I got back Friday night from a whirlwind eleven days of media, bookstores, readings, and speaking engagements. Ontario, you sure know how to show a girl a good time! Highlights include this chat with Marci Ien on Canada AM; reading and conversation at Words Worth Books and The Bookshelf, two of my favourite Ontario indie booksellers; Toronto reading series Pivot at the Press Club and Rowers Pub Reading Series; a house reading in Hamilton at LitLive; a conversation with the fabulous Gill Deacon at CBC Here and Now; and my first book club visit with The Devil You Know — with Port Dover’s Red Hot Bookies!
As any parent knows, you can go away any time you like…. but you can never leave. I got home and hit the ground running here, driving my teenaged daughter to social engagements and my son to babysitting gigs. I’m lucky to have a family that is so supportive — and who kept the house so clean!
I spent my last night away speaking to a packed house at a fundraiser for Project Bookmark Canada — one of my favourite literary organizations, Bookmark is run by my friend, the writer Miranda Hill. We had a long conversation about The Devil You Know and then the audience Q&A moved to wider issues about women’s safety, fear, and sexual violence. Toward the end of the evening, I was asked how I think we can best move forward — especially after last fall’s high profile revelations about celebrity sexual violence (I’m talking about Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby here) and campus sexual assault and harassment (at University of Virginia and Dalhousie University in Halifax, among others), as well as assault and coercion in the arts community (a great conversation was sparked by Emma Healey’s essay here in The Hairpin.) I’m not including all the links on purpose, because part of the issue is burnout. How do we take this information in, and move forward?
I don’t have all the answers. I’m a policy feminist, though — I think the answer lies in good legislation and specific policy changes. We need good laws that make it easier to help victims and easier to stop assault before it happens. Three days later, it’s International Women’s Day, and Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Provincial Government has launched a fabulous new 3-year plan to curb sexual violence. The 35-page action plan is funded to the tune of 41-million dollars and places the focus on helping victims, raising awareness, and encouraging bystanders to intervene. It also comes with an advertising blitz — starting with this video, tagged #WhoWillYouHelp. Take a minute to give it a watch — because if you’re not helping her, you’re helping him.
Thanks, Kathleen Wynne! And Happy International Women’s Day, everyone.
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