Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hell is Here, and Men Created it.

That year it seemed as though the earth had finally spun off its axis and was in free fall. That year it was as if every conceivable human madness, sickness and depravity was proliferating, multiplying by binary and quaternary fission, growing exponentially at a dizzying rate. That year, of the senseless ego driven wars.

The wars within wars in which women’s bodies were the battle ground, the year babies and children were brutally raped with impunity, the year state sanctioned rape (falsely called marriage) of girls was lobbied for in a parliament somewhere on this planet, the year that Damini in India, Anene Booysen in Cape Town, Stephanie in Zimbabwe, Zanele in Sowetho and thousands of other girls and women were gang raped and then killed, for good measure. The year that Steubenville Ohio became famous for its rapist star football player, and  the crooked, perverted hyper- masculinity silently condoned in male college sports was exposed.


photo by: Prudence Mabele, S.Africa

That year when Saudi men traded money for 8 year old Syrian girls from refugee camps in the shameful, hideous farce they termed marriage.


The year that an 8 year old child died on her "wedding night" from hemorrhage after a 40 year old brute shoved himself inside her. What sick monster looks at a child and sees a wife? What sick bastard looks at a prepubescent 8 year old, 3 year old, 6 month old female body, gets sexually aroused and then proceeds to rape a child, a toddler, a baby?

 That is the year livestock died and drinking water supplies came under threat from toxic chemicals, thanks to fracking.


The year blood diamonds became even bloodier and gold, platinum copper, uranium  cobalt and the dreaded Coltan, were mined on and through the backs and bodies of women, using children for cheap labor and for militia, who burned villages and raped their own mothers, sisters, grandmothers. These militia destroy lives and livelihoods to get at the minerals to feed gluttinous corporations.

That year that saw uprisings and under risings, over risings and the biological agent saran used on innocent civilians in Syria.

photo: BBC World News victims of Saran poisoning
That year when in a town in China, pollution levels were so high a haze of black particles hung in the air and people had to breath in that mess.
That year that sanctions were imposed on rogue nations in daylight, and arms deals were made with them in the dark of night. That year when presidents preached peace and prosperity over dinner and wine just a few hours after those hands shoveling food into big mouths had signed declarations of war and nuclear arms deals. That year when Egypt, then Libya, followed by Turkey and then Syria all occupied our minds, our Facebook Feeds and Twitter, and our living rooms, while Congo burnt, Congo was ravaged, Congolese women screamed and howled and wailed as they were laid out, a tragic wasteland of a war they knew nothing about.

 That year when all creatures great and small stood still, startled by the heavy smells of toxic gases, and the sting of acid rain dissolving their pelts. They were startled by the overwhelming stench of decaying bodies, humans extinguished by hunger, by poverty and disease, by decaying infrastructure, by men whose raging fury was enough to ignite the Masai Mara and lay it out; a flat wasteland of charred bones and smoldering stones. Instead, that fury obliterated women and children. That rage tore them up and tossed them out for vultures to fight over. That insane inferno of anger incinerated thousands and thousands of women, children, and those men who made the choice to stand with their families.
School children in Egypt praying for peace, NY Times

 That is the year the daughters of  Egypt put their hands together in prayer and supplication, beseeching Allah for peace, while their fathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers went on the rampage.


That is the year we felt the heat. That is the year the hairs on our skin were singed and we woke up. We woke up to the smell of smoke, skin and hair- and the realization that we were past small protests and small time legislation. That is the year we woke up to the fact that unless we united, unless we created a Billion-strong wall of womanity, a wall so thick and so dense it needed no cement but that one thing that cements us all together across age, race, gender, nation, tribe, sect, religion, sexual orientation, class, north, south east west, island mainland, first nation, second, third and fourth nation… Being human, above all else..Unless we stood in global solidarity, we were doomed and so was the planet and all that is in and on it.

US military in Afghanistan

For how long would we continue to live with the smell of acrid smoke burning our airways as we shouted for reproductive rights, for human rights, for justice and accountability as though we were children begging benevolence and indulgence from an egotistical parent? For how long would we continue to tell our daughters to “cover up”, to be a lady, to subdue and submit and subsume their true selves and to shut up, in order to avoid getting raped or beaten or left sitting on the bench while their peers got married? For how long were we to plod on in penury and substandard housing in the prisons they call ghettos and reservations,

First Nation Wind River Reservation, Wyoming

prisons whose chief warden is a guy named Poverty? For how long would we live in fear of the hell that was fast encroaching upon us?

 Photo: BBC world news. Shacks burnt down in Alexandra township, Johannesburg.
UN Refugee camp Congo

First Nation Wind River Reservation, Wyoming

First Nation Wind River Reservation, Wyoming

Hell? Yes hell. Hell is that devouring conflagration and it is here. Hell is right here on this planet and men created it. There, I said it, so sue me. Lock me up and throw away the key, because I really don’t care. It makes no difference to the fact that my jail cell is one small space in the huge prison humanity currently inhabits.

 But here are some questions: Are we really going to go down like that? Are we really going to sit in our little cages and wait for hell to take us over?


 Are we going to continue pushing papers around on our desks in the name of “development and empowerment work” the same work that has kept us preoccupied for decades with no lasting fruit to show for it? Are we going to continue to write proposals for donor funding and once again beg for what is rightfully ours? Are we going to continue to debate the undebatable, to negotiate the non- negotiable issues pertaining to our bodies and what we do with them? Does it not sound absurd? How did we even get here, to this point where the bodies which house our spirits have been outsourced to someone else? How is it that men legislate about women's bodies as a political issue? When did women's bodies become a political landscape, shaped by whatever crazy male-dominated government comes into power?

When did women's bodies become things; play-things, toys, commodities, collateral, sacrifices, compensation, breeding machines, conduits for all the hatred in the world? And where are our spirits while our bodies are under the Occupation?

Image: From Flickr (domestic violence)

We need to get our bodies back and the only way to do this is to get back into our bodies and to fight everyday for every woman who has fled the hell that her body finds itself in, to reenter and take it back. This can happen through dance.
One Billion Rising, 2013, City of Joy, Congo
Dance is a form of assertiveness. Dance is defiance. Dance is revolution. Dance dispels darkness. A dancing body says I am here, I am taking up space. A dancing woman is in control of her body and  her movements are determined by her and her alone. As she hears the music her spirit interprets it and instructs her body to move as it will. As the music provokes, stimulates, begs, beckons and facilitates the re-entry of herself into her body, she feels, she pulsates and she lets it all go. IT is anything that has hindered her spirit from comfortably inhabiting her body.  IT is that thing, those hurts, those violations and injustices that made her spirit flee her body to begin with. The re -entry of her spirit necessitates the exit of those impostor- issues which occupy that which does not belong to them. Light and darkness cannot live in the same house. As the Light of her spirit returns home, it dispels the darkness of the horror and trauma she has suffered and carried.
Image: Tony Stroebel

 Dance brings healing, strength, courage and peace. When we dance together, an amazing power is unleashed. We dispel our collective impostor- issues and together we re-enter our bodies, our homes. Imagine then what this might look like: Billions of sister- spirits returning to reclaim their space inside their bodies, their individual lights combining to create one huge glowing ember across the entire planet. imagine the power unleashed and the collective courage, strength and peace. Imagine the collective resolve to fight fiercely against the violence that annihilates women and cripples children.

 Imagine the collective purpose to stem the environmental degradation due to greed, greed and more greed. Imagine the end of slogan- shouting and petition- signing, because we no longer ask or petition any institution for anything, but we demand and we take that which is ours by virtue of being citizens of this planet. Imagine rendering useless institutions powerless by not endorsing them through our votes or patronage.
One Billion Rising, 2013, Phillipines
Are those of us who are activists not tired of shouting, picketing signing petitions and “breaking the silence”? Ok we have broken the silence. Yes we have and we have even made some good strides towards ending violence against women and girls. But is this not the time for huge strides enormous, global -sized strides? Is this not the time for Global mass action and a concerted heave towards Justice in all her myriad forms? Is this not the time to “throw everything at it”, to lose ourselves totally in the struggle so that we may find ourselves and save ourselves? As far as I can tell, the only savior I see is us, ourselves and the men who love us, who love our children, who love life. As far as I can see, we have tried everything to right the wrongs in our world, but I believe it is time to do something different in order to get the world we want to live in and to leave as legacy to our children. The time is now because we are at the brink. Global Mass Action. It was conceived, envisioned, and brought to life in 2013.
One Billion Rising, 2013 Indonesia

One Billion Rising was that global mass action that catalyzed visible action in 207 countries, in order to bring the issue of violence against women front and center of national, international and global discourse. One Billion rising created a huge wave of energy and awareness and for the One Billion Rising campaign this time around, we will ride that wave towards Justice, the quest and goal for this current campaign.

One Billion Rising for Justice 2014 will bring together in solidarity and for the mutual cause of Justice, women and men from all sectors and all walks of life in all countries to Rise and be seen and heard. We will push en masse for change, each nation pushing to end their unique injustices in ways that are most effective for them, but cemented to the global sisterhood. This is the hope I see. Desperate times call for huge vision, for courageous creativity and the audacity to dare, to leap in faith and to carry that torch of hope for victory, for Lady JUSTICE! 

No More silence. Our  silence will not protect us. " If we do not scream, they will kill us and say that we enjoyed it."

*Dancing in defiance of darkness*