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Call it what it is

Dear editor:

The recent school shootings in the United States and the reasons given for these shootings by mainstream media have been misleading, and the purpose of this letter is to draw attention to one of the root causes of this senseless violence.

A mother of one of the Santa Fe Texas high school shootings revealed that her daughter, 16-year-old Shana Fisher, was targeted by the shooter after repeatedly rejecting him. Ms. Fisher's mother told the Los Angeles Times that her daughter had “four months of problems from this boy. He kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no.”

This culminated one week prior to the shooting, when Fisher stood up to the shooter publicly. Now she is dead, along with nine others and 13 more injured.

Comments have been made stating the shooter was “a smart, quiet, sweet boy.” Similar comments have been made of other white male mass shooters, including at the Parkland and Great Mills high school shootings.

These characterizations diminish the violence these individuals unleash on their communities. We must accurately and knowledgeably describe these events for the root of what they are: violence against women.

Too often, we frame these incidents as mass shootings or we ascribe that the shooter was spurned or lovesick or bullied. We must be careful that we not inadvertently (or worse, blatantly) blame the victim for these crimes.

“Once again, we have a tragic ending for a young person because another young person had access to a firearm and he needed to exert his control over the victim,” said Ruth Glenn, CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“It is appalling that we are still dealing with the deadly intersection of guns and domestic violence. We must take action by understanding that the root of most of the mass shootings are the result of a loss of power or control combined with easy access to firearms.”

Canadians cannot be complacent about these issues, either, for we are suffering from the same misogynist hate-filled crimes as our neighbours to the south.

The most recent example of this is Alek Minassian, who mowed down pedestrians in Toronto, killing 10 and injuring 15. Minassian's link on Facebook referred to men who were successful with women as “Chads" and women who turned down men as "Stacys.”

“Incels" was a term used to describe men who are involuntary celibate, and shortly before the attack, Minassian stated on Facebook that the "incel rebellion has already begun. We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys.”

As the successful recipient of this year's high school bursary from Fort Frances stated, “We need to stop teaching women about how to avoid violence and start teaching men and boys self-control and change their mindsets about men needing to be strong and in control.”

Very wise words and advice, and we will take heed about her calling for more education and awareness groups. We will be starting one for young people this fall and hope to attract as many young people as possible to come together to discuss healthy relationships.

We implore everyone to recognize this violence and call it what it is as this will enable all of us to address this and intervene; hopefully to stop these crimes from happening, in our schools, our workplaces, our communities, our public streets, and our homes.

Women, and all, have a right to say “no” to any act of which they choose not to participate, a right to attend school, and a right to walk down city streets, without fear of reprisal or death.

Sincerely,

Donna Kroocmo,

Executive Director,

Rainy River District

Women's Shelter of Hope

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