Monday, November 11, 2013

Birthweek: Day Seven

Ok, for reals this time, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Yup, today is the big day. At 10:30pm I will roll over to 29 years. I can hardly believe it. The last year of my twenties. Feels kind of surreal, honestly. My newest favorite part about my birthday is that I get to share it with this {little} angel.

Isn't he great? He was the best present my sister ever could have given to me. And, just like me, the boy knows how to arrive in style, rolling in at 9:30pm on a Friday night. We are destined to be kindred spirits.

When I see his smiling face I am reminded that every mother who has ever looked at her baby boy like this has never imagined that someday he will disrespect and violate a woman. Never that he will brutalize and do unspeakable things to girls. No mother ever starts out that way. No baby boy does either. They start like this, innocent, pure, filled with genuine joy at the smallest things, and brimming with potential.

So what happens? How do our beautiful baby boys grow up to be rapists and abusers? Honestly, I don't know. But it sickens me. It sickens me to my very core. Many women who have daughters worry about their futures--how women are portrayed in media, the stress that is put on girls to be perfect, and the possibility of being violated. Just as much as I worry for my nieces, I fear for the world that my nephews are growing up in, too.

Rather than stand on my soap box against victim blaming (because I have one, and it's big, and my rant speech is LONG) or be angry, I want to try to do as Ghandi said, and be the change I want to see in the world. Not too long ago, I was sitting in one of my Sociology classes and I just couldn't take the pitting of men against women anymore. And I may have blown up. I blew up about how tired I am of the culture of fear that is being perpetrated on women as a guise to "protect" them (more about that later). I want, instead, to see real change.

Today's organization is one I have supported from a distance for a long time, but this year I became personally involved. Because this year, learning about another woman who was raped while on the campus of her university, was the last straw. I had to DO something. Eve Ensler, the founder of this organization, has been doing something for years. Today's organization is VDAY.

Their largest campaign, in honor of the 15th anniversary of V-DAY this past February, is One Billion Rising. The name comes from the fact that, statistically, 1 in 3 women will be the victim of violence, meaning ONE BILLION women will be affected. ONE BILLION. The organization not only fights to end violence against women and girls, it does so through education with programs such as V-Girls and V-Men, which are found on their Take Action page.

Maybe you aren't prepared to perform in the Vagina Monologues, or perhaps you feel this agenda is too out-spoken and are not ready to donate. I implore you, do something. Speak up when people joke about rape. Speak up when people mock abusive relationships. Stand up for women. Not only that, stand up for men. Don't allow them to be side-barred or minimized in this fight. Their role in the ending of violence against women and girls is immense and immeasurable. Educate your sons and your daughters. Be the voice amongst your peers who will not tolerate the mistreatment of women or the minimization of the role of men in doing so. It's time to change the tide of this hate and to rinse our world free of its toxic influence. Take a stand. Be the change you wish to see. Celebrate the end of this birthweek by making the world a better place for having you in it.

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