Around the world, women say, “Hell no!”

Vinegar Revolution

Around the world, women are loudly, softly, even silently rejecting the `advances’ of repressive regimes, from Turkey and Greece to Senegal and Brazil, women are saying, “Hell no.” The State says vacate, and women say, “No, we’re staying.” The State says move on, and women say, “We’ll just stand still for a while.” The State says, “Come to our big event”, and the women say, “No, and here’s why.” The State says, “Ok, come on in,” and women respond, “You know what? After the way you’ve treated me, you can keep your so-called invitation.”

When the Greek state tried to close the ERT television station, workers, women like Maria Kodaxi, refused to move. Across Turkey, women refused to accept the violence of the State and, one by one and then in tens and hundreds, became “duran kadin”, standing women. In Greece and Turkey, the struggle continues.

As Turkey gave the world Gezi Park and #durankadin, Brazil this week gave the world … vinegar. Vinegar uprising. Vinegar revolt. The salad revolution. Police thought they’d quell and dispel a relatively small group of protesters with tear gas, batons, and violence. Instead of quell, they got rebel. Where there were tens, a million marched and more are on the move. And vinegar became the symbol of resistance and solidarity. It’s a good week for new symbols that match new forms of action.

Carla Dauden is one Brazilian woman engaged in protest, and she is not going to the World Cup. Dauden is a young filmmaker, a native of Sao Paolo, and the director, producer, narrator and face of “No, I’m not going to the World Cup.” Part of her reason is an ethical calculus: “Now tell me, in a county where illiteracy can reach 21%, that ranks 85th in the Human Development Index, where 13 million people are underfed every day and many people die waiting for medical treatment, does that country need more stadiums?” As of this writing, over 2.5 million people have watched and listened, and maybe heard, Carla Dauden explain why she is saying, “No”.

In Senegal, Bousso Dramé is not going to Paris. Bousso Dramé is, by any standards, an accomplished woman, whatever that means. The World Economic Forum thinks she’s a “global shaper”: “a proud African, committed Senegalese citizen and vibrant young woman.” Dramé works for the World Bank, has many advanced degrees, speaks many languages. She recently won a national spelling bee. Part of the prize was a round trip ticket from Dakar to Paris and back. When Dramé went to the French Embassy to apply for her visa, she was treated like dirt, “as less than nothing.” This abuse happened repeatedly, and was visited upon her by a number of embassy personnel. And so, when Dramé finally, finally was informed that she had finally been approved for a visa, she write an open letter to the French government saying, “No, thank you.”

Dramé said no not only in her own name, but in the name of Senegalese across Europe, of Africans across Europe: “If the price to pay … is to be treated like less than nothing, I prefer to reject this privilege altogether… I wanted to put forth a symbolic act for my Senegalese brothers and sisters who, every day, face being crushed in the embassies of Schengen zone.”

From Turkey to Greece to Brazil to Senegal and France, the particulars may change, but the dance is the same. And women across borders, in studios, parks and streets, videos, embassies, consulates, and open letters, are saying, “Hell no.”

(Photo Credit: Reuters)