|I only remember feeling the flat bottom of a
Doc Marten connecting with my sternum. Pushed back, the wind
completely knocked out, my friends gathered me up. A few
minutes later, in the car, I could talk, and when we got
back to our home base we could laugh, especially at the
perfect imprint of a dusty shoe bottom square in the middle
of my chest.
On Sunday morning, when I spotted the Sun headline saying
that 18-year-old Stephanie Young had been charged with
fatally stabbing 18-year-old Tammy Couture on Friday night,
I thought about that long-ago night, and how stupid it was,
and how easy it is for things to get out of hand, even for
The case has been played out on our city's front pages
and televisions all week. No wonder: We can't understand it
when women lash out at each other. We're nurturers, right?
We don't hurt each other with knives. Not very often anyway.
Yet, as Dr. Sibylle Artz, a professor at the University
of Victoria's School of Child and Youth Care, points out,
the urge to aggression is human, not simply male. There is
no indication of an upward trend, she said. It just happens
Reports from both sides indicate the pair had been
fighting about a boy; they also suggest alcohol played a
factor. They often are; it usually does.
But these were not suburban girls out for an underage
thrill. Their lives have been difficult, money tight, and
their futures far from certain, which can make for a tragic
trifecta when a guy is involved.
The more vulnerable a young woman is, says Artz, the more
willing she is likely to risk her life or someone else's for
Add alcohol -- which she calls "the most potent
intervening variable factor" in such situations -- and you
have an even bigger recipe for disaster.
There's a learning opportunity here, in the awful mess
left behind. And it's not just that people get drunk and do
dumb, awful, desperate things, and it's worse when you're
young because everything feels so much more pertinent then.
Why, asks Artz, is a woman's value still so strongly
attached to attracting the male gaze? We are our ability to
mate and be partners, of course, but also so much more.
What we need to figure out is how, after all we know and
all we've seen, is how any young woman's sense of her own
value can be anywhere but deep inside herself, where it