I woke up on the 14th to an email from a friend of mine back east. “… Blank and I are done... just in time for Valentine's Day. Stupid holiday, whatever. What are you doing today?”
It IS a stupid holiday, especially for those of us singletons, no matter your age. For at least a month, stores are filled with paper hearts, reminders to send bouquets, teddy bears and color themed M & Ms. And even if you’ve conditioned your expectations to the “I’m going to the dance alone” response, you still can’t help but feel that all of these items, items which will be 50% off the following day, are sweet and sick reminders that you won’t be receiving flowers, candy or even a sweet email from the ex-boyfriend who claims to be intensely in love with you and then disappears off the face of the earth but you actually know for a fact is living on his houseboat. As if you wanted to hear from him anyway. Jeez.
But I digress. And after all, we can’t walk down the street with blinders on.
I responded with a link to the1 Billion Rising event I am attending tonight with my friend Kate, founder of The WIP, and her guest, Syrian journalist Ali Turki al-Rabeo, at Monterey’s Center for Spiritual Living. It may not heal a broken heart completely, and it has nothing to do with St. Valentine, the passing of love notes or the buying of flowers, but rather an international movement where over 205 countries will be participating.
On February 14, 2011, Eve Ensler, (who needs no introduction, but why not), the award winning author of the play “The Vagina Monologues”, began an annual dance party in which she dreamed that 1 Billion Women will rise; to dance, laugh, cry and ultimately heal together. Because of her strategic framework, articles about the events refer to the fact that 1 in 3 women are victims of sexual violence, a fact that Ms Ensler would like to become such harrowing common knowledge that people are compelled to change the status quo.
On the Monterey Peninsula, traditional Aztec and Caribbean dancing was followed by guided meditation after which Kate and Alia spoke about rape as a continued, accepted weapon of war. Since time began and towns and tribal lands began to be pillaged by warring soldiers, women have ultimately been the casualties and the survivors. And apparently, this practice doesn’t exclude fellow soldiers. The Oscar nominated documentary, “The Invisible War” reveals that 500,000 enlisted women have been raped while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
The Billion Rising website has posted videos from all over the world, from an incredible gathering in the Congo, a country which The Guardian cited that in 2011, “48 women were being raped an hour”, to India’s multiple events paying tribute to the young 23 year old known as “Damini” who was gang raped on a bus in New Delhi and later died last January.
The movement is about survival, by dancing together, claiming a place with your people, your womenfolk – not as victims but as a members of a powerful, empathetic group of human beings, men and women, who are gaining momentum, and with that, courage.
Ever since Victoria and I got on the bus in Union Square to march on Washington with N.O.W. in 1991, I have felt the powerful energy of women gathered together. I can’t think of a better way to spend this day, and to know that I am virtually sharing it with millions and hopefully a billion women across the earth. Well, that is a pretty strong cure for the Valentine’s Day Blues as well as an omnipotent message of hope and love.
Host a screening of The Invisible War: