While living in the states, a lot of my friends would remark about how “lucky” I was that I was a dual citizen of the US and Canada. I’ve written about Canada and why I don’t think it’s as golden as leftists in the states make it out to be before, but I want to touch on another controversial topic: self-defense.
When I told my boyfriend I was going to be out late for classes and lectures, he immediately asked if he could send me a bottle of pepper spray. We talked about it for a while before deciding that it would be in my best interest to be able to defend myself regardless of how safe Montreal is known to be. Yesterday, he reminded me that I really needed to purchase a can or let him send me one. After digging around and trying to see where I could find any form of mace, I was informed that it is illegal in Canada.
Canada has some pretty strict laws regarding firearms. Vice did a great video showing exactly how extensive and irritating the process of purchasing a gun legally is. Although many people agree that firearms are not necessary for a day to day life, they may not be aware of what objects are classified as such a label. Under Canadian law, pepper spray is in the category of firearms.
Kellie Leitch, a member of the Canadian House of Commons, recently proposed that ban on pepper spray be lifted for the sake of women’s rights. The government responded with a statement to the Huffington Post:
“… Ms. Leitch’s proposal is unrealistic and offensive to women across this country. Her misguided approach places the onus on women to defend themselves rather than focusing on addressing and preventing gender-based violence…”
As a woman, I actually do want the onus to defend myself to be placed on me. I don’t trust anyone more than myself to do what is best for me in a crisis. I sure as hell do not want to depend on the Canadian government’s ability to “address and prevent gender-based violence” instead of respecting my right to defend myself. There is not enough security in their promise.
You may be asking yourself, what can Canadian’s use to protect themselves? Well, we get to use the Streetwise My Kitty Self Defense Key Chain.
At this point, I’m not really sure what the Canadian government is trying to express. On the one hand, they want women to understand that they shouldn’t expect or prepare for assault because the government is working so hard to end it, but on the other hand, they give us degrading options like a pointy keychain that looks like a cute cat. What’s worse, the fact that my government is trying to make me believe that the reason they took away my right to defend myself was to lift me from oppression or that my only choice to get around self-defense laws is this ridiculously embarrassing toy?
Women do not want the state to take our self-defense into their control. They want the right to carry pepper spray, the right to feel safe late at night, and the right to know that their families aren’t dreading a phone call that the ended up dead in a metro station. Kelly Leitch’s proposal was not oppressive to women. What is oppressive is that women now have to depend on the promise that the Canadian government will do such a good job at ending gender-based violence that we don’t even need to think about protecting ourselves. This is not only a problem for Canadian women, but for everyone residing in this country. We were all born with the right to take our own security into our hands until it was stripped from us and we were told to say “thank you.”