[Guest blogger Chloe Evans O’Hearn is rising. Are you?]
I was born a feminist and have always been outspoken on a number of issues affecting women, but until very recently, I hadn’t been very vocal about the one issue that affected me the most. During the 2012 U.S. election, however, something changed not only for me, but for many sexual assault survivors in America. We heard politicians spouting a variety of ridiculous and offensive statements about rape, and we started to find our own voices to counteract them. Over the past couple months women in India, as well, have organized in protest against a brutal gang rape in Delhi and the rape culture that perpetuates it. This culture of violence against women doesn’t just exist in India or America, however, it is a global civil rights issue affecting women and men in every community around the world, including our very own hooping community.
Tieing this global movement together is One Billion Rising, using the healing empowerment of dance as both physical and symbolic movement. On Thursday, February 14, 2013, we are inviting women everywhere, and those who love them, to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP and DEMAND an end to violence against women. One Billion Rising will move the earth, activating women and men across every country. One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a global revolution.
Rape is a very isolating and lonely experience to overcome. It’s not a comfortable topic to discuss and most people have no idea how to respond if you do tell them, so we spend our lives keeping it to ourselves. I am not only a hooper, I am one in three who has been raped. I am one in a billion, and I am rising because I can no longer bear not to. Recently, I started writing about my story and how hooping has helped me in my healing journey of recovery because I wanted to share with others who have been through this experience that you are not alone.
I came across the One Billion Rising movement while researching a recent blog post, and it appealed to me on so many levels that I got involved in planning events here in my local community of Memphis, Tennessee, USA. I am rising because the more I keep my words in silence, the easier it is for everyone to pretend it doesn’t happen and do nothing to stop it. I will be rising with my family, friends, and hoop community with a rally, stories, a vigil and a dance, followed by performances of Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues” and a rockin’ dance party, with hoops of course!
I am also overjoyed to have found that there are hoopers in many other communities around the world that are joining this global movement. Many of them have shared their stories with me of where they will be and why they are rising:
Ann Humphreys: “For One Billion Rising, I will be gathering with the beloved hoop community in Memphis. I am extending my stay there to take part in this unprecedented event because I must join women all over the world with my body and my voice to dance the next step towards freedom for all women. Freedom from violence, freedom from intimidation, freedom from rape, freedom from unwanted touching, freedom from assault, freedom from our past – a long and hideous past of being seen as less than human. I plan to dance the beauty of a woman’s body surrounded by sisters and brothers-in-solidarity, moving a great burst of joy and healing into the world, with and for women everywhere.”
Julia Hartsell Crews: “Every woman knows a friend or a sister who has been assaulted or raped. Its such a sad, disturbing, infuriating global reality. I look forward to dancing in solidarity with women all over the world. And I hope that our local rising will offer some support and space for those in our community to feel empowered and connected.” Julia is hosting a day of workshops ranging from hooping to self defense in Carrboro, North Carolina, USA.
Lynette Hoopstasy: “Many people can speak to how this community has pulled them up when they were down, and how it has given them strength in their time of vulnerability. Many of us have found family in the hooping community, and we want to open that family up to others as well as celebrate the survivors.” Lynette and Orange County Hoopers are hosting a glow-jam in Fountain Valley, California, USA.
Michael “Kahunahula” Henninger: “I think the truth is that many men, myself included, have contributed to the victimization of women, through our language, through supporting ridiculous expectations inspired by media images, by being disrespectful within our relationships, or by simply buying into this ideal of masculinity without questioning whether we weren’t on some level actually perpetuating stereotypes that embrace physical violence and misogyny. I’m adding my voice to the international chorus saying that this must stop.” Kahunahula will be attending the One Billion Rising event in Oakland, California, USA.
Revolva: “I’m rising now because no matter how progressive we think we are in 2013, our rape culture and culture of shame for survivors is still so pervasive. I know firsthand how sexual assault can make you feel like a foreigner in your own body – and how hooping can help to reintegrate and re-center. I love the dance focus of One Billion Rising, but I also see it as the real public conversation we should be having. This event is a way to illustrate how many lives have been impacted. I finally felt like it was the right time to say, ‘I’m one of those lives’ and work at a higher level to invoke change.” Revolva is co-organizing One Billion Rising Oakland in Oakland, California, USA, where Bay Area Hoopers will have a dedicated hoop area staffed with hoop dance teachers and performers.
Spiral: “I’m rising up against the widespread notion that women are the ‘weaker sex’ and are an acceptable outlet for men’s violence and sexual aggression. One Billion Rising is about raising awareness, speaking out, and affecting change. As both a survivor and a strong woman, I am excited by this opportunity to share in a global effort to demand change.”
And even more hoopers are planning events in Aspen, Brighton, Rome and beyond. You can find a complete list of One Billion Rising events around the world here, and if you don’t see an event near you, grab some friends and a hoop and Start a Rising of Your Own! If you’re planning an event please share about it and share why you are rising. Together we can move the earth.
Chloe Evans O’Hearn of HoopStatic is a freedom fighter, ninja, mother of dragons, community activist, lifelong dancer, and hooper of three years. Chloe writes about her healing journey inside the hoop on her blog and she’s dedicated to saving the world one hula hoop at a time, starting with her own community in Memphis, Tennessee, USA.