Why Women are Rising: My Contribution to a Global Movement

Sherri at Opening Ceremony. Photo courtesy Bill Rhodes.

Sherri at Opening . Photo courtesy Bill Rhodes.

Speaking at an Asheville Rising event from 7-9 p.m. at the YWCA last night as one of the 1 Billion Rising was a beautiful experience. As many women shared that the text of my speech moved them emotionally, I felt sharing my contribution here would be appropriate. Funny, because I had a different speech planned, then yesterday morning, this writing just tumbled out onto the page. I’ve posted it as written. The atypical punctuation and capitalization was done as a “guide” to the rhythm of the spoken piece, and as a result, remains unchanged.Regrettably, many women have experienced acts of violence against their person, myself included. In the next 24 hours alone, 1 billion women will be exposed to acts of violence. Though my own experiences are long past, they definitely inform my work and shape my view of the world I hope to help create for future generations.

obr_logo-webHere is my call for transformation and action.

Tonight, We Rise. Tonight, We Say No More to the Pandemic of Violence Against Women – the women standing next to us. The women next door. The women in the next town, the next state, the next country. We say no more.

We Rise Against Violence in the form of Control in our relationships, and Power-Over dynamics in our language. We Rise Against the Violence of Rape. The one in five of us who have survived another person’s taking of our right to choose no longer consent to silence.

We Rise Against Social and Economic Discrimination which makes it difficult if not impossible to eradicate violence.

Conscious dis-enfranchisement of Women is its own sort of violence.  Therefore, we Rise Against Legislation or Economic Sanction which limits a Woman’s Right to Say NO to Any Act of Violence Perpetrated Against Her Person in any way, manner, shape or form. We disavow any act of Violence Against Women enacted on the authority of Religion.  We rise in full ownership of our persons, not as social or legal extensions of our husbands, fathers, or sons.

We Rise Against the LABEL of Victim, Choosing Instead to Survive, to Thrive, and to Light the Way for those who follow.

We Rise in FAVOR of legislation which punishes offenders without vilifying those Women who have been transgressed against.

We Rise in Favor of the 1 in four women who experience domestic violence in their HOMES, that they may know SAFETY, regardless of their age, ethnicity, or socio-economic status.

We Rise in Favor of First Responders who have the dangerous and difficult job determining the best course of action to secure Women’s safety in the midst of Violence – as it occurs.

We Rise in Favor of the U.S. House IMMEDIATELY MOVING TO APPROVE the Violence Against Women Act, following the example set by the Senate little more than a day ago.

We Rise in Favor of EQUAL RIGHTS UNDER THE LAW For ALL PERSONS IN THE UNITED STATES, REGARDLESS OF GENDER or GENDER  PREFERENCE.

The woman I am today says NO MORE! I NO LONGER CONSENT to remain silent when the severity of the problem of Violence Against Women PERMEATES our everyday existence.

As WE Speak, As WE RISE. We are One Billion Rising!

TONIGHT, I invite you to RISE to empower WOMEN to “take back” our bodies, minds and spirits.

  1. RISE, to retain our rights to make choices about our persons, safe from violation and misogynistic legislation.
  2. Rise to ensure that HEALING  THE EFFECTS OF VIOLENCE at the Individual Level also HEALS HUMANITY AT THE GLOBAL LEVEL
  3. RISE to “transform” the way the next generation responds to VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN  through the transmission of women’s culture and history to those of both genders
  4. RISE to “survive” the negative effects of patriarchy, political rhetoric, unfavorable stereotypes, historical or social persecution, and economic inequality – so that we are known for our Achievements, not our wounds.
  5. RISE, Asheville, as truth-tellers, for we as human beings no longer consent to victimization or VIOLENCE at any level – TOGETHER, let us RISE TO support an END to VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.

As witnesses and participants, I invite you to join me as women leaders step fully into our power, declare our sentiments, lend our voices to the dialogue and take the individual actions necessary to change our outcomes those of WOMEN EVERY WHERE for the better.

So be it.

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