A Guide to RevolutionNetali Braun
The last year brought winds of revolution to the countries around us: Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Yemen and the list might not be final. For the first time, women take an active part in the rebellion; they initiate and are involved in the virtual and real space. The new media – social networks and video blogs – allow women who have so far been deterred from going out to the public space to connect with each other in vast numbers and to participate in the protest with a lower level of risk. The network’s role is so important that one of the regime's first steps against the protest in Egypt and Syria was to disconnect the internet. In July, rebellion was declared in Israel as well. It broke with an action of a young woman, was led by women, put values of social justice, equality and welfare state for all citizens at the front, and swept crowds of people. In the first demonstration, the protest’s leadership decided with no apologetic tone and with great intuition that all speakers should be women. Thus, a civics teacher spoke plainly about democracy to thousands of listeners, and a social worker shared her frustration with the audience in face of distress and the helplessness of the system. A translator into sign language was on stage at all times, translating all speeches. It became clear that a new language was forming before our very eyes. For the first time in history, there were only women speakers at a demonstration that did not concern women's issues. Later on the spontaneous leadership demanded equal representation of men and women at the Trachtenberg committee. The protest which started as an authentic outbreak of a battle for our home, developed into collective passion in a moral revolution. Unintentionally, or is it?, the comparison made by Jean Paul Sartre in the beginning of the 20th century: Existentialism is Humanism, became in 21th century Israel: Feminism is Humanism.
The program will include a panel exploring the influence of the new media on the involvement of women in the local uprising, and the possibilities opening for women through visual speech and representation on the net and which would change the future world of cinema. We will examine the relation between women and revolution in different fields of meaning using a selection of films. The film Black Butterflies (Netherlands-Germany 2011) brings back Ingrid Jonker, a South African poet and the rebellious daughter of the minister of censorship, who worked during the 1960's and published critical protest poetry against the Apartheid. Following one of the first massacres conducted by the regime, she wrote the poem “The child who was shot dead by soldiers at Nyanga". Years later, in 1994, Nelson Mandela read the poem at a speech at the first South African Democratic Parliament, and she became a symbol of freedom over night.
Watching and curating the films linked to revolution, I noticed that some “traits of a woman revolutionist” repeat themselves. The character of Ingrid Jonker, for example, reminds that of Rosa Luxemburg: both films linger on the erotic aspect and the sexual passionate temper of the heroines and highlight it. If we stop to think again about representation of women artists and prominent women in Western culture, we will see that almost every woman who entered the pantheon has a representation of one with prospering sexuality, temperamental personality and emotional impulsiveness. During the local protest, the media tried to integrate Daphni Leef into this equation by calling her “the heart of the protest movement”, and the chairman of the student organization “the brain”; and especially when it tried to turn Leef into a symbol and let the others do the work. The famous symbol of the French revolution was a determined woman (with uncovered breast) marching at the head of the crowds with a flag in her hand, an image engraved mainly due to Delacroix's painting “Liberty Leading the People” (1830). However, when Olympe de Gouges ironically wrote in her Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen that “A woman has the right to mount the scaffold. She must possess equally the right to mount the speaker's platform”, her demands for equal rights for women were received with contempt by her colleagues at the revolution leadership, who in 1793 outlawed the women's clubs and organizations which started to form at the time (Women were given the right to vote in France only in 1946). In the summer of 2011 Daphni Leef demands not to become an empty symbol. With each innocent step she breaks another taboo. Instead of creating the necessary image of sex appeal she honestly tells about the rape she went through; instead of submitting to the passiveness which is expected of her she insists on being involved; and instead of getting mixed with intrigues in the leadership she does not ask for a crown but shares the journey with her partners. Leef, a film student, directed for us a stimulating addictive reality program, and like she says: it is a documentary film and we are all its heroines.