Hips & Raks
I completely forgot I had this item to discuss until I found 'it' buried on my desk here.
My parents where 'up' visiting a few weeks ago & so we had the rare occasion to eat at a restaurant -- with wait staff. (How decadent!) Typical foyer finds included the local free newspapers and publications, and I grabbed the monthly Arts Events calendar, a Lake Agassiz Arts Council publication, with which to pass the time waiting for my parents to arrive.
I got as far as page two (or inside cover, if you will) when I found an event which caught my scanning eye: Saturday, Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m. Hip Raks Fundraiser for Rape and Abuse Crisis Center.
Could I be reading that right? They actually used "hips" and "racks" in conjunction with a rape? "Raks" had to mean something else -- but then my parents arrived & I was caught up in the greetings etc.
Once seated at the table, I began to read the event listing aloud: "Saturday, Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m. Hip Raks Fundraiser for Rape and Abuse Crisis Center..." There was no reason for a preamble asking them to tell me what they thought -- it was written on their faces.
"Because I am curious, I will continue to read it," I said. "The "Raks", spelled R A K S must mean something other than what our dirty minds think, right?" And then I read the rest of the notice:
This event is organized and performed by members of the Shimmy Sisters, a professional belly dancing troupe, and by the Oasis, a club for belly dancing enthusiasts. Please help us raise money for Rape and Abuse Crisis Center and enjoy an evening of dance.
Now, I understand, intellectually, that rape and sexual violence are not about arousal and lust but about control and violence, and that women -- including those who have been raped and assaulted -- should neither fear nor be ashamed of their own bodies and sexuality... But doesn't the name "Hip Raks" seem the least bit in bad taste?
One of the founders of the Shimmy Sisters, Rita Slator, was interviewed in the High Plains Reader about the event:
What is the connection between Middle Eastern dance and raising awareness for the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center? Slator clearly bridges the two. ďItís about power and control. Rape and abuse involve victims who are without power and control. Dance gives the power and control back to women. Women have control over their own bodies in dance, and this is a way for us to bring awareness and education about the loss of power when someone is a victim.Ē As the dance troupeís message for the fundraiser reads, rape and abuse is not about sex; itís about power.
Shimmy Sisters says this was their biannual Rape and Abuse Benefit. Perhaps I'll have to attend next year and become a whole lot more hip. And Raks.