Women Talking: About Gender-Based Violence

A study group for all genders to discuss themes of gender-based violence in Miriam Toews’ book “Women Talking” and the Sarah Polley film it inspired.

The PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women invites people of all genders to take part in any or all of upcoming events related to this study group. There are 4 options, join as many as you like!

1) Film discussion and streaming: Tuesday, March 12, 2:00 to 4:30 p.m., The Guild, Charlottetown, FREE ENTRY and refreshments.

2) Noon-hour virtual talking circle on themes of the book: Tuesday, March 19, 12:00 to 1:30 p.m., on Zoom. Register at [email protected] to receive your Zoom link.

3) Evening virtual talking circle on themes of the book: Wednesday, March 20, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., on Zoom. Register at [email protected] to receive your Zoom link.

4) Panel discussion: Tuesday, March 26, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. (Storm date March 27), The Guild Charlottetown. Panel and discussion on the roots of gender-based violence in our culture and the role of art in relation to it. FREE ENTRY and refreshments. Register at [email protected] .

Women Talking is based on a true story that took place in the 2000s in an isolated Mennonite community in Bolivia. The men in the community have systematically been drugging the women and girls with veterinary tranquilizers to attack and sexually assault them while they are incapacitated. The novel follows the conversation among the women and girls as they organize to respond to the violence in their community while their attackers are temporarily removed by police.

While the horrifying story is specific to a community, the themes resonate. The book and film examine how a culture and community can create a culture of gender-based violence; the power of women’s and feminized people’s resistance and solidarity; and the complex options facing survivors who have to choose among impossible options: to do nothing, to stay and fight for their humanity – or to leave their known lives and community behind.