We Are Creating Change

Tamarack Verrall
Posted November 6, 2014 from Canada

We Are Creating Change

A long sought, monumental shift is taking place here in Canada. Over the past weeks, with great courage, women have, in a giant wave, come forward to describe physical and sexual abuse, braving the disbelief, anger and retaliation that has been the norm for centuries, being met instead with respect and concern. The details are still not all known as this is being written, regarding the situation that galvanized this outpouring. But the times prove different from even a month ago. Women are voicing details with strength and firmness, not solely to find justice for themselves, rather, to speak for others not able yet to come forward, and also, above all to prevent more abuse from taking place.

The response grew immediately, unprecedented in speed and effectiveness, pointing again to conditions faced as women both here in Canada and globally, that have traditionally been seen as either exaggerated or accepted as impossible to change. A renewed call is being made for an absolute end to violence against women, here and everywhere.

This swift action has been made possible by the online connections that we have made with each other. The use of the internet to send and receive information is creating a movement that has never happened so personally, with such detail, so immediately, so effectively as what we now have with each other. We are now able to speak with knowledge and conviction of what changes women are calling for, everywhere. We have all of the evidence pouring in that we need, to prove that change, right now, must happen, and that there is no excuse to wait.

At the moment, hash tags (#’s) are providing that amazing platform for raising our voices together: These, #ibelievelucy, #Ibelievewomen, and #BeenRapedNeverReported, among others, are providing an outpouring from generations of women that until now have felt no safe means of expression.

The question has arisen. Why do women feel safer talking through #’s and the media, than to the police? We are in different times from the 1960’s. Police departments have undergone training in domestic abuse. There are now many women in the Police Departments compared to those earlier days. Yet the statistics put out, show that there is much to be done before women feel able to begin the road to safety and justice by calling the police. This time, in the recent situation that has been covered by the press extensively, the Toronto Police have responded quickly and respectfully. We have waited a long time for this to become what hopefully will be followed every time, by women reporting abuse in future. We know from recent news reports that, sadly, many police are still untrained, are often implicated themselves in abuse toward women, and enjoy (!) in some departments the old “men’s locker room” jokes and comments that “she must have done something to deserve it”.

But to return to the optimism of the moment. The numbers of women responding to these #’s, and the openness in these short messages in the light of how difficult is has been to report is beyond encouraging. It is a first. These reports are also now being covered daily and widely in the mainstream news, creating an atmosphere that we have longed for: the reemergence of a concept that is growing globally, now at lightning speed. We can and must stop violence against women now, in our lifetime, immediately, forever.

Predictable forms of resistance are showing up. The tiresome resistance to and insults of the word feminist, or feminism. As one who has identified as a feminist since the 1960’s, and who has worked with and for women to build a system for healing from violence, and for stopping violence, I am not in the mood for a renewed putting down of a movement that has been continually to creating an atmosphere of embracing change, while providing as much support as possible to women whose lives have been altered, all too often critically by what has been done to them. Feminists in Canada were largely trammelled by news media for years, current news reporting being a huge relief. We have been continuing nonetheless all along, but at this point, taking part in putting us down is not part of a solution that finally seems within reach.

This shift was propelled suddenly by women coming forward to describe physical and sexual abuse by a popular, high positioned radio interviewer. What galvanized the support for these women was the obvious pressure that they were under to stay silent, coupled with the shocking behaviour described. The work that has been done before that has helped these women come forward has been the tireless work of Aboriginal women in Canada who for years now have been demanding a Government inquiry into why so many Aboriginal women have died or been missing for years. It is also the voices that have been coming from everywhere in the world.

This time there is also a very public response by many men. It is a very welcome relief that men are speaking supportively to what is being reported. Men are expressing shock at the extent of violence toward women, at the pervasiveness, at the generations of examples being reported these past weeks. Men are expressing regret at not fully understanding sooner, and want to be part of the change. Those men who have been supportive all along, those men who have been outspoken as allies are about to find their numbers multiplying. There is suddenly a much more clear understanding.

This shift, this voicing of what has been done to women for centuries, this voicing of what has been written into “culture”, “tradition”, “human nature” is alive and becoming truly transformational - in our lifetime - because of our collective voices globally. The news from women all over the world has become an integral part of our knowledge, our hope and our determination. With the same breath as we find the strength to say No more beatings, No more rape, we mean it for everywhere, for everyone, for every woman, man, child. Our awareness of one woman’s strength to speak up here, is lifted on a global current of our awareness of the work being done everywhere to create paths to freedom and safety for women everywhere. The task of stopping rape everywhere is part of the task of stopping sexual slavery, forced marriage, honour killings, female genital mutilation, murder of girls at birth, danger in choosing one’s life partner, imprisonment for speaking, all under the banners of “culture” and “tradition”.

The courage being expressed globally has created this shift. It is due to everyone who has been speaking, that we are experiencing a more intelligent, compassionate response on a societal level. There is much to be done, and we are not finished until every act of violence is stopped. But we do have movement.

What is happening here, today, provides such hope. As so many of us have expressed to each other through this amazing World Pulse, we will not let go until we see this through. We are not finished until every woman is free. What we do have now, is the knowledge, the friendship and the love of each other. We have waited a such along time for this level of discussion and action. We were born knowing that we are here to do this. We are in what can only be described as a young but definite paradigm shift. May it continue to grow and flourish.

With love and gratitude for you all,

Tamarack

Comments 8

Log in or register to post comments
Ukhengching Marma
Nov 07, 2014
Nov 07, 2014

Hello Mam, It's amazing to meet you here. I just have read the valuable piece of writing of your which has just created the motivation inside me to bring a change in myself. We should be the change makers in the community to prevent all kinds of violations faced by women. The traditions which are followed by the society since the creation of mother earth such as women are vulnerable creatures, we are only here to serve the men etc these norms should be altered by us. We are equal as me in every aspects.We all dream a world where we want to walk,dance freely in the world earth. thanks Ukhengching Marma Asian University for Women Bangladesh

Tamarack Verrall
Nov 10, 2014
Nov 10, 2014

Hello Ukheng,

How wonderful to meet you too, through this amazing network that we have through World Pulse. I am so glad that this news has touched and supported you in the work that you are facing in your country. To know that you also believe that we can and must change even what we were taught is impossible to change, strengthens my hope and determination. I love that for you freedom includes dance. We dance across the world in joy and celebration of our selves and each other.

With love in each step,

Tamarack

Mukut
Nov 10, 2014
Nov 10, 2014

Dear Tam,

Your article is amazing and extremely relevant,especially now, when more women are gaining courage to speak out against violence perpetrated on them.

Internet and technology plays a huge role in providing that medium where women and men can talk openly about the repercussions of violence faced by them, without feeling guilty or ashamed.

Thank you for sharing this.

Love,

Tamarack Verrall
Nov 12, 2014
Nov 12, 2014

Dear Mukut,

That this report has reached and supported you as well makes my heart swell with happiness, and strengthens my resolve, as does every connection that I witness and can be part of as we find each other through World Pulse. We are living in a time of finding each other directly on a level that has never happened before. In the wider society, more people than ever before in history are expressing grave concern about what has been done and continues to be done to women everywhere.

We are becoming stronger by far, together, than the past in which we were dismissed as complainers who were exaggerating. And as I am now thinking about the work being done by Ukheng in India, I can now follow what you are doing in Bangladesh. All together, we are making this happen. I am so glad to meet you, here.

Love,

Tamarack

Kerry-Ann Parchment
Nov 12, 2014
Nov 12, 2014

Dear Tam: Thank you so much for sharing such informative article with us here. I have learned so much and of course completely moved by the courage of these women. Regarding the following statement: The question has arisen. Why do women feel safer talking through #’s and the media, than to the police? I think the wide media and the newly social networks have allowed more and more silent victims to be bold and share their stories. We are no longer living in that era were these victims feared the normal stereotypical comments from society. Today's, facebook, twitter and instagram accounts allow strong gifted-minded women to spread the word of hope and courage from Pakistan to Russia. This remarkable interconnectedness has allowed us to transform a world that was sleeping, but now awaken by stories of empowering grass-root women.

Blessings Tam and continue the good work!

Tamarack Verrall
Nov 18, 2014
Nov 18, 2014

Hello dear weareone,

Thank you for adding your comments here. Yes, I agree completely that the internet has provided a safety that we have never had before, to speak out without being punished. And I celebrate along with you this amazing networking now available to us, that enables us to share news with each other, and to meet each other online. You have expressed this so beautifully. I am so glad to have your comments here, and to be able to go right to your profile to learn more about you.

My best wishes for your continued work as well,

Tam

Paula LaPierre
Nov 14, 2014
Nov 14, 2014

I greatly appreciate this article as it does support something that I hope can transpire, as more of us aspire to live in better relationship, with each other, and all life around us. Paula Kichesipirini Algonquin

Tamarack Verrall
Nov 18, 2014
Nov 18, 2014

Dear Paula,

Your words are encouraging and an important reminder that it is a joy and source of strength and inspiration to find ways to work together with love and respect for each other and for the Earth and all of her creatures.

In Sisterhood,

Tam