Saturday, September 15, 2012

Why I Am Rising

I volunteered to do a promotional video today in Chicago for the organization of V-day and their upcoming event One Billion Rising, but backed out last minute. The idea is that One Billion women have experienced or can except to have some sort of sexual violence touch them in their lifetime, so One Billion women (and men) will rise to say this is not OK. I was so excited when I saw that only in Chicago and New York were they filming these promotional videos, I e-mailed the coordinator right away to secure my opportunity to record one.

So what happened?

Late last night I got to thinking about my motives for filming the video and I realized that for me, putting myself out there in that way is not a very useful way of doing things. I salute the women who do and I value it-it is crucial that we make strong and public stands like this. But the thing is, I am interested more in the kind of culture that allows for sexual violence in the first place, I am interested in the inequality between the sexes and the way that we talk about it and how that contributes to this very real and all too prominent problem. Because I am realizing that even if you are a woman that is lucky enough (and it does have to do with luck, not so much putting yourself in the "right" situations, as patriarchy would have you believe) not to have sexual violence touch your life, you will probably be demeaned, disrespected and made to feel that your opinions and worth as a citizen in the world are somehow less valuable and that all you can really do is raise children (and what a glorious job that is, you lucky woman, you). My point is not to down play motherhood... in fact, I'm headed there myself-at some point- and I honestly can't think of a more important thing to do than teach little people how to be people. But,  that is not all I have to do, and if I want to do something else or do it differently, it doesn't make me less of a woman, and it doesn't make me ungrateful or some sort of bra burning nutso the way that society might try to make me believe.

The point is, I decided being in the "Why I'm Rising Video" is not the way I mean to make an impact. I want to think deeper, talk longer and find a voice that isn't about speaking loudly (although thank god for Eve Ensler and her cohorts, because sometimes you have to be loud to get the attention what you're saying deserves). Anyway, I wanted to share what I wrote in preparation for the video so that I felt like I still did my part in some way today. Some of these are taken from the blog and some are new. I hope you like them:

My name is Kelsey and I am Rising Because:

I am rising because after being raped I felt so alone and it took me a long time to realize that not only was I not alone, I was in good company, in fact, I had too much company.

I am rising because there are still too many of us that can’t.

I am rising because when I told a family member that 1 in 3 women in the United States can expect some sort of physical or sexual violence in her life, he laughed in disbelief.

I am rising because when I was raped there were those that told me I shouldn’t have been running alone at 3 in the afternoon in my own neighborhood.

I am rising so that someone who needs the encouragement can find strength to rise too.

I am rising to make it clear that feminism is not a silly pastime; that we are still in the middle of major inequality between the sexes, yes, even in America.

I am rising to take away the shame, to make it OK to talk about it, to scream about it.

I am rising because the helpless, hopeless feeling that plants itself stubbornly in the minds and bodies of women like myself is one I am unwilling to live with anymore.

I am rising to take aim in the channels of pathos, higher intelligence, moral consciousness and blatant awareness that we as a human race are supposedly capable of by telling you that these people, these victims, these survivors are among you, do not make the ignorant or perhaps willful denial mistake of believing they are not.

I am rising because Men are not evil. Women are not weak. And the very blurry generalizations and deep seeded beliefs that cause the kind of thinking that leaks into the unfortified minds of the hurting souls who actually act on these irreverent impulses are, at least in part, to blame. 

I am rising because I was raised to believe the falsehood that if I put myself in the right situations I would be safe from this problem.


  1. Bravo Kelsey! You speak out to many people, courageously and honestly. I've been affected by sexual violence as well. Thanks for speaking out.

  2. Well-written and thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Every time I read one of your posts I get this deep feeling inside that I can't explain. Tears come to my eyes, not only for remembering my own experience, but for the relief I feel knowing I'm not alone. Thank you for being a voice and helping me to become one also.


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