When I first became the communications person (read: webmistress) for the Synod of the Sun Presbyterian Women’s Coordinating Team, I learned about #OrangeDay. Started by the United Nations in 2008, it’s more formally called the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign. The idea is that, on the 25th of each month, one wears orange prominently, and (somehow) the vibrant color lets others know that you are paying attention to the violence(s) against women and girls, and are working to stop it.
Today, my Facebook feed let me know that there’s another day of color: Thursdays, black, gender-based violence. The World Council of Churches say, “Thursdays in Black grew out of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women (1988-1998),” as well as particular larger anti-violence movements focusing on Thursdays, and on wearing black.
As it happens, I’d picked out a black t-shirt this morning. I’ve since pulled on a black cardigan to cover my chilly arms, to keep with the theme.
First thought: consciousness-raising, as they called it when I was little, is worth doing. If folk don’t notice what they’re not noticing, they’re unlikely to change anything.
Second thought: if ever there was a program focused on the long horizon, this/these would be they. Nearly a decade for #OrangeDay, thirty years for all the variations of Thursdays in Black. Exactly a year ago, I would have wondered aloud whether any consciousnesses had been raised (beyond a trickle), but the #MeToo furor gives me hope that the generations-long trickle may have piled up into enough weight for a tipping point.
But here’s the specific part I find I’m mulling over today: I’m not sure these campaigns work in the everyday, face-to-face world of wearing shirts. If you saw me today, with my <sarcasm></sarcasm> shirt on, you would be vastly more likely to think, “There goes one of those Austin hipster people that make visiting South by Southwest so charming. I love the local flavor!”
These work more effectively in social media, where the image and the info can be clearly tied together. Like here!
Or perhaps in wearing a pin or brooch, though loops of ribbon have proliferated so much that it would be challenging to know what was being commemorated without a conversation. Well, perhaps that’s not actually a problem, getting close enough for conversation. But it’s still not a quick signal.
So I’m ambivalent about my monthly orange-wearing. And am really unlikely to wear black for every. single. thursday. it takes until gendered violence halts.
Still, there’s that trickle.
I’ll wear them one more time.
PS: It’s the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women this week and next.
“She works from daybreak until sundown, and often beyond. She tills the land and grows the food that feeds families and nations, but often without land rights, or equal access to finances and technology that can improve her livelihood. She is working as hard, or more, as the man next to her, but have less income. She has much to contribute, but will her rights, voice and experience shape the policies that affect her life?”