I apologize that I’m publishing such a downer of a Valentine’s Day post, but I watched the video for One Billion Rising and felt compelled to comment on it. But I’ll back up a bit.
I’ve been volunteering for a local women’s shelter, My Friend’s House. I serve on the Board of Directors (and several sub-committees) and even though I’m new to this work, I’m finding it very fulfilling. For one, it’s a great way to give back to my community. Two, it’s a cause I really believe in. We are doing good work. And three, it is necessary work. Unfortunately, there is a need for this shelter. It is never empty.
I live in a lovely community. It is on the shores of beautiful Georgian Bay. There are ski resorts nearby and affluent people vacation here. Even more affluent people retire here.
A lot of people have a picture-perfect image of Collingwood in their minds, and that image does not include domestic violence. When I joined the board, another new member expressed his initial surprise that there was such demand for our shelter and for the outreach services we provide to victims of abuse. Collingwood just doesn’t seem like that kind of place. Unfortunately, every place is “that kind of place.”
And, as Canadians learned this week, domestic violence can happen to any kind of person. On February 7, 2013, Senator Patrick Brazeau was arrested for domestic assault and sexual assault. His alleged victim has not been named due to a publication ban. I will resist the urge to delve into a discussion of Senate reform (Could we start with term limits? Is that too much to ask?) and stick to my point. Domestic violence is not something that happens to other types of people. Patrick Brazeau’s arrest should remind us that this type of violence can, and does, take place within every stratum of society.
This brings me back to One Billion Rising, the awareness raising campaign organized by Eve Ensler. One Billion Rising urges women to come together to fight gender-based violence. The video is slick, unnerving and moving. My initial reaction was that women coming together and dancing doesn’t accomplish much, and that this video would likely go the way of Kony 2012. But I’ve changed my mind, and I’m hoping that this movement, at the very least, inspires women and girls who may bristle at the word “feminist” to come together and support one another.
But I really hope that this campaign helps people realize that gender-based violence is not a women’s issue. It’s a human rights issue. And in the same way that it can happen anywhere, to anyone, it will take all of us coming together to stop it.