In response to letter to the editor Feb. 28 authored by Kathleen from Penn Valley, I’d like to respond as the youngest of the organizers, a UN Delegate, a yoga instructor, massage therapist and diet and lifestyle consultant and also a three-time rape survivor.
I know there is nothing to defend about our event because it generated nothing but a good supportive energy. But for those who didn’t come, your perspective is a common one and is worth addressing. If you came to the event, you would have heard me read some statistics, and I mentioned the number of men (1 in 10) who are sexually abused, in addition to all the numbers of women (1 in 3) reported. And several other presenters addressed men in a much larger way, as both perpetrators, victims and supporters of peace in the cycle. Check out the all-male event in San Francisco on International Women’s Day, March 8 — One Billion Men Rising. And since this morning here in New York, I learned (at the UN Commission on the Status of Women) that Canada’s football and the Asian Futbol League are all partnering with women’s organizations to “Be More Than a Bystander” and stand up for kindness. One thing to consider is that DVSAC alone sees eight new clients a day with a growing number of men served, but violence is most frequently perpetrated by men.
Violence isn’t a conspiracy. It’s a serious issue that occurs both locally and globally. The numbers, however, are just part of the story in a culture where violence is glorified.
I talked about One Billion Rising almost constantly for the month before and had many, many conversations about violence against men. For me, it was not a gender-specific event, because domestic violence and sexual assault is not just a women’s issue. It is an invitation to us all to stop the cycle of violence — only possible if enough of us take a couple minutes a day to love ourselves better by doing something that helps us feel nourished, so we have the energy to love each other better. Happy people don’t hit or abuse each other. Lonely, angry, usually inebriated (96 percent of all violent crimes happen under the influence of substances), poor and rich, black and white people — that’s men and women — are unkind to each other, but usually only people who have been victims of abuse and sexual assault as children continue the cycle of violence, and unfortunately that is too prevalent. It is a learned behavior, not innate.
Even if Frederick Douglas says, “It is easier to grow strong children than to fix broken men.” I would like to believe humans are capable of change if our actions have a little light shed on them, and we can hold each other to accountability and by encouraging people to talk about it without shaming the victim. That includes getting a SART kit at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital because, as it is, rape victims who are brave enough to report it have to go to Auburn to get the tests, and that is only available if they made a police report first. Things will not change until people rise up together to change it! There is not enough administration or funding to do the work a community can do in supporting each other to act within boundaries of acceptable behavior.
None of us is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It seems you suggest we were spreading ill will or somehow profited from the event. It was a free event to the public, paid for by seven women, mothers, teachers, businesswomen, volunteers, leaders. We all invested our own money because we believed in the impact this event could have to give courage to victims so they could maybe see they are not alone and there may be another way. It wasn’t only a march. People were encouraged to rise up and dance, to feel empowered in their bodies. Gathering together is an important step to build awareness and collaborate. Abuse often is hidden … behind closed doors. With more than 1,000 people coming together from our community, one of our intentions was to let women know they are not alone, and we’re shining a light on this issue.
And my understanding of feminism is the radical notion that women are people — that would include you. So I’m not sure of your motivation or intention in writing with such disdain. But I honor you for mentioning the men. Violence does not discriminate. It affects us all despite class, race, age and political preference. We all deserve to be loved and appreciated, and we all still have much to learn about how to earn it through giving appreciation and respect.
To those who came to One Billion Rising and those who were there in spirit, thank you! It was a phenomenal event with such inspiration, songs that keep playing in my mind and visions from the evening that keep making me smile! I don’t think I can ever forget it.
The more people who are looking to uproot violence by practicing peace in all their thoughts, words and actions, the more likely it is that we can be successful. We cannot fight fire with fire. We can really only emanate peace if we are constantly practicing forgiveness and realigning with our center, our truth, our purpose.
Skyler Myers lives in North San Juan.
There is not enough administration or funding to do the work a community can do in supporting each other to act within boundaries of acceptable behavior.