Feminine Fridays

On Friday: One Billion Rising

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Had you heard?

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, there was a total absence of love hearts, pink, flowers, red, chocolate, and glitter at my house yesterday, but I did read one article that got me thinking about Valentine’s Day in a different way.

One of my former students, lovely Jo, wrote a post for the Christian Aid Collective blog, talking about the One Billion Rising campaign. You can read her article here.

Valentines Body 2One Billion Rising was a global campaign, organised by V-Day, with the aim of having 1 Billion people dancing across the world on Valentine’s Day, as a protest against violence towards women.

Because whilst the Valentine’s Day brand is splashed across TV and magazines and window displays and internet pop-ups, some women aren’t feeling the romance, just another day of violence at the hands of those who are supposed to love them.

Here’s a fact: 1 in 3 women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. That’s a lot of people, about 1 billion in fact, hence One Billion Rising.

You can read all about it here, but the short version is this: to protest against the reality of this everyday, but horrendous, violence against so many, they wanted 1 billion people to join in a global dance. A protest, a show of solidarity, and an opportunity to raise awareness.

But I never know how to feel about these kind of campaigns.

This is a subject that hurts to think about and to talk about. It is real, and awful. It is wrong. But I’m reluctant to sign petitions saying that I disagree with violence against women, because I feel like it’s such an obvious thing to disagree with that signing a petition saying so is foolish. What kind of reprobate doesn’t disagree with violence against women?

And yet, just because something’s obvious doesn’t mean we shouldn’t say it.

You see, I don’t really think that the 1 Billion Rising campaign will work – if the aim is to end violence against women. Violence against women (and men, and children) is going to stop; but not until we’re living on a new earth, with changed hearts, tears that are wiped away, and no more mourning, crying, or pain.

The sickness in our hearts that causes men to rape and beat women is not going to be fixed by One Billion Rising.

But. Maybe, One Billion Rising can do something else. Maybe it can tell those 1 in 3 that what has happened, what is happening, and what is going to happen is not good, or right, or acceptable. It is wrong. It is bad. It is not deserved. It is not to be expected. It is not to be tolerated.

It is evil. And something ought to be done about it.

So, where’s God in all of this?

One of my favourite verses in the Bible (I have a few), is in the beginning of the book of Exodus. God’s people are suffering great evil and violence at the hands of pharaoh and they cry out in their anguish for a rescue. Chapter 2 ends with this line.

“God saw the people of Israel – and God knew.”

When I read that verse I feel like I’m pausing at the top of the waterfall, peering over the edge, waiting to drop. Those words, ‘God knew’, are heavy with terrible anticipation: He knows and he’s ready to act – to save, and to judge. Cue Moses, 10 Plagues, death of lambs and firstborn sons, a divided Red Sea, and rescue to a Promised Land.

That rescue only points towards a greater one, one which has already begun: another lamb, another son, and another rescue. My heart is evil and full of violence, but Jesus takes it and gives me His; he steps into history and sorts it all out. He hears the cries for rescue – and he knows.

Where is God in all of this? He’s the one who’s beaten, even though we’re the ones who deserve it. He’s the one who waits to return as the Judge; ready to put an end to the pain, and bring in something new.

I’m waiting too. But while I wait, I’m going to stand up and say that that 1 in 3 statistic is not okay. There is better, there is good, there is real love.

Let me tell you about Him.

In summary: belated Valentine greetings.




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  • Reply fiona lynne February 18, 2013 at 9:31 am

    I’d love to hear more of your perspective on “it won’t stop before the new earth” idea. Because I agree that the evil in our hearts will never be entirely eradicated before then. But I do need to believe that things can get better in our lifetime, that God is mighty and powerful to do so, using us, using our dances in town squares and our re-educating and our empowering actions. Bill Gates, in his most recent letter for his foundation, showed that in many ways, the world is getting better – less mothers dying in childbirth, more people have access to clean water, etc. And while even one woman still suffers violence, there is more to be done. But surely there is more to campaigns than this than just saying “it’s wrong, it’s evil.” Surely there can be a chance to actually make a change that glorifies God and proclaims his Kingdom?

    • Reply ellidhcook February 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm

      So, I don’t think that it can’t help. I certainly pray that these things might cause some to change, and particularly some to come and know Jesus. But, although I think some violence and oppression is due to a lack of education, I think some people know and don’t care.
      I think paedophiles know that what they’re doing is wrong and harmful, but choose their desire over that, and I think to an extent, we all do so – we often choose our own comfort or desires or whatever even if it hurts others, or isn’t what God wants for us. I know my own heart, at least, and don’t see it changing fully until I see Jesus face to face.

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