The Gleaner

Get home safe

“Text me when you’re home safe.”

I’ve said those six words more often than any others at the end of a night with friends. And the reaction I get each time is so telling of why we need to say it. When I say it to my male friends, I’m met with a wave and a smile. A courtesy. But when I say it to my friends who are women or AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth), I’m met with a promise and a nod that feels sacred. Because we all know what could happen. What has happened. We know, because there is not one woman or AFAB person I know who has not been harassed, abused, or assaulted at some point in their life.

Violence against women seems to be programmed into the way we live. It starts young and is so deeply woven into how we raise each new generation. We see it when kids are in elementary school, when a girl complains that a boy pulled her hair and she’s told, “That just means he likes you.” We see it when teenagers are in high school, and the girls’ clothes are policed in a way that their male peers’ appearances are not. As we age, we see it through being told to smile more, speak up less, and be grateful for the unwanted attention from the stranger at the bar, in the supermarket, or outside our own apartments. We see it in the number of femicides that happen in this province every year.

And let’s not forget that violence against women becomes even more nuanced when we introduce race, social-economic background, and queer identities into the picture. These conversations cannot be had without including the experiences of all women and how those in these intersections are targeted at even higher rates.

Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz didn’t make it home safe on December 6, 1989. Countless others haven’t made it home since. So, we remember them. We say their names. We walk in packs. We hold our keys between our fingers. And we exhale when we get the text that says “Home!”
Callan Forrester

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