I think most of us are probably familiar with the awful story of the young woman raped and beaten in an act of unimaginable violence in India, thrown off a bus with her companion, and eventually dying from the dreadful treatment meted out to her. It has brought into focus the shameful treatment of women in India, and their second-class status in a deeply misogynist, patriarchal society.
But it’s not all confined to India. These unspeakable acts against women happen in our own backyard. A few days ago my attention was caught by an article about the gang rape and mis-treatment of a young woman in Steubenville, Ohio, in the US. She was apparently unconscious through alcohol or a date rape drug, was raped continually both anally and vaginally as she was carted by two young men from party to party by her hands and feet with head lolling back, left naked in the street, and other young men were encouraged to urinate on her as she lay in the street, with no clothes and utterly vulnerable. The young men involved are from the local high school football team, Big Red.
In the wake of the gang rape, a phone video surfaced where boys from the local high school are laughing so hard about the gang rape they can barely speak. Comments can be heard that the victim was ”deader than Obi-Wan Kenobi after Darth Vader cut his head off”. She was ”deader than OJ’s wife”. They [other accused boys, not those in the room giggling] raped her ”faster than Mike Tyson”. She was so ”dead” that when they penetrated her ”butt” she did not respond. There are also reports of the girl being blamed for allowing herself to end up in this situation – as if any young woman deserves this sort of disgusting violence and as if it’s okay for young men to behave with such brutality and lack of empathy for the victim.
Charming, eh? Nothing much was made of this until reports of this assault begun to surface but one woman, who reported on it, was shut down by the threat of legal action. Details of the gang rape and the lackadaisical response from authorities began to spread on-line. Eventually, the on-line group, Anonymous, heard about it and they took action to publicise this shameful episode and demand justice for the victim.
I have to admit that I was raving mad when I read this report, it was utterly disgusting and I felt sick as I read the details. But I don’t want to just point the finger at the US, because it isn’t just happening there. There have been instances of gang rape in Australia and the UK, and often it involves sportsmen who are considered heroes and therefore the women victims all too often become double victims – not only raped but then raped again when she is blamed for the crime by those who can’t bear to see their sports heroes being revealed as nothing more than dirty, filthy rapists.
Luckily I waited to calm down and in the meantime, I came across – by synchronicity – information about action being taken on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, to register women’s rage and determination to stop – world-wide – violence against women and to demand and end to patriarchal misogyny wherever it shows its ugly head.
The event is being organised by Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues, and it revolves around dance – women and men rising up to dance and express their wild energy to end violence against women.
I think the idea of dance as a positive action is brilliant. To stand up and dance is to release our passion and to tune into our hearts. It offers the opportunity to whirl, to stamp, to sway, to shuffle, to side-step, to dance any goddamned way you wish because it’s your body and your right to move it in any way which feeds your passion.
When we stand up and dance to show solidarity with all women, world-wide, we are asserting our authority to move our bodies as we wish and to dress our bodies as we wish. We are standing tall, unbowed, unchained to assert our right to a safe environment, to be respected as women in whichever way we choose to assert our femininity, authority, uniqueness and integrity, and to demand an end to violence towards women and end suppression of our right to quality in society – ANY society!
When we open our hearts to women throughout the world, we send out glowing threads in the great web of Light which links us all here on Earth and they light up a tremendous network of love, solidarity and power!
Here’s the link to Eve Ensler’s 1 Billion Rising website:
Please take whatever action you are able because now is the time for women to stand up and be counted, to be part of a mighty tidal wave of action to say “No more” to violence against women in each and every country that exists on this world of ours.