Disrobe to disarm
By Margo Kingston
February 4 2003
The photo that inspired Grace Knight
Non-political people all over Australia have fired up over Iraq, coming up with all sorts of ways to express their opposition to Australia invading Iraq. Grace Knight, singer and songwriter, saw a photo late last week, put the rest of her life on hold, and got the ball rolling on an anti-war 'action' called DISROBE TO DISARM.
The former lead singer of Eurogliders lives in the Byron Bay hinterland settlement of Federal, where she's working on the lyrics for an album she'll record with her ex-partner Bernie Lynch. But after seeing the photo and reading the story of a few ordinary American women getting it off to protest the war (commondreams and ptreyeslight) she emailed an "invitation to the women of the shire of Byron" to join her this Saturday to "disrobe and show them we are willing to go to any lengths to have our feelings respected".
"In recent weeks a a group of American women - mothers, school teachers, shop assistants, lawyers, couriers, actresses, hippies and housewives - joined forces, took off their clothes and lay down in a paddock to spell out their protest. Their naked female bodies, arranged in letters that spelt out "NO WAR" made a powerful picture to present to their president and the world," she wrote. Why naked?
1. Because it attracts attention. We need the male-dominated parties of Australia to hear us. They are unlikely to listen unless we get their attention.
2. Because of its powerful symbolism. Stripped bare of any clothing or adornment that label and separate us, we become united as a single entity. We are simply female human beings who, in this moment in time, want one thing - PEACE.
3. Because although it's difficult, it makes a powerful statement. For some free-spirited Nimbin babies this might not mean a lot, but for most of us it is at best an uncomfortable idea and at worst, absolutely excruciating. Many of us have already signed petitions which have their value, but how useful does that really make us feel? Do you ask yourself - "What more can I do?" "How much of a sacrifice am I willing to make?" If nakedness is uncomfortable and embarrassing for us, think how uncomfortable and embarrassing the pictures of Iraqi citizens or Australian soldiers blown to bits will be."
Grace's idea has taken off, with women now planning similar protests in Sydney and elsewhere. "I feel helpless, and I feel angry," she told me yesterday. "I'm angry that children are dying and are about to be murdered. As much as I love my son, what makes him more special than an Iraqi son is to his mother?"
"I don't believe Australia has ever invaded a country before, and to do it on the back of George Bush terrifies me. Although my political views might be wrong, this should not be happening! And how can anyone by politically aware these days - there's so many layers, so much history, so much propaganda, we all get lost."
Grace believes many women feel as she does - desperate, helpless, and afraid to speak up because "they're not able to back it up with political analysis".
She says she's never done anything like this before, and the momentum her email has generated "thrills me but scares me as well". She's nervous about stripping off, as are most women who've agreed to come, and she asked me not to reveal the location of the protest for fear of unwanted onlookers. If you're interested in her action, or in doing one yourself, her email is email@example.com
Since Grace saw the photo and got her action off the ground, she's begun writing anti-war lyrics. Here's the first draft of a song she might sing on Saturday.
how the hell did we end up here
life is worthless, to live in fear.
Are our children's lives merely dust
to be wiped from the coat of the president?
Who owns the voice that speaks for me
Caught in a trap, that only HE can't see
Open the door, I'm not going in
......... this is wrong
How the hell did it come this far
when we send our children to die in war
No fuckin way will you lay your hands
on a child of mine to fulfill your plans
You bastards of war you took your turn
running our planet into the ground
now you sanction a dying child's last breath
won't stop till you own the rest.