What’s Current: Influx of male pipeline workers puts Indigenous women in these communities at risk

What’s Current is Feminist Current’s daily news round up.

The industrial camps in remote communities up North (“man camps”) have increased rates of sexual assault and violence against Indigenous women.

Prominent UK feminists sign onto a letter to The Guardian taking a stand against trans activist violence.

In 1912, Seitō (which translated to “Bluestockings”), a Japanese magazine for women, was banned for challenging gender stereotypes and male dominance.

A Winnipeg firefighter and jiu-jitsu instructor has been arrested after three girls accused him of long term sexual abuse. Manuel Ruiz, 52, faces charges including sexual assault of a child, forcible confinement, and luring a child.

Mayday is hosting a second discussion about gender in Brighton, on September 27th.

Talking about detransition has become heresy.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • lk

    I know violence isnt the solution to problems, but I would so love for the indigenous women to just kick the asses of any of the men who try to rape/sexually assault them…Like, I would love for the members of the “man camps” to be afraid of the indigenous women and not the other way around..

    “There’s a ‘rigger culture’ that exists, where a lot of people are working together in a hyper masculine context and they’re not really taking care of themselves — they might be drinking and doing drugs, and then they’re blowing off steam…They’re not in their home community and they don’t think about the (local) people as their family or neighbours so they don’t treat people very kindly.”

    There was a lot in the language of this essay that rubbed me the wrong way
    “People working together” =can we just say men/males? I mean, its not like when groups of women get together to work you see an increase in rape, prostitution, sexual assault.
    “Blowing off steam”= sexual assault is not blowing off steam, soliciting prostitutes is not blowing off steam

    I honestly wish more studies and articles that talk about female abuse by males would just be more blunt and state what needs to be said: men prey on women. These men are not raping or using prostitutes because they are away from home (because men do that when they are at home!), they do this because they can, they do this because they have been taught to see females (especially of color) as objects to be used and bought.

    • will

      Agreed. I would have shared the article if the language had been more honest.

      • lk

        Its so annoying how many articles do this…the ways authors constantly trip over themselves to attribute men raping women to anything and everything other male rapists.

        I remember awhile back FC posted an article about men raping Somali women who were displaced, traveling and in refugee camps due to severe drought…the title of the article was something ridiculous like : Somali women are being raped because of drought.

        Hmmmm.Nope…droughts dont cause rape.

  • Omzig Online

    So the riggers camping near indigenous communities to work for the O&G industry are likely to be white, male, Canadian, and probably Christian. Let’s imagine for a moment that they are an immigrant population of Muslim men instead. Do you think the world would view their violence differently? Do you think people will speculate about how inherently violent and misogynistic Canadian Christians are when they rape indigenous women? Do you think their violence in these “man camps” will be cited as a reason for Canadians to be denied the option of immigrating to other countries? My guess is their identities as Canadians will be overlooked entirely, or seen as a neutral factor when discussing their violence against women. Canadians are generally regarded as peaceful, tolerant, and even passive (at least here in the US), and I believe the men in these camps will benefit greatly from this stereotype.

    When large numbers of males move into a population, the rate of male violence rises exponentially, regardless of their nationality, religion, or ethnicity.

    • FierceMild

      Eeeeeexactly. That was precisely the point made by many of us concerning a previous article on FC. Someone in the comments decided to link the race and religion if the men committing sexual assault in Germany to their crimes. As if white atheist Americans would rape and assault fewer women. Happily, it didn’t fly well with the FC women.

      • Omzig Online

        The thing is I never meant to imply that my sisters in Europe were racists at all. And I did not want those women to feel like I was gaslighting them into distrusting their own gut-feeling of being unsafe around large swaths of strange men out of fear of sounding racist. I KNOW they’re not safe with so many men around them. I KNOW they’re in danger. They have every right to draw our attention to their legitimate safety concerns without their fellow feminists reprimanding them just for observing the simple fact that most of their tormentors are Muslim. I want them to feel safe. But I also wanted to show a larger picture, one where male violence is seen as a global, humanitarian crisis, not a cultural one.

        I didn’t want to let German men off the hook just because they have a statistical advantage of knowing German women as friends, coworkers, and neighbors, so they can opportunistically date rape German women with impunity and get away with it.

        See, we all know that if those Muslim immigrant men would’ve just shelled out a few euros, they could’ve raped a prostituted Bulgarian child in a brothel, and German society would’ve looked the other way.

        Looking back throughout history, I don’t think there’s ever been a period where massive numbers of single, adult men have infiltrated a native culture without causing grave harm to native women. Ever. Even white, colonial men. The data proves to me that adult males in high concentrations will always generate toxic masculinity.

        I hope I didn’t make my German sisters feel unheard. I can’t help but feel sorry if I seemed dismissive of the very real danger that they’re in right now.

      • Leo

        It does make sense to think culture may make some difference, though, otherwise we do have to assume male violence is purely innate, which we know it isn’t, or feminists worldwide wouldn’t have made any progress. Patriarchal religion of any kind, Islam, Christianity, seems to help patriarchy at its worst maintain itself. Linking patriarchal religion (not race) is pretty reasonable when they’re full of rape apology, these days even secular patriarchal culture is starting to feel obliged to at least pretend to think that rape apologism is a bit beyond the pale. Religion is a good excuse to push patriarchal values without even having to try too hard to pretend to rationalise them (eg. ‘because science!’ from atheist bros). Cultural acceptability (not just legality) also seems to make a difference to prostitution use, or at least to admitting it:
        In Canada (not listed, question asked wasn’t identical), it’s about 7%.

  • lk

    I’m not saying its women’s responsibility to stop abusers.

    We know abuse against women happens all the time…we know that often time laws and police will not protect them. I see nothing wrong with women learning self-defense tactics that might at least protect them from immediate harm.

    There is a massive difference between mindless violence or violence that is about inflicting unnecessary harm and using self-defense to protect yourself from male violence.

    • kallaikoi

      This “selfdefense” culture is victimblaming and misoginistic:
      1- women are not violent, not because we can’t, but because we choose not to. I know several cases of women being run over by their husbands with their cars. We could run our husbands over with our cars too, we choose not to. We could poison our abuser’s food, we choose not to, etc. Even when I was assaulted, I didn’t react violently, even though rural Rias Baixas is the closest thing you can find to a matriarchy this day and age.
      2- “Selfdefense” is a male excuse to their lack of prevention and punishment of male to female violence. They put presure on us to prevent male crimes, they are trying to change women from peaceful to violent, instead of focusing on societal and police prevention. Also, with the raise of gangrapes and other male group violence, is just not realistic thinking that a woman can fight a group of men with just a mace spray.
      3- It is becoming yet another thing to criticise victims: “why didn’t she use a selfdefense weapon?” is becoming a regular question. Going from that to “she consented because she didn’t use a selfdefense weapon” is only a matter of time.
      4- It is still based on stranger-danger. Despite all the studies that show women are being harm by males they trust, selfdefense culture spreads the notion that is strangers that harm women. And reinforces women restricting our own freedom to avoid stranger danger at nights, when most agressions happen during daytime by our trusted males. And trusted males mean teachers, relatives, friends of our parents, not only our SO.

  • FierceMild

    My five year old daughter is taking a martial art. I know I can’t make her rape-proof, I know I can’t make her immune to mental or emotional or physical abuse, but I can enable her to fight if she gets the chance. She shouldn’t have to, but she’ll be able to.

  • FierceMild

    Yep. Watch how fast the reporting becomes ‘gender neutral’ when men commit violent atrocities.

  • kallaikoi

    It is not going to work. If it were that simple as women learning to defend themselves there wouldn’t be rapes.

  • kallaikoi

    I am used to hostile forums, so I made my previous comment too short. Please, let me expland it:
    1-Telling women to fight when they are threatened with violence is the opposite of what they advice in the face of mugging and kidnapping. You seem to think that fighting back when threatened may save your life, the truth in rapes is the opposite: women feel their life threatened and trade sex for their lifes. Here you have a TED conferency about this: https://www.google.es/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.tedxriodelaplata.org/videos/negociar-sexo-por-vida&ved=0ahUKEwj6rvant8fWAhXILFAKHawkAmEQtwIIKTAB&usg=AFQjCNFaa6XaMRDZQl4iBBL3xsUoHOcTwA
    2- It is telling that most seldefence trainers and selfdefense weapon makers are men. They aren’t interested in women’s safety, they want to profit from our unsafety. In this same page there is a mention to a jijitsu trainer who harmed girls.
    3- It is also damaging that selfdefense promotes the notion of rapists being perceived clearly as threatening by their victims. Those cases are unusual. Rapist present themselves as trustworthy or vulnerable to make women drop their gards. Or even more, they choose a victim who isn’t able to fight back(uncouncious women). And how people pictures rapes is making them doubt their own children when they tell them a trust worthy man touched them. And telling women they should fight rape is the reason why most women don’t go to the police, sonce they didn’t fight because they wanted to avoid being more injured or killed.

    • FierceMild

      All of the points you’re making are important, but I don’t see how they add up to not wanting women and girls to learn how to defend ourselves.

      As to the advice to not fight back I will point out that there is a body of evidence indicating that fighting back can be the best choice. Advising women to essentially lie back and think of England while they’re being raped is not, in my opinion, less misogynistic than advising us to fight back. Not fighting a rapist may mean saving your life, but it will certainly mean getting raped. I think women should be armed to do what we feel is necessary and that our assessments and responses to violence should be trusted. Sometimes putting up a fight is the difference between getting stuffed in a trunk and buried in the dessert or not. Sometimes fighting back will result in an attacker escalate his determination. We have to trust each woman to make that call for herself, but she can’t determine whether to fight, or to run, or to submit if the only realistic option she has is submission.

  • FierceMild

    I also think of the studies showing that most rapists are serial rapists which means that the impact of one woman being able to, unexpectedly, kick his ass could have a ripple effect.

    I know the culture at large will try to weaken, display, and undermine my daughter in every way possible. For example, I’m taking a class in statistics and today one of the problems put to the class (which is composed mostly of kids in their late teens and early twenties) required calculating the BMI of Miss America Pageant winners over the last hundred years and comparing the BMIs from earlier winners with those of more recent winners. This is a small example of the kind of undermining she will face every day of her life. There is no way that teaching her body the muscle memory it needs to defend itself will be anything but an asset to her. We stunt our girl’s minds, blunt their instincts, and groom them to victimhood. I used to teach a male-dominated martial art and the hardest step for my female students was getting them to actually engage an opponent at all. They were so trained to submission and empathy that they invariably had difficulty breaking through their femininity indoctrination. I guess what I mean to say is that I don’t think women and girls are naturally as non-violent as we end up being. I think it’s a cultural grooming process to make us easier prey and that any undermining of that is good.

    • lk

      “There is no way that teaching her body the muscle memory it needs to defend itself will be anything but an asset to her.”

      Exactly. I’m a bit perplexed by the idea that teaching women self-defense is somehow a negative thing.

      How can it be a bad thing for women to be physically strong or to have knowledge of physical self-defense tactics?

      “calculating the BMI of Miss America Pageant winners over the last hundred years and comparing the BMIs from earlier winners with those of more recent winners.”

      “I guess what I mean to say is that I don’t think women and girls are naturally as non-violent as we end up being. I think it’s a cultural grooming process to make us easier prey and that any undermining of that is good.”

      I wholeheartedly agree…women are taught from childhood that physical strength is not for them, that we ought to be small, pretty, damsels in distresses. Kids books, movies, fairytales, cartoons rarely feature female characters who are strong or can fight. Yet, we constantly see boys/males who are strong or interesting in self defense. If you even compare dolls that are marketed to girls vs. dolls that are marketed to boys–the female dolls rarely actually have muscles or fighting tools.

  • Omzig Online

    <3 <3 <3