Victim: a feminist manifesto from a fierce survivor
Cover Design: Bobbi Sue Smith
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Imagine being a carefree, independent young woman enjoying life. Your bold, adventurous spirit pulls you to travel to distant locales. Then out of nowhere, you’re abducted, assaulted, and raped. That is the terror-filled experience that Karen Moe survived almost thirty years ago.
But this is not a crime story. This is not even just a survivor’s tale. Instead, this is a manifesto. In dialogue with other feminists and through case studies from around the world, Moe uses her trauma to shine a light on how not only violence against women, but all exploitation, is a natural result of patriarchal hierarchy. Yes, this is Moe’s story of triumph over violence, but it is also a call-to-action for both men and women.
During the process of writing, Moe’s father was dying. She relates with raw candor the complex relationship between a father and a daughter where, through a cycle of abuse and forgiveness, “he groomed me as a perfect victim. And as the perfect survivor, too.”
Moe’s direct, unflinching memoir allows readers a glimpse at the adventurous but uncertain person she was prior to the assault. That narrative explodes with stunning detail as she is tricked, strangled, bound and abducted. Raped repeatedly in the horrifying span of nearly twenty-four hours, the story evolves into one of empowerment and survival as Moe tricks the serial rapist into letting her go. “As far as I was concerned, I was already dead. And, strangely enough, little did I know then, thinking I was dead was starting to give me power-I had nothing to lose.” Moe recounts the courageous lengths she went to, returning after her escape to collect evidence, putting herself in further danger. These efforts would be instrumental in putting her attacker behind bars for life.
Moe, not one to shy away from hard truths, uses her attack as a launching pad to examine the ways women are both conditioned to be victims and the excuses society makes for toxic male behavior. The ultimate goal of Victim: a feminist manifesto from a fierce survivor is to provide tools for resistance against a culture of exploitation. “In the end, what I have suffered and survived has given me a gift. Now, resistance, fighting for justice, is what I live for. My life is far bigger than myself.”
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Praise for Karen Moe:
"Victim is a powerful, intensely personal and disturbing book, cutting deep into the soul about a topic that must be exposed. It is Karen Moe’s impassioned manifesto … an intensely chilling account of abduction, sexual assault and prostitution. But it is also the tragic and heart-rending story of untold millions of women and children worldwide who have been abducted, raped and forced into the brutal world of prostitution. Victim is visceral. It is a difficult book to read. It is a difficult book to put down. And it is a compelling must-read!" Victor Malarek, author of The Natashas: Inside the Global Sex Trade and The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men who Buy It.
“This work relates Karen Moe’s harrowing experience, but it’s much more complex than a typical true-crime memoir … A bold and well-constructed work that takes on difficult topics in a compelling way.” Kirkus Reviews.
“Victim is a rich and soulful testament to the power of human resilience that redefines the meaning of victimhood itself. It confirms the power of art as a source of healing while offering rape victims a time-tested roadmap for recovery, self-empowerment, and—in response to reactionary political events like the overturning of Roe vs. Wade— resistance.” Daniel Gawthrop, The British Columbia Review.
“A tour de force true story of surviving and surmounting the unthinkable. Victim is literary nonfiction at its best! … This raw triumph over tragedy proves that a victim can also be a victor.” —Sally Clark, author of The Way of The Warrior Mama: The Guide To Raising and Protecting Strong Daughters.
“Moe writes with painful honesty that needs to be heard by men and women alike. She took what would break most people and turned it into a clarion call. … No doubt this book will go a long way in fixing our broken system, or at least bring attention to it … If you like books that could change the world, you will love this book.” Readers' Favorite Five Stars.
“Victim is a brutally honest account of a brutal crime. But the most brutal thing Karen Moe asks us to face is the way in which her story is not unusual. … Moe moves in and out of her story to the larger question: How do we make this broken world safe for women and children? How do we create a world worth living in? Without false optimism, she writes of how we can find authentic hope.” Robert Jensen author of The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men.
Karen Moe is an art critic, visual and performance artist, author and feminist activist. Her work focuses on systemic violence in patriarchy: be it gender, race, the environment or speciesism. Her art criticism has been published internationally in magazines, anthologies and artist catalogues in English and Spanish and she has exhibited and performed across Canada, in the US and in Mexico. Karen is the recipient of the “Ellie Liston Hero of the Year Award” 2022 for being instrumental in putting the serial rapist, who raped and brutalized herself and countless other women, away for life in 1996. She lives in Mexico City and British Columbia, Canada. Published by Vigilance Press on April 2nd, 2022, Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor is her debut book.
Coming Spring 2024!
Lost Shoes & Broken Hearts
O little fragments
of a rock's wild heart.
And then the plastic rot
at the core.
We live on; we live
There is nothing for it.
One shoe after another
is lost and ends up
the stranded blue
of a stupid human
North American tourists go to Mexican resorts to enjoy the luxury of doing nothing. And, this luxury is made even more luxurious by cashing in on their good fortune of being on the winning side of the peso. The Mexicans, as always, smilingly slave in the background, while the tourists lounge about in their well-deserved vacation package inertia, oblivious to the fact that, every day, long before their transition from king-sized bed to pool-front lounger, reality is being covered up or, rather, a whole lot of something is being raked and hauled away.
But what happens if you stray from the holiday boulevard of bliss and diddly squat? Well, if you transgress the line between fantasy and reality, climb over a rocky out crop that serves as a wall between solipsism and collective doom, you’ll discover this is what the Mayan Riviera really looks like: Paradise Lost.
Next time you’re in Cancun, if you get up early enough, you’ll see rows of Mexican workers, as a phantasmagoric phalanx, combing the famous white sand beaches with rakes and scooping up unsightly truth into garbage bags, keeping up appearances by clandestinely concealing the fact that the privilege to do nothing is but a chimera that floats upon the daily removal of ocean garbage, or the ocean garbage that manages to make it ashore. The plastics. The stuff that just won’t go away. The stuff that will just keep rising to the surface as a collection of our folly. But what’s up with all of the shoes?
Nestled between squashed water bottles and atop nests of colourful caps, criss-crossed by masses of plastic forks that are kept company by spoons and the occasional sand-stuffed straw, frayed toothbrushes, and (yes, hate to break it to you) plastic tampon applicators, the occasional weary mound of a disposable diaper, and all those shards of plastic that will only break down as far as impervious particles that are now a part of the food chain, are shoes. Flip flops, casuals, stilettos, sneakers and, sometimes, even the sighting of the rarefied innocence of a forsaken shoe of a child. Shoes no longer paired up, having lost their way, perfect fits for metaphor all, for cultural commentary and as representatives of piles upon piles of broken hearts. Some well-deserved. Others never so. And far too many long overdue.
A lyrical collaboration between poetry and a series of photographs of lost shoes found off the beaten tourist track on a Mexican beach, poet Catherine Owen created this heart-warming and heart-wrenching collection of Lost Shoes & Broken Hearts.
Catherine Owen is the author of sixteen collections of poetry and prose. Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, she now lives in a 1905 house in Edmonton, Alberta where she runs a tutoring and editing business. Her latest book is Riven (ECW 2020) and her next Moving to Delilah (Freehand Books 2024). She also hosts a performance series, a YouTube channel, a review site and the podcast Ms Lyric's Poetry Outlaws.