On Friday, Feb. 14, students will participate in One Billion Rising for Justice, a global campaign designed to end violence against women and promote equality and justice. The campaign is part of “The Vagina Monologues” playwright and feminist activist Eve Ensler’s V-Day Movement. The University’s participation in One Billion Rising was organized by Kate Weiner ’15 with assistance from other University organizations such as Rho Epsilon Pi (Rho Ep), Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), and Wesleyan Body and Mind (WesBAM!).
“One Billion Rising for Justice is a global call to women survivors of violence and those who love them to gather safely in community outside places where they are entitled to justice—courthouses, police stations, government offices, school administration buildings, work places, sites of environmental injustice, military courts, embassies, places of worship, homes, or simply public gathering places where women deserve to feel safe but too often do not,” reads the campaign description on onebillionrising.org. “It is a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories—politically, spiritually, outrageously—through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right.”
Weiner elaborated on the goal of the campaign on campus, which will incorporate storytelling and movement.
“The idea of the V-day campaign is to end violence against women,” Weiner said. “Everyone on the gender-identifying spectrum collaboratively dances.… Also, it’s an event devoted to sharing people’s personal stories about domestic violence and structured violence.… The goal is through dance and sharing stories, you can achieve justice for women.”
Renee Dunn ’14, a manager of WesBAM! and a member of SHOFCO, emphasized the importance of having multiple groups work together.
“An event like [One Billion Rising] not only brings awareness to issues of violence against women and the general V-Day Movement, but also allows a number of groups to collaborate,” Dunn wrote in an email to The Argus. “[…]Working together not only provides great opportunities for group leaders to establish connections, but also develops commonalities and enhanced reach—extending beyond the typical audience of such an event. People of all backgrounds and interests will be exposed to the movement, and multiple group missions will align with the mission of One Billion Rising. This allows Wes to play a larger role in raising awareness and building a community of support.”
Dunn described how each group will contribute to the kick-off of the event.
“The event will begin with a brief preamble and presentations from each of the groups, explaining the meaning behind the event in detail and how each organization’s mission works to combat violence against women,” Dunn wrote. “This is meant to set the tone and allow people to keep the mission in mind while they move.”
Jillian Roberts ’15, a member of SHOFCO, and Hadas Werman ’14, a member of WesBAM!, will lead dances after the presentations. Following the dance, organizers will hold discussion and debriefing sections.
Roberts commented on the importance of the University’s sponsoring of this event.
“As an institution that prides itself on educating, supporting, and nurturing young women to help them become as successful and fulfilled…[as] they deserve to be, it’s imperative that [the University] sponsors this event,” Roberts wrote in an email to The Argus. “The mission of One Billion Rising is to allow both women and men to express their frustration with injustice against women in a healthy and productive way.”
Weiner furthered Roberts’s argument, focusing on recent sexual assault cases on campus.
“We’ve had an increase in issues of sexual assault and rape on campus,” Weiner said. “We should address our shortcomings in dealing with those issues. I think it’s important to create these empowering feminist bases in which everyone can collaborate…to express their stories and to work out their beliefs.”
The V-Day movement originally stemmed from the production of “The Vagina Monologues,” which will be performed concurrently to the movement on February 13-15. Weiner spoke to the relationship between the two events.
“I think ‘The Vagina Monologues’ is helping to sponsor One Billion Rising in terms of publicizing it,” Weiner said. “I think they’re both related in that they both represent responses to the V-Day movement. They both use creative expression to raise issues of violence against women and empowerment in women.”
Dunn, a member of both WesBAM! and SHOFCO, emphasized the aspirations of both organizations for this event.
“I guess the WesBAM! connection is that we try to empower students through physical activity and mind-body wellness, so we agreed to host it mostly from the physical aspect, but also in the hopes that such an event may allow students to realize a deeper mind-body connection,” Dunn wrote. “In terms of SHOFCO, the SHOFCO mission is one of community empowerment through women’s education. One of the core aspects of the organization is to cultivate a sense of respect and value for young girls and women.”
Although the event is focused on empowering women in the face of violence, Weiner highlighted the event’s accessibilityl.
“Everyone’s invited, and we have support from a lot of people and a lot of different groups on campus,” Weiner said. “Hopefully it’s going to be [a] cross-club, cross-gender lines event that will implicate both men and women. We’re really excited for it. One billion rising is for everyone, so everyone should come.”