Valentine’s Day checklist: Flowers? Check. Chocolates? Check. Registered for a few rallies and a flashmob? Check.
Yes, you heard me. Today women across the globe will be participating in the “1 Billion Rising” campaign. For those of you who are new or unfamiliar to the crusade, 1 billion rising is a movement initiated by activist and Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler. The event is set for today, Valentine’s Day, and also marks the 15th anniversary of V-Day.
The “1 billion” notion comes from the 1 in 3 statistic: that one third of women will be a victim of violence in her lifetime, and as there are 6 billion people on this planet, approximately one billion women worldwide are raped, beaten, or violated. So what exactly are the participants going to do in honor of these victims of abuse? “We are inviting ONE BILLION women and those who love them to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence,” says the 1 Billion Rising website. Women and men all over the world are encouraged to join the movement by signing this pledge, which acts as a sort of ‘e-promise’ to join the “global strike” and end violence against women. It also helps participants find 1 Billion events in their own communities. Here in DC, there are already plans underway for a 1000+ person dance party/flashmob.
Ensler was partially inspired to create the 1 Billion Rising campaign as a response to Todd Akin’s egregious comments about “legitimate rape” in 2012. Angered and impassioned, Ensler and V-Day decided to launch a passionate yet celebratory call to action, urging men and women to stand up (or rather, rise up) in solidarity against abuse, violence, and rape culture. “One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a revolution.”
The campaign is shaping up to be a wonderful vehicle for dialogue about violence against women, and its empowering messages of ‘rise up and dance’ have proven to be particularly meaningful and effective in cultures that traditionally use dance as a means of storytelling and communication. Events have been planned in many communities, states, and countries featuring dance, music, and poetry.
I hope that while our country is busy celebrating the national day of love, we also find time to acknowledge the problem of violence against women and work toward a responsible solution for eradicating rape culture, aiding victims of abuse, and creating an open dialogue about these issues in the US and worldwide.