On Friday, February 14th, Boston GLOW invites all individuals to join us, alongside SquashBusters and Mass NOW in the One Billion Rising Movement. One Billion Rising is a global movement that takes place on Valentine’s Day and aims to raise awareness around the fact that One Billion women in the world will experience violence in her lifetime. We invite you to join us on February 14th at 5pm in Copley Square in Boston to add your voice.
Over the next ten days, this blog will feature ten unique voices of women in the Boston community who have chosen to participate in this movement. We honor all individuals who have committed to end violence against women and girls and hope to provide a platform for all to share their voices.
So why do we at Boston GLOW rise?
We rise to foster a community where respecting all humans is not an anomaly. We don't rise because someone told us to. We rise because we value the importance of creating safe spaces for all people to gather and honor real experiences of real women. We rise because we believe that every story matters, and we are harmed when stories are silenced. We rise to hear everyone’s stories: the ones that make us the most uncomfortable, the angry ones, the frustrating ones, the ones that make us vomit, the ones that make us laugh and the ones that inspire us to realize our human connection. This year, on February 14th, we will rise with music, spoken word and community.
We rise to remember those who we have lost due to traumatic violence. We rise to send our love to survivors.
We rise because there is no hierarchy of violence. Violence diminishes every one of us. We rise to tell survivors that it’s not their fault and that we are one community. We rise to support those who do not yet feel ready to share their story.
We rise to tell men that it's okay to cry, and we rise to create a culture that stops oppressing our boys in their true humanity.
We rise to encourage humans with any gender to feel confident and beautiful with their own identity, for there can be as many genders as there are people.
We rise because it’s okay that we love sex, and we rise because we should not be ashamed of our desire for sexual satisfaction. We rise because having sex should imply that it was consensual and enjoyed.
We rise for a better political policy. We rise for a global awareness. We rise so that our boys and girls can learn about their own sexuality through science and facts.
We rise to begin a conversation. We rise to invite those who have not been involved in the past to create an open room in the movement. We rise as a first step.
We don’t claim to have the right answers, and we don’t claim that dancing will save the world. But we do believe that each step we take is essential in creating a world where all humans feel comfortable and safe in their genders.
Over the next ten days, we invite you to follow this blog. Each day you will hear one woman’s story. We invite you to read her voice and share her voice. We invite you to share your own story, and most importantly we invite you to rise with us in saying, “Enough. It is time for the violence to end”.
Personally, I first came to the V-Day movement, like many others, without expecting that it would change my life. I wanted to raise money to end violence against women and I wanted to meet other women who cared. I could never fathom that the mere act of telling women’s stories could be controversial. I had no idea that calling a body part by its anatomically correct name could be wrong. We should speak our truth, and we should support those who need our support however we can.
As I refelct on my ten years of experience with the V-Day movement, I think first of the supportive communities of women I have developed, the thousands of dollars we have raised, and my personal self awareness that it has fostered.
I know the movement is far from perfect, and I know we have a long way to go. But before my involvement in the V-Day movement, I often felt alone and embarrassed. I remember thinking (as many of us have):
"If I called myself a feminist, would people think I was a lesbian? If I called myself a woman, would people think I was fat? If I wanted sex, was a slut? If I spoke up in the meeting, would people think I was a control freak? If I called someone out, would they call me a feminazi? If I decided not to sleep with him, would I be called a prude? If I didn't want children, was I a bad woman?" The questions kept coming, occupying space in my mind and preventing me from speaking up.
However, I can pinpoint specific experiences with the V-Day movement that have allowed me to speak my own truth and taught me to be proud of myself as a woman:
I have been sexually assaulted by a stranger in a bar, but I quoted a piece of The Vagina Monologues when I confronted him.
I have had Holy Water thrown on me and been told my fate was going to hell when I chose to perform in The Vagina Monologues. I learned to defend what I believed in and define my own faith.
I have had rumors spread about my sexual history, but I confidently spoke the truth to my peers while holding the hands of my fellow Vagina Warriors.
I have learned the way my body works sexually to ensure that my sex life guilt-free and enjoyable. I have learned to not regret a consensual one-night stand and to support others when their experiences were not the same.
I have heard stories from survivors of traumatic abuse and have learned the importance of listening.
I have heard ideas I do not agree with and learned to assert my own positions while giving value to the ideas of others.
I have been surrounded by women of all ages, colors, sizes and life histories and seen them become friends.
On February 14th I will rise and dance. I will take a small step in hopes of building a broader, stronger and united community committed to justice.
In 2013, hundreds of people of all backgrounds joined us in Copley Square on Valentine's Day, and this year, we invite you to be one of them.