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Vermont Guardian

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All voices matter

Posted October 20, 2006

In this week’s issue, the Vermont Guardian gives space to the many hard-working candidates standing for election on Nov. 7.

It is part of our attempt to give Vermonters a better understanding of all the people who have taken the time away from their families and jobs to meet folks and attempt to earn their votes for their respective offices.

It’s not an easy task, not even for those who are well-to-do or those who have raised a lot of money. Campaigning is hard work, and for good reason — Vermonters deserve to hear from their candidates one-on-one, not just through glossy mail and a barrage of television and radio ads, or automated phone calls generated by a computer software program. Ohio we’re not.

We tried to include as many as we could fit this week, and hope to print more in the coming two weeks leading up to Nov. 7.

We have a much more extensive list of candidates, their positions statements on a variety of issues, along with statements of candidacy on our website. Just go to www.vermontguardian.com, and then click on the button that says, “On the Trail.” From there, you will come to Candidate’s Corner, where you will find photos, information, and statements from candidates running for statewide office.

We will continue to add statements from candidates as they come in, and hope to have all of them respond before Election Day.

Violence against women is all of our concern

The death of Michelle Gardner-Quinn reminds all of us that Vermont is not an island separated from the rest of the world.

Following on the heels of the recent school shootings, where men were the perpetrators and young women the victims, is there something deeper at work here that needs to be addressed?

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so it may be time to reflect on what role men play in this equation of violence toward women, and what role our society, as a whole, plays in the way women are depicted as objects.

This distorted view of women, much more so than access to handguns or a lack of security measures at schools, is the real culprit at work.

In Colorado, an armed man walked into a high school, forced the male students to leave and then took the young women hostage, killing one and allegedly assaulting others before killing himself. A week later, another armed man walked into an Amish schoolhouse and forced everyone out but several girls. He tied their feet together, and then killed five of the girls before he took his own life.

In response, the White House convened a special forum with experts in education and law enforcement to discuss the “nature of the problem.”

As noted by Jackson Katz in a recent commentary on the website CommonDreams.org:

“This approach is misdirected. Instead of convening a group of experts on ‘school safety,’ the president should catalyze a long-overdue national conversation about sexism, masculinity, and men’s violence against women,” argues Katz, author of The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help.

“What is it going to take for our society to deal honestly with the extent and depth of this problem? How many more young girls have to die before decision-makers in media and other influential institutions stop averting their eyes from the lethal mix of deep misogyny and violent masculinity at work here?” he adds.

He’s right: How many more young girls will have to die before men begin to engage the question and embrace solutions?

Katz recalls that in 1991 after a shooting in Montreal in which a disgruntled, unemployed man shot and killed 14 women engineering students, a number of men in Canada created a White Ribbon campaign. The campaign’s idea was for men to pledge, “never to commit, condone, nor remain silent about violence against women.”

This is an important statement, and first step, but by no means a solution. Still, perhaps it is time for such a campaign to take root in the United States, and what a better place for it to start than right here in Vermont.