One Billion (Minus One)

45/365

I didn’t show up. Or, more accurately put, I didn’t exactly show up at CODEPINK’s One Billion Rising demonstration in Santa Monica the other day.

What I did do was arrive late, at a place — strategically chosen — further down the march route, to witness any potential awesomeness.

I can’t say how large the original group was. By the time they got south of Ocean Park, they were a brave contingency of about seven.

Seven(!).

Had the Jane Fonda event downtown pulled all the west side activists east? I can’t say. I’m having trouble finding news coverage on it. If you’ve heard, if you were there, I’d love to know.

For my part — I took the photo shown above, clapped as they passed, pointed my finger to the sky (just once) and then ducked into the library where I checked out Amy Tan’s “The Opposite of Fate” (which I can’t believe is ten years old already). Not that it’s a contest, but I think Amy Tan has more to teach me than Eve Ensler does.

In searching for any updates about how large the 1 Billion Rising events were here in Los Angeles, I came across this helpful and insightful piece voicing opposition to the campaign. Natalie Gyte writes, “. . . seeing footage on the news of women dancing in unison will do absolutely nothing to educate or deter a perpetrator or potential perpetrator.”

She goes on to quote women from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iran who point out the patronizing and insulting aspects of 1 Billion Rising.

A woman who had seen “female comrades beaten, raped, doused in acid, set alight, imprisoned and murdered” asked, “Who is someone else to come to my country and claim to ‘help’ me by telling me to ‘rise’ above the experiences I have had?!”

Who indeed?

This reminds me of the valid criticisms raised regarding Invisible Children’s Kony Campaign. I nearly fall for it every time — glitzy, well-meaning PR campaigns that attempt to package revolutions into street parties complete with matching T’shirts for sale.

The next time a We Are The World moment comes along, I think I’ll up my pledge to the PETA and continue on with my much needed education.

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