A long-distance friendship with Jayson Fleury has changed my life forever. Jayson is a Saulteaux-Cree story-teller, a social justice activist, and the brother of Mona Lee Wilson who died at the hands of a serial killer — leaving her two children orphaned.
Jayson is often angry, and with good reason. As he once apologetically told me he is “a little rough around the edges.” But when he laughs it is hearty and genuine; and when he smiles, he has a smile that would melt your heart.
If more people cared enough about making a better society that was more humane and a lot less cruel and violent, maybe Jayson’s younger sister — and all the other murdered women that went missing — would be alive today. Everyone should take a moment to seriously think about what sort of society they want to live in.
My friendship with Jayson began about a month or so ago. I reached out to him through Facebook after researching aggressive violent crimes and their link to the architecture of aggression that our society really is, when I learned of the most horrific serial killer in North American history: Robert “Willie” Pickton.
For those who are unaware, Robert “Willie” Pickton and at least one other “associate” lured poor and homeless women (many whom resorted to the exploitative sex trade to survive) to his Port Coquitlam pig farm in western Canada on the outskirts of Vancouver. He butchered his victims like livestock, putting parts of their bodies through a wood-chipper and grinding them up to feed to his hogs. He mixed some of their ground up remains with some of his processed pork sausages, and disposed of an unknown amount of their remains at an animal waste rendering plant.
His killing spree spanned well over a decade before a search warrant for his property was finally executed for illegal weapons resulting in his arrest upon the grisly find of Mona Wilson’s head and feet in a garbage can in his slaughterhouse. Pickton admitted to killing 49 women, yet he was only charged and convicted of murdering six of them.
A Facebook friend of Jayson Fleury’s posted a video (which I also posted on my own Facebook page) of a short Canadian media interview with Jayson and his older sister, Lisa Bigjohn regarding their lack of closure in the loss of their younger sister whose killer(s) could have been apprehended before she became one of his last victims — if only the police had acted on the several prior tips from different people that they received over the years.
But the police bungling was part and parcel of the broader social dynamics of racism, classism, and normalized misogyny that make it OK for women to be murdered — especially poor women forced out of economic necessity into the sex trade due to a legacy of ongoing discrimination and lack of viable alternatives.
The prevalent societal attitude is that the victims of social predators like Gary Leon Ridgeway (the Green River killer) and Robert Pickton “asked for it” due to their “risky lifestyle choice.” It is this ideology that dismisses the savage realities of poverty, discrimination, and injustice in a competitive capitalist society in which poor women are dehumanized and devalued — especially poor aboriginal women. Poor women are viewed as nothing more than disposable toys to be abused and discarded at the whim of their “purchasers” who have benefited unjustly from a knapsack of unearned privileges.
Jayson Fleury’s sister and all the other women who met horrific deaths at the hands of social predators were not targeted for their “risky lifestyles.” If that were the case, then why aren’t storm chasers (like moi) targeted? Chasing down an F-5 tornado, trying to catch a twister by its tail, is a very risky lifestyle choice, is it not? What about Formula One race car drivers? Why aren’t they targeted because of their risky behavior? How about skydivers who knowingly agree to incur internal organ and tissue damage caused by the force of several g’s from trying to set new records for time in free-fall at terminal velocity (about 200 mph or 90 m/s)?
There is a huge difference between choosing any of these activities versus “choosing” survival sex for lack of options in a society that never provided enough living wage jobs or adequate social income support where poor women are denied chances for a decent life, including opportunities for skilled trades training and hiring in good-paying male-dominated jobs.
No little girl aspires to become a prostitute when she grows up.
No little girl looks forward to ending up as another sad statistic without a face.
No woman should ever have to choose between abuse, dysfunction, and poverty and the violent exploitative sex trade in order to survive and/or support their children.
No woman deserves to be dehumanized and commodified in life and slated for death without dignity.
Being a feminist is not only about fighting for women’s access to reproductive choice with a full range of reliable contraception and an abortion if necessary; it’s about also fighting for the social and economic valuing of women who are mothers and promoting respect for all women’s human rights. It’s also about securing the right to safe and non-traumatizing, pain-free childbearing that is woman-centered. And it is about fighting for a society in which no woman is left behind.