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16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign

November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Today marks the first day of the Commit ▪ Act ▪ Demand: We CAN End Violence Against Women! activist movement. So, why the 16 days?

November 25, 2009 marks the launch of the 19th international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign – an annual campaign that runs from International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women through International Human Rights Day. (emphasis mine)

Over the next 16 days, I’m going to try and highlight the violence that women face around the world. If you’re interested in this endeavor, please visit the website and find out what some actions are that you can take to contribute to this movement and to the end of violence against women.

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Men Against Violence Against Women, Part 2

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

So, going on from my previous post about the “Men Against Violence Against Women” panel discussion, I just wanted to mention some other things that stuck out for me.

1. What is a woman’s role?
So, although it is clear that men must take responsibility for this issue, there is still an important role that women play, and have been playing for many, many years. Resistance. Women have been resisting violence against them for a long time and women must continue to play this part. Our resistance is extremely important. But now, since we’ve been resisting for years, it is time for men to respond to this resistance!

2. Safe spaces for men
New safe spaces need to be created for men to discuss these things. These safe spaces need to be places that men can come and grow and learn how to have an emotional life, outside of just having anger. This will bring together a collective of men who believe the same things and will be able to fight against violence against women.

3. Live the way you believe
Finally, what I want to end with is something that one panelist said. “Live the way you believe”. This is the first step in action. This means that everyone can act. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you believe certain things, live it out. Do not be silent. Your silence will condone this violence (or whatever other issue it may be). You CAN help this situation, no matter how helpless you may feel. It doesn’t have to be some huge act. Small acts everyday will build into a great movement, and actually be a part of a movement that is already happening. I hope that you feel a little inspired to at least try something!

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Why must activism happen AFTER the wrong act?

November 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Today, I read about how the Richmond High students came together, along with community members and the mayor, for an event to support the girl who was gang raped and speak out against sexism and racism which is still so pervasive in our culture.

The white streamers were everywhere – worn as armbands, headbands, neckties, leg-bands – as hundreds of Richmond High School students gathered on the football field with teachers, parents and community members to express their support for the victim of a horrendous gang rape on the school grounds and their determination to act together to prevent future violence.

The speakers spoke of “building a culture that rejects racist and sexist actions and comments and fights back against the underlying social conditions in which such attitudes flourish.” As well as mentioning how these injustices need to be faced on a daily basis, not just after “one acute problem”.

This is all great. This is all fine and dandy and in fact, it seems like a great community movement at this point and who knows, some of those Richmond High students could go on and be the next leaders in fighting social injustice. However, my question is this, why does it take one horrendously wrong act, or “acute problem”, to create activism within people?

If you think about it, many horrendous acts of sexism or racism (or any other ism) wouldn’t occur if the activism was done on a daily basis. As the mayor said at the Richmond gathering, there would be “no bystanders”. That’s the whole point, right? If activism is performed everyday and people are educated about things like sexism and racism, people will no longer be passive about what’s happening around them.

But what gets them to the point of activism? Obviously, to some extend, something has to be there already. Usually something broad, like sexism or racism. I mean, if those things didn’t already exist, we wouldn’t of had great activist leaders of our time, like Gloria Steinem and Martin Luther King Jr. However, when it comes to individual (but extremely serious) incidents, such as the gang rape in Richmond, CA, why wouldn’t people do something about this at the time it was all happening? Everyone knows that something like gang rape is wrong. I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe that they thought that what they were doing was just fine, even if they might have been in an impaired state due to alcohol. Everyone has a moral compass, and gang rape is off the charts, screaming “WRONG”.

But had people not been educated enough about these things? Did these people who were bystanders, or participants think they didn’t have a voice and therefore couldn’t be against this? And how does one get a voice when it comes to injustice anyway? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but these are things that need to be addressed. We cannot just continuously wait for the next horrendous crime against a girl or woman to occur and jump on the whoa-we-need-to-fight-sexism train. This is an ongoing battle, and activism must take place before these incidents occur.

I’m not trying to knock whatever Richmond is doing right now. I think it’s good that they are collectively realizing what’s going on in our society today and will hopefully push towards a society where sexism isn’t so pervasive. However, what I am saying is that activism after the wrong act is too late. It’s too late for that 15 year-old girl. It’s too late for others who have been raped or murdered because of sexism or racism.

We all need to be collective in our actions and make sure that it’s never too late again, for anyone.