According to U.N. sources, one billion women are survivors of sexual assault. One billion women in a world of seven billion people -- that is a massive shared experience of being overpowered, humiliated, demeaned, undermined, betrayed, confused and violated.
How do we deal with this violence? We go to support groups, therapy sessions, political rallies; we write letters and laws; give speeches; create and staff hotlines, clinics, shelters, and organizations. We are busy.
How else can we deal with this violence? In her newest book, I Am an Emotional Creature, Eve Ensler claims space for emotions as moral compass, for intuition as a means of analysis, and for connecting to other people as a political act. She makes way for -- and celebrates -- the resilience, strength and learning that we can render from fighting violence. We can use emotions to transform pain into power.
In downtown Berkeley, California this Sunday evening on June 24th, a diverse group of women and girls will step up to this vision and attempt to create something completely new -- a public, participatory ritual that commemorates the rage and grief caused by gender violence and acclaims the power of women and girls to reshape the world.
Participants include Eve Ensler, Sistahs of the Drum, Gina Breedlove, Dance Brigade's Grrrl Brigade and many other ritualists, performers, activists and artists. This event will be the pre-launch of One Billion Rising, a global strike against gender violence, planned to begin on February 14, 2013.
Sunday's event -- One Billion Rising Bay Area -- will be a community ritual that draws from spiritual traditions from around the world. We'll sing, dance, drum, chant, speak, write, and will this new world without violence into existence. We'll express our rage and reaffirm our resilience; we'll feel our grief and cultivate our vision; we'll meet our neighbors and recreate ourselves as a community infused with love.
Inspired by the Occupy movement, we're reclaiming public space and filling it with the values that we hold most dearly.
Our problems and our social movements are global. But are solutions are always local. They lie in connecting to each other, in committing to protecting a neighbor's safety and a sister's creativity, in affirming that life of a woman I haven't yet met is as precious as my own.
Healing from trauma -- individual healing, collective healing -- is a source of political transformation. That when we heal, we become unstoppable agents of change. We rise up, together.
Join us on Sunday! Civic Center Park, Berkeley, from 5 to 8 p.m. Bayarearising.org.