International Journal of Drug Policy - 2014

Volume 25 Issue 3 May 2014

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Page 110 of 153

R. McNeil et al. / International Journal of Drug Policy 25 (2014) 608–615 611 you know, [are] muscling them or doing anything to get what they've got [i.e., drugs or money]. Gendered violence and geographical restrictions Our findings demonstrated that how women and marginal men positioned their geographical restrictions varied. Whereas women and some marginal men explicitly linked their spatial restrictions to violence, other men sought to position their spatial practices in a manner that resisted marginalized identities. "Just not safe outside"–Avoiding 'dangerous' areas While the everyday violence experienced by women and marginal men fuelled their perception that the neighbourhood was unsafe, their lack of access to private space, together with the realities of drug dependency and poverty, promoted immersion within the street-based drug scene. This intersection of structural and everyday violence increased their risk of violence by increas- ing their exposure to drug scene milieus. Accordingly, participants spoke of how they enacted spatial strategies to maintain their safety within the context of everyday violence. Mapping data fur- ther demonstrated that most of the areas in the neighbourhood where women and marginal men experienced drug scene violence were concentrated in high traffic drug market locations (e.g., areas along Hastings Street and west of Main Street, Oppenheimer Park) and secluded areas (e.g., alleyways). These participants indicated that they actively avoided these "dangerous" areas to limit their exposure to aggressive and violent men. While specific geographi- cal restrictions varied among these participants in accordance with their individual experiences and perceptions of violence, their spa- tial strategies may be understood to be an adaptive response to the hegemonic form of masculinity operating within the street-based drug scene. Importantly, this strategy had the effect of severely limiting the scope of the spatial practices of women and marginal men who had frequently experienced violence, as well as those who viewed themselves as especially vulnerable to violence due to their gender or disability. For example, "Ellen" was a woman in her early forties who had lived in the DTES for twenty years, having been originally drawn to the neighbourhood by the easy availability of heroin (n.b., pseudonyms are identified by pseudonyms randomly-generated through a web-based program). She had cycled between emer- gency shelters and single room occupancy hotels depending on her access to income (sex work), intensity of her substance use patterns, and on-again, off-again relationship with her "boyfriend". Ellen had recently begun injecting crystal methamphetamine (in addition to heroin) and the subsequent intensification of her substance use patterns precipitated eviction from her single room occupancy hotel. Ellen discussed how her subsequent immersion in the street-based drug scene led to a violent assault by a male drug user and caused her to restrict the geographical scope of her activities to avoid specific areas and, generally, men. I had no place to go, right, so I was either at the [emergency shel- ter] or [drop-in centre]. Just walking around's not safe. People approach you, men approach you. [It is] just not safe outside if you're a girl. . . I had my armed chopped [by a man] with a machete. [Participant shows interviewer scarring] I kind of got scared. . .At that point in time, I was really nervous of guys. [. . .] I try to avoid Oppenheimer [Park] and I try to avoid [the] Abbott and Pender [intersection]. I don't like it there. That's where my accident [i.e., machete attack] happened and Oppenheimer's just scary. The map generated by Ellen underscored the extent to which experiences of violence constrained her movements within the DTES (Fig. 1). In addition to the abovementioned geographical restrictions, Ellen indicated that she generally avoided drug scene milieus west of Main Street where she had previously experi- enced violence. Similarly, our data demonstrated that intersecting inequities (e.g., poverty, homelessness) promoted participant immersion within the male-dominated drug scene, while at the same time producing gendered violence that led them to restrict the scope of their spatial practices. This had the effect of leading some women and marginal men to confine their movements to small areas that in some cases encompassed a few short blocks. "I want the best dope"—Resisting marginalized masculinities Despite their low status within the street-based drug scene and frequent experiences of violence, some men actively resisted marginalized masculinities by expressing that they would go any- where in the neighbourhood. Nonetheless, mapping data revealed that these men tended to avoid high intensity drug market locations Fig. 1. Map of Ellen's spatial practices.

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