Yesterday I stumbled across the campaign One Billion Rising.
As someone who has increasingly become more active in addressing and campaigning against sexual violence towards women, especially from a male perspective, this campaign has my attention.
Powerful imagery and intent I am supportive yet skeptical.
This viral video is a continuation of body of work by a prominent activist against sexual violence Eve Ensler, the playwright most people know for her work, The Vagina Monologues. Now having watched this video in many ways I get the same gut response I did when I first watched Kony 2012. I am often dubious of well intentioned storytellers trying to give voice to a community on their behalf often without their permission. Yes it is well filmed. Yes it has a truckload of celebrities throwing their weight behind it but it also misses some cultural nuances. I am at a loss as to why dancing even as a metaphor will help to address sexual violence against women and it is not totally lost on me that this campaign and others falls on Valentines day. I am really curious as to whether the timing of this will have impact, especially in countries where this media is readily accessible and Valentines Day is celebrated.
Whilst these may seem like minors it is often those micro inequities that can sway full hearted support for a campaign. I readily admit there are some things about Ensler’s brand of activism that grate me, but in the grand scheme of things, that is not the bigger picture. She has the platform and in that sense I park my skepticism.
We may not always like the medium but the message is of paramount importance. Sexual violence whether physical, verbal or emotional against women is totally unacceptable. I totally am in support of such campaigns, but I would like to add something that I think is missing from this picture.
Such violence cannot end by women standing up alone. In fact I would add that One Billion Men need to also rise up stating that we will not tolerate, enable or be complicit to our fellow men who do commit such acts of violence. Whether as fathers teaching sons, brothers teaching brothers or friends teaching friends. Even more importantly us men partnering with women to empower other women not to be afraid, to seek help and to set their own boundaries on what is acceptable behaviour. Faith groups and communities whole heartedly agreeing that women are not chattel, second class or something to be objectified.
Feminism in many ways loses battles when well intentioned advocates like Ensler are perceived, by both male and female, as men haters. Perception is reality. Still I tip my hat to this campaign and whilst I see problems I gladly join forces with her and others to drive towards solutions. Egos can be parked for the bigger picture. One billion Rising. Both men and women.