Rising &, Yes, Being Selfish in Second Life

OBR in SL (moderate)

I don’t usually write posts like this one without thinking about it  for a day or so first. There’s always a possibility that sober reflection will moderate my feelings or at least temper my words.

In this case the danger is exacerbated by a significant absence of sleep – something of which I am particularly fond and highly recommend. :)

I’m going to do it anyway.

The One Billion Rising in Second Life↑ event ended less than 9 hours ago. It was 24 hours of art and music and dancing and duct-taping sims to the grid and chasing idiots and welcoming survivors and their friends/relatives and people who just wanted to learn more. It was also the culmination of weeks of work on the part of amazing volunteers and it was everything I hoped.

I had a chat with a friend this morning in which I explained that I grew up in an era where I watched people attempting to change the world by marching across a bridge with arms linked. Did discrimination end the next day? No, and it may never be eradicated. However, that movement, and the awareness it raised, made a difference.

This language of ours is complex and rich and layered. There are many possible meanings of the words “rise” and “rising”. One of the most common and, I would think, most obvious is “protest, insurrection, revolt, rebellion”. I rose in protest of the idea that the issue of violence against women has no place in the top priorities of this world, in the agendas of legislators and policy makers. I rose as part of a campaign because there is strength in numbers and the feeling of unity is empowering.

If I had thought the meaning was to “rise above” violence, I would have actively worked against this project. As a victim of violence it made me physically ill to think somebody would believe that I – or indeed anybody involved with this event – had that as an objective.

During the weeks of planning I had people accusing us of dismissing the issue of violence against men – which I replied, is much like saying Relay For Life doesn’t believe heart disease is a serious problem. This was an event about women, it wasn’t saying nothing else is important. It was and is saying, this issue is also damn important and deserves more than dismissal as a “distraction”. I would have been delighted to address the misconception about “rising above” if I’d been aware of it.

My availability, however, for many things, became naturally more and more limited as the event drew closer. Working on something like this requires a combined thousands of hours of effort on the part of more than 140 volunteers. Being an organizer is a joy – but there are a lot of demands on your time when you’re managing teams in these projects. Those demands only increase and your focus narrows to the things that must be done to get all the tasks accomplished, so I become very selfish.

With less than 48 hours to go before the doors opened, I was not going to indulge somebody by addressing their need for lengthy discussion and education on a public forum. It isn’t a matter of debating. I don’t care if people I know all agree with me. It would be a very strange world if they all did, all the time ( although sometimes would be nice – jk).

There is lots of information and widely varying opinions on the subject of One Billion Rising out there. People read them and reach conclusions – and maybe sometimes they misunderstand, and maybe I wish I could have addressed everything, everywhere, for as long as everybody seemed to believe I should. But, my priority was the people and the volunteers – not one individual’s need for more than a brief clarification I could afford the time to contribute. I will make the same choice again in the future.

I felt strongly about the campaign and the event. If dancing doesn’t make sense, that’s not a huge surprise. I loved this article↑ because, although I didn’t agree with everything, her explanation of the origins of the dance concept was articulate and better than I could have done. (and yes, I’ve had one of those tshirts for many many years!)

Let me end this on a high note – because it really was a fabulous experience. The entire planning, building and event process was full of joy – even when things broke or didn’t work as intended – I loved it. The performer we had scheduled to close the event had to cancel at the last minute (stuff happens to us all). The replacement was a woman I’d never heard of and I can’t understand why. From the first note she sang we were mesmerized and we remained awe struck for the entire hour.

I’m going to leave you with a video of her singing one of the songs she performed last night. Go hear Samm Qendra↑ if you get a chance – please, she’s just incredible. I’m going to get some sleep and then go thank all of the people I’ve been privileged to work with for the past few weeks.

Leave a comment


  1. *yawn* Who disturbs the rest of Professional Editor Robot?

    Egad! Lots of blustering bluster… not the usual touring Second Life and pretty pictures stuff…

    Hrm… let’s see… cut… cut… delete… cut… cut…

    “Go hear Samm Qandra if you get a chance.”

    Ah, perfect!

    There’s your post.

    (You’re welcome, toots.)


  2. I left a comment in Saffia’s post, but I wanted to add here that the event was much more than just a bunch of women getting together and dancing. Even though I didn’t attend the SL OBR event, I went to a RL one yesterday and there were speeches and people talking about their experiences and it was a sort of healing process, for some and for me as well. I met and interacted with people that are deeply involved in working and fighting for women’s issues.

    I also have family in India and Pakistan that went out and stood up and protested violence against women yesterday and I cannot even begin to tell you how huge of a deal that is.

    Thank you to you and Saffia and the other organizers for bringing it into SL and giving an opportunity to those that couldn’t get involved in this important event in RL.

    • It’s hard to explain to those who haven’t paid attention just how large this was on a global level – and yes there were middle class women, and rich women, and poor women and sick women – all kinds of women and men involved, in countries all over the world.

      It was a privilege and, now, one of my fondest memories. :)

  3. Amanda

     /  February 15, 2013

    As I said yesterday, I feel very honoured to have been a part of the events in SL… Amazing work by all who took part and created it all…

  4. Even if someone disagrees with the reasons for the event, a seed has still been planted in that person’s mind. Another person mentions it, and another seed is planted. It is mentioned again in a month or a year, and more seeds are sprinkled. Soon their mind looks like a poppyseed bagel, and they are delicious.

    Thank you for giving me the chance to work with you on this.

  5. It was an amazing event and I enjoyed it very much. You all did a wonderful job and instead of gushing about it, I stayed out of everyone’s hair so they could attend to things and enjoy the event themselves. I’m not sure who you’re referring to but I was made aware of some who were seeming to want to make it be about their own opinions and sucking energy and attention. They can create their own event.

    “Rising” for me personally means standing up and raising my own vibration for healing and a more quality life, raising awareness by being a role model. I get to have that meaning whatever anyone else chooses to see “rising” as. If this had been another “fighting against” thing I would have been too burned out to pay much attention to it. Been there; done that and willing to let anyone go for it if that’s what THEY choose.

    The ending went so smoothly to this observer that I had no idea Samm Qendra wasn’t the scheduled performer; she was wonderful and I too wondered why I hadn’t heard of her before.

    Get some sleep.

  6. My land connection to the internet hasn’t been rrstablished yet and I don’t type well on my cell phone, so I’ll ask you to forgive me, but instead of writing a long answervas I’ d like to, I’ll just paste a comment I made elsewhere. Remember, pleasr, that it was not originally directed at you, but at someone that was criticizing the OBR event. This is the comment:

    As much as I respect your opinion and your right not to take part in any event you don’t want to, I think some specific subjects may have been addressed under a very particular understanding.

    First of all, even though English is not my 1st language – and you will notice my limitations here – I’d say that to take “rising” as “rising above” is to underline one single meaning of the word above all the others. According to Merriam-Webster, “rise” may mean “to assume an upright position especially from lying, kneeling, or sitting” or “to get up from sleep or from one’s bed”, or “to return from death”, or “to take up arms”, or “to increase in height, size, volume, or pitch”, or “to increase in fervor or intensity” – among other meanings, including, of course “to extend above other objects”, but not limited to it. When I think of Seneca’s sentence “many things have fallen only to *rise* higher” or of Martin Luther King Jr’s sentence “I have a dream that one day this nation will *rise* up and live out the true meaning of its creed: – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”, I don’t see there a mere “pedantic, middle-class, patronizing idea”.

    As for being “insulted, not comforted, by the image of women dancing to demand an end to violence”, I can certainly imagine that as a possible and plausible reaction. Still, I would give it a chance… I mean, part of the effectiveness of some social changes require that the issues that they address are made visible. If people start seeing that violence against women is not just a private subject, but a social thing, something that others worry about, talk about, etc., a cultural change may start. For, of course, laws against violence are required, punishment is required, self defense can be a strategy – but if boys and girls grow up thinking that one can beat a woman or rape a woman just because she’s a woman (in other words, if they grow up seeing violence against women as “natural”) the cases will still multiply. So, having a PR event is not the answer for all the problems out there, of course, but it may be a step towards a better situation – maybe a small step, but it was something. And people who took part in it are not “the enemy”, they are the ones trying to “rise” – rise against violence.

    Furthermore, it was not “just dancing”. Let me quote Meredith Hutchison for the “Huffington Post”:

    “Dancing in Bukavu [Democratic Republic of Congo] was interspersed with diverse speeches and several commitments to action. Community and religious leaders, NGO staff, activists, and artists all took turns condemning the condition of women in DRC. Eve Ensler popped up on stage with childlike energy toward the beginning of the festivities, explaining it was the women of Congo who taught her to dance and when they rise the world rises with them. Dr. Denis Mukwege, renown director of the Panzi Hospital, who had been in exile following an assassination attempt, followed with an impassioned speech. The Governor was present and even the general of the regional police emerged with memorandum in hand — a symbol of his commitment to ending impunity of those who perpetrate sexual violence.”

    So, it seems it went beyond “women dancing in unison”.

    I would go further and say that violence is also symbolic violence, understood as a part of a system of power aimed at imposing a lower position to a certain social group, what happens for instance in the case of gender dominance. And collective action is a form of empowerment for those social groups which are victims of symbolic violence. So, being part of a world-wide movement may mean the ability of gathering power – to start with, just for not feeling “alone out there”. Of course, a world-wide movement is very difficult to plan and to transform into reality, so it is understandable if it’s based on an idea that may seem kinda “simple” or even “simplistic”. Still, it may be powerful, just for the fact that people gathered around a subject that they think is important. Again, it’s not the solution for everything (but then, what is? “the solution” is actually an ensemble of many other small “solutions”, isn’t it?), but it is an anchor, a point of departure, a step: and an empowering one.

    The idea that “this event sends [a message] to women in other countries with even fewer resources than my own” – that would be a patronizing one. Nonetheless, this is not what I have seen on the coverage of the OBR day. It may be that some people think like that, but i did not see that as a rule. People gathered around the idea of dancing against violence (and not only dancing, as Meredith Hutchison’s quotation above reminds us) because they believed that it could be useful to themselves, to their environments, to their social experiences, not only because it could send a message to “women with fewer resources”.

    So, going back to the beginning, I respect you wish not to take part on OBR, of course, and ok, I see you got insulted by the idea of the event itself, but maybe the whole movement deserves a chance to show if it’s a worth action or not – instead of just being prejudged and discharged as if people taking part of it in DCR, in the US, in India or elsewhere were the enemies we have to fight against.

  7. joonie220

     /  February 16, 2013

    Honour, thank you so much for the opportunity to be a small part of this amazing event. As someone who has been personally effected by abuse, I loved having the chance to “rise” …even to “rise above” not violence but the shame and guilt that can accompany being abused. Or somehow thinking it was my fault. So for me, dancing and rising above was an amazing, feeing, affirming idea.

    Thanks to everyone for putting so much time and energy into this event!

  8. I didn’t start crying until now. Thank you and many hugs.

  9. Bo Tiger

     /  February 16, 2013

    greetings everyone it’s your friendly fluff ball of a tiger here Bo! uhm I’m not really going to say very much on these debates of whether dancing or even the idea of OBR was wrong or right…quick answer to that one is too right it was the greatest thing that could happen to show awareness that these women and girls are not being ignored and that’s what it was all about…if there was no dancing then we’d all be standing there waiting for something to happen. I have no idea why anyone would be insulted by it or even questions why…basically if you didn’t quite see the point then get some glasses…lol I enjoyed every moment of the dancing and the performers…artists and many volunteer workers including myself and felt like we achieved something. Who cares if dancing was unexpected? not me…there was nothing that pleased me more to stand up (rise) for those who have been violated. Why dance about it ? why not! that’s how communication works…so there you have it…fantastic! :)

    • /me hugs Bo and scritches behind his ear. “Bo, I swear for as long as I’ve known you I’ve never seen any hints of even a little (tiny, even) evil bone in your body. Clearly, you deserve to be King of the Tigers.”

  10. Bo tiger

     /  February 16, 2013

    thankie pankies uccie:) I try my best to keep clean of evil…soap bar with bubbles helps and also tastes good…I been wearing your cute kitty gift…keeps me company while I plan on ideas for the future..woo hoo! looking forward to that…

  11. Got chills from the video — Samm’s last name is QuEndra .


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