Defy the Big Dumb Brutes and DanceFebruary 7th, 2013 © by Susan Swartz
When their oppressors fled, the people of Mali danced, The African women wrapped themselves in bright colors, some even bared their bellies, and they got out into the street and shimmied. How sweet, freedom. It makes you want to dance.
We don’t normally count dancing as a defiant act in this country. There are no pleasure police peeking inside my window to arrest me the next time I dig out some old Brown Sugar and hop around the living room.
But dancing is a threat and a sin in some places. Mali is only the latest place where religious extremists forced women to stay inside, covered them in veils, banned all music and dance, , and brutalized those who offended the new morality laws.
Then French soldiers came in, liberated the people from al Qaida and dancing became a celebration of independence.
And so it will be on February 14, next Thursday, Valentine’s Day, when the world is invited to dance on behalf of all women and girls and defy those who would oppress them. It’s an easy way to show our solidarity. No special training required.
In this world-wide protest no bullets will be fired. No cars set ablaze. No angry mobs. Just a world full of people moving their hips and waving their arms.
The global event called Rise Up Dancing, is part of an organization called One Billion Rising. No surprise, the idea came from the playwright and activist Eve Ensler. Her gutsy play The Vagina Monologues has been in production some place around the world since she wrote it in 1996. She’s not afraid of taking on those who subjugate women be they Congo rebels using rape as a weapon of war or American politicians arguing the definition of rape. Last year when Michigan lawmakers banned a woman legislator from the House for using the word vagina in arguing an anti-abortion bill, Eve was there saying, oh, boys, grow up.
For 15 years she’s been putting together events on Valentine’s Day to both celebrate women and decry the violence against them. This year she called for an “outrageous disruptive dance action” by women and the men who love them.
With all the horrible things done to women – the gang rape in a bus in New Delhi, the gang rape by football players in Steubenville, Ohio – you would think that we might be more moved to get together and weep.
But crying feels awful and dancing feels so good. It makes your body happy.
It takes confidence and courage to dance. Which is just the opposite of what it takes to hurt a woman. There’s no courage in attacking a woman if you’re bigger and stronger and you have a bunch of goons including the law, your tribe and your church backing you up.
Men who beat up women are all cowards. All rapists are cowards. So are military men who cause military women to fear them more than the enemy.
Those who would manage women with their rules, be it forcing them to wear a burqua or refusing them birth control are cowards. So too are members of Congress who run away from the Violence Against Women Act .
So we will dance against all the big dumb brutes who try to control women with their fists and their laws. We’ll dance for equality and power and strength and we’ll move our bodies just how the music tells us to, and no one else. And maybe we’ll wear short skirts, too.
In the Bay Area there are Rise Up Dancing events popping up all over, including one in Santa Rosa at 3 p.m. at Monroe Hall and Courthouse Square at 5 p.m. Also in Petaluma, Sonoma, Mendocino and throughout San Francisco. To find an event and to let them know you’re coming, go to www.onebillionrising.org.