Circumstances this week (paid work coupled with volunteer work) have meant that I've had next to no time to work on my book, other than to add something to the title. Although it will be nice to have some money to put in my empty bank account I really miss working on my opus.
I reached another editing milestone! I've edited a third of the book and finished my chapter on pornography. Very happy to have so much of the work behind me although I may have to resign myself to a 500-page book. There are just so many interesting things to include!
I found myself another role model in the person of Andrea Dworkin. Last week I read her book, Heartbreak: the Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant (2002). In spite of the title I see her as more of an intellectual, someone who could teach English literature standing on her head. It's only the second book of hers that I've read though, so I'll reserve my opinion. She seemed to be a fierce defender of women. I wish she were still with us.
This week I will also continue reading up on Virginia Woolf's life and incest in Victorian England. (The connection is that Woolf's Victorian family was more incestuous than I thought possible.) Honestly, I am so glad I wasn't born any earlier than I was. Victorian England was an awful place.
October is Women's History Month, and this year the theme in Canada is Because of Her (recognizing the women who have shaped Canada’s history). Because of the research I am doing for my book sometimes it feels like this has been Women's History Year. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time alone in my office discovering strong women, women who have been wronged, women who have made a difference and women who have fought with their words and actions to improve all women's living conditions. I may have spent most of that time alone, but I felt surrounded by courage, hope and energy. With every passing day I become increasingly impatient to share my findings and writing with my sisters, girlfriends and all women.
My book's title is still a secret, but some days I feel like changing the name to Herstory because that is what it feels like. I haven't been keeping track so I'm not sure how many women's lives and stories I've discussed but the total could easily be approaching 100. Through my writing I feel like I'm resurrecting some women--well, their stories, anyhow--and introducing others that everyone should know about because they are wonderful people.
This week I edited a chapter that included a discussion on antipornography legislation and the sexualization of childified women and adultified girls. So many women (and men) have been working on this problem for decades! I'm looking forward to giving them more visibility.
The world (as far as I can see) is covered in a blanket of snow and everyone is out of the house, making for perfect conditions in which to edit a section of my book examining the devastating effects of pornography on society, namely men and women (girls and boys) and people's sexuality. There are so many interesting facets to study: economic, criminal, sociological... I should thank Gail Dines for doing a significant part of the legwork since I don't want to expose my own brain and imagination to mainstream online pornography.
Once in a while I discover an author I adore and that is the case with Canadian legal historian and law professor Constance Backhouse. I wish I had been introduced to her when I began reading Jane Austen, at around the age of sixteen or seventeen. At the moment I am reading her 1991 book Petticoats and Prejudice: Women and Law in Nineteeth-Century Canada, which I have been wrapped up in all day. I will certainly reference it in my book.
Happy happy joy joy! Today I reached another milestone: I finished editing Part I of my book (it is divided into three parts). As of today the book is 450 pages long (or roughly 274 000 words). It helped that the weather has been getting colder, and today was the first snow day here--rich with big, heavy snowflakes. This is perfect editing weather. Birds are still coming to the feeder outside my office window and cups of hot chocolate make the afternoons particularly delicious.
Today I also discovered Adrienne Truscott's Asking For It comedy show and a great video on YouTube entitled If A Robbery Report Was Treated Like A Rape Report.
Now on to Part II and the five media my book focusses on: pornography, movies, TV, music videos and magazines!
Owing to Thanksgiving I was away from my manuscript for three whole days. Lovely as it is to see extended family I am very happy to be back in my office, contemplating clouds and tree tops from time to time.
Before jumping back into editing I read again part of a speech given by former Supreme Court justice, Claire L'Heureux-Dubé, at a conference in Ottawa a few years ago. She spoke to the status of women in Canada:
“Since being declared persons under the law by the Privy Council, women in Canada have undertaken important struggles. We have successfully fought, and continue to agitate for, equal pay for work of equal value. We continue to fight for inclusion in the workplace. Although men continue to sexually harass, we have avenues of legal recourse when we face sexual harassment at work. However, one aspect of women’s inequality where little progress has been made in Canada is violence against women. Violence against women, including sexual violence, remains commonplace and condoned here and around the world. […] In Canada we do not commonly burn brides or generally practice genital mutilation (although there have been recent instances of both). However, cases of trafficking in women, juvenile prostitution, sexual assault and even murder of women in prostitution, spouses, ex-spouses, and girlfriends, as well as domestic violence, are the everyday menu of our criminal courts.”
 University of Ottawa, Sexual Assault in Canada: Law, Legal Practice and Women’s Activism, 2012, Elizabeth A. Sheehy, editor, University of Ottawa Press, p. 2-3
Lately I have been editing a section of my book that deals with gynocide and serial killers. I needed to come up with a system that allowed me to discuss the criminal justice system and the women murdered by serial killers without naming the despicable men responsible. The last thing I want is to contribute to their fame. I am not in the least fascinated by serial killers. They are selfish, self-serving brutes. However, the treatment they receive in the criminal justice system--and all its failings--are very interesting and warrant being examined. I am pleased with the system I have devised and especially happy to add to the visibility of the women society failed.
The subject matter can be so demoralizing that I have taken to reading the very soothing stories of Jane Austen before retiring for the day. If it were not for my very strong desire to protect women and girls I would likely have given up by now.