Symposium draws experts on violence, poetry
London Community News
By Mallory Clarkson/London Community News
On the 22nd anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, one University of Western Ontario nursing professor talked about research she’s done on violence in the lives of women and girls. This was one of the three topics heard during the fourth City Symposium held at the London Public Library’s central branch on Tuesday (Dec. 6) that saw more than 100 people gather in the Wolf Performance Hall.
The other two topics was Car Free event and making slam poetry more accessible for all (See below).
Partly in response to the shooting that saw 14 women killed at Ecole Polytechnique, Helene Berman said the Alliance of Canadian Research Centres on Violence was created in 1993. She added a lot of the research she’s done has been in collaboration with the alliance organization.
“The federal government said we need to do more to understand the issue of violence against women and children and put out a call to establish these research proposals,” she said.
Berman works at the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children with is located at the University of Western Ontario. Her research was possible through a three-way partnership with the university, Fanshawe College and the London Co-ordinating Committee to End Women Abuse.
“The purposes of the research were to examine how girls were socialized in terms of gender expectations, stereotypes, feelings of self-worth and experiences of exclusions,” she said. “To examine how violence becomes normalized in the lives of girls, to examine how social policies, legislation and institutions influence this process, and to create a world where all children — girls and boys —may grow up in violent-free societies.”
She added the centre’s work isn’t done and gender equality hasn’t been achieved.
In order to make change, Berman said wise resistance needs to be encouraged, which acknowledges harsh political realities associated with speaking out against violence and inequality.
“We need to work with girls to teach resistance that’s responsible, respectful and safe, that involves learning to name the subtle and overt workings of a patriarchal society.”
She added a gender-based analysis should be maintained as a central feature of anti-violence programs, not through gender neutralization.
Berman also touched on the topic of bullying, saying while the school-based violence programs focus on treating others with respect, they should look at the source of the problem.
“The essential problem that I would argue with these problems is much of what occurs in the name of bullying is really about racism, sexism, classism and homophobia,” she said. “We have this gender-neutral relabeling of girls’ victimization that strips girls of legal rights and remedies and renders, without naming the problem.
“We become unable to recognize or address it.”
Making art accessible to all
Berman wasn’t the only speaker at the City Symposium Tuesday evening (Dec. 6). Another panelist spoke to the crowd at the London Public Library’s central branch about how to make communication more accessible.
Slam poet Kyra Harris said she was creating a way to make her art more accessible for people with hearing impairments, with developmental delays like autism or visual learners. She added supplementing poetry with visual effects and sound can also open up the art form to people who speak English at a basic level.
“Teaming it up with visual images or sound is going to allow individuals to create a fuller picture for people,” Harris said.
She noted since this art form’s inception in the ‘80s, it has given marginalized people a voice. “Poetry Slam has been aligned with a lot of social justice movements, it’s been an opportunity for marginalized individuals to speak out about various injustices and they may not have other opportunities to do so.”
Harris added that although it’s hard to say where her project is headed, she hopes more forums and venues open up to perform this art form in.
Ryan Craven, organizer of the Car Free events, also came out to the symposium to talk about the impacts the environmentally-friendly projects had on the Forest city when they were held throughout the summer.
The City Symposium is a monthly event that brings speakers, artists and innovators in London to speak to the public. The next event is being held on Dec. 13 at the Wolf Performance Hall in the London Public Library’s central branch at 7 p.m.