Today, I was asked to start a blog of my activism as a feminist...so here it is! But first, let me introduce myself. Hi, I'm Randa. I'm a Black woman living in a town where 1% of the population looks like me (but that's a whole nother topic). I'm a musician/vocalist and a poet (all of which I need to get back on top of) and I am extremely passionate about women's issues. OK, so that's me! Now to why I started this damn thing in the first place :)
I LOVE making people feel awkward...but more importantly, I love making people think about why it is we do the things we do. I mean, it can be pretty dangerous, but its fun! So anyways, my first big activism event was in Winter '08 when I was one of two Outreach/Activism Coordinators at Oregon State University's Women's Center (is women's not spelled right? I keep getting the red line). I, in my infinite Randa-ness, decided to create awareness about the Darfur genocide and the countless rapes of women and children that were going unreported by (get this) laying in the middle of campus (in the rain, mind you) for four hours. I got maybe 19 other people involved and we laid out in the rain as "dead Darfurians" for a whole four hours. Crazy, right? RIGHT! But it was an experience and it really did raise awareness about the issue. Actually, now that I remember, we held a week's worth of events for Darfur awareness. We held a poetry open mic and had a letter-writing drive at the door; I made "Darfur Awareness Week" buttons for people to where on their whatevers (backpacks, hats, coats, etc.); we handed out cups of Starbucks hot chocolate in the MU Quad with extremely controversial and eye-opening facts about the genocide written on the cups; and we hosted a viewing/discussion of an intense documentary of the genocide at the Women's Center. Wow, that's actually alot of stuff now that I think about it lol. So anyways, that was the beginning.
NEXT, I was coordinator of a Walk Against Rape...now THIS was fun! A group of 7 women spent an entire school day walking around Corvallis with giant posters of rape statistics (the really ugly ones). I have to say, that was one experience I am extremely proud to have been a part of. In fact, I'll post the video we created of the footage during the Walk. (BTW, we will be holding another one sometime this fall if anyone wants to be a part of it)
So, about the Walk.....
We got alot of stares and people telling us that rape was the woman's fault because women wear tight clothes nowadays (THAT pissed me off and you can see my response to that lil incident in the video). But we also had some GREAT responses. Alot of older men shared their experiences as partners of rape victims who had never really dealt with it. We also got a mom who told us her college-aged daughter was raped at school and she really appreciated our activism. What else? OH! One of our participants nearly got her ass ran over by some outraged man in his car! WTF, right? yeah that's what I said when I heard lol. Overall, that was one good day. We women bonded and even shared our own experiences as survivors of rape and child molestation. See, these are the reasons I do this kind of work....it brings women together! And we need to do anything and everything in our power to continue to bring women together.
Ok, next activism incident....BARACK OBAMA, hehe (I'm crazy for this one)
So Barack Obama held a campaign rally in Eugene, OR last Spring (which would be Spring '08). During that time, I was taking a Women's Studies course called "Sex, Lies, and Motherhood". Well, as you can expect, I had motherhood on the brain and I was pretty pissed about how moms are treated (and how we're ALL expected to become passive stay-at-home moms someday). Soooo, at the rally, when all was silent, I yelled to Obama at the top of my lungs: "PAY OUR MOTHERS!!!!!"
Ok, so I know yall are thinkin' "This b**** is crazy..." But hey, he needed to know that women need to be payed for the work we do in the home!
I bet you wanna know the reaction lol.....well, it kinda stunned him,lol. He brought the mic down and started laughing and looked around the arena for whoever had yelled it. Of course, my entire section knew it was me and I was a tad bit mortified. But shoooot, I'm glad I did it...Its Activism!
So this brings me to my current bit of activism that I'm participating in. I'm taking Women and Sexuality right now (fun fun FUN!) and two days ago, I had an eye-opening realization: I am being lesbian-bated! I've been missing out on the simple pleasures of holding another woman's hand, giving bear hugs to women, and cuddling with women for fear of being called a lesbian! I KNOW, WTF, RIGHT?!! Ok but the surprising thing is that most women are guilty of the same. And so once I realized that I was missin' out on somthin' jus' cuz it might make people feel awkward...shooooot...I was like f*** that! I'll be damned if I don't hold a woman's hand now lol.
So, after class, I held hands through campus with another woman while a third woman acted as our "eyes". Man.....I have never felt so awkward in my life! I felt like an alien.
People were bumpin' into each other trying to get around us for fear of touching the "lesbians". Older women shook their heads, groups of men stared and sneered, and fellow women tried to ignore us. But it gets worse. We walked through campus all the way to Subway on Monroe (yall know bout Subway on Monroe). Once inside, all tact was out the door for these mo-fos. Groups of people literally stood up just to see if we were really holding hands. The sandwich guy tried to ignore our "situation" when I asked him how he felt about it...the whole damn thing was kinda twilight zone-ish. And on top of that, I was having like extreme levels of anxiety the whole time. It felt so weird to hold her hand so long...and the disgusting thing is that if it had been my partner or even another man, there would've been zero anxiety. So the whole time now I'M pissed for not having realized this untapped area of oppression in myself. I mean, it was a really f-ing big deal for me! I couldn't believe that we as women were being robbed of something SO simple! I mean, my damn cats and dog experience non-sexual touching everyday! Why can't we? UUUGHHH!! (this is me being angry)
So yea, it really surprised me that so-called civilized people could all of a sudden switch up and become super-ultra-turbo idiotic. (that's right, I said it lol) Oh, so this takes me to the point of: Lesbians...what's the big deal if they wanna hold hands?? I mean, I don't identify as a lesbian and have no understanding of their struggle, but I have to say...it sucked being glared at and I'm sure it's even more sucky for women who have to experience the real thing day in and day out (in case you were wondering, angry Randa loses her academic way of speech, hence the term "sucky")
Patriarchy has created and instilled this ginormous amount of fear in women and men alike. The LGBTTQQAIIOP... (hehe, alphabet soup) community doesn't get to express affection publicly for fear of ridicule AND the strait crowd doesn't get to do anything that looks remotely close to homosexuality! IT'S ALL SO, for lack of a better term, SUCKY! Well people, it doesn't have to be anymore! We can do something about it. I'll be damned if my future children internalize the same shit I just figured out I had for the last 21 years! So, I implore you all to begin with the little things in our society...baby steps. We can all be activists in some way or other. Together, we can make a difference, people! (Wow, how motivational speaker of me to end this way...I'm jus gonna do it)
BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD! -Gandhi