Friday, January 29, 2016

One Billion Rising, The Pool Ladies, And Me



Today, I’m a little angry at the state of the world.

To be more specific, the state of my little world. Maybe it is because of the abuse I went though at the hands of my father.

I am shaking my head at the state of the world AND angry because I am stymied at how people can sometimes be so calloused and uncaring.

I WANT to believe the world is better.

I have to.

Otherwise I wouldn’t try so hard and I would just give up.

Today I feel like giving up. I'm just exhausted.

Some days I feel like I am the only one who cares that women are beaten and abused, (I know this isn't true but at times its HARD )  treated as if the only value they have on this planet is given to them by men who say they have to look or act a certain way… that it is ok to touch and act as if a woman is there to be treated as if they are owned... like a piece of property. I know what it is like because I have lived it. From a very young age, I was beaten, belittled and abused. mentally and physically.

 I was strangled for eating after 10 (at my fathers house we were not allowed to eat after 10 am and 10 pm) and had a near death experience at 16.

What I felt there was love. The most pure, unadulterated LOVE.  

It is NOT ok for women to be treated in such a way by society, and it is the reason I try to make a difference. I try not to give up. No matter what, I WON’T give up.

I have been involved on my own:

I’ve done One Billion Rising (A flash mob dance called "Break The Chains") for three years now and have seen the impact that it can have on places and people.

I do it in my Nia class at my house (Break The Chains) and I’ve done it once at a gym…with interesting results…

It is amazing to me that one little dance can impact women so much. It empowers them, and I am proud to see it happen. 

Every. Single. Time.

I watch the people in my Nia (martial arts, healing arts, dance arts) class this year who I am showing the dance to, I see a light go on in their eyes…there is a power and energy in the dance that just feeds my soul and tells me everything is going to be all right.

No matter how many or how little of a group of women, it is empowering to stand up and say no more.

One Billion Rising:

"One in three women across the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. That's 1 billion women and girls. Every February, we rise -- in hundreds of countries across the world -- to show our local communities and the world what 1 billion looks like and shine a light on the rampant injustice that survivors most often face. We rise through dance to express joy and community and celebrate the fact that we have not been defeated by this violence. We rise to show we are determined to create a new kind of consciousness -- one where violence will be resisted until it is unthinkable.”

I have met with plenty of resistance and today, I feel beaten. 

But I KNOW and REFUSE to not get back up. I will prevail, I know it. In my gut, I know it.

There is a gym I frequent and last year, I tried to get some ladies involved. They have a pool group of older ladies that I have gone to water aerobics with that I have really grown to respect and I thought, how amazing would it be to get them involved with One Billion Rising? Even more amazing would be having ladies at the pool do such an empowering dance.

I started to do the “Break The Chains” dance with them…

And then I realized, there is a MAJOR generational gap. As I taught it to the women at the pool, some women just stood there, defiant.

I told them, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to…and this lady and a few more led the charge to undo my efforts… (There were hours I spent on practices in and out of the pool) and it snowballed. (As far as I saw anyway)

I tried to keep a brave face, but nobody knew how defeated I felt.  I tried to hide it as best I could.

One lady said to me one day, “they just don’t want to think about that kind of thing. Many went through this and some are still going through this…but now that they are older, they just want to forget about it.”

I was thinking, well, what about your daughters, and granddaughters and mothers, what if they came to you. Would you believe them, or ostracize them and pretend it wasn’t happening?

What about standing up for them?

This is the one thing about women.

Women either pull together, and when they do it is an amazing thing to see.

But when they ostracize one person, single them out and label them, it might as well be a witch hunt.

It can be used to protect and shelter other women, or condemn her.

There is a woman in Bangladesh, who speaks of her country and how it is changing..

“Now (since she has gone there and help change things), if a woman is a victim of domestic violence, the other women will rally to her, and get her medical help, and legal assistance, and they will shun the man who attacked her. I have seen this happen with so many women – the discovery that they don’t have to be beaten; that they can be stronger than their attackers.

And it goes even deeper. I have seen the attitudes of men change. When I first went to the villages and suggested men share the housework with their wives, people laughed in my face, they laughed at the men who attempted to share housework. Today, it is spreading across the country, and some men talk about sharing with pride. Women aren’t forced to put up with being attacked at home like they used to. They have hope. When I hear how they speak now – it is amazing to me. It makes me think that anything is possible.
It’s very easy to stand outside a situation and say ‘I will do this for you.’ I have tried to work differently – to stand alongside people and say: how can I work with you? If you are beaten up, if you are intimidated, if you are afraid, I’ll stand with you.

For me, that’s what One Billion Rising has been all about. Women are engaged in this fight all over the world. Every February 14th, we come together to resist the violence against women that is happening to women all over the world. In Bangladesh, we had around 400,000 women and men who came forward and rose and danced in our streets, in villages and cities, held rallies, human chains, sign petitions, for freedom for women from violence and sexual abuse. I looked across during our rising in Dhaka, our main city, and I saw all kinds of women, women in saris, women in pants, women in hijabs, all dancing as one.”

And here I am, in my little town, trying to bring awareness, and these women (and a couple men in the class) try to shut me down.

And yet, in another country, 400,000 people dance.

Last year, I did get 5 amazing women to do the flash mob, and I still remember how empowering it was to me watching (and dancing with) these beautiful women despite the resistance there. To their credit they stood up and danced, despite having to do it in the gym where honestly, no one else but us could see it. It was a “shove them in a corner somewhere” and hope they will go away kind of feeling. But I felt so empowered watching them.

But just looking at them brought tears to my eyes. I know their stories. I am so proud to be their friend.

Here I am in America of all places where the women are supposed to be so independent and brave and I see…FEAR....and embarrassment.  I think they have been so conditioned that they don’t know any other way.

Its sad to watch some of these ladies look at each other for approval, as if they need the ok, and then when they don’t get it they bow their heads and just walk away in embarrassment. Even a couple who seemingly got brave shut down after long… but not all, and I am proud of those ladies that were so brave.

There was one woman who was my greatest supporter. I will never forget a time or two that she stared the others down and stood her ground when no one else would about doing the dance.

Me, I am asking for help in a small town in America…and I’m feel that at times I'm looked at like I have three heads by older ladies who can’t stand that I’m playing a song and inviting, not forcing anyone to dance to a song, that heaven forbid, has the word “No more rape and incest” in it.

The worst thing last year was no one from the actual gym staff was even willing to do the dance. No support. 

Nothing. 

One young teacher started to do the dance (and I appreciated it) but she stopped (she couldn’t do it the day we did, she had to work) but no one involved at the gym would help. Not one.

Again….women in the world do two things. They either boost or protect a woman who has been brutalized, or they gang up against her, victimizing her AGAIN…

I really need to get in with a younger group of women.

I realize this is the generation that was taught to “keep the family secret” to stay silent.

And THAT is why the men get away with so much.

Shut up

Sit down

Pretend abuse isn’t happening.

But guess what?

he younger generation isn’t shutting up.

Some of us are so loud that we will shout it from the roof tops till someone listens.

I will be one of those people.

Some people might think that One Billion Rising isn't for everyone.

Well it is.

If you have a mother, a sister, a friend, chances are you know someone who has been beaten, raped or abused.

It is uncomfortable subject. But…I REFUSE to stay silent.

That is the enemy here.

SILENCE.

No one will EVER silence me as hard as they try.

Silence is the only reason abusers get away with what they do.

There is a shift going on in the world for women. I can not only feel it, I SEE it.

(Just look at the O.B.R. dancing that will be going on all over the world.)

This is my third year doing O.B.R.

I was told this year by the pool manager that he would help me in any way he could, so I set up doing the dance at the pool and did it once…and THEN, after that news gave me hope that maybe they would help garner interest, and CARE….well This year, first I was talked to by someone about not doing it, and then the gym manager emailed me and said they “Admired my passion” but weren’t interested in doing it.

Ahhh the old school way of doing things. Hide it, bury it, pretend it doesn't happen.  

If you care, if you “admire my passion” don’t patronize me damn it, HELP!

Well guess what?

The younger generation is leading the way here and we are unstoppable.

You cannot stop a hurricane. We are a force of nature. We will NOT be stopped.

1 in 3 women are abused in their lifetime- They are. That's one Billion women.

If I could shout it from the rooftops, I would.

And still, in Bangladesh, 400,000 dance.

I will be dancing too. (I will do it in my Nia class this year.) I will not bow down. I will not be silenced. EVER.

NO MORE. NO MORE.

Ever again.

My favorite One Billion Rising clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3WrT8HG4wY
The actual One Billion rising dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WufjSyE_rK8 with a HUGE group! :)
My favorite Tutorial for the One Billion Rising Dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRU1xmBwUeA

Now go find out where your flash mob is and JOIN. (If you so choose) I am with you all the way J


Break The Chain!

2 comments:

  1. Having been on both sides of this (as a man), a major underlying problem for both perpetrators and victims is the fear of not being popular or accepted by authority figures and also peers. Rejecting the need for approval is a necessary first step. Perhaps the most valuable second step is to seek after following the golden rule, with kindness and charity for all. This is covered very well in D&C 121, which is well preached in word, but as you know often ignored in practice in the LDS culture we both grew up in.

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