What next? Part 4

Earlier this year, our executive director, Nan Stoops, was invited to be the keynote speaker at a conference organized by the Hawai’i State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Her assignment: outline a five-point plan for ending violence against women and girls.

Here is the next installment of her speech. (Or jump to: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6)

Point #3: Be a good partner

We know that violence against women is everywhere. It’s in every section of the newspaper, in every profession, in every community. So, whether we pick a group, topic, or activity, there is collaborative work to be done. Until we say that we are a single issue movement, we aren’t. And just as survivors bring us the complexity of their lives, so too must we be living the complexity of ours.

I have found wonderful collaborations and opportunities in the two things I love the most: sports and money. There isn’t time for me to rattle on about this, but I work with various sports organizations on coaching and mentoring leadership, respect, strength, and community-building, and I’m hoping to begin a philanthropy project at a girls’ school in Seattle. Some of my best work happens without ever mentioning domestic violence or sexual assault.

And so I encourage you to collaborate toward your passion. Sing, dance, pray, march, read, write, and play. Work hard, find joy, and be a good partner.

Occupy yourself

I’m on fire about Occupy Wall Street.

As a child of the 60’s, I will always love a good demonstration.

Occupy!

As a child of a high school English teacher, I will always love words.

Occupy.

From my earliest years, my mom never talked down to me. She always used really big words. A deer in the headlights, I’d ask “what does that mean?” She’d say “go look it up” failing to notice that I was only 4 years old and didn’t know how to read yet.

Happily, I can read now and dictionary definitions offer hours of gleeful irony.

Occupy.

Merriam-Webster’s says occupy means “to reside in as an owner or tenant.” Is Occupy Wall Street asking whether we own our democracy? I find myself inspired by this cartoon I saw on Facebook to ask a much more personal question. Am I, the woman writing this blog, the owner of my own body?

Because I wear neither a bikini nor a burka, I can pretend that I am not occupied by the patriarchy just like I used to think that Wall Street didn’t affect my life. But that would be ridiculous. Of course I am. We all see very clearly now how Wall Street impacts us. I want everyone to come to the same realization about the impact of sexism.

I challenge and cheer all women who are participating on Wall Street and in all the other towns across the land. Shout about your experiences of sexism in every conversation, every chant. Help your sisters and brothers make the connection between how much you earn, what you can provide for your kids, and who decided your wages and if you have ANY access to the healthcare you need.

Women unite. Stop paying rent for something you already own.

Occupy!