For Valentine’s Day, I wrote about the One Billion Rising movement that is staging actions around the world today to bring attention to the epidemic of violence against women. I was initially unconvinced; here’s why I came around:
That basic necessity that so many women lack – being safe in our own bodies – is what made me finally come around to the OBR call to dance. It’s our bodies that are violated. It’s our bodies that are politicized and subjected to laws about what we can or can’t cover or how we can or can’t reproduce or what our families should look like.
It’s our bodies that are blamed for the harm that comes to us, when we’re told that we were hurt because we’re too tempting, too sexual, too ugly, too loud, too easy, too feminine, too manly, too vulnerable. It’s our bodies that too often feel like the enemy, when our own self-worth is worn down by cultural myths that we’re too fat, too dark, too poor, too awkward, too shy, too sexy, too female, too masculine, too strong, too weak, too big, too little.
And so it’s with our bodies that we should act. When our bodies have been politicized, targeted and defined for us, there’s power in the simple enjoyment of that body. When women are supposed to be small and inoffensive, taking up public space is a radical act. It’s unladylike. Dance, OBR reminds us, is both free and freeing.
Will dance save the world? Of course not. And it certainly won’t end violence against women. But any worldwide movement that focuses on the appalling levels of violence that women face and crafts a national day of action to push back against that violence is fine with me.
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