I am blessed with more than one in my life. This one, Hedgebrook, I am privileged to share with so many amazing women writers, including some of the ones you see here: Holly Morris, Hannah Tinti, Monique Truong, Suheir Hammad, Gloria Steinem. I am so grateful to Lisa Halpern’s magic in creating this documentary, which was aired on PBS on the Seattle Channel in May. Thanks and love to Amy Wheeler, Vito Zingarelli and every single person on the amazing staff who make Hedgebrook happen every day. And to Nancy Nordoff, who dreamed it and gifted her vision to us.
Take a look:
(ArtZone Hedgebrook Special, Women Authoring Change)
The genius of the Occupy Wall Street movement is its lack of demands. Not just because there cannot be one person who speaks, or one set of needs. Yes, consensus is good. But the minute something is asked for, we will be told it can’t be done. We give up our power and autonomy because we will depend on someone else to effect this change. And in the time-honored way of the politics of negativity and exhaustion, any proposal that is made will be shot down, and no other solutions offered, because the powers that be do not want change. They do not want a solution. They want us to shut up.
We do not accept this. We will not play your rigged game. You come up with something better if you want our money, our shopping at your store, our working at your company….
This is what the Occupy movement is saying, should say. No.
Because we can live without them.
The genius of Occupy Wall Street is that, in the absence of demands, we the people each have to decide what we want to do. We may not choose to live in a park in the snow. But we may embrace National Bank Transfer Day and invest in ourselves through credit unions. And we may join a CSA and become shareholders in a local, organic farm. Or we may stand up against fracking. We can turn to each other in community and start a coop or refuse to buy genetically modified food, or refuse to spend hundred of dollars on toxic beauty products. As individuals, we can decide what we want to occupy in our lives. What we want to change. Occupy Wall Street can be this generation’s version of Gloria Steinem’s proposal, years ago, on outrageous acts:
“If each person in the room promises that the very next day she or he will do at least one outrageous thing in the cause of simple justice, then I promise I will, too. It doesn’t matter whether the act is as small as saying, ‘Pick it up yourself’ or as large as calling a strike. ‘”
Perhaps only a mother knows how outrageous, how life-changing, the words “Pick it up yourself” can be.
Here is something else we can “occupy”: rape.
From Eve Ensler (this is highly abridged. Check the link for the full text):
I am over rape.
I am over one in three women in the U.S military (Happy Veterans Day!) getting raped by their so-called “comrades.”
I am over the fact that after four women came forward with allegations that Herman Cain groped them and grabbed them and humiliated them, he is still running for the President of the United States.
Which reminds me, I am so over the students at Penn State who protested the justice system instead of the alleged rapist pedophile of at least 8 boys, or his boss Joe Paterno, who did nothing to protect those children after knowing what was happening to them.
We need to OCCUPYRAPE in every school, park, radio, TV station, household, office, factory, refugee camp, military base, back room, night club, alleyway, courtroom, UN office. We need people to truly try and imagine — once and for all — what it feels like to have your body invaded, your mind splintered, your soul shattered. We need to let our rage and our compassion connect us so we can change the paradigm of global rape.
There are approximately one billion women on the planet who have been violated.
ONE BILLION WOMEN.
The time is now. Prepare for the escalation.
Today it begins, moving toward February 14, 2013, when one billion women will rise to end rape.
Because we are over it.
Look for this movement. Start your own. Because the only way we are going to get a safe, healthy, equitable, sustainable, clean and respectful society and world to live in is if we begin by picking it up ourselves.
On Saturday, at the Anita Hill 20 conference, Gloria Steinem observed that our country is getting out of control. And that’s a good thing. “Right now we have turned against two wars; in about 20 minutes we are no longer going to be a majority European American or white country; we have a proud African-American family in the White House; and we are critical of our financial institutions in a way we have never been before.” The resulting backlash – more guns being bought, more racist groups, more virulent violence and violent rhetoric, more legislation against personal and women’s reproductive freedoms – comes from people who, “through no fault of their own, were born into a structure that made them believe they had a right by birth to be in control” and whose identity rests on this control. She gives us this scary, powerful and hopeful metaphor: domestic violence as a microcosm of our political situation:
“The time of maximum danger for a woman who is about to escape a violent household is that moment just before and just after she escapes. She is most likely to be seriously injured or murdered at that moment because she is getting out of control.”
“We are in a time of danger and we need to protect each other. We need to know that. We are about to be free and we are not going to stop.”
Keep each other safe. Keep fighting. It is darkest, as they say, just before the dawn.