More Women Rising Up

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Yesterday I wrote an essay titled Women of the World, Rise Up. We had some interesting discussion and some fun in the comments. And then this morning, the synergy breaks out because I got an email forwarded by a friend from Eve Ensler (author of “Vagina Monologues”) about her “V to the Tenth” tour to stop violence against women. I wanted to share a bit of it here as a follow-up to our discussion yesterday.

I have seen the faces of hundreds of activated, vital, committed, diverse women and men who are literally giving their lives to end violence against women and girls. Women and men who have changed their cultures, told their stories and helped others do the same. I have met the V-Day activists who have raised money, raised hope, raised hackles, raised the V flag in community after community.

I heard the stories of three women in the military, April Fitzsimmons, Suzanne Swift, Dorothy Mackey, who flew in to Austin Texas to be honored at a V-DAY in an Enchanted Forest. I learned from them that one out of three women in the military will be raped and that very few men are every held accountable. I learned that there is something called Military Sexual Trauma. This is a condition in which, after suffering terrible trauma on the battlefield leading to PTSD, women, and some men, are then raped by their own comrades who they were trained  to trust. This secondary betrayal and violation throws them into multiple layers of trauma, often resulting in severe depression and suicide.

 

And I was crushed by story after story of women who have been raped, beaten, incested, date-raped, or who have daughters or friends of daughters who were murdered. Whether it was the 18 year-old in Providence, Rhode Island, who told me that at 15 she had gone to a doctor, been raped by him under anesthesia, developed a dangerous eating disorder and was sent to a clinic where she met many other women who were there because they, too, had been abused, such as the anorexic girl who was actually pregnant with her fathers baby. Or the woman whose sister had become a serious drug addict since her father raped and sodomized her and was now in a lock-down facility. Or the18 year old woman who broke down in my arms because she had only learned recently that she was the product of her mother being gang raped in the army.

I would say that at least one out of every three women told me stories of abuse. This was in front of a camera as we documented the tour.  In some places almost every single woman told a story of abuse.

I know that our movement has had huge victories, even the ability of women to tell these stories is progress, but I must say that after 22 states I feel shell shocked.  

I no longer believe violence against women is random, individual or accidental. After 50 countries,10 years, thousands of women’s stories and this 22 state tour, I know there is a global pattern destroying and undermining women through violence.

Many would like to think that this type of systematic violation of women does not happen in America. I want you to know that indeed it does. In homes, colleges, streets and armies, thousands of women are being raped, beaten, dishonored, and undermined.  

I am not sure the language has yet been invented  to describe the breath, depth and insidiousness of violence towards women.  This global pattern of raping and abusing one out of three women in every village, town and city on this planet (a UN statistic), has got to be named. Femicide is a word that was used by the brave and visionary women in the early feminist movement to describe the systematic killing of women. I want to enlarge the definition to include the  innumerable violations that destroy not only women’s bodies, but their souls, their spirits, their dreams, their ability to trust, love and prosper.

Eve’s last event will be in New Orleans at the Superdome on April 11th and 12th. You can learn more about her work at V Day. And here’s the PSA for the event.

 

32 comments

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  1. but we’ve got to face it if we are going to change it.

    Another web site you might want to check out is Stop Honor Killings, something that is on the rise in Iraq thanks to our intervention there.

  2. I would like to mention two extraordinary movements that have shown what courage, organization, and political leadership women are capable of: the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) (www.rawa.org/index.php) and Women in Black (www.peacepath911.com/WIBsites.html).

    RAWA members have been risking their lives for years, providing education for Afghan girls and publicizing the conditions of Afghan women.

    Women in Black is a model of decentralized, democratic grassroots activism directed against all war.

    If people are not familiar with these movements or their histories, please check them out.  

    • Robyn on April 7, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    …with men about how to convince the men who batter transwomen that we are not a threat to them, that there is no reason behind attacking us.

    I need not restrict to transwomen.  The question remains the same.

    I have never had men choose to engage in that conversation.  But I’ve been assured many times that the men I’m speaking to are not the men who batter…as if that is sufficient.

    • Mu on April 8, 2008 at 4:43 am

    whose husbands have been sent, again and again, to Bush’s bully war in Iraq.

    Crumbled marriages.  Widowed-at-21.  Children who will never be held again by their fathers . . .

    These need to rise up, too, as a different kind of violence has been visited upon them by Bush – who made war on these women and their families.

    Mu . . .

  3. And too often one that we don’t face.

    I think it is a problem of upbringing. Children these days grow up with general mistrust and fear of the opposite gender or indeed anyone different. There is no discussion of equality. No mandatory classes about respect.

    Men grow up in a culture that is largely telling them the lie of superiority. Women grow up in a culture that is telling them they are inferior.

    I say that as a male child of 14 years. I try to fight that. But there is so little discussion. When there is no discussion, bad things happen.

    We need to start talking about this. Thanks for posting on this and getting a good talk going NL.

  4. Gender relations and attitudes are one of many aspects of interpersonal culture ranging from child rearing practices to comfortable distances for conversation that we inherit from our families and ethnic groups as much as we pick them up from our current society.

    But on the other hand–

    Years ago I was invited to overnight at a battered women’s shelter whose location had to be kept secret. Most of two generations later, as far as I’ve seen nobody has confronted mainstream America with what I saw at that time.

    It’s stunning what you can learn from people when you stop telling them what their experience is, and ask them.

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