As the second, and final, event of our V-Day events in Arusha, the beautiful V-Day team presented readings from “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer”. The book, edited by V-Day’s founder, Eve Ensler, is a powerful collection of writings on the theme of stopping violence against women and girls.
The monologues we chose ranged from true stories from the women of Sudan, Uganda, and Rwanda, and the atrocities inflicted on them as conflict raged within their nations, to the story of a women who was a victim of human traffiking, to the horror of so-called ‘honour killings’, to the prevalence and acceptance of violence against women as a plotline in the media. We featured pieces on women who took back control after the violence took place and stories of survival in the darkest of circumstances.
When you consider that every piece is either based on a true story, or the true recount from the writer themselves, the reality and horrific prevalence of violence against women and girls becomes all too real. Certain pieces brought the cast to tears during rehearsals and, while briefly considering taking the piece out, we realised that was the very reason these pieces needed to stay in. These women have been silenced too long. They need to be heard. Their stories need to be told.
The truth is shocking. According to the United Nations, one of every three women on the planet will be physically or sexually abused in her lifetime. Besides the pain and strength you will hear in the survival stories of these women, the themes that resound across cultures and geographies are of the indifference of authorities, the familial instinct of denial, and the lack of public outrage about the violence that millions of women experience every day.
V-Day was born of the belief that until these themes are addressed, these violations named and taken up by whole communities as an unacceptable desecration of human dignity, the violence will continue.
After the performance last night I heard conversations happening that filled me with hope. I want to help. How can we help? We need to do something. The themes of the monologues had triggered the most natural human desire to help and stand against these injustices.
The performance ends with Eve Ensler’s empowering call to action – ‘My Revolution Lives In This Body’ – and I can think of no better way to finish…
My revolution begins in the body
It isn’t waiting anymore
My revolution does not need approval or permission
It happens because it has to happen in each neighborhood, village, city or town at gatherings of tribes, fellow students, women at the market, on the bus
It may be gradual and soft
It may be spontaneous and loud
It may be happening already
It may be found in your closet, your drawers, your gut, your legs, your multiplying cells, in the naked mouth of taut nipples and overflowing breasts
My revolution is swelling from the insatiable drumming between my legs
My revolution is willing to die for this
My revolution is ready to live big
My revolution is overthrowing the state
Of mind called patriarchy
My revolution will not be choreographed although it begins with a few familiar steps.
My revolution is not violent but it does not shy away from the dangerous edges where fierce displays of resistance tumble into something new
My revolution is in this body
In these hips atrophied by misogyny
In this jaw wired mute by hunger and atrocity
My revolution is
Connection not consumption
Passion not profit
Orgasm not ownership
My revolution is of the earth and will come from her, For her, because of her
It understands that every time we frack or drill
Or burn or violate the layers of her sacredness
we violate the soul of our future
My revolution is not ashamed to press my body down
On her mud floor in front
Banyan, Cypress, Pine, Kalyaan, Oak, Chestnut, Mulberry, Redwood, Sycamore trees
To bow shamelessly to shocking yellow birds and rose blue setting skies, heart exploding purple bouganvillea and aqua sea
My revolution gladly kisses the feet of mothers and nurses and servers and cleaners and nannies
And healers and all who are life and give life
My revolution is on its knees
On my knees to every holy thing
And to those who carry empire-made burdens in and on their heads and backs and hearts
My revolution demands abandon
Expects the original
Relies on trouble makers, anarchists, poets, shamans, seers, sexual explorers, Tricksters, mystic travelers, tightrope walkers and those who go too far and feel too much,
My revolution shows up unexpectedly
Its not naïve but believes in miracles
Cannot be categorized targeted branded
Or even located
Offers prophecy not prescription
Is determined by mystery and ecstatic joy
Is not centralized though we all know where we’re going
It happens in stages and all at once
It happens where you live and everywhere
It understands that divisions are diversions
It requires sitting still and staring deep into my eyes