One In Three Women On The Planet Will Be Raped Or Beaten In Her Lifetime. One Billion Women Violated Is An Atrocity. One Billion Women Dancing Is A Revolution.
All over the world people are coming together this Valentine's Day to dance and speak out against violence against women and children.
While this global effort is truly beautiful and moving, let's not forget that survivors are not always women and perpetrators are not always male. When talking about violence in intimate partnerships, it's important not to assume all couples are straight or that people's gender identities can be determined through assumptions. It's important not to erase people's experiences by viewing all women as victims/survivors and all men as perpetrators. Physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual trauma can affect any relationship. In creating the world we want to live in and creating services, projects, and resources to facilitate the healing of trauma, it's important that we are honoring all survivors, not only female-identified cisgender (non-transgender) women in straight relationships.
I am really inspired by the expanding conversations, workshops, and movement-building around healing and preventing sexual violence in our communities. Movements sometimes shy away from addressing relationship violence and violence within families, as if these are personal issues that don't have very real and hurtful effects on our communities. I'm really heartened by Keith Smith's 'Boys and Men as Survivors of Sexual Violence' and other similar workshops that focus on masculinity, healing, and how male-identified people are impacted by violence. I'm inspired by the visionary work of Generation FIVE, looking forward far beyond this lifetime, to end child sexual violence within five generations.
This V-Day Eve Ensler, creatrix of the Vagina Monologues, has sparked One Billion Rising/Un billón de Pie, with flashmobs taking place all over the world this Thursday, Feb 14th. It's not too late to get involved. There are at least 11 groups planning flashmobs in Vemont, US alone! The videos below are of the Break the Chain/Romper Las Cadenas.
You can learn the dance moves through the instructional videos here and here, and once you have the moves down you can practice them straight through here (in a mirror image, so you can move in sync with the other dancers). If you'd like to download these videos so that you can get together with friends and practice, you can do so here.
Eve Ensler has also written this poem "Man Prayer", filmed by Tony Stroebel. The words of the poem are included below, with Spanish translation.
I love that this poem includes voices from so many languages, including sign language. I was raised as a white, English-speaker in the US. As a child surrounded by mainstream culture, included limited exposure to mainstream feminism, I was raised to look at other cultures and countries, especially people of color's, as less-than. I was raised to believe that 'Americans' (read: white, English-speaking US citizens) are smarter, more capable, more beautiful, more worthy, etc. than all others. Daily, I can see the way this rarely-questioned complex infiltrates the minds and activism of even those of us who consider ourselves leftist/liberal/radical. It manifests with condescending side comments about 'those poor women in...(fill in the blank of some faraway country).' It rears it's ugly head when people talk about machismo in Latin American countries, while sweeping US misogyny (women-hating) and domestic abuse under the rug.
This perspective perpetuates the conquistador/colonizer/missionary mentality where people who believe that their culture and beliefs are superior enter communities they are not a part of in order to teach/convert, ultimately destroying culture through assimilation. This perspective may not be intentional, or even conscious. Until we intentionally break this cycle, this learned attitude will continue to affect our personal conversations and infiltrate our workplaces, our homes, our communities, and even our movements of social justice.
To those of you raised in the US, to those of you raised with privilege (white, male, cisgender (non-transgender), able-bodied, speaking the dominant language, middle-class, and/or straight, etc), this V-Day, this February, this year, please take the opportunity to reflect on the often-unquestioned lessons we've been taught from the media - the magazine's we looked at as youths, the tv shows we watched, the music we listened to, our schooling, in the home, and the experiences that helped shape our view about our place in the world and people from other backgrounds.
Deep winter is the perfect time for reflecting on, sorting through, and releasing ideas that we know in our hearts are untrue. It's time to unlearn oppressive ideas we were raised with. Only once we are liberated from these misperceptions can we join with people from all over the world in true solidarity.
"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." - Lilla Watson, Indigenous Australian visual artist, activist and academic
May I be a man
whose confidence comes from the depth of my giving
who understands that vulnerability is my greatest strength
who creates space rather than dominates it
who appreciates listening more than knowing
who seeks kindness over control
who cries when the grief is too much
may I not be afraid to get lost
may I cherish touch more than performance
and the experience more than getting there
may I move slowly, not abruptly
may I be brave enough to share my fear and shame
and gather other men to do the same
may I stop pretending and open the parts of me that have long been numb
may I cherish, respect and love my mother
may the resonance of that love translate
into loving all women and living things
Oración de Hombre por Eve Ensler
Que sea yo un hombre cuya confianza proviene de la profundidad de mi dar
quien entienda que la vulnerabilidad es mi mayor fortaleza
que genere espacios en lugar de dominarlos
que aprecie escuchar más que conocer
quien busque amabilidad sobre control
que llore cuando el dolor es demasiado
que niegue la bofetada, la pistola, la estrangulación, el insulto, el golpe
que no tenga miedo de perderse
que valore más el toque que el rendimiento
y la experiencia más que llegar
que mueva lentamente, no abruptamente
que sea lo suficientemente valiente para compartir mi miedo y vergüenza y para reunir a otros hombres para hacer lo mismo
que deje de fingir y que abra las partes de mí que llevan mucho tiempo adormecidos
que aprecie, respete y ame a mi madre
que la resonancia de este amor se traduzca en amor a todas las mujeres y los seres vivos
(Muchas gracias a Hana Tauber para su ayuda en la traducción de este poema.)
More Valentine's Day-inspired posts (and some others...):
-Love is a Verb: A Valentine's Post
-Valentine's Aphrodisiac Recipes
-Love & Migration: Migration is Beautiful, Natural, and Inevitable. So is
-So You Want to Learn Spanish?! Hooray! English-only, No Way!
-The People's Spa: Reclaiming Relaxation and Cultivating Collective-Care!