This makes me sick. It’s probably old news, but it’s news that shouldn’t slip by anyone. Our culture is teaching potential journalists to belittle a serious crime. May the young woman and her friends be safe and strong and may the young men learn to show more respect to women.
Here are some press releases to get you up to speed on some of the
scary stuff that’s going down right now on the UWO campus — and the
Miss G__ Project is at the front lines of the battle (which, by the
way, we’re totally winning ;) , as one of our most prominent members,
Jenna Owsianik, was directly targeted in this attack.You can take immediate action by writing letters to the Editor-in-Chief of the Gazette Ian Van Den Hurk at firstname.lastname@example.org, the UWO Students’ Council President Fab Dolan at email@example.com, theUWO President and Vice-Chancellor Paul Davenport, at firstname.lastname@example.org,and UWO Equity Services at email@example.com.
Thank you for your time and support, and we appreciate your help in
passing this information on to your contacts and networks!
Miss G__ Project Co-Coordinator
PS More information and recent updates can be found at
Western Students Up in Arms After Campus Newspaper “Spoofs” the Rape of Student Activist
LONDON, ON – April 8, 2007 – Many students at the University of
Western Ontario are up in arms about an article published on March
30th by the daily campus newspaper, The Gazette, as part of its annual
Spoof Issue. The article depicts the London police chief (who is
explicitly named) dragging a prominent member of the UWO Women’s
Issues Network (WIN), depicted under the pseudonym “Jennifer Ostrich,”
into an alley to rape her to “teach [her] a lesson.”
The article, titled “Labia Majora Carnage,” was published
anonymously under the pseudonym, “Xavier.”
Students angry and offended by the article have been mobilizing
through letter writing campaigns to The Gazette Editor-in-Chief Ian
Van Den Hurk, the university, and the media, and through a protest
held on campus last Thursday.
Some students have also written to Police Chief Murray Faulkner to
ask him to make a public statement about his portrayal in the article
and his stance on violence against women. Faulkner couldn’t be reached
Most students believe “Jennifer Ostrich” to be a caricature of
Jenna Owsianik, chair of the Western chapter of the feminist group The
Miss G__ Project and an active member of WIN. She has also been vocal
about criticizing The Gazette, and in the October issue of the
Grapevine (another campus publication at Western), Owsianik wrote
about what she sees as The Gazette’s tradition of “negative sexual
stereotypes and sexist attitudes” — and cataloged the offenses.
In addition to being angry and upset, Owsianik is disappointed that
this is the response to her criticisms and to the challenge she issued
to The Gazette and all student journalists in the Grapevine article
“to be more responsible.” Though she’s not terribly surprised – The
Gazette has been brushing off her criticisms and making fun of her and
other WIN members all year – the severity and violence of this article
still shocked and terrified her.
“I feel like I was raped by that article,” Owsianik said candidly.
The article also satirizes “Katie Conservative,” a pretty clear
allusion to WIN Internal Relations Manager and active UWO Conservative
Association member Kathryn Mitrow, who says that she is “appalled and
ashamed” by The Gazette’s actions.
In a letter to the editor published in the April 5 edition of The
Gazette, graduate student Corey Katz takes issue with the Spoof
Issue’s jokes about rape, violence against women and homosexuality.
“These jokes are used every day to justify violence against women and
queer people. How many jokes like these has someone read, heard,
laughed at or told before they’re able to overcome their conscience
enough to rape or assault someone?”
Recent UWO alumna and Miss G__ Project Co-Coordinator Sheetal Rawal
also thinks that the targeting of Owsianik in this article is a way to
silence activism about women’s issues on Western’s campus.
“For The Gazette to level a threat of rape at a student activist on
campus, one who has had the courage to speak out against the shocking
misogyny, homophobia, racism in the paper, as away to “teach [her] a
lesson,” is highly irresponsible of a campus newspaper and absolutely
unacceptable,” Rawal said. “This is hate speech.”
Rawal also said that she is “embarrassed” that, between this and
other events like the “Saugeen Stripper” issue last year, Western is
coming to known for its rape culture. “I refuse to allow for my degree
to read “Rapist University,”” she said.
Not all students are upset about it though, and even some of those who
are continue defend The Gazette’s right to publish articles like this
under freedom of speech.
“Freedom of speech is a fundamental pillar of our society, even if
we don’t like it,” Western student Noah Desjardins wrote on the
discussion board of a Facebook group created around this issue. “Any
restrcitions placed on it lead to a slippery slope of censorship.”
Western student Fiona Martin thinks that freedom of speech should
have its limits though.
“The debate continues on whether jokes against feminism are funny.
Some people think they are, some don’t. What is not funny is the
verbal attack against specific people that The Gazette article made.
That is hate speech,” she wrote on the discussion board.
So far, The Gazette’s only official response to the backlash from
the Spoof Issue has been “get over yourself.” In an April 4 editorial
they defend the “satire” of the issue, writing that those offended
should “know a joke when they see one.”
However, several students have been demanding more extreme action,
including calling for Van Den Hurk’s resign and the withdrawal of
student funding (through the University Students’ Council) to The
Student Kate Barthes suggests that The Gazette’s funding be revoked
for one year, to match the USC’s actions against the Society for
Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) when it was accused of hate speech
Throughout all this, Owsianik has been told by several people to
‘take a joke.’
“That article was about me getting raped and liking it,” she said.
“When you live your life in my body and experience the violence that
my body has felt, then you can tell me if satirical intention merits a
diffused reaction,” she said.
Controversy is continuing to dog the University of Western Ontario’s
student run newspaper The Gazette
LONDON,ON. April 9,2007 – Each year the University of Western
Ontario’s student newspaper, The Gazette, publishes a spoof edition
which is released on April 1st. This years’ edition targeted women,
and in particular, groups who advocate women’s issues on campus.
The article in question, titled “Labia Majora Carnage”
depicts a supposedly satirical portrayal of the Take Back the Night
rally. The author, who refuses to be identified, laces this ‘humorous’
article with vulgar depictions of women and sexually suggestive
themes. In it, known UWO activists are alluded to in morphed
Current London Police Services Chief Murray Faulkiner
is named in the article. Chief Faulkiner is described “…greasing his
nightstick”. The author adds: “He [Chief Faulkiner] grabbed the
loudspeaker from Ostrich’s wild vagina and took it into a dark alley
to teach it a lesson.”
The Gazette Editor-in-Chief, Ian Van Den Hurk, responded
citing Freedom of Speech and re enforced that the article was intended
to be humorous and instead of apologizing he called the complaintifs
“convoluted” and told them to “get-over” themselves.
Outraged students have taken several steps to air their
frustration with the student-funded Gazette’s article that was neither
factual, newsworthy, nor relevant to the Gazette’s mandate.
“Ian Van Den Hurk must be reminded that the Gazette is
published and supported with student fees appropriated by the UWO
University Students’ Council,” said Kate Bartz, former President of
the Women’s Studies Student Council.
Kathryn Mitrow, who is a member of the Women’s Issues
Network at UWO stated:
“Such an attack and slanderous piece of writing has no place
appearing in a newspaper funded by and supported by students.”
Van Den Hurk’s personal web-blog featuring many sexualized
themes can be viewed at: http://hurk.blogspot.com/