The power of words

Last weekend I went to LA to visit my first voice teacher and dear friend, Amelia, who was in the hospital. Before I flew home I thanked her for giving me my voice and promised that I was going to use it.

I had started studying with her shortly after I had been raped. When I screamed, no sound came out. I had big problems with my speaking voice after that. My vocal cords didn’t align with each other properly.  I had surgery and it was after that that I was referred to Amelia for vocal training. Her knowledge and expertise and loving attention really did give me my voice back, but using that voice was more challenging.

There are people I love who are all over the political spectrum, and since this last election I’ve been reluctant to engage in dialogue with them. The day after I got back from my visit to Amelia I was compelled to engage with someone I love who – I’ll just say it – voted for Trump. We had worked together as Rockettes and with all that’s going on right now, of course, the subject came up.

I had posted something on Facebook in support of the girls who spoke out about not wanting to perform at the inaugural. My friend told me she respected my opinion but she couldn’t agree with me, She asked whether, if I had had the chance to do my show in front of millions of people, I could possibly say no. No question about it! I’m definitely no saint but have turned down work in the past, like a national hand lotion commercial for the company who also made napalm. My friend understood my stance, considering my history with sexual assault. When I got off the phone nothing about my love for my friend had changed. Not one single thing had changed but my love for myself for having spoken my truth. And the hope that there could be healing.

The next day I was at a meeting in preparation for events to celebrate Women’s History Month in March. The room was thick with anti-Trump sentiment, and one of the women said she felt uncomfortable. She had a different opinion and she had hoped that this was an environment that was not political. Having performed my show, “KICK”, in Ohio right before the election, I was aware that there are many different reasons that people from different backgrounds voted for Trump’s agenda. One thing that everyone agreed on, however, was their concern for young people coming up in this environment.

I spoke up and said that I too was concerned about the younger generation and as a dancer I’m concerned about what the girls at Radio City are going through and how important it is for them to dig deep, speak up and to be supported, no matter what their choice.  On the one hand, they are offered the choice of “tolerating intolerance” in order to celebrate the peaceful transition of power that is a hallmark of our enduring democracy. On the other, they are being asked to appear in sexy costumes with an admitted sexual assaulter while betraying, among others, their African-American sisters and their gay brothers who partner them, support them, literally hold their lives in their hands throughout their careers.

A dancer’s career is very short.  Continuous expensive training is necessary to keep up with an industry that pays very little and offers no job security. If they choose to dance at the inauguration they risk being ostracized by the rest of the entertainment industry. If they choose to sit it out, their careers at the Music Hall might be in jeopardy. They’re very young and still trying to find their way in life. It takes a long time to realize one’s core values and act accordingly especially when one’s energy is focused 24-7, heart and soul on their work.

It appears to be an impossible situation for them but on another level it could be an opportunity to zero in on one’s priorities and goals as an artist. Perhaps asking the questions, “What is the loving thing to do?” “Will it support my community?” Will it make me feel proud of myself for standing up and kicking for what I believe in?” “Am I doing what’s right for me?”

 

Rockettes and the Inaugural

Well I’ve been quiet about Rockettes at the Inaugural thing for a while now and I figured it would work out. It seemed like it wasn’t so bad once MSG and AGVA had given the girls a choice, but actually it’s worse because now it’s divided the girls. With the division in the country at this time, it seems especially important for women to come together, to stand in solidarity, so  to have this infect the dancers is really sad. A dancer’s life is hard enough. If they volunteer, they may get to work again for the Music Hall, but probably forget about the rest of show business. If they don’t volunteer, they probably have a future on Broadway and beyond – except for Radio City. I realize there were reasons that I had been keeping my mouth shut at first, but it only dawned on me today when I started to feel physically sick, that I was probably – as a rape survivor, while a Rockette – re-traumatized. It just hit so hard that these amazing dancers would be offered up to perform for the Predator-in-Chief – a person who has done more to normalize rape culture than Bill Cosby. How do you put young women in this position to glorify a racist, homophobic, xenophobic misogynist who brags about grabbing pussy? A man who bragged about barging into young women’s dressing rooms during the Miss Universe pageants, and bragged about getting anything you want from women when you’re a star? It does make it pretty clear why no real stars/artists have come forward to perform at his sick party. So why should these Rockettes – these talented dancers who have been role models for young girls – have to soil their brand by giving this cheesy celebrity from a reality TV show what he wants because he’s “powerful?” Of course the President of the United States is a powerful position but not everyone who inhabits the role is a person to look up to or support. Now that there are petitions for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to pull out because he doesn’t reflect the values of their church. Who will that leave the Rockettes and Ted Nugent????

Kenyan approach

I was working on a presentation to be given on a college campus, editing my long-winded talk, trying to get this very thought across when my husband forwarded me this article.
http://www.upworthy.com/kenyas-unique-approach-to-rape-prevention-should-have-the-rest-of-the-world-taking-note?c=upw1&u=94bcf4ba47bc0bcc68dbab1340d7d2298a115877

President at the Grammys

Last Friday, my producer and I had a meeting with several college officials about booking “Asking For It” on their campus. I came away from the meeting feeling very excited that they “got” the importance of the artistic component in stopping sexual assault. Then two days later this speech by President Obama at the Grammys…

http://www.upworthy.com/president-obama-interrupted-the-grammys-to-make-a-statement-more-remarkable-than-any-award-or-dress?c=upw1

From College Sports Business News

Not that I want to spend my whole life on this subject but just latching on to any information that might help… Gathering ideas.
Pressure on colleges to deal with sexual assault leads to growing cottage industry @insidehighered

Source: insidehighered.com

A quick search for terms like “campus safety” and “sexual assault” on the Apple App Store reveals dozens of applications marketed toward worried college students. Circle of 6 allows users to send text message alerts, to six pre-selected friends. VizSafe lets users post and watch videos of areas they might feel are unsafe. OnWatch provides a suite of safety and reporting tools — for $19.99. And it’s not just mobile apps. From risk management firms to prevention programs to products like fingern…

More hope

Another great idea to prevent rape but I agree with the writer about changing the culture…
http://www.oxbowherald.sk.ca/Opinion/Columnists/2014-08-28/article-3850805/THATS-IT,-THATS-ALL%3A-We-need-to-change-the-rape-culture/1

Rape & Clothing

Do girls dress for rape? Fashion does not occur in a vacuum. What are the qualities are the focus of contemporary women’s clothing design? The question almost answers itself. Women’s fashion, consistent with the rest of popular culture, is hyper-sexualized. It’s designed to bring focus to the physical attributes of a woman that will be most alluring and seductive to men. Its implicit statement is that a woman’s power lies in her seductiveness.
This is not to say, of course, that women invite rape by wearing certain clothes, or that Continue reading

Hope

Thia morning I had a meeting with Center for Hope here in Lowell. On the desk was a flyer for “Circle of 6”, an app designed to prevent rape. Not 2 hours later I had an e-mail from Jerry Bisantz telling me to check out the Boston Globe. Here’s the article… another arrow in the quiver.
http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/08/26/colleges-enlist-smartphone-apps-help-combat-campus-sexual-assault/2wUPdW5W52gLqD1mUlky8I/story.html