MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A Canadian based movement to end violence against women returns to Morgantown for it’s second year.
The White Ribbon Campaign looks to spread it’s message of promoting gender equality and ending violence against women and girls in commemoration of 28 years since a shooting in Montreal killed 14 women at a local college.
“Violence against women is one of the world’s most compelling social problems,” Dr. Walter DeKeseredy of WVU’s Research Center on Violence, said Monday on “The Gary Bowden Show” on the AJR News Network. “Consider Australia, and we’re very closely connected to White Ribbon Australia, a woman is murdered every week. The rates of violence, lethal and non lethal violence against women, all over the world are staggering,” he said.
The White Ribbon Campaign will host an event Wednesday at the WVU Gluck Theatre to recognize the shooting at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. A 25-year-old man shot and killed 14 women, claiming that “a feminist ruined his life” and that “his attack was justified.”
“Patriarchal ideals, attitudes and attitudes and beliefs, in other words men who believe that should be in control and dominate women, that’s one of the key factors,” Dr. DeKeseredy said.
In the case of the Polytechnique shooting, the offender had a prior history of extreme patriarchal ideals that, after further investigation, were passed on by his father who showed a similar disdain towards women, DeKeseredy said.
“I’ve been working in the area of violence against women for 32 years, and I can tell you the men who are most likely to engage in any type of violence against women, including sexual harassment, are the men who think they are entitled and feel superior to women,” DeKeseredy said.
Nearly 30 years later, DeKeseredy said the issue remains at the forefront of the American mindset whether in the form of killing sprees — like the 2014 Isla Vista killings where 22-year-old Elliot Rodger claimed “he wanted to punish women for rejecting him” — or in the form of the social media #MeToo campaign that led to a wave of sexual harassment claims against men across numerous industries.
“There’s a culture out there, silence speaks very loudly as you know. While we can praise ourselves to being good people, but if we’re not actively involved, then we are complicit in the problem,” DeKeseredy said.
DeKeseredy said the struggle to have a national dialogue on this issue has often been part of the cycle of violence against women; although he said that’s beginning to change.
“We’re seeing a growing number of men who are getting together and are doing some really good thing to make our world safer, not only for women but for children and a wide range of other people,” he said.
The White Ribbon Campaign event will take place at the Gluck Theater Wednesday at 2 p.m. and will include a showing of Denis Villeneuve’s (Blade Runner 2049) film Polytechnique — inspired by the 1989 shooting that lead to White Ribbon’s creation.