The internet, she is not my friend this week. It is mostly because of this.
And truly I have been uber busy these days without much time to check out the latest for which I am grateful. It’s been trigger city, folks. Forgive any muddleheadedness that follows. I don’t know what kind of a post this will be or if I will bring these meanderings to a logical conclusion. There is grading to do (always the grading), there is writing and there is research, there is work.
Remember the artist Kiki? She did the art for a t shirt I once had and wore to absolute pieces. It was captioned “Many Strong and Beautiful Women.” It was lovely and I kept it for a long time.
This week my head is full of women… strong and beautiful and maybe not so strong but still beautiful even if they – we – do not know it. I am thinking about women and their/our stories. For the most part it is a happy convergence; I’m teaching women and stories this semester … yesterday in one of my classes we viewed the powerful “The Language You Cry In” – evidence of how blog reading is not procrastinating (at least not all the time) because I found out that film here and it fit in perfectly with what we are thinking/talking/writing about.
On Monday, Cara posted this so I was already thinking about the minimizing and trivializing that happens to those of us who have survived sexual assault in families – we even do it to ourselves.
I hadn’t yet heard the news about the whole Rihanna/Chris Brown thing yet… just some chatter on the radio about why they didn’t show up at the grammy’s or whatever. Then the noise about it increased during the day and I knew that I’d just need to try to stay away from it – I googled a bit at first just to see what people were saying about the situation and … always a mistake to read comments. How do we interrupt the kind of noise that blames a person for being violated because she “probably set him off” by saying something, or because she (and face it, it’s usually she) has the nerve to look a certain way or dress a certain way or what EVER… but usually all it takes is she possesses the identity of female. Be female and it is game on. Be black or brown and female, or transgress prescribed gender boundaries and the right to not be violated is at once absent. I don’t know how much more I want to say about that without doing more thinking than I want to do right now. I know that silence is not the answer. The problem then, is how not to keep being silenced because speaking out costs so much – when there are so many other voices – so much other noise – drowning out the stories that need to be told but are so hard to tell. That internalized, unvoiced pain comes out somehow, somewhere, I believe. Perhaps it is physical body pain, like the pain that is carried in my body on a daily basis, diagnosed as fibromyalgia. Perhaps it is realized in the pain that is in turn inflicted on others. Perhaps it is simply being numb to feeling and actually living life. But as has been said (y)our silence will not protect you/us.
Starting tonight and thru Saturday, I’m participating in a local Monologues production – inspired by Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues but anonymously submitted stories of women in this region – women who wrote down the sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, often utterly gut wrenching truths about their lives as women. It has been an incredible experience to carry these stories, to embody them and to speak these words into the air, and to talk with each other about our own stories. These kinds of gatherings are monumental acts of love. It is not only the gathering of stories and placing them in order, assigning the parts and becoming familiar with them and then putting on a show. It is also listening to the words underneath the words and feeling them. It is knowing “I’m not the only one this happened to.” It recognizing a place, a time, a moment, a person that are connected to geographies, histories, communities and honoring that. It is learning to speak. And very very practically – it’s about knitting scarves and making jewelry and collecting silent auction items and selling tickets and making as much money as you possibly can to help women and their children in this community whose backs are up against the wall.
It is this thing called survival.