ONE BILLION WOMEN VIOLATED IS AN ATROCITY
ONE BILLION WOMEN DANCING IS A REVOLUTION
This week, join V-Day in demanding an end to violence against women everywhere. Write a blog post or poem, take a photo, or make a video--anything that you feel represents your voice--post it on She Writes, and then share a link to it here in the comments section by 9am PST/12pm EST this Thurs 2/14. We'll select three of our favorite contributions to feature in this Thursday's newsletter...and you'll be joining a revolution. We look forward to hearing (and seeing) what you have to say!
You're right and that's why I spoke up. Who knows who my story could touch. :)
Very well put, Kerry, thank you!
I wrote a post on my blog, The Radical Housewife, called "Wonder women rising." Enjoy!
Wonderful post, Shannon, thank you. Really inspiring.
Thank YOU Krissa, for being sure that She Writers were aware of this important issue.
This is a version of a piece just published in VOICE MALE (Winter, 2013, p. 39) that will also be available online later this week.
Calling All Men to Join Women in Ending Violence
I recently read about a report pointing to a dramatic rise in rapes of women and girls in Somalia, where severe drought and famine have killed tens of thousands of people and forced countless more, especially females, into refugee camps notorious for rape and female brutality. I am particularly sensitive to this issue; I spent several years researching and writing an historical novel, Sometimes It Snows in America, about a Somali princess I came to personally know quite well. She had suffered domestic abuse in her native land, and much more in the United States.
“I resent that every time I pass a woman in the street, she regards me with suspicion, like I want to drag her into an alley. She hates me just because I’m a man, my husband said to me one day about twenty years ago, when the news of rape of females ranging from young children to old woman was being used as a form of warfare from the Balkans to the Sudan, when the world began to acknowledge that the violation of women had indeed always been a side effect of male aggression from grassroots revolutionary movements to wide scale military invasions and occupations.
A brutal rape and beating of a twenty-eight-year-old woman in Central Park made daily headlines around the same time my husband became despondent; just about the time a young intern at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Chandra Levy, disappeared in Rock Creek Park.
In 2000, western Massachusetts, where I live, saw its share of horrific crimes against women. Sixteen-year-old Molly Bish from rural Warren was abducted and murdered while working as a lifeguard. Nearby, a nine-year-old girl was abducted and murdered while walking to a neighbor’s home to see new puppies, and yet another twelve-year-old while riding her bike in the Berkshires. And in the city of Springfield, female drug addicts were being assaulted and killed by a serial rapist. Anger, resentment, and fear indeed spread to my hometown of Northampton—so filled with capable women the entrance to the parking garage sports the city’s slogan, where the coffee is strong and so are the women. That year my twelve-year-old daughter and I attended a course on self-defense for women at the YMCA.
We women are used to living with fear. We are taught early to be street-smart. To walk close to the curb and traffic, away from alleys, car keys positioned between each finger, poised for attack to a male throat, high heels ready to stomp on the accessible and more fragile metatarsals of the foot, knees prepared to aim at a man’s groin and hit him where it really hurts. To survey the area around our car when returning to a parking garage or lot. To peek into the backseat of a vehicle, making sure no one is lying on the car floor, before entering. To take the elevator rather than the lonely stairwell. “If a man tries to get into your car, just step on the gas and run him over,” my father told me when I learned to drive. “And don’t look back,” he added. “Don’t trust anyone, not even your uncles,” my mother said when I was a little girl, having certain family members in mind but covering all bases.
When I lived in Washington, DC, I signed up for a self-defense program for women. “Only when the knife is at your throat, when the gun at your head is cocked, should you try to fight. Otherwise, just submit and hope he doesn’t kill you, because 9 out of 10 times, you’ll never be able to fight him off. In fact, your efforts will only enrage him,” were the male instructor’s parting words after six sessions of drilling numerous karate like maneuvers. Yes, we women enter the boot camp of self protection at an early age and live with the fear of being overpowered by the physically stronger sex forever.
But what about the kind, gentle, pro-feminist males like my husband, the fathers, brothers, boyfriends, and sons who do not act violently to other men, let alone women? Why should they bear the stigma of the ugly male? Why should they be made objects of cynical looks cast by women who take a step away from them when they cross their path on a lonely street at night? “I’m a good guy,” the men cry out. “Why should we believe you?” the women respond.
I did answer my husband, the day he expressed being offended by the anti-male attitude that seemed to be hovering over him like a giant pall. “Don’t look to us to clean up this mess for you too. We women can’t do everything,” I said. “Only when you men make an effort to get the situation in hand and show that you won’t put up their bad behavior any longer, when you teach them how to act, how to respect, will men stop behaving badly.”
A group of local men felt the same way and organized what is now called the Men’s Resource Center for Change, an antiviolence organization that provides support programs that help men to channel their violence and develop healthy self-awareness and meaningful personal relationships with women, children, and other men. A version of this blog appears in the latest issue of their magazine, Voice Male (Winter 2013, p30), which chronicles the changes in men and masculinity. Still, their work, and that of organizations like them, must grow bigger and stronger.
Domestic violence in the US is still the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44. According to a recent United Nations report, violence against women remains widespread across the world, exacerbated by traditions and customary practices that determine the way women are treated in families, places of work, and communities.
Whether considering the recent gang rape of a University of Massachusetts coed in her dorm room or that of a medical student on a bus in New Delhi—whose brutal attack caused her death—it is time for all good men around the world to speak up and take action. Therefore, with greater conviction than ever I ask: Where are the Lancelots of our day? Gather together. Stand alongside your women. Change yourselves to save yourselves.
Sometimes It Snows in America (Guernica Editions) is available in paperback and as an ebook. To contact Marisa visit: www.marisalabozzetta.com
Marisa, this is an excellent post on men's roles in ridding these attitudes towards women. There are a lot of great guys out there who don't go around raping and beating up women, but this cannot be our fight alone. Men need to change their attitudes towards women. They need to stop objectifying them, because when women are dehumanized, it makes it easier for men to treat them as less than human and as an inessential objects. Glad to see that your voice is getting out there.
Hi there! I own a blog called Empowering Girls and Women, and I just published a post on my site about One Billion Rising and the movement to end violence against women!
This is an excellent way to honor these organizations and to honor women!
Here's the link: http://marinagraphy.com/vday-join-billion-rising-violence-women/
So glad this discussion is happening here---it's such an important and exciting day and the kind of topic that inspires me to write! Here's the poem I wrote in honor of One Billion Rising and premiered today at the Portland, Maine event. Love to all, Annie
I know I missed the deadline ... but this isn't even my writing, wanted to share with you a special issue of As/Us literary journal (a space for women) The did a V-Day issue and there is some amazing work showcased there:
check it out.