Tonight the SRC (Student Representative Council) of the University of Cape Town is organising a candlelight vigil in solidarity against violence against woman… well women, unless there is a specific woman that it is for (might be, I’ve missed quite a bit lately being somewhat absent from social media in the past months.)
My first reaction: yeah, 촛불시위! Let’s go! But in my mind, of course, I’m stuck with the association to South Korea and the protests that brought thousands to the street in 2008. On second thought I doubt that there would be the “ambiance” I am imagining (water cannons and thousands of riot police in more body armor than Iron Man.)
Violence against women is one of these things that feature highly in my work, but I’ve always felt somewhat weird about it. Too often those exposing it tend to have a very preconceived (read normative) view of who those women are… I’m not saying all, but still. Of course Yaliwe Clarke speaking is something that makes me feel better, a friend of mine who has quite a good grasp of the need for an inclusive understanding of “woman/women”.
Yet still it isn’t enough to drag me away from my weekly game of baduk (aka go)… And perhaps this is a shame. I find it interesting, in these moments of self-reflection, that the word “violence against women” is still making me question all these things; maybe the entire trans inclusion, and its related experiences of cisgender privelege being thrown into my face, have just made me too cynical. Then again, I do feel that such violence is rooted in gender, and thus one cannot structure “violence against women” as this singular issue, because it is not; what about those transgender men who face violence for the same gendered reasons as cisgender women do? What about those who are gender non-conforming in both identity and expression? What about intersex people? What about gay men? They all face violence for the same root cause: gender and all its bells and whistles. And of course transgender women, but I assume that they’re included; just, you know, because… Yet the phrase “violence against women” often turns gender based violence into a women’s issue, and it is far more than that.
Then again, I have been called pedantic… often and vigorously. So, all gender language and analysis and pedanticness aside; while I’m busy losing a game of baduk, please do go and attend (if this was Korea you’d not even have to bring your own candles, here you might… not sure.)