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Violence

Hi Amy,

I wanted to drop and line and say that I LOVED Manifesta, and am currently partway through Grassroots, and loving it too. And so far I've had no complaints but the following. For me, as a third wave feminist (and being young too, I'm only 23!!) and as a Feminist Counselor for women who have experienced abuse I was a little curious as to why, in Grassroots, you and Jennifer continue to use the term "battered women".

I've spent most of my year here going through and changing safety plans, power and control wheels, "what should I do?" worksheets, and policies, to be gender inclusive and to remove the long used terms "battered women" and "abused women". Yes, it’s true, most of my clients have been "battered" and "abused", but that does not mean they deserve to live with that moniker, especially from compassionate, feminist activists like us! So, I've replaced "battered" and "abused" with "women who have experienced abuse". Those that have abused them are still considered the "abuser" though, and I'd like to see a day when that is not the case.The other thing about these terms is that the use of "battered" instead of "abused" is misleading because it indicates that only women who have experienced physical abuse ("battery") are considered abused and worthy of support and compassion and the ability to complain and change their situation.

Now, I know, it all seems a little silly, these words, and I know that you were not intending to exclude other forms of abuse, etc, but it is important that we change the way that we approach abuse and women who have experienced abuse, to bring them out of the "social stigma" that makes it oh so hard to report, push for a conviction, move forward, and heal.

On another note, this forthcoming January I'm beginning my MA in Gender Studies and, inspired by Manifesta, intend to write something similar about Canada and Canadian women as Third Wave. I really did like Manifesta, and I appreciate your feminist experience of being the expert of your lives, but a lot of the struggles felt different for me, and for others, Canadians, I know who read the book. So, my MA is my attempt at carving out the Third Wave Movement in Canada!

Wish me luck, and thank you for the inspiration.

Diandra

 

Diandra,

A big thanks for your note, for reaching out and for sharing your perspective. I totally hear everything that you are saying and will certainly think differently in the future. I can't really think of why we used that term, probably because most of the groups whom we mentioned who work in this area use that language and thus we would being descriptive of their work, using the language, without being sensitive to how that might be heard.

I certainly know that "battered women" has been challenged within feminism for a while now, and while "women who have experienced abuse" is more inclusive, there are of course limitations on that, too. From the perspective of writing, it's a big clunky, but that shouldn't stand in the way of using it. More that it's vague. I have also always liked "assault" as a description because it seems to have more impact and more use outside of the DV world, thus taking the action more seriously.

Thanks so much for sharing and as I said, I will certainly keep this in mind. And a huge congrats on the book. It's a great idea and based on the number of emails I personally receive from Canadians, needed.

Good luck, let me know how it progresses.

-- Amy