Valentine’s Day is still one week away, but it is one of those holidays that takes a bit of planning. There are heart cookies to bake and ice with pink and red frosting, cards to send, reservations to make or even dresses to buy.
I think there are some traditions that we might outgrow. Perhaps one is the Easter bunny or waiting for the tooth fairy, but never Valentine’s Day. What girl doesn’t hope the roses and candy boxes that arrive at work are for her? Sigh.
We learned quickly about this special day when we had to painstakingly write our names in pencil 25 times on the back of the dime-store Valentine cards. Choosing which ones were to be given, and to which friends, was just as agonizing. By the time we got to middle school we only cared how much the card cost. (Am I the only one who thought about that?) Turn the card over quickly … see how much he really likes you!
Once in early high school, our Sadie Hawkins Day dance fell on Valentine’s Day. Which boy should we ask and what if he said “no?” I remember sitting in my mom’s kitchen gluing red paper hearts to my sneakers the night before the dance. I think I may have even glued some in my hair. We didn’t think of the consequences; that was for sure.
It would be nice if hearts and flowers were the protocol for every girl of every age on Valentine’s Day, but it isn’t. If there are no flowers or candy, it can be a lonely sort of day.
There is also a different kind of loneliness and grief that some women experience. According to information from the United Nations Secretary-General’s In-depth Study on Violence against Women, one in three women across the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. This statistic is alarming, or it should be anyway.
Several years ago I directed “The Vagina Monologues” by Eve Ensler in Angola. I produced the show two years in a row by popular demand. It was, and still is, a powerful show. Ensler began the V-Day movement. It demands that violence to women and girls must end. Perhaps after the running of the second show, I let the ball drop, so to speak. Maybe I thought I had brought awareness to our community, but I think it is time to speak out again.
This week Carolyn Powers flooded my email box with a campaign that just could not be ignored. The campaign, One Billion Rising, is the biggest mass action to end violence against women in human history. The campaign is to rise up against this same violence, but this time not by reading monologues, but by dancing. It began just three years ago and 200 countries took part in the event last year!
It didn’t take long for a few of us to gather with Trina Arnos at Fitt4Life to make a plan for Angola. Why shouldn’t we be part of this worldwide event? Within the course of a 24-hour period, the event was planned and we want you to join us.
Fitt4Life has graciously offered to host our event on Saturday, Valentine’s Day, at noon. For one hour we will raise our own levels of awareness by dancing, singing, drumming and sharing stories.
This event is for everyone! Bring your daughters, your mothers, or your neighbors. Dancing allows freedom to all of us and all of our emotions can be shared during dance. If you don’t want to dance, then you can drum or clap or sing. Most of all we want you to be there and share in this celebration. For only in numbers and our aggressive spirits can we put up a fight for our sisters around the world.
When I was a girl I didn’t know of such things. They existed, yes, but no one spoke of the atrocities that faced women. Finally we can address these issues, speak of them, and form a strong chain to take care of one another.
I always wear red on Valentine’s Day. Next Saturday will be no exception. The best part is that we will be there together wearing red or pink.
It is just one hour out of one day. We can do it, ladies. Let’s fill the building with songs and stories and drums and dance! We won’t be dancing alone. There will be a billion women everywhere dancing right along with us!
LOU ANN HOMAN-SAYLOR lives in Angola at the White Picket Gardens where you can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, teacher, writer, actress and a collector of front porch stories. She can be contacted at email@example.com.