Inga Muscio spotlights gender violence

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Muscio hosted an on-campus discussion in East Hall. Lindsay Miller/Winonan
Muscio hosted an on-campus discussion in East Hall.
Lindsay Miller/Winonan

Molly O’Keefe/Winonan

Women need to be proactive about gender-based violence, said an author who visited Winona State Unversity last week.

Inga Muscio, who spoke on campus last Wednesday, is the author of three books; “Cunt: A Declaration of Independence,” “Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Devil; My Life and Times in a Racist, Imperialist Society,” and “Rose: Love in Violent Times.”

Muscio’s speech on Wednesday night focused on the issues addressed in her first book, “Cunt: A Declaration of Independence.”

Tamara Berg, director of the women’s and gender studies department at Winona State, said, “Inga uses stories, history and theory to examine where violence originates from. Her book ‘Cunt’ addresses the issue of reclaiming those words that were seen as so degrading to women.”

Muscio started her writing career at a newspaper and ended up quitting her job to write a book.

In her first book, she described how two men raped her mother when her mother was nine years old. The trauma of that event went on to impact Muscio’s life as well.

Muscio said, “‘Cunt’ is in many was a work of vengeance. I wanted to exact vengeance on the two men who so impacted my childhood and help other people avoid that violence if at all possible. My identity was shaped by that violent act.”

After explaining the way she was raised and how her life was changed by her mother’s rape, Muscio said her experiences led to her passion for women’s rights today.

She said, “What shattered my heart is that one person has the power through violence to dictate how a child will be raised some twenty odd years after the fact.”

Muscio said derogatory language is not restricted to gender issues. “With a little critical thinking, gender-based violence can easily be related to other issues such as racism.”

These issues do not change unless it benefits the interests of patriarchal governments, she said.

“It matters that these issues were so eloquently and vociferously argued for,” Muscio said.

Muscio then read her declaration of war on rape and invited students to help her finish it. She said, “There is no end to this lecture because there is no end in sight to sexual violence.”

This spring Winona State is setting up a peer advocacy and education program that will provide students with a help line and educate them about sexual violence.

Berg said, “Sexual violence does occur on our campus just as it does on campuses across the country, and we as a university are working very hard to address that.”

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