As part of the Semaine de la francophonie, and International Women’s Week, Vanier College had the pleasure of inviting Emmanuel Dubois, better known by his stage name Koriass, to give a conference about feminism and its closely related subjects. Koriass is a Quebec rapper, interpreter, and composer, but most of all a “natural born feminist”.
Every seat in the auditorium was occupied as exciting chatter filled the air. Koriass started his conference lightly by introducing the concept of the “boys club”. This is club is for all humans who are assigned male at birth because of their genitalia. Men automatically receive a plethora of advantages that not all females today have: “where one side has advantages, the other, disadvantages”. Yet by this example of a boy’s club, Koriass illustrates the absurdity of the inequalities between sexes, they are not innate; they are manmade (no pun intended).
Feminism is, nowadays, perceived negatively because of the prejudices it evokes. People tradionally think of it as women usurping the positions of men in society and dominating society. Koriass cleared up this stereotype by stating the definition of feminism: an ideology that fights for the equality of women in all the spheres of life.
Indeed, inequalities between men and women still thrive. For example, women’s wages are often less than men’s for accomplishing the same job. Women are expected to do more in the household ( e.g. cook, take care of the children, plan extracurricular activities) all while the men reap the benefits.
In present society, men are the dominating gender, as they are overrepresented in the media, sports and politics. However, perhaps, says Koriass, the most important advantage is the fact that men are not afraid of being sexually assaulted while walking back home late at night.
Sexual harassment is not a new phenomenon in society- Stalin’s soldiers raped German women in WWII. With the advent of the rise of feminism in the 20th century however, this harassment in all its forms (physical, verbal, psychologically) is heavily condemned. Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual advances. ‘Dick picks’ are technically a form of it, since the picture was unsolicited by the receiver. In fact, this violation can happen without either party knowing it happened. Aggressors are rarely ever sent to jail for their crimes – only in about 1% of reported cases does the criminal get punished.
What is more important however is the victim. Over 80% of cases of sexual aggression are women, but only 6% of cases are reported. Koriass denounces the negative stigma that surrounds victims of rape, otherwise known as rape culture. This is when people – or even the victim themselves – believe that the woman is the one at fault, even though the blame should be entirely on the aggressor. An example of this would be blaming the victim because she was wearing a mini skirt when she went out or because she got drunk.
Because of this, women often refrain from speaking up, as they do not want to be judged negatively afterwards. The double standards towards women that exist in society also express, to a certain degree, the misogynistic nature of rape culture.
Koriass mentioned that he personally knows someone who was raped. She was 17, and the aggressor was in his thirties. The woman was a circus gymnast, him her coach. They both fancied each other, and one night, the man said to the girl to meet him in a room. Intrigued, she went. She never dared say anything, for fear of embarrassment and negativity. 15 years later – 15 years of bottled rage, despair and shame later – she tells Koriass.
Koriass advocates the elimination of negative stigma surrounding sexual harassment victims. The most important aspect is to speak up, and denounce the act.
At the end of the conference, Koriass dropped the mic by admitting that the victim earlier mentioned is now his wife.
As citizens we can all lend an ear, as well as educate ourselves and the next generations thoroughly so that neither gender is socially disadvantaged.
Emotions high in the air, during the question period, a brave girl, on the edge of tears, said that in light of the presentation she realized finally what had happened to her.
If education is an important aspect to create equalities between men and women, then Koriass had accomplished it, one woman at a time. Many students thanked him for the crucial and heartfelt conference, after which he lightened the heavy atmosphere by performing, by rapping his songs Montreal-Nord, Blacklights, and Love Supreme, amongst others, leaving a lasting impression on the spectators.
Written By: Charlie Tang