Wednesday Tidbits: Activism!

vdayutvs_webRolla Birth Network is pleased to be one of the co-sponsors of the upcoming production of The Vagina Monlogues, Eve Ensler’s classic feminist empowerment play.

The local production of The Vagina Monologues will benefit the Russell House, a shelter for battered women and their children. The event is specifically planned as part of V-Day:

“V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), and sex slavery.”

Last year we had a candlelight vigil on Valentine’s Day in honor of One Billion Rising. While that was a wonderful project too, this play production is much more ambitious and is very exciting! Here are some more details:

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Local cast members (including my very own talented and awesome doula! 🙂 )

Rolla Area Citizens for Women 2014
Presents a Benefit Production of

Eve Ensler’s
THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES

FEBRUARY 21, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Venue:
Cedar Street Playhouse
701 North Cedar Street
Rolla, Missouri 65401

$5.00 Minimum Donation per person CASH ONLY
Benefits The Russell House

I’m really looking forward to going!

Another Missouri-local opportunity specific to birth advocacy and midwifery activism is the annual Friends of Missouri Midwives Cookie Day at the Capitol coming up next week:

1524390_680284898676217_1590110806_oYes, it is true, Barbara Harper will be there! Isn’t that cool?! I heard her speak at the CAPPA conference in 2010 and very much enjoyed her presence and devotion. I hope the weather cooperates so I can see her grace our Capitol building with her poise and information!

“Let us initiate our daughters into the beauty and mystery of being strong and confident women who claim their right to give birth and raise their children with dignity, power, love, and joy.” –Barbara Harper

One of the opportunities that is also going on this month that is not local, but virtual instead, is DeAnna L’am’s Red Tent Summit. It is free to register and participate. I have not yet carved out the space I need to actually tune in, but the lineup of speakers and wealth of topics is amazing!

Also, while all of these particular events are offered with a wonderfully upbeat spirit of intent and energy, I also feel like sharing an activism-related quote that I’ve had saved in my drafts folder for a long time that acknowledges the important role of anger and activism:

I’m not afraid to say it. Hell, isn’t anger kind of a prerequisite for activism work? As a birth worker I get to watch abuse after abuse, injustice after injustice – over and over again. I mean, really, what spurs the need for activism work if not injustice? And injustice stirs up indignant anger.

We have this huge deficit with the word, “anger.” Somehow, whenever it is said, we cling to this connotation that it – the word, the feeling – is inherently BAD. It took me a lot of years to come to the understanding that there are no “bad” or “good” feelings – that emotions just are. They are states of being which reflect either met or unmet needs.

Anger is usually a catalyst emotion…

via I am an Angry Activist.

I’ve self-identified as an activist since at least 1996 (when I first began working at the same battered women’s shelter for which the Vagina Monologues production is benefiting, actually!) I do find that some anger (or sheer disbelief!) at injustice is part of the fuel that drives my present-day activism. In fact, social justice was at the heart of my response several years ago when asked why I became a childbirth educator:

…the question was posed, “why did you become a childbirth educator?” I responded with the following: because I care deeply about women’s issues, social justice and social change and I feel like women’s choices in childbirth are intimately entwined with this. Because I believe peace on earth begins with birth. Because the births of my own sons were the most powerful and transformative events of my life. And, because I believe every woman should have the opportunity to feel and know her own power and to blossom into motherhood with strength, confidence, and joy. ♥

…On a discussion board once, someone asked the question “what’s at the root of your love of birth?” I was still for a moment and let my intuitive, heart-felt, gut level response come to me and it was this:

Women.

Women’s health, women’s issues, women’s empowerment, women’s rights.

Social justice….

via Why, indeed? | Talk Birth.

I’m currently finishing a book about women’s rituals and this paragraph caught my eye last night in relationship to my own experience of birth activism (and other activist work):

“One of the other problems in areas of small population is the relationship between local and regional leadership. Often, people who are competent local leaders are recruited to work regionally or nationally in their organizations. This policy frequently leaves a vacuum at the local level because leadership is not broadly enough based in those communities.”

I’ve seen this happen with myself, noticing that as I became involved with birth activism on a national level, my time for local birth activism was necessarily reduced. (And, then as my interests and commitments broadened beyond birth, the time for birth activism of any kind reduced.) I also see it happening with digital commitments—basically, the more I do for people on a virtual level over the internet, the less I have to give on a face-to-face local level. I’m still sitting with this realization and wondering what to do with it. The organizers of the One Billion Rising event in Denver this year recently contacted me to ask permission to read one of my poems aloud during their event. I was thrilled to say yes, but then I also thought about my local community and how most people here would not be familiar with my poem at all. So, Denver hears it, but my own local area does not. Interesting. I also found out this week that one of my essays about my grandma was translated into French and published in a French magazine. Cool, yes, but again gave me pause…

January 2014 063Related past posts:

Birth Violence

Tuesday Tidbits: Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence During Pregnancy

Guest Post: Abuse of pregnant women in the medical setting

Business of Being Born: Classroom Edition

Tuesday Tidbits: The Role of Doulas…

Community Organizing

Birth Matters!

Taking it to the Body, Part 4: Women’s Bodies and Self-Authority

2 thoughts on “Wednesday Tidbits: Activism!

  1. Pingback: Tuesday Tidbits: Birth Art, Retreat, and Free-Range Husbands | Talk Birth

  2. I hear you Molly! I got so deep into my PhD work/jobs and academia and the birth-writing and conferences, that i am now pulled right outside of my community connections, the ones that actually started it all for me – and the birth landscape has totally changed here in Vancouver in the last 10 years – i need to re-visit and re-work who is out there – am wondering what i am doing now, and what do i want to do/be at my own local level

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