Wednesday, April 2, 2008

the same enemy, a different mask

last weekend, i participated in a workshop addressing gender violence as a point of departure for theatrical inquiries rooted in the body's memory. the group was populated largely by women. there was one male present. by the end of the introductory discussion regarding how best to move forward through the work of the day, we decided that we would open the creative circle to a more broadly defined topic - the culture of violence and its impact on the lives of women and men, transcending gender roles, assumptions, and sexual preference. i think this was an important turning point in the workshop, because in broadening the scope of our creative focus, the potential healing and learning became more inclusive. it became less about pointing fingers at men who have waged wars of violent aggression against women, and more about unpacking the lethally complex culture of violence which socializes all individuals living within its seemingly boundless cage.

if it can be proven that men are more often the agressors in acts of violence, it should also be considered that men have, at some point, been victims of this same tyranny, and that, because of the expectations and definitions born of their gendered roles in society, they have had little to no recourse against this training. they are effectively jumped into the violent culture and victimized by it. and whether they exist as victims or perpetrators, the circle of healing must include them as well.

i also believe that it is important to understand that the often secret and intimate reality of domestic violence is directly linked to violence against the stranger ... the stranger on the block, the 'other'/enemy of our minds, and the oppositional nation or cultural group ... so that there is no separation between violent aggression against a loved one and violence against a political or economic body marked as threatening.

whether mass genocide is connected to a tribal war, a fight for land or oil, an ideological difference over religion or cultural shifts, or the seemingly hidden and sanctioned violence against a lover or loved one, it is mass genocide all the same. these sustained eruptions are all violations of human rights and should be treated as such.

in order to educate people regarding our global need to shift the paradigm of our accepted use of violence as a means to order human relations, we must address this problem from every venue imaginable - from the schools to the united nations, from the theatre to the forums of our national legislative bodies.

our lives depend on it.