Within our justice system, all aspects of a victim’s personal life are on the table: sexual history, correspondence, drinking and drug use. The accused is not put through the same paces; he has the right not to testify. While few in the legal community wish to see this protection removed, it creates a power imbalance in sexual assault cases.
Many of Canada’s underage soldiers weren’t made aware that they could be shot, “that they could actually suffer horrifically and become victims,” Dallaire says. “That dimension was not even in the training construct at the time. You were always working at destroying the enemy and you never looked at the fact that you yourself could become a victim.”
If I thought for a moment we had achieved true equality in North America, I would question the need for women’s studies, women’s history, women’s writing prizes. If I thought that, I’d be writing about McKay’s novel as a curiosity, one no longer relevant, like so much of the 1800s. Cultural rules don’t change that fast. But they do change.