An Unpopular Opinion


I won’t be dancing today. My opinion of One Billion Rising isn’t a popular one. I admire many women who are championing this cause, so I’ve been hesitant to speak up. But I can’t support it. Instead of focusing on what I believe to be an ineffectual and insulting “organization,” I have tried to find my own local, authentic grassroots movement to support.

This pedantic, middle-class, patronizing idea of “rise above it” is pervasive in support culture. As a survivor of sexual violence I’m insulted, not comforted, by the image of women dancing to demand an end to violence. Demand an end by addressing the very root causes of violence against women or gender based violence and rape in any form. But that’s not a pretty picture, nor a nice PR package. And dancing for 20 minutes today doesn’t help me rise above the sexual violence. It’s simply not that easy. The long-term effects of rape can’t be overcome by a media event. They’re overcome (and risen above) by resources in the community, education, and lots and lots of counseling. I’d rather see the long lens of the world media (and the funds supporting them) be pointed at building these than at women dancing in unison. And don’t even get me started on the message this event sends to women in other countries with even fewer resources than my own.

So instead, I’ll spend my day writing for a newsletter for a women’s counseling center seeking funding. I know that there are many who will find comfort and hope in the message of One Billion Rising today, and I am glad for that. But this event needs to turn attention into action if it’s going to really be effectual, and past experience shows me how rarely that happens when an event becomes more about the media than the message.  I hope to be pleasantly surprised by this one, but in the meantime I’m getting back to work.


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