Kidnapped and repeatedly assaulted by a serial rapist, Karen Moe risked her life to put her attacker in jail.

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Karen Moe

Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor

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When: May 28, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Or: Indigo, 1033 Robson Street, Vancouver

Tickets/info: karenmoeauthor.com

Karen Moe’s life changed forever in 1994 when she was abducted from Prescott, Arizona and repeatedly sexually assaulted by a serial rapist.

Rather than flee after escaping her captor, Moe, 28, returned to write down the license plate number and other details about her attacker that would lead to her capture and imprisonment after a trial in Ventura, California.

It was an act of bravery born out of the fact that he had nothing left to lose.

“As far as I was concerned, I was already dead,” writes Moe in Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor. “And, strangely enough, I didn’t know then that thinking I was dead was starting to empower me – I had nothing to lose.”

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Much more than a memoir, Moe’s book is a call to arms for women and their allies to dismantle the system that she says creates the conditions for situations like the one she experienced.

The Vancouver Island-raised visual artist, known for photographic series such as 2020s The Born Again Nature Photographer and assemblage pieces such as the 2017-18 series La Corteza de la Ciudad de Mexico, shares her time between his family home in British Columbia and Mexico City.

Drawing on her own meticulously documented experiences and a wealth of feminist writing dating back to Italian writer Christine de Pisan’s 1405 text The Book of the City of Ladies to contemporary scholars and activists, Moe pulls no punches in her portrait of the artist as a young woman – fed up and furious with systemic sexism and oppression everywhere.

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It’s not an easy read, and it’s not meant to be. Moe, who now splits her time between Vancouver and Mexico City, took decades to tell her story and wasn’t going to let it be left to the editorial preferences of major publishing houses, settling on independent publisher Vigilance Press.

“I started sending unedited copies to agents everywhere, and within the first week I got bites of some of the best types of six-figure book deals in New York, including the one also provided free revisions which simply eliminated the revolution,” Moe said.

“Big agents have to be 100% sure they can sell to one of the big five publishers and make a profit, that’s not why I wrote Victim.” Obviously I would love to be signed to a big deal so I can continue writing my next book, but when you’ve been through extreme violence your life changes and you have to deal with it and I think I am.

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The horrors experienced by Moe will deeply affect readers, and she admits some will struggle to pass. Some of the most lyrical writing in the book criticizes revisionist feminist scholars around issues of gender and inclusion. The bibliography at the end of the book provides a solid overview of feminist scholarship throughout history and common themes that keep recurring.

Surely everyone who completes Victim will come away with a clear picture of what the author thinks is wrong and needs to be fixed. The treatment of sexual crimes by the justice system is certainly singled out.

When she arrived in the United States to testify in 1997, she was presented with a teddy bear wearing a pink t-shirt with DA Bear embroidered on her chest. Somehow, the district attorney and the police chief thought being “armed with a teddy bear” was preparation for being “ready to do my superhero duty.” Again.”

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After Moe documented some of the bizarre arguments the defense attempted in court to discredit his testimony, this bizarre stuffed animal offering seems to fit perfectly into the deeply flawed legal framework for trying sex crimes.

“These kinds of things shouldn’t be happening, they shouldn’t be getting worse, but they are,” Moe said. “My experience has given me an embodied awareness of injustice, so I turn the whole notion of the victim as a defeated and rejected entity into something positive. Ironically, because there are so many thousands of victims , we have a force of activists ready to go to court to dismantle the system. I would never wish for anyone to come here like I did, but once there; use it.”

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Moe’s trauma is linked to those of others in his book. The final section of the book presents the research she conducted on child sex work and sex tourism while residing in Mexico.

“To me, the ultimate proof that the system we live in – exploitation, patriarchy, hierarchy, individualism – is completely wrong is the children enslaved in the sex trade,” she said. “That’s why I’m going to write this book. I have to do the cross-country tour for this book first, working with sexual assault nonprofits and donating a portion of the proceeds to them, like I just did on the book tour. in the USA.

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