Poor Ted came home to me bawling on the couch. Is there anything worse than a newly wed husband coming home finding his young wife weeping her makeup off? “I-I-I- – -TH-TH-THIS,” I wailed pointing to my computer which is half buried in used Kleenex. I am not a wailer. I can count on my fingers the number of times I cried in front of Ted before we got married. He tries to comfort me by sharing an internet story of a husband who planned years of Valentines Day flowers for his wife for the lonely years after he died. “My love for you is eternal,” the flowers said. I punched Ted in the arm and then kissed his face for trying. And then I cried harder.
V-Day is awesome. This movement fills me with awe. I’ve never seen anything like it. Watch these videos. All of them. Right now, over and over and over again until you can stand and dance, as a Woman wholly without shame.
One Billion Rising is a nonprofit that refuses to submit to the fact that 1 in 3 women internationally will be raped and/or sexually abused in her lifetime. That’s 1 Billion women smashed and broken. Their intro video is graphic (depictions of international abuses ranging from genital mutilation and acid burnings to work place assaults). But it’s the other videos–the flash mobs in SanFran and Peru, the live stream from the Philippians, and the dancing in NYC–that are really incredible. Can ANYONE imagine what the 1 billion can do if–and when–they rise?
These videos flat lined me and I cried. I was abused as a child: as early as 5-years-old and as late as 19, maybe 21 depending on what you count as “abuse.” I texted a dear friend that it felt like they were dancing for me. She, a survivor herself, texted back: “They are.” Dancing for helpless 5-year-old-Caitie, for the 10- and 16-year-old-Caities, for the 21- and even the 24-year-old-Caities. Because I couldn’t dance. Because there are 1 Billion who can’t dance.
Sexual misuse–whether it is verbal or physical harassment, abuse, rape, or whatthehellnot–cuts such a deep sense of shame into the survivor’s body that dancing like the girls and women in these videos is virtually impossible. Survivors are afraid to take up space and that is what dancing does. It causes extreme disassociation, like Precious. Fighting is nearly impossible for the 1 Billion. We’ve each coped with our shame and pain and all the lies that abuse cuts into our skin and we struggle on alone. We’ve coped so much that what is textbook sexual abuse survivor behavior is now accepted as main stream sexuality. But these women are dancing. Together.
Here, in this movement, are women around the world rising up against oppression and abuse and mistreatment. They are saying ENOUGH. By dancing. Is that how you fight thousands of years of systematic oppression that manifests itself in your life?
This is what the Kingdom of God looks like. Dancing in unity against oppression and injustice.
Why do we–the Church with the power that raised Jesus from the dead at our disposal–argue over silly points of theology? Why do we waste ourselves in the pursuit of the American Dream while we let others set the prisoners free, while others fight the way we are supposed to? I love Jesus very much. But, sometimes, I cannot stand Christians.
And then I hear Ted. He’s gone into our dark blue kitchen and is mixing drinks and plating brownies. And he comes in and kisses my tears. He hugs me and whispers, “I see you.” Because not all men are the monsters I’ve met.