Congratulations to 15-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai and the 34 other women who made the Time 100 list!
I’m a community organizer addressing men’s violence against women within the South Asian immigrant community.
“We have to connect with women’s organizations nationwide and learn about what they are doing. How do they speak to men and boys about this issue?” asked my supervisor. As I began to call my colleagues, I kept being directed to the same man who was an advocate on this issue.
We spoke a few times over the phone but our first meeting was at a domestic violence conference where we had both been invited to speak about our respective efforts to engage men. “Hi!” he said, extending his hand confidently to engulf mine in a firm handshake. “We’ll be meeting over at that table to discuss the details for tomorrow’s panel. Would you join us?” I excused myself from a conversation with a colleague to join him at the table.
He spoke of his work at a women’s shelter and how men’s violence against women was, in fact, alienating and destructive to men as well. But, a man at the helm of a shelter’s outreach efforts was unheard of. Many panelists and attendees were vehemently opposed to a man leading any aspect of the women’s movement. I initially concurred, but, over time, I came to realize that men’s role as the primary perpetrators of violence against women necessitated that they become an active part of the dialogue toward change.
There was much learning that came after that panel discussion, particularly as the two of us began to date.
I woke from deep slumber with the gray lights of dawn peeking in. I had fallen asleep in the middle of President re-elect Obama’s acceptance speech. Though the East Coast was celebrating, in California we were still waiting to see the turnout results come in on some heated statewide propositions.
I groggily snatched my bedside smartphone, and scrolled through my twitter feed. At 5am, the only people reporting were Obama-thrilled East Coasters or people overseas. I finally found what I was looking for. The local NPR station reported that we had won on Proposition 30. State government wasn’t going into crisis mode. Relieved and with a pounding headache, I buried my head under my covers and fell back asleep.
I found myself climbing a set of stairs inside a house with my civic engagement team from work. There was an atmosphere of elation, and bright pinks and blues. We were discussing going to an Election Day celebration party and I told them I’d meet them there – I needed to change. Still in campaign attire, I was in no condition to celebrate.
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