Sunday, June 1, 2014

UNITE 16 Days Activism and Comments about Meaning of Masquerade Song

Article by Jane M. KellumProgram Director, Partners for Learning/Education, CARE International in Haiti Lead singer/songwriter of JKDC

Last Monday, November 25 marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the start of what is now called the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence that will continue until December 10 which also marks International Human Rights Day.

Violence against women as a gender-based manifestation is a social issue that has touched me from an early age: It was a normal day; my sister and I were playing outside with the neighbor girls. We ran home for some reason or other and found our front door locked. We knocked hard, called out “hey Dad”, and waited. When he came to the door, his face and eyes were red, swollen, and damp. We asked him what happened, but he simply told us he was sad (an obvious statement to us but confusing at the same time). We later learned that one of his cousins had been beaten severely by her husband and shoved into their bedroom closet where she died alone. We never talked about that day or the reasons why it happened. However, it deeply touched in me the desire to understand and inspired me to dedicate myself to working on social issues, including the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence (GBV). For those who may not know, I currently lead a double life as lead singer/song-writer with JKDC and as a development worker in Haiti with an international non-governmental organization which seeks to achieve gender equality through all its initiatives—CARE (

As part of the 16 Days of Activism, I would like to share one of our songs that explores the social construction of what is “feminine” and “masculine”.

Masquerade | Album: Alchemical Renaissance | Artist: JKDC |
Lyrics: Jane M. Kellum | Music: Jane M. Kellum & Andrés H. Pityla Casalaspro

Hey boy, are you playing the game?
That’s a masquerade
That you don’t even know you’ve been invited to…

Hey girl, are you playing it too?
No revolution
Just a magician’s cheap illusion.

Masques and gowns and feigning  smiles
Of this fraudulent ball.
What’s the meaning of this
Fantastic façade?
Lying, cheating, deceiving, blaming, and evading
Looking for a way to disguise this unfortunate ruse…

What chance to unveil mimicry?
To shed the cloak of duplicity?
To unveil our latent identity?

Hey you, are you dressed and groomed?
For the masquerade?
That you don’t even know you been waltzing through?

Masquerade takes us through a symbolic journey into this creation of “being a woman/girl” and “being a man/boy” which keeps us in a very real world based on fabrication and produces vast inequalities in rights and opportunities. The inequality generally favors men and acts as an underlying cause of violence against women (in its gender-based manifestation), putting us within an unequal power dynamic with women being more vulnerable socially, economically, politically, etc. vis-à-vis men.

Gender equality is a human right and GBV is a violation of those rights. We are all capable of being both part of the problem but also the change. Let’s be the solution and live the solution. A few ideas on how…

· Listen, reflect, share, and purchase “Masquerade” and support the work of CARE at the same time. During the 16 Days of Activism, 50% of the song proceeds go directly to CARE to support its work achieving gender equality;

· Share this blog post via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. with your friends and family;

· Explore more about “Gender Equality”; “Gender Equity”;  “Gender-Based Violence”.
        A starting point:

· Reflect on what it means to be a woman and man in society/culture. Are there biases that favor one or the other? In what ways? Do I reinforce or challenge gendered stereotypes? How? How can I do anything to better promote new social constructions that recognize equality between men and women; male and female?;
· Research local resources on GBV and be prepared to offer this information to those who may need it;
· Be vocal and speak out against GBV and gender inequality;
· Wear the campaign’s designated color, orange, for the remaining ten days of the 16 Days of Activism and tell people why you are wearing the color.

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Originally published on Nov 25, 2013