Being Director

By Kathleen Dey

The other day as I was outside hanging up the washing I had an amazing thought.  Maybe it’s the fact that hanging up washing is one of those Zen tasks that lets your mind roam free, or maybe it’s that our drying yard with its lush greenery is the prettiest spot in the garden which makes me happy but I was thinking about my job and how much I love it.  And my next thought was that there can’t be that many people in the world who can say that being the director of an organisation called Rape Crisis is what they love.

I wondered what it is that I enjoy so much about the job.

It’s not as though this year has been successful.  We are still in the middle of a serious funding shortfall compounded by critical cash flow difficulties. Times are getting tougher.  The fundraising is so difficult that at one point I felt I was walking slowly through a desert wondering if I would make it to the next oasis before running out of water.

It’s not that I am a feminist.  I would never call myself a feminist (although I know some people whose tea would come out of their nose if I said that while they were drinking a cup).  Yes, I have hairy legs and would never dream of shaving my armpits but subscribe to any kind of ideology?  Never.  I cannot stand “aggrieved minority group proselytisers” or anyone who spouts any kind of dogma no matter how worthy the cause.

I love Rape Crisis.  As a women’s space it has no equal for the diversity of the women in it, for the depth of emotion that they are prepared to face, for the low down and dirty way they party, for the skill and seriousness with which they face challenges large and small, for sheer hard work without expectation of reward, for the laughs.

Of course, there’s the power, let’s not forget about that.  Yet it comes with responsibility, pressure and sustained stress and the people one supposedly has power over are not without powers of their own.  Powers to irritate, frustrate, aggravate, stagnate, subvert and stymie.

I enjoy the variety of people that I meet and the things I do.  One morning I am in Langa listening to a group of women starting their own organisation, an hour later I am in a skyscraper talking to besuited lawyers and that afternoon I am in my office lost in a giant Soduko of a spreadsheet.

I took this job thinking it would give me the chance to explore what being a woman means.  When I think about rape I think about being a woman.  It is the greatest suffering we bear.  I read somewhere that to truly deal with suffering gives us the sense that our lives have both visible and invisible connections far beyond our limited selves.  And that sense, that understanding becomes stronger and stronger. Having it I feel a responsibility to make use of it and what better way than to work for an organisation like Rape Crisis?

Happy Women’s Day!

8 March 2012

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About rapecrisisblog

We have a vision of a South Africa in which rape survivors suffer no secondary trauma, and are supported throughout their interaction with the Criminal Justice System (CJS). Our mission is to promote an end to violence against women, specifically rape, and to assist women to achieve their right to live free from violence. Rape Crisis Cape Town seeks to achieve its mission through counselling and training of women, thereby reducing the trauma experienced by rape survivors, and encouraging reporting of rape and the conviction of rapists.

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