Open Letter on One Billion Rising

Afghan women march in KabulSo you’ve probably heard about One Billion Rising, which was a Big Global Event yesterday, in RL and SL.

I don’t tend to talk about Big Global Events here, ’cause you’ve already heard about them, and I don’t generally have anything novel to add. (I’m more into the Tiny Local Events.)

But a friend pointed out a Whiskey Shots post taking a contrarian view of the whole thing (WordPress thinks “contrarian” is spelled wrong?), and I found myself this morning posting a couple of comments to the comment thread on it, and I thought I’d share them here as well.

I should be clear that I admire Whiskey Day, and sometimes :) admire Crap Mariner (although generally least when he gets into macho mode, as here). I felt moved to present my thoughts because the tone of the comments was so largely negative about OBR (turns out Whiskey’s opinion isn’t all that unpopular after all!), and I wanted to add some positive to the thread.

And also because I thought it was sort of true and significant stuff to say…

I don’t know, we don’t want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good here. Sure things like OBR aren’t going to solve the problem, but then no single thing is going to solve the problem. OBR works on consciousness raising and solidarity, and those are important things, and easy to underestimate. Maybe a few, or a few thousand, women will see something about it and get that extra push of confidence and support that will lead them to leave an abusive relationship, or get to a shelter. Maybe a few politicians will see something, see a bunch of voters expressing concern, and think hm maybe I ought to actually read that bill on violence against women, rather than just voting against it because my party says to. Really fixing the problem requires changes to society, and that happens slowly, and needs pushes from lots of different directions.

Heck, it’s got us talking about the subject! :) Maybe someone will see Whiskey’s note about the newsletter she is writing for, or what Celestiall said about the 2nd Amendment Sisters, and find out more, and donate or volunteer.

If it was a choice between OBR and something more effective, then OBR would be the wrong choice. But I think the choice is more between OBR and not-OBR. I doubt that lots of the energy that went into OBR was taken from something that would have done more good. The media coverage that it got would probably otherwise have been devoted to some celebrity’s nipple-slip or The Latest Funny Cat Pictures From The Internet.

If you know of something better than OBR, definitely go out and do it! But that doesn’t mean that OBR didn’t make the world a better place, even if it didn’t solve the problem all by itself…

… And I can’t keep myself from mentioning also that I’m pretty uncomfortable with this whole “the real solution is for women to dance on the graves of their abusers after they kill them” meme. It’s a cute weblog-comment soundbite, but are we really saying that an abused little girl should just kill her abusive uncle? That a woman facing a gang on a bus in Mumbai should just hope that her gun will be more effective than theirs? That an abused wife should just kill her husband the Sheriff and hope that the justice system understands?

Are we really going to say to a woman in need, look, we’ll spend millions of dollars to protect Disney’s copyright on Mickey Mouse in foreign countries, but if you need protection from rape you’re on your own; hope you’re well armed! That’s not something I’m comfortable saying, myself.

Again, what the Second Amendment Sisters, and anyone working to empower women for self-defense, are doing is great stuff. But it is ALSO not going to solve the problem by itself, and I don’t think it’s a legitimate reason to put down things like OBR. There’s a danger, I think, that it becomes a facile sound-bite, and a way to make this all Someone Else’s Problem. In this case, the victim’s. And that’s not a place I’m willing to go…

And even before I’ve pressed “Publish” on this entry :) Crap has responded; mostly missing the point so far I think, but by the time you read this maybe it will be a long and fascinating exchange. Come on over! :)

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