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Dancing, For This and a Billion More Risings

“Good girls don’t dance in the middle of a road,” a wise elderly relative told me as I was pulled away from the tiny circle in which my cousins and I were dancing.

It was my brother’s wedding procession, called baraat. Bands, that specialise in music for this kind of a procession, were playing one peppy Bollywood favourite after another. I was the only girl dancing with the boys. My sister and other female cousins were conscious and a little concerned about their sarees. As for me, I had made my mother put extra pins in my saree so that I could dance freely.

The freedom was short lived. I had to fall in line with my sisters, bear disapproving looks from the elders and watch the boys have all the fun.

My wise elderly relative would have had a shock of his life if he had been here yesterday (February 14, 2013). Right in the center of Bangalore city, where dancing is banned, women were dancing, celebrating, rejoicing. They were rising, with a billion others all over the world, for a fearless future. There’s no way anyone was going to pull me out this time.

Some of us there knew each other, some of us will never know each other. But we danced together. Thrusting, pouting, winking, encouraging, coordinating with each other, liberating each other.

There were men too. Some were rising and some were just curious bystanders. My friend came up with the brilliant idea of distributing pamphlets to the curious bystanders. We hope atleast some of them read why so many men and women were dancing, painting and singing, in this grand carnival against gender violence.

It was an inspiring moment. Irrespective of gender, people were out in the streets against rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, gender insensitivity, female infanticide and other such social evils.

The fearlessness was contagious. So was the feeling of liberation and empowerment. Each one of us were so different, yet we were there because we’ve all been ill-treated, disrespected or violated because some people think that’s the treatment a woman asks for every time she defies the boundaries imposed on her.

Why was I there?

When activism is your job, words like rising and people and movement start becoming redundant. Yet they are your dream. To see billions of people rising for one cause, starting a movement? Oh yes!

Not participating in one of these weighs heavily on your conscious. If you have been calling yourself a feminist even before you understood what it meant, then not attending is not an option.

I enjoy certain privileges today because women fought for equality in the late 18 century. My pay is the same as my male colleagues. No one can stop me from casting a vote, or expressing an opinion on the basis of my gender. I live an independent life on my terms and take most of my decisions on my own.

Yet, society does not miss an opportunity to oppress me. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been touched or seen inappropriately. I have faced abuse. I’ve been judged for not following rules a woman should follow. And this is the story of so many women all over the world.

I don’t have children yet, but I have two adorable nieces and I want to give them the privilege of being fearless. I don’t want them to feel the need to carry a pepper spray or a weapon with them. They should not restrict their dreams because of a gender stereotype. They should have more choices than I have, more freedom than I have. That’s why I was rising.

I was rising for my mother and grandmother, for my nieces, my sister, for cousins and friends, women and girls I know and I don’t know. I was rising so that men and social systems that ill-treat women know that they are in minority. I was rising so that, next time a young girl wants to dance her heart out in the middle of a road, she can do so without being told it’s inappropriate.

I will continue to rise till stigma that haunts women across the globe is wiped out. I will rise till the choice, opinion and rights of every woman has the strength of a billion. And I know, each time I rise I will have a billion rising with me.

http://twistedstraps.blogspot.in/2013/02/dancing-for-this-and-billion-mo...

Comments

jacollura's picture

Yes. Rise up. Dance on.

Yes. Rise up. Dance on.

swatimehta's picture

Oops! I posted the response

Oops! I posted the response to your comment as a new comment.

Still new around here. Thanks for reading my first entry.

swatimehta's picture

Absolutely! Thanks.

Absolutely! Thanks.

Wendyiscalm's picture

Keep dancing !

Hi Swatimehta,

You are a feisty, spirited, strong, woman who speaks up even when it is not accepted to do what you did. I am smiling and laughing from ear to ear thinking of you dancing and DARING to be YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep it coming, Swatimehta. We need more people like you in the world !

Ubuntu(I am who I am because of who we are together),

With love,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

swatimehta's picture

Thanks Wendy! It's such a

Thanks Wendy!

It's such a great feeling when you know that you are not the only one challenging the typecasts set by society. I've never come across a rising so inspiring in my country. Feb 14, 2013 will be the best Valentines day ever.

Wendyiscalm's picture

Hi

Hi Swatimehta,

You are right, Feb. 14, 2013 has been the Valentine's day ever SO FAR that is ! This is the beginning of MANY BEST VALENTINE'S DAYS and EVERY days because of you and others who rise above the standard and insist on putting yourselves out there to make change. Keep it coming ! You are great and inspiring.

Ubuntu(I am who I am because of who we are together),

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

swatimehta's picture

Thank you once again. Let's

Thank you once again. Let's bring about change together.

Leslie Stoupas's picture

Joyful!

Thank you for sharing the joy that this moment brought. It is so inspiring!

Leslie Stoupas

swatimehta's picture

Thanks for reading. Happy to

Thanks for reading. Happy to share the inspiration.

Mukut's picture

Fantastic Swati

Way to go girl! Keep rising and keep smiling.

Much love

Mukut Ray

swatimehta's picture

Thank you Mukut.

Thank you Mukut.

otahelp's picture

It must have been great fun rising

It is really fun doing what you love and I believe with this special dance other people will come to appreciate what you believe and stand for. Congratulations

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Initiative
Lets keep the light shining

swatimehta's picture

Thanks!

Absolutely. When you do something you really like doing, you can't go wrong with it. I've lost count of the number of stereoptypes that were broken that day. The biggest being, women coming out in a public space and expressing themselves.

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