Sunday, April 13, 2008

V Day New Orleans Day Two

Saturday was a whirlwind and I never did get back online.

Entering the SuperLove Super Dome, Saturday morning FELT different than it had on Friday morning. There was a sense of energy, connection, even welcome that had not been there the day before. It was as if it had been healed. Eve Ensler (left) said "it is nothing short of a vagina miracle."

Here's some of what stands out ---

*The rites of passage ceremony for tween and teen girls from New Orleans, speaking their truths and their demands for respect.

*The four lovely under 30 movie stars sharing the pressures they face to be thin and conform.

*Suzie Orman who gave the single best motivational talk I've ever heard, sharing her own story, and telling the women of New Orleans that they must own their destiny...and to leave relationships that are hurting them.

*Women from around the world sharing their stories of rape and violence, but also organizing and love.

*Young slam poets using their art and their voices to call us to action.

*Jane Fonda closing the day, reminding the listeners that patriarchy is the issue, not men -- that there needs to be support for feminist masculinity -- that the answer to patriarchy is real democracy -- and that Katrina was not a natural disaster, but a man-made one. (My favorite t-shirt in a tourist store said "Make Levees, Not War.")

I can't possible do justice to the Saturday night performance of the Vagina Monologues, including a new monologue written about Miss Pat from New Orleans. But how amazing that women filled the New Orleans arena, that each of the actors and the musicians donated their time and paid their own way, that there were women and men of every age, race, and orientation taking it in together, reclaiming the power of their bodies and their lives.

At the end, Eve Ensler asked every woman in the arena who had been raped, abused, sexually harassed, or tortured to stand up. Before she did, she shared her story of incest and abuse. I stood up. So did the woman standing next to me. We reached for each other. I'd guess one in three women in that teeming audience stood up. It was horrifying to see in uncountable numbers women who had been violated.

But it was also powerful beyond my words at the moment. And then we joined Faith Hill and Jennifer Hudson and Charmaine Neville in singing "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" together, thousands of voices joined to reclaim and heal and rejoice together -- and to promise each other that violence against women will end, must end.

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