Tag Archives: violation

Grandma Cao

I watched The Apology tonight on PBS. It is a harrowing story of sexual violence and of official denial and the refusal of people to acknowledge and address past wrongs. It is a story endurance and perserverance in the face of such violence–physical, social, and psychological.

The documentary “follows three former “comfort women” who were among the 200,000 girls and young women kidnapped and forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Seventy years after their imprisonment, the survivors give their first-hand accounts of the truth for the record, seeking apology and the hope that this horrific chapter of history not be forgotten.”

I stand in awe of the grandmothers who tell their stories. Their courage and grace amazes me. I grieve for their experiences and for all the women who did not survive this violation. I am grateful for their willingness to share their stories and to filmaker Tiffany Hsiung and those who have captured and preserved their stories.

Grandma Cao, one of the women featured in the documentary, died on October 22.

Tiffany Hsiung has written a reflection on Grandma Cao, the grandmothers, and the realities of telling stories of sexual abuse and violence. The contemporary parallels are clear, painful, and instructive.

Here are some quotes:

It has been almost a decade since I first met Grandma Cao, and some other survivors of World War II. History might refer to them as “comfort women,” a euphemism given by the Japanese Imperial Army. But to me, they are “the grandmothers” and what started out as a journey to uncover these atrocities, soon turned into an exploration of one’s perseverance.

The grandmothers I interviewed told me that back in the old days — and even today — people will say things like, “Well, if it really happened then why didn’t you say something sooner?” Or, “The only reason you are saying this is because you want money and attention.” Sadly, this rhetoric is still often heard today as a defense when a woman publicly discloses her experience with sexual violence.

For many survivors, the decision to speak out is a daunting one. The thought of negative repercussions can be worse than burying it deep inside of you forever.

For victims of sexual violence, the biggest fear about speaking out is not being believed and, thereby, being re-victimized. Society has perpetuated a culture of shame that has resulted in decades, or even lifetimes, of silence for survivors of sexual violence. Something has to change.

Watch The Apology. Read Tiffany Hsiung’s article. Believe survivors. Break the culture of shame. Challenge rape culture. “Something has to change.”

See you along the Trail.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Human Rights, Movie

You are beloved

If remembered, relived violation
battered and bruised you this day;

if unexamined privilege
and barely restrained belligerence
pierced your heart,
assailed your soul,
distressed your mind,
sapped your strength;
know,
as day ends,
know:
you are not alone
you are stronger than you imagine,
you are believed,
you are beloved.
27 September 2018
Manhattan, New York

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Family, Friends, New York, Poem

For all who work

I give thanks this day for all who work –
whether that work is
paid or unpaid
honored or unrecognized
whether that work
earns a pay check or simply involves the day-to-day tasks of living
whether that work is
a labor of love
or somehow combines all of the above.

I give thanks for all who have lived and died
to protect the lives and rights of those who work.

I give thanks for all who live and give of themselves,
and risk themselves,
to make a better world for all who work.

I confess and grieve that the life I live,
the privilege and comfort I enjoy,
too often rests on the backs of brothers and sisters who work.

I recognize that all too often sisters and brothers work
in dangerous conditions, in situations where they are exploited, violated.

I pray that the day will come when all people have work to do
work that is safe and meaningful,
work that is honored and valued,
work that pays a wage that allows the workers
to provide a decent living for themselves and for their families.

I pray that I will receive the grace and the wisdom and the courage
to in some small way
make a contribution to the dawning of that day.

I give thanks this day for all who work.

See you along the Trail.

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Family, Friends, Human Rights