raising awareness about domestic violence

Quick question: what do you call a white men’s tank top?

Did you say “wife-beater”?

No judgment if you did; it’s still in our modern vernacular, after all.

But how about we stop making that language acceptable. Now. Now is good.

On Sunday, September 18, I rolled out of bed at the derrière-crack of dawn, struggled into a pair of Lycra shorts and a sports bra, and with a couple thousand other women, headed out to take up the challenge of ending domestic violence.

Because wife-beaters.

Because 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will endure physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Because that works out to 20 people a minute being physically, emotionally, verbally attacked by their partner. Because the site I got this information from has a heartbreaking safety exit tab to “quickly exit the site if in danger.”

Because just reading about domestic violence can put someone in danger.

The rising tide

Cycle the WAVE (Women Against Violence Everywhere) is a non-competitive bike ride to raise awareness and funds and help bring domestic violence to its long-overdue end. The WAVE is a hugely supportive event, with enough woman-power circulating to light up a city, great food, amazing volunteers, your choice of several gorgeous Pacific Northwest routes, and fun extras like getting handed boxes of Hot Tamales by (several gorgeous Pacific Northwest) firefighters and sample packets from genneve, my awesome company, in the goodie bags.

The WAVE is a women-only ride, not to exclude men, who are there in number—on the sidelines with the kids, as “Guys on Bikes” riding in a support capacity, driving around in a van full of spare inner tubes and Allen wrenches, making sandwiches, etc.—but to celebrate women.

For me, making it women-only helps me remember the strength there is in women, in being a woman. The strength to demand healthy relationships, supportive partners, and safety. To insist on being shown the respect we’ve earned. The strength to demand equal treatment in our workplaces and streets, in public and in our homes.

“Lucky” me

I guess I should say I’m one of the “lucky” ones. I’ve never been abused by a partner, and the fella I landed with is so supportive he’s practically a bra.

But…. But.

I ride because “lucky” doesn’t feel right. It shouldn’t have anything to do with luck. Everyone—EVERY ONE—has the right to feel safe in their home, in their bed, in their life. The fact that some people’s homes are places of fear and dread and violence makes rolling out of my warm bed in my safe and happy home the very least I can contribute.

The WAVE Foundation provides grants to organizations that benefit victims of abuse and teach kids and adults how to have healthy relationships. According to its mission statement, the Seattle-based non-profit is “built on the idea that strengthening women helps to end domestic violence.”

I’m too lumpy for Lycra. My hair is chaotic on its best days; don’t get me started on the horrors of helmet hair. But I ride the WAVE because in 2016, it’s still culturally acceptable to call a men’s t-shirt a “wife-beater.”

We can do better than this. We can recognize the value of individuals, regardless of gender. We can celebrate strengths, respect points of view, honor accomplishments, and see people as the sum of their parts—not as some of their parts.

We can call them “tank tops.”

Let’s ride.


Shannon Perry

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