Put on your red shoes and dance the blues – David Bowie
THERE may be various translations of Rizal’s iconic novel title, Noli Me Tangere and it could be considered rather ballsy for any writer to use other than referring to this literary and political giant.
Yet in the emotional barometers of men’s desires, their hopes and rejections, no should mean no in any culture. The necessary renewal of 0ne Billion and Rising global campaign will be further publicized with the presence of writer and activist Eve Ensler.
Publicity raises awareness. The movement’s name stems from a harrowing statistic of a U.N. study which incredibly forecasts that one billion out of three billion women and girls will be raped or assaulted in their lifetime with an intimate relationship or random acts by strangers.
In India, with all its advances in democracy and technology, there are many women who wear the facial acid burns or razor cuts of a rejected suitor. Not to single out any one country or culture (yet) but it’s very much the planet of the apes when it comes to some men’s and some society’s treatment of the opposite gender. We sadly know the reality; the lack of civility among some of earths male primates, men whose evolution seems in stasis with more and more grotesque possibilities and probabilities of crimes against women.
Another possibility or gruesome exaggeration would note that from pre-history to modernity, one could stack the corpses of the women raped, tortured and abused so as to reach a star. Is there such a human gene that perpetuates cruelty? How is the brain chemistry not able to regulate the vacillating emotions of maternal love, Eros and the alternate impulses of a demented lust which can lead to such violence against the same species? Would you do that to your Mother or Wife? Yet your girlfriends, female acquaintances, blind date or stranger are fair game. Such demented differentiations are hypocritical and unsavory.
Those questions are usually posed by men attempting to calm another man and often prove sobering since men prefer their sins to be private. Some cultures propagate a machismo image of supposed strength; other societies see women purely as a filling station, chattel to be denied pleasure by genital mutilation.
For centuries women were viewed strictly as vessels for reproduction only and the sponsors of such nonsense were, are men who in a scriptural sense, ‘no not woman.’
Then there’s the proliferation pornography which has created a caste, a generation or two of ogling men and boys who see only women in photo or video state of fantasy, strictly as delivery system for ejaculation to the point of stupefaction.
With the legions of recent migrants arriving in Germany, the Mayor of Cologne responded to the mass assaults of women by recent male arrivals from Mid-eastern countries suggesting that it was short dresses and sultry demeanor that needs addressing, proceeding to blame the victims as is usual in rape and assault cases. The Mayor is female, a politician supreme who cannot accept the truth that some societies have never approached sex as a human right or simply suppress the minds and bodies of women and girls. Also, the Mayor and all Westerners who have the best intentions refuse to understand that not all assimilations are possible due to cultural and religious differences.
Primitive cultures appreciated the merits of dancing for both ceremonial purposes and pleasure. Movement is the catalyst to exhilarate, celebrate even a sweaty expunging of stress and fear. Thousands of young women dancing in unison obviously can’t prevent some from knowing, marrying or dating brutes but in the safety of other women they can learn from each other and sharpen instincts and improve their radar. Hopefully! A good sweat and a good amount of advertising their important message may also help.
It takes a gutsy feminist to alter her itinerary and come to Mindanao, the Southern Philippines as it’s known in Manila, to feel the pain being perpetrated on our lumads.
Eve Ensler, the renowned playwright who in 1996 created a political theater heralding the feminine experience through a series of monologues on rape, birth, love, menstruation and genital mutilation. Fortunately, many young Filipinas saw the limited stage production in February of 2001with 10 performances in different venues including many Catholic universities.
The monologues were so powerful, that Philippine stars such as Gina Alajar, Pinky Mador, Angelu de Leon and Sheila Francisco relished the opportunities to perform. Also, Ensler as an American knows well her own country’s abominable ethnic cleansing of their own indigenous people.
On Valentine’s day, how ironic, women came out not for flowers, chocolates or pledges of love but with a raised hand, as if saying enough is enough or the clench fist to abandon old notions and stereotypes of needing anything more from men but respect and often, privacy and space. I wish I could remember who said it best to the woman in his life, ‘allow me to be the caretaker of your solitude.’
I for one have witnessed the feminist movement, admittedly from afar, and being of the other gender, was at times both amazed and intimidated by the boldness of a minority of 1970s women. Then, there was hardly any dancing except the high energy of discos where the woman sweated freely and often with other women simply because ‘girls just wanna have fun.’
Those feminists of that era were not dancers and were much too serious to have any fun but they did break molds and laws, protesting for job and wage equality, equal rights and getting a law that established a woman’s right to choose an abortion. Yet curiously, the movement settled into stasis, content with the changes and only occasionally over the past years barely noticeable in any matters. Their impact and those bold headlines seemed dormant or extinct.
Then at the Academy award ceremony last April, Patricia Arquette accepted her best supporting Oscar and called for equal pay for women in the work place. It seemed a lame complaint belonging to another time considering the growth of the professional woman and opportunities in areas that for hundreds years were given to men only such as cops and firemen.
Yet the movement now seems shamefully removed and certainly hardly militant on what’s going on in the world regarding women’s rights, like the right to live. The foul culture of rape initiated by members of ISIS, who, after capturing a local area, would begin separating girls from their Mothers and when they began burying alive Yazidi women there was no outcry in either Hollywood or Bollywood. Schoolgirls carried away by the Nigerian Boko Haram who consider them for child brides or ransom and again, the silence of the feminists was deafening.
Closer to home, how disappointing was it that President Aquino failed to engage the recent visit of Japanese royalty and broach the subject of ‘The Lolas’ who were set aside primarily for rape by Japanese soldiers in combat. Trade was the priority when both President and Emperor did meet officially. Also outrageous, according to the Japanese spokesperson, there was no documentation to prove such an allegation or validate ‘comfort women.’
Regrettably the Historian Iris Chang is no longer available to once again confront Japan on its WWII atrocities. Her mental health deteriorated into dreadful depression and her death after years of researching Japan’s barbaric involvement in China with ‘The Rape of Nanking.’ One of playwright Ensler’s characters vividly describes the ‘rape camp’ constructed by the Serbs (Serbia) to violate and dehumanize Croat and Bosnian women during that inhuman Balkan war based on race and religion.
It all can be overwhelming yet all we can do at times is to maintain our peace by shaking our collective heads at the goings on in what at times seems humanity’s and earth’s last days.
We’re somehow disappointingly incomplete as a species, missing genetic pieces and unable to advance except with our technology and our gadgets. Creating and manufacturing won’t be enough to make some lasting peace with each other yet foolishly prioritize the sensual and the sensuous rather than the sensitive. People seek hope and comfort with supernatural solutions, hoping that the Hubble telescope finds a face. In the meantime, before great changes take place either to help enlighten us or prompt our continuing downward spiral let’s dance for hope and progress, for love and pleasure as modes of joy. Do not let a day go by without a twirl or a kick for safety for oneself, one’s wife, daughter or Sister. Boogie to exorcise into a healing state.
As for we men, if you can’t love, leave. If you can’t grow up, don’t show up. Stay at home and work on your biceps, keep up your strength to swing from those primitive branches, chest pound, roar at sports, grip your guns, and perpetuate fantasies when the real thing, alive, human and loving is beyond your reach.
Little will change despite the dancing but the Billion Plus was a wonder to see and hopefully continue to thrive for the sake of ourselves and hopefully, the slim hope, that those of our Brothers have the desire to change.
Let there always be a place for men to role play at times, be an extra in a woman’s film, a spear carrier in her drama and to be humbled with few lines, saying very little, listening, watch and wonder at the girls who just wanna have fun.