On Saturday, March 11 the Tambourine Army (a group formed two months ago) is holding a Survivors’ Empowerment March in Kingston, beginning at 3:00 p.m. However, I will not be marching with them.
It is not that I don’t believe in the cause. I do, fervently – as a survivor myself. Let me tell you why I will not be marching (my personal views).
Firstly… There has been a great deal of disrespect surrounding this campaign. Shutting people out (including other women, who also fight for gender equity and the empowerment of women every day); using curse words on Facebook; telling religious people that they have no right to comment, and so on – is not the way to build a campaign, in my view.
Secondly… The campaign began with an assault, and has celebrated that action ever since. I don’t wish to be associated with that. Even the rhetoric (“fierce warriors,” etc) is violent. The logo with the tambourine and the somewhat clichéd clenched fist is nice and well designed, but it heightens that tone. Fighting violence with violence? I think not.
Third… I do believe in an inclusive women’s movement and civil society dialogue – inclusive of different ages, gender identity, class, colour, religion, (including those like me, who have no religion), where you live, ability, education, political party affiliations, if any… and so on. I believe it is more than possible through dialogue – preferably not entirely via social media. Dialogue involves listening – respectfully – to people who share different views. Leadership is not about shouting, nor is it about egos. We all have our different ways of tackling issues.
Moreover, I don’t believe this is anything new. I do not expect a “revolution,” as Jaevion Nelson suggested in his Gleaner column today – but I may be wrong. If the campaign helps some survivors of sexual abuse and violence to recover more easily – to feel themselves at least partially whole again, or on the road to healing – I am all for it. A healing circle is good, but this kind of work has been going on for years in Jamaica; and in this connection I would like to especially single out the incredible (and largely unacknowledged) work of Eve for Life, who have sacrificed a great deal (and by that, I mean personal sacrifice) to support, empower – and rescue – survivors of sexual abuse living with HIV/AIDS. Huge kudos to Joy, Pat and the Mentor Moms.
By the way, this healing takes years, and an enormous amount of hard work. So, if it is a revolution, it will be long and slow. According to Jaevion Nelson, the Tambourine Army is a group of…
Fiercely courageous women who are not burdened from years of pushing for greater gender parity and who are unapologetic about what they stand for and represent.
In other words, it is a very young movement, without the experience of other women who have fought “in the trenches” for decades? Have these “burdened” women ever been apologetic about what they stand for? Are they so “burdened” that they are no longer relevant? If that is the suggestion, I would question it.
I wish the Tambourine Army all the best. It’s just not my way.
P.S. I wrote a piece for the Gleaner blog page recently: There Are Many Ways to Be an Activist. This supports what I have said above, I think you will find. You don’t have to agree with me.
Note about myself – where I am coming from, personally…
I too, can be aggressive. Growing up, I was known for my fiery temper. I once slammed a door so hard it fell off its hinges! I’m not proud of that. Gradually, I have learned to curb it – because, like a child, I have learned that throwing tantrums doesn’t get one anywhere. It makes people shrink away. It frightens people. What is the point in that?
I also have an ego. Well, everyone does. Again, I try to keep it in check. In fact, I try 1,000 times a day; and I can’t say it’s easy. I try to counteract it by reaching out to people who may be less confident than I am; and by understanding that everyone has his/her own cross to bear, that we may not even know about. And if this is being “positive” – which some sneer at – I really don’t mind. I know that so-called “positive” people get things done, and “positive” attitudes go a long way towards solving problems. I do not believe, personally, in divisive rhetoric. We have had plenty of that in the past. It makes me weary.
I was also a “radical.” I went on countless marches, demonstrations, sit-ins (mainly protesting the evils of apartheid). I was a young woman in the 1970s and that was a decade of protest – starting in the late 1960s, of course. I am still pretty “radical” in many of my views – on the environment, capital punishment, human rights, abortion rights, LGBT rights – although I have been called a “bleeding heart white liberal”! I don’t worry about labels. Nor do I believe in violence, whether physical or verbal. It solves nothing. I know that, from the bottom of my heart.