The Grand Exhibition – Rape Crisis and untamed women
A few ladies from The Rouge Revue spent Mandela Day making care packages for Rape Crisis this weekend. It was a moving, heartbreaking experience that left all of us feeling emotional and fragile. We arrived just in time to hear a short talk by Rape Crisis in which they mentioned the fact that they are not a ‘cool’ charity. Donating to Rape Crisis is not something that makes one feel warm and fuzzy, like donating to animal welfare and imagining cute puppies and kittens going to good homes. It’s a tough subject, and the images it conjures are ugly, sad and violent and it’s just something we’d all rather not think about.
Rape is something that is too close to home for many of us and I personally know many women who have been victims of rape, sexual abuse and assault. I have witnessed the trauma of reporting a rape and the frustrating lack of justice that often ensues. I have held friends and loved ones as they cried their pain into my shoulder and felt powerless to help them. It is this sense of powerlessness that prompted me to find something that I could DO to help.
Rape Crisis offers invaluable support to rape victims in the form of
• A 24 hour crisis support and advice
• Face-to-face counseling at centres in Khayelitsha, Athlone and Observatory
• Support groups for survivors and their family members
• Support through the challenging legal process of reporting and prosecuting a rape case
Donating money to Rape Crisis allows them to continue to offer these services and make a real difference in the lives rape victims.
I was privileged to participate in a beautiful photographic project with Cathrin Schultz last year, and one of the questions she wanted to explore through the shoot was WHY we do burlesque. I spent a day or 2 thinking about it and told her that I do burlesque because I believe that every woman is a goddess. Cathrin told me that that answer was too generic and that I needed to go and think about my own personal reason for being a burlesque dancer…. It took a few days and some soul searching, and eventually the answer that surfaced from within me was that I do it to take back the power that has been taken from the women in my family for generations. I do it to end the cycle of abuse that permeates families, societies and cultures. I have limited reach, but in my own small way, I am taking back my power and I hope, helping the women that dance with me to do the same thing.
Sexuality has been stigmatized for so long that women’s bodies are often seen as dirty, shameful and something that we should hide. I believe that women taking control of their sexuality, who own their bodies and all their perceived flaws and who make decisions around their sexuality as they please, are an important part of women taking back their power.
I was told recently that choosing Rape Crisis as the beneficiary for a burlesque event is a contradiction.
I feel that burlesque is in perfect alignment with supporting an organization like Rape Crisis and that it is up to each of us to change the perception that because a woman is comfortable with her sexuality, wearing a short skirt, sexy lingerie or completely nude, she is asking for it.
No one is EVER asking to be raped.
We will not be silenced. We will not be tamed.
Image by Cathrin Shulz – (UN)Domesticated