Over the last few weeks this post has been building. Poetry Slam was where the idea of this post started to form, or rather the walk home from the February slam. I tried to ignore the feelings, memories and rage triggered at the last slam, I’m not even sure which poem was the trigger. Since the slam other triggers have kept coming at me but I dodged them all, or thought I had. The fact I didn’t read the articles until today but had book marked them must be a sign or something. The last trigger that has me writing this was a news piece last night about the discovery of Loretta Saunders’ body in New Brunswick.
Maybe the headlines about Ms Saunders’ being searched for was the original trigger of these disturbing memories. I didn’t open the previous articles, I tried not to take a good look at the poster. I know I’m terrible for that but it and the far to often similar cases remind me of unresolved feelings about other missing women.
I never knew Nina de Villiers, she was at McMaster before I finished high school. I was one of the many people who helped look for her. It happened so long ago I forgot her name, even though I passed that garden constantly while at Mac. Now I remember the search, even Navy Reservist had been called out, Tim Horton’s had donated supplies by the truck load. The sunny yet chilly day in soggy fields looking for any clue. She was found later in the same area I had been searching, Which leads to the guilt, did I miss her? There was some garbage bags in my area I didn’t look close enough at.
My high school was in Stoney Creek Ontario, a town that has been merged into Hamilton. Early in 1992 Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy disappeared and later were found dead. I remember the concern everyone had as the mere thought of what was happening or happened terrorized communities throughout the Niagara Peninsula. What is burned into memory the most is the look on Saltfleet’s Grade 9 girls phys-ed class as they were rushed inside. I just happened to look out the window as they were racing inside. Then the whole school went into lockdown because a car matching the one police were looking for was in the parking lot behind the school. False alarm, real emotions as I worried about the girls I knew in the school, and the rage as I thought of what I wanted to do if any of my friends were harmed.
Hidden deep within me is a crazed, psychotic berserker, a blood thirsty savage killer I fear to let out. When I keep seeing stories of people disappearing or being attacked or raped I wish I could unleash on those responsible. I mean those who do those sorts of things are asking to be brutally and inhumanely killed, right? I don’t want justice, I want heads as trophies. I know giving into my rage won’t solve anything, no matter the triggers or causes of that rage.
The other powerful emotion this all sparks is fear, fear of being that guy. Fear of being in situations that misunderstanding or miscommunication could lead me to hurt someone. I have no ability to read signals, so I usually run, alienate and avoid. In the rare times I haven’t run I’ve hesitated, been awkward or shut down completely. There are other events that have me this way, but I’m not ready to talk about those. I feel guilty for using such a scene in my last novel, which will be deleted when I edit.
I don’t remember learning the boundaries, the rules of relationships. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention or skipped that day but it seems like there was no attempt. Doesn’t really matter what school, home or religion teaches when society is constantly clear that people are just a means or meat. Photoshopped women and men to show us we’re lacking in someway and only the advertised product will give us some hope. No wonder so many have body image issues or feel inferior in some way.
The tragic irony of the Loretta Saunders’ case is she was researching other missing or killed women. The article says 800 have been verified yet the group Walking with Our Sisters has over 1600 moccasin tops to remember someone murdered or missing. I know rage isn’t going to help, but maybe flooding the Justice Minister with requests for a commission will. I’d ask non-Canadians to send letters in to and get their own governments to add diplomatic pressure on Canada until something is done. Let’s get every teenage boy in the country out of class to go help search for these people while we’re at it. Talking about it helps too, need to find a way to get everyone to the discussion.
This isn’t just a Canadian problem, as the articles that help trigger the rage mention. Sudan, Libya, the United States and Uganda are a few I’ve noticed in the news lately with this problem. The disturbing thing about Uganda is there is a cultural shift to normalizing attacking women for the way they dress. Something that segments of American society are entrenching. Maybe we should be clear that religious rights never trump the right to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person.
Writing this has me feeling a bit better, the rage has crawled back into its lair deep in my soul. Although I am playing my wooden practice sword, could be the ADD though. I’ll post my letter to the Justice Minister when I’m finished it.