Boston GLOW is gearing up for ONE BILLION RISING. One Feb 14th, we will be gathering at 5pm in Copley Square to RISE. We say ENOUGH. The Violence Stops Now! Join us to dance and bring awareness to the fact that One Billion women and girls will be beaten or abused in her lifetime. We asked our community to tell us why they’re rising. Each day leading up to the 14th, we’ll hear another story from one of our phenomenal Organized Women and Vagina Monologues cast. Thank you, Jessica Andrewartha for sharing your powerful words! _____________________________________________________________________________________
I’m rising because I’m privileged. I’m rising because I’m as lucky as a girl can get. I’m rising because even being the luckiest isn’t good enough.
I am about as fortunate as a woman can be. I was born white, upper middle class in suburban America. I have a loving family, supportive parents, an excellent education and a boyfriend who loves me and would never hurt me. But I still deal on a daily basis with the bullshit involved in being a woman.
Although I have every advantage in the world, I’m still afraid. I am still painfully aware that just by virtue of being a woman, I am never safe. I walk down the street at night and I don’t listen to music. I listen for the sounds of someone behind me and wonder if they’re following me, if they mean to hurt me. I wonder if I would be able to describe them to the police if necessary. I try to remember in which pocket I put the pepper spray my boyfriend bought for me.
I grew up in a home where my mother and father love and respect each other, but I still grew up afraid of my own body. I joined V-Day half by accident my freshman year of college. I walked into a meeting expecting to maybe audition and I ended up finding a group so small but so dedicated that by the end of that meeting we had a President, a Treasurer and two First Years organizing The Vagina Monologues. I read the play I would be organizing for the first time that night and realized I was one of those women Eve Ensler was worried about. I had blindly accepted every message the Christian Church could throw at me about the shame of women’s bodies. I was scared of myself. I had a lot to learn. And I learned it. I was lucky.
I had a family that supported what I was doing and came to the shows. My Baptist Minister Grandfather stood up and reclaimed the word “cunt” with the rest of the crowd in what remains the proudest moment of my life. But even empowered as I was after three years of V-Day, it still took me almost a year to identify as sexual harassment the “friend” who touched me in ways that made me uncomfortable. He said things in public that demeaned me and ignored the dozens and dozens of times I told him this wasn’t ok and that this needed to stop. I spent three years working to end the world where men can make women afraid without recognition or reprisal, but I still couldn’t identify or stop it in my own life. It took the same man assaulting a friend before I cut him out of my life.
And I’m the lucky one. There are thousands of women in this country who aren’t as lucky as me. Their struggles with being a woman are compounded by discrimination based on race, class, or religion. They have families that abuse them instead of supporting them. They have partners who beat them instead of giving them the tools to defend themselves. And there are millions of women living in places where they can count on violence, but not on their government to give them justice or protection. They are the ones who have had to face the things I only worry about when I walk down the street at night. And it’s time for that to stop.
The Victim Rights Law Center is the first law center in the nation dedicated solely to advocating for the civil legal needs of sexual assault survivors. The VRLC provides direct legal representation to victims of rape and sexual assault in Massachusetts. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, we believe you have the right to make your own choices about how to respond to what has happened to you. Our goal is to give sexual assault victims information regarding their civil legal needs to reclaim their lives.