The following day, I attended a workshop about preventing gender violence, facilitated by Katz. There, he posed a question to all of the men in the room: “Men, what things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?”
Not one man, including myself, could quickly answer the question. Finally, one man raised his hand and said, “Nothing.” Then Katz asked the women, “What things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?” Nearly all of the women in the room raised their hand. One by one, each woman testified:
“I don’t make eye contact with men when I walk down the street,” said one.
“I don’t put my drink down at parties,” said another.
“I use the buddy system when I go to parties.”
“I cross the street when I see a group of guys walking in my direction.”
“I use my keys as a potential weapon.”
The women went on for several minutes, until their side of the blackboard was completely filled with responses. The men’s side of the blackboard was blank. I was stunned. I had never heard a group of women say these things before. I thought about all of the women in my life — including my mother, sister and girlfriend — and realized that I had a lot to learn about gender.
My earliest human memory is being bit by my family’s dog.
I was 3 years old, in my driveway in front of my house. My parents were behind me standing behind our van chatting with our neighbours. I was tired so I decided to go inside. I turned to walk along my driveway and my dog was walking down the sidewalk from our front door to where it met the driveway. I noticed something was ‘off’ about him. I opened my mouth to call for my mother. Not in a way which was to cry for help but instead one of concern and curiosity. Before I could finish the word “Mom” my dog had lunged towards me. His jaws caught my face, his top teeth on my nose, his bottom on my chin. The next sound I heard was my father’s voice “SKIP!” he seized my best friend by his collar and gave him a swift kick in the ass.
In the same moment my mother seized me in her arms and loaded me into our van. My dad took our dog inside the house and then jumped into the van with us. My vision was bloodied. My dog had also cut my head with his nails above my hairline and the blood had run down my forehead. I must have been quite the site.
My parents took me to the hospital and they cleaned and taped up my wounds and sent me home.
And I was fine, and no I am not afraid of dogs. I still love them.