Vaginas of the World Unite.
I thought that might grab your attention.
The quotation in the title is from Eve Ensler, playwright of The Vagina Monologues. From that play evolved V-Day, a campaign to end violence against women, celebrated every February 14th for the past 15 years.
One Billion Rising happens in one week, February 14, 2013, to honor the 15th anniversary of V-Day, and to put an end to violence against women.
The plan? Get together and dance your booty off, and pledge one thing you’ll do in the next year to bring about this change.
Why dance? Eve Ensler explains in a video posted today, that women don’t move freely or wear what we want, in order not to attract attention, to prevent attack. You don’t have to think Burkas, or even long skirts, long sleeves and wigs. Just think “She was asking for it.” So dancing freely can release us from that invisible, ever-present imprisonment and unleash energy and creativity to change the world. Plus, it’s fun!
An epidemic? One in three. One billion women worldwide are victims of violence. To victims, it may feel like it is just happening to you. One slap. One beating. One belt. But back up, take a broader look: genital mutilation, Irish Magdelene laundries, Afghan schoolgirls, the universal fear of walking alone that is instilled in us, whether gathering firewood at a refugee camp, or in any neighborhood I’ve ever lived in. “Don’t walk alone,” my mother cautioned. Imagine: what would it be like to not be afraid?
The question of why women haven’t revolted is a complicated discussion for lengthy books, not a quick blog. For now, we have an opportunity to make our voices heard together.
Here in L.A., on Valentine’s Day, you can dance downtown at Pershing Square at noon, or join a Debbie Allen-choreographed flash mob in West Hollywood at night.
You can donate to small but mighty non-profits that work with local victims of violence, like A Window Between Worlds, founded by Cathy Salser. Or you can help refugee women and children by taking action with Jewish World Watch, or donate to the Women’s Refugee Commission, in memory of co-founder Catherine O’Neill.
You can join or create a rising wherever you are. Meet people. Have fun. Or you can simply turn on the car radio while waiting in the school carpool line and dance in your seat.
Now for that pledge. The hard part. The work part. The part that makes you think, I’m just one person, what can I do? Remember, Everyone in the history of the world has only been one person. So start.
- To teach my children respect for themselves and for others. For their own bodies and others.
- To ask them why car and beer commercials use women’s bodies to sell their products, and ask if that’s respectful to women.
- Not to allow violence (particularly the brother against brother variety) in our home.
- To love them.
- To dance freely, but never in a public setting that would really embarrass them on purpose (again).
- I pledge to donate as much money as I would spend on chocolate or Valentine’s cards and decorations to end violence.
- I pledge to call my Senators and tell them to pass the Violence Against Women Act today, and then call my Representative and tell them to make sure they make it happen.
It still doesn’t feel like enough. Fortunately, I know I am not alone. I am one of One Billion. And so are you.
Tell me your ideas. I’m listening. I pledge to share them.