer Don Murray described the crime as "an offence of inquisitiveness" that was out of character for his client, a steadily employed bachelor with no previous criminal record who has been assessed by a psychologist as a low risk to reoffend.
Mr. Murray asked Judge Bill Digby to impose the minimum sentence under the Criminal Code, 14 days in jail, and that Mr. Inglis be allowed to serve the time intermittently.
Crown attorney Craig Botterill said the images were soft-core and involved girls who appeared to be between the ages of 11 and 15.

Man Threatens Woman with Shotgun

Woman alleges man used gun to threaten her
By KRISTEN LIPSCOMBE Staff Reporter Wed. Feb 6 - 5:47 AM
A 25-year-old man will answer to weapons charges in court today after allegedly threatening a woman with a shotgun in her Halifax home early Tuesday morning.
Halifax Regional Police said they responded to the complaint at about 3:30 p.m., more than 12 hours after the incident allegedly occurred. The woman told officers that a man she knows threatened her at about 3 a.m. after she asked him to leave her residence in the 5400 block of Victoria Road.

03 February 2008

Yet Another Child Porn Arrest

This is now, what, the third or fourth separate incident involving child pornography that I have posted here in the last month. These are just the ones where people were dumb enough to be caught; it makes you wonder how many more child predators are out there in the Halifax area, consuming child pornography as part of their daily lives. This one is particularly audacious, not even doing it in the sanctity of his own home, but rather at an internet care right on Spring Garden Road. The place is right next to a McDonald's. Why wasn't his name published? I personally like the idea of making all this information public when it comes to child porn users: put their full name, their address, where they work, all of it, out there. Put it on the police website, put it in the paper, post it on his front lawn. These men are dangers to society and we as a public have a right to know when people who constitute a threat to children are around.

Man caught watching child porn
Sun. Feb 3 - 5:22 AM
Police say staff at an Internet cafe in downtown Halifax phoned them to complain that a 43-year-old man was accessing child pornography at the business on Saturday afternoon.
Halifax Regional Police said the call came in at about 2 p.m. from the business on the 5600 block of Spring Garden Road.
Officers arrested a 43-year-old man at the cafe. He is to appear in Halifax provincial court Monday morning on a charge of possession of child pornography.


The Daily News has a much more detailed story, which includes this piece of information:
Last Wednesday, The Daily News reported on data from a national survey by Toronto's police department showing that thousands of Nova Scotians are actively involved in trading child pornography. In 2007, there were 5,515 Internet Protocol addresses involved in the illegal activity. But there are only seven police officers in the province responsible for these crimes. "We are overwhelmed," Internet Child Exploitation Unit head Cpl. Dave Fox said Wednesday.

This province has a population of under a million people. Knowing that there's more than 5,000 people consuming child pornography should set off alarm bells.