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Still I Rise

Today's Why I Rise post comes from Vagina Warrior, and member of the Boston Community Production of the Vagina Monologues cast, Lisa Vallee.  To RISE with us on Feb 14th, RSVP today!

“Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise.”-Maya Angelou

I am rising because I’m angry.

I’m angry at people who think that joking about rape is funny.

I’m angry that I get called hyper-sensitive when I don’t laugh at the joke. I’m angry that gay, lesbian, and transgender couples can’t walk down the street holding hands the same way that my boyfriend and I can.

I am so, so angry at Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, James Risch, Tim Scott, Pat Roberts, Mike Johanns, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, the eight senators who voted against the Violence Against Women Act.  I am angry at the politicians that vawa.jpgdon't seem to understand that rape is rape. 

I’m angry that forty years after Roe v. Wade, it’s still difficult for a woman to get a legal abortion in some parts of this country.

I’m angry that I wasn’t angry sooner. That I wasn’t taught in school about the genocide- the femicide- of the women and girls in Bosnia, D.R.C., Mexico, Haiti, and here in the U.S., and everywhere in the world. That somehow this global injustice escaped our lesson plans.

When I first saw the Monologues, I felt enthralled, empowered, and shocked. Never before had I heard stories of women undergoing such terrible violence. Never had I realized, in the sheltered suburban life I led, that women everywhere, every day, were subjected to abuse, torture, mutilation, sex trafficking. Not just throughout history, but today, here and now. For me those were things that only happened in the movies and on Law and Order SVU. Hearing the stories of real women made me see that I had to rise, had to be part of the movement to end the violence.

I am rising because I’m tired. I’m tired of hearing stories like this one. These stories make me sick to my stomach with disgust.

I am sick that girls are shamed for speaking out against their rapists and are forced to relive their nightmares in order for justice to be served, and that it rarely ever is. I am sick that I live in a city, in a country, in a world where this is acceptable.

I am tired of the continued popularity of singers, sports stars, and celebrities who have raped and beaten women and gotten away with it. I’m tired of this being a “woman’s issue.” It is everyone’s issue. I’m tired of the fact that fighting against sexual violence is somehow radical.

I am sick of people who think that “no” somehow means “maybe.” That our society does not teach the way to respect someone who says NO.

I am rising because I’m sad.

I am sad at the thought of violence, sad to my very core, sad that 1 in 3 women will be the victims of sexual violence at some point in their lives. I am sad that my friends, my sisters, have been attacked, assaulted, and harassed.

I am sad that I have become accustomed to violence. That I have come to expect a certain level of disrespect, even malice, from men I do not know.

I have been lucky enough to be respected, to have my voice heard when I said “no.” This shouldn’t be lucky. It should be a given.

When a man passed up the opportunity to rape me, I thought he was the most incredible guy. But ‘not raping someone’ shouldn’t be considered unimaginable. Raping someone should.

I am rising because I feel helpless. This movement is my chance to do something- to stand up and declare that I will not tolerate violence any longer. To join hands with hundreds of thousands of women, and men, who demand an end to violence.

I am rising because I have HOPE.

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