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Tuesday, October 23, 2018
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Alaska: The State of Misogyn

By CRAIG MEDRED
CRAIGMEDRED.NEWS

The first and only woman to win the 1,000-mile, Yukon-Quest International Sled Dog Race, arguably Alaska’s toughest ultramarathon, and a three-time runner-up in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Aliy Zirkle is one tough woman.

And yet she was emotionally shaken to her core after coming under attack on the Yukon River during the 2016 Iditarod.

Hawkins

Why?

Because Zirkle had always lived in the belief that the Iditarod bubble would protect her, always thought her Iditarod fame a safeguard against the violence against women that pervades the 49th state, always trusted that she was an untouchable.

All it took was one nightmarish night on a wilderness river to shatter those beliefs.

Aliy Zirkle

All it took was the fear a man was going to kill her simply because she was a woman to make her recognize the world much of her Alaska sisterhood inhabits.

Today, Zirkle works with the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault to try slow a plague of sexual violence and abuse that is bad everywhere in Alaska and worse in the rural areas.

“….Male perpetrators have a sense of entitlement due to their privileged status as men in our culture,” Judy Gette, a professor at the Matanuska-Susitna College wrote in 2014 after a University of Alaska study revealed that 53 percent of Mat-Su Valley women reported being sexually abused or physically assaulted or both. “This comes across in the form of misogyny: a hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women. Perpetrators of interpersonal violence will make statements supporting their violence in terms of women ‘deserving’ such treatment.”

There appears something of a view among some Alaska men that women, like sled dogs, are on earth to be used.

Changing such a culture is a daunting task as now clearly evidenced by two state lawmakers – one an Alaska Native and one a white – standing accused of sexually assaulting women in the state capital.

Rape capital

That disgraced and now former Rep. Dean Westlake, D-Kiana, and accused Rep. Zach Fansler, D-Bethel, come from Western Alaska only underlines the problems that region faces.

[Read the column at CraigMedred.news]

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Are we going a bit rural here…just saying the last clearly evidenced assault was in Juneau…with offenders from out of town? Rape Capital??

  • I wonder how many skeletons this guy has in his closet that he has to compensate by writing this.