Submitted By: dante l. simonato
I am a feminist: proud, intelligent, and motivated to stop the male violence against women and children. When I was in my second year at the University of Windsor, another female student came up to me after our Women Studies class we were taking together. She noticed the passion and energy I had during our discussions in class that helped us students understand how oppression, inequality, patriarchy, injustice, social constructions, and language affects women’s lives. That same day my friend took me to the Womyn’s Centre in the CAW Building on the second floor in room 291. There, we met other like-minded feminists who believed that violence against women and children is unacceptable. We all shared the same view: we will not stand by and allow this abuse to go on any longer.
Being an official radical cheerleader for the international annual event “Take Back the Night” has kept me focused on the goal of making our community aware of the systemic gendered violence that makes women victims of abuse. This violence is enacted not just by strangers, but mainly by known males in their lives: it could be a close friend of the family, a brother, uncle, father, or a husband.
My own personal experience with physical, emotional, sexual, and psychological abuse started at the age of sixteen by one of my sister’s ex-boyfriends. When I told my mother about his advances she explained like many mothers before her had to tell their daughters to just stay away from him and avoid being alone with him. Well, I never knew what this was called, even though I knew he was wrong for what he tried to do to me that night when I was babysitting him and my sister’s child. In my Women’s Studies class this was given the name “Not Quite Rape or Harrassment”, and the meaning sat with me from that day on. Many of us females have experienced that sexist, racist, male privilege that seems to give people with penises the right to make sexual advances at any female body without consequences or punishment.
I remember feeling disgusted in his behaviour, and still to this day I feel that betrayal and distrust of men in general. I have talked to my sisters about this incident and we were all able to think of a time that we have been violated by a man. What I do not understand is why do we women have more loyality to men than towards other women? I have been in the presence of women that have choosen to stay in an abusive marriage for the sake of the children. What is it about being a single mother that is worse than having your power as a woman stripped away from you day by day by a husband, father and love?
When I divorced my daughter’s father I felt that I would rather be alone with my three month old baby struggling than to put up with one more day with her abusive father. A man that puts his hands on a woman is a coward and I believe that it’s more harmful to the children to witness their mother being abused by father than to grow up in a single parent household. As time went on, I continued to educate myself because in that first marriage I was considered utterly stupid: I was unable to speak properly. But, when he went racial on me, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was a fat, black, bitch…I planned my escape from that moment on and have not looked back since. Today I fight for other women to escape when they are ready to leave this fucked up situation. I will fight to make sure that the resources are there for them to stand up and fight back against their oppressor. Sleeping With the Enemy was a movie I watched long ago and now I fully understand what it was like for the lead character to leave her husband. And now, I am speaking to the females out there: if you are in that situation please stay strong, think about what life you and your children really deserve and remember that you are not alone.
I want to thank the sisters that have worked hard to produce this feminist blog because through writing about my experiences, these words heal the wounds created by the men that tried to destroyed me and still I stand, cheer, laugh, love and will conquer these chains and will break them with this energy. Be postive sisters because the movement is alive and well. She just marches to a different beat…
editor’s note: university of windsor’s women’s studies classrooms have been honoured with Dante’s passion, courage and determination that has touched and empowered many budding feminists to stand proud and speak loud.