A Woman’s Worth

* This was an article I wrote for a campus paper in March 2008 *

Studies printed in Medical News Today show that people are twice more likely to pick up smoking if they had a parent who also smoked, even despite educative efforts and anti smoking awareness. Although the study primarily focuses on smoking as an example, the main conclusion of this study reveals that behaviors rather than attitudes are the leading influence in determining a person’s future actions and decisions. I was reminded about this study this week upon hearing about yet another instance of a reoccurring issue that has unfortunately become typical in and surrounding our York University community.
You may have noticed that acts of violence at York University manage to make the front page of the Toronto Star every September, and following every bout of negative press we are given a dose of damage control, which tells us all the steps York is taking to ensure that our safety is protected. And yet no matter how many posters are plastered around the school encouraging campus safety, students, particularly women, are still vulnerable to acts of violence on and around our campus despite our measures.
First, I want to clarify that I am aware that feminism often carries negatively-stereotyped connotations of man-eating bra-burners. Accounts of violence such as these enrage me, and my anger does not stem from militant man-hating, but rather from the feelings of vulnerability, fear, and empathy that are triggered upon hearing that crimes such as these occur in the places I walk and live.
This particular fall term the damage control from York University was in response to the rape of two 19 year old first-year students, as well as another attempted rape in Vanier College. The two convicted rapists, one a former York student, barged in on six unlocked dorm rooms while the women were sleeping. It is unnecessary for me to go into detail about how horrifying rape is. I could not begin to imagine how this incident has effected not only those three women, but also every female, staff and student, who now feels that much more vulnerable on this campus.
This particular account was in the newspapers for quite some time but even today few people know how this case ended. I was once naïve enough to believe that rape was almost on par with murder as per the Criminal Code of Canada. I was almost sure the two young men would receive jail time, or perhaps community service, maybe paired with a public apology. I was wrong. It seems the dignity and liberty of a woman can be taken from her for only two hundred thousand dollars. But, not the alleged rapist’s money, mind you. They received bail from their mothers. For those of you keeping score: two females were gang raped and one other was attacked. They now have to cope with the shock, emotional distress, and every other imaginable trauma associated with this form of assault. The two rapists had their parents pay them out of their crime and have probably lost their car privileges for life.
Upon reading a campus alert for yet another sexual assault in another college residence on January 15, I can’t help but think that although the supposed attitudes of the judicial system and York University are for the equality of women and against male sexual aggression, this has not been displayed in their behaviors, particularly in regards to the punishment of said crimes. Quantifying the value of a woman at $200,000 is not remedying the problem of female inequality in our country and community, and is not consistent with the attitudes expressed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If there is any validity in the study on behaviors and attitudes, isn’t it about time sexual assault is treated as the heinous crime that it is? What have these rapists lost besides their parent’s money? More importantly what have they gained? A deeper respect for women? A rehabilitated perspective on the equality of women? I really cannot say whether they have or not. But the one thing is for sure: when justice is in favor of the pocketbook, and the consequences for raping a woman can be paid off as if it was car theft, one must ask if the anti-violence attitude expressed by the justice system and this university will be enough to ensure acts like these are truly prevented from happening again in our community.

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About Ashley Drake
Don't cha wish your girlfriend could blog like me

One Response to A Woman’s Worth

  1. dontdontoperate says:

    GREAT ARTICLE!

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