Leslie Carol Botha: 1 in 3 women will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. The only way to change these dire statistics is for women to rise collectively to bring awareness to the atrocities aimed at 51% of the population. How will you protect your daughter? It is time to become a part of this global wave defying the oppression of women.
One Billion Rising began as a call to action for one billion women and men throughout the world to rise, strike and dance in order to call attention to the horrifying statistic that one in three women, which adds up to one billion, will be beaten or raped during her lifetime.
One Billion Rising
March 21, 2013
By Gillian Schutte
In the past few years there have been waves of feminine revolution that have been directly rooted in body, art and the carnivalesque. Not essentialism mind you, but with the clear mandate of deconstructing the patriarchal hold over language and behaviour which defines feminine sexuality and controls, oppresses and destroys the combined woman.
The Slut Walk, which saw a global collective of women reclaim the word ‘Slut,’ was one such wave that garnered the support of feminists such as Poet, Alice Walker, who sanctioned it in an interview with Guernica Magazine. She succinctly encapsulated the essence of the movement in her interpretation of the use of the controversial word when she said:
“I’ve always understood the word ‘slut’ to mean a woman who freely enjoys her own sexuality in any way she wants to; undisturbed by other people’s wishes for her behaviour. Sexual desire originates in her and is directed by her. In that sense it is a word well worth retaining. As a poet, I find it has a rich, raunchy, elemental, down to earth sound, that connects us to something primal, moist, and free.”
Then there is also the ongoing wave of naked protest, manifested in FEMEN, the Ukrainian feminist group. FEMEN has used a bare all strategy very effectively in global protest, mostly to give emphasis to international abuses of women’s rights. FEMEN activists use their naked bodies as human placards with subversive messaging to make a feminist statement about the diminution of the female body to an object of lust and to highlight their message that women are not commodities.
Utilizing nakedness as a rebellion against detested and repressive patriarchal social norms or government policies is not new. It’s been with us almost as long as covering-up and is utilized in Africa and Europe by women who have simply had enough. However, recently there has been a widespread resurgence, which goes to show that despite the collective Victorian neurosis around issues of nudity, globally, the tactic continues to be both feasible and relevant.
Then came the visceral and far-reaching support for the Russian Punk Protest outfit — Pussy Riot. A small collective of young women wearing T-Cosies on their heads who took on the entire draconian Russian ruling party through performance stunts which centred on subversive lyrics and punk electric guitar in ‘sacred’ or public spaces, Pussy Riot was hugely impactful on the worldwide feminine imaginary proving that even small collectives practicing civil disobedience can pack a powerful punch at patriarchy. When three of the young women were arrested by the Russian Police and finally sentenced to four years in a hard labour camp, the uproar from the collective feminine reverberated globally and the phrase ‘Pussy Riot’ became part of the feminine arsenal of reclaimed lexis used in a revolutionary sense.