How I Learned to Be Non-Violent

by Marinka on April 10, 2009

I know that I am an old hag because this morning as I was leaving for North Carolina to visit my inlaws for the annual crucifixion-resurrection special, a street in my neighborhood was closed off because some New School students had barricaded themselves inside a building as a sign of protest and my first reaction was “how fucking lame”. The details of what they were proesting were sketchy, I know that they wanted the school president to resign (the superhandsome Bob Kerrey. Seriously, I hope they’re protesting for him to resign so that he can court me. What? I told you already that Husbandrinka doesn’t read my blog) and they were also upset that tuition was going up while scholarship money was dwindling. And also they wanted more study space. I’m sure that previous protests resulted in Starbucks being served in their caferia, so no further energy had to be expended on that cause.

It made me wistful for college, for a time when I thought that if I didn’t like something, all I had to do was protest. Of course this magical thinking was really helped along by the fact that apartheid in South Africa was abolished in the early 1990s and the Berlin wall came down in 1989, both while I was (a) in a college mode, and (b) really annoyed by both racial and German East-West segregation.

College flash back sponsored by Gordon’s Gin

When I was in college, I was a superduper feminist. I didn’t shave and was totally hardcore about the ways that my sisters were persecuted by The Man. I went to a single-sex college, so a lot of time was spent in pursuit of this elusive Man, a co-ed from our brother school or a visiting student whose oppression I would rebel against.

It exhausted my friends.
“Can you bring tonic and limes if I get the gin?” Daisy would ask. And I’d sigh heavily because the time that I’d allotted in the afternoon to feeling opressed would now have to be spend drinking gin and tonics and eating Doritos.

I joined with my sisters of color and sexual minorities in solidarity for justice and the donuts served at the many organizational meetings. We referred to ourselvces as wommynnm, to rid the “man/men” from the word “woman”. For a short period I even went braless. “Is this a political statement or are you just too lazy to do laundry?” mama insulted me.
I attended a March on Washington to demand abortion rights, which was memorable because my “all this back and forth sounds very tiring” mother reminded me not to forget to bring a hanger, as she’d seen them in local protests and because I broke a four year vegetarian streak by eating a hot dog or three at the March..

But what really stands out from that time period is when I saw a flyer for a nonvilence seminar that was going to be held over the weekend and peer pressured my friends to go. “It’ll be fun!” I told them. “And non-violent.” I’m not sure why Daisy and Kristin agreed to go with me, if I had to guess, it would be to shut me up, but there we were, at some ungodly hour on Saturday morning, hair still wet from showering and a desire to finally learn the way to resolve our differences nonviolently.

The best thing about the program and what the three of us remember to this day is that we had to pick an adjective that started with the same letter as our first name to call ourselves as a sign of empowerenment. I was Mighty Marinka. Daisy transformed into Delightful Daisy (which sounded like she was trained in the art of pleasure) and Kristin called herself Krispy Kristin, foreshadowing the Krispy Kreme donut invasion of the east coast a decade later.

Our cult names firmly in place, things rapidly went to shit.
“The way it works,” our hippie-hairy group leader told us and then turned to face Krispy Kristin, “is that you look at your boyfriend and say, “You are my lover and I respect you, just as I expect that you will respect me. But you are also an opporessive motherfucker.” Kristin was nodding with a smile frozen on her face, the same way that she’d smile if our hippie hairy leader were holding a machete and talking about a recent alien abduction. I was starting to have second thoughts about this workshop and thinking of ways to extricate myself from it while still saving face with my friends. Delightfully Drowsy Daisy was asleep in her chair.

“Now we will go around in a circle,” our leader told us, releasing Krispy Kristin momentarily from her focus, “and introduce ourselves with our empowerement and tell the group about a situation that we resolved without resorting to violence.”
This was not good news for me, I hated speaking in a group of people that I didn’t know and with my milquetoast personality, I didn’t have many chances for conflict. I couldn’t focus on what the people preceeding me in a circle were saying because I was too focused on “remembering” a story of my own. I “remembered” a few Indiana-Jones type scenarios, but discarded them because they seemed sort of outlandish.
“I’m Mightly Marinka,” I announced once my non-violent Charlie Manson gave me the go-ahead nod,”I had a problem with my boyfriend once in high school. He wanted to date other girls. No, wait, it was the other way around, I wanted to date other gi–, guys, I wanted to date other guys and he didn’t want me to because he was madly in love with me,” I avoid the astouded gazes of inKredulous Kristin and Doubting Daisy and continued. “I was afraid that the situation would escalate into violence, but I was able to resolve it, nonviolently.”
“How?” Kwestioning Kristin asked. If there’s one thing I can’t stand are friends who question my methods with imaginary boyfriends.
“Mostly by explaining that violence is not the answer,” I elaborated. It’s like I had to draw diagrams for these people.

It ended well in the sense that we didn’t all engage in mercy killings and survive. It is one of the more ridiculous things that I’ve done in college. But I’m infinitely grateful for the luxury of being able to do it. So as I was stuck in traffic this morning because of the sit-in and I rolled my eyes at the kids staging it, I also felt a little proud. Proud that they’d take it on, proud that they stood up for whatever injustice it is that they understood to be inflicted on them, proud that they wanted to make a difference. Now if I could harness their energy to scrub my bathrooms.

Blog Business: It’s spring cleaning! Recently, Nap Warden redesigned my blog and made it more friendly and happy and peace-loving. She is very talented and `incredibly easy to work with and really knows what she’s doing. So, for a well-priced face lift, please visit her and get a makeover already. Everyone’s been talking about how drab your blog has been looking. Thanks, NW.

Also, I’m walking in the March for Babies walk in NYC in honor of Maddie Spohr who passed away on April 7th. Some blogging superstars are joining me, so please join our team or just throw some money at us. Click here to do either.

One year ago ...

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