Strike – Dance – Rise! With

Today all over the world, feminists – women and men,  will gather together in solidarity against violence towards women. In Philadelphia, One Billion Rising will happen at Love Park, at 2:14PM.

The event is the creative juggernaut of Eve Ensler, the feminist activist and playwright best known for The Vagina Monologues. She has traveled the world speaking everywhere as a witness to the misery and horror that women face simply because they are women, and because entrenched patriarchal cultural “norms” ignore or discount violence against women and girls. There is no end to the injustice once you become aware of it. And trust me, at some point, almost every woman on the planet becomes aware of it.

Ensler’s event has drawn some criticism for not doing enough to actually deter violence against women, and for including men. It shows a kind of immaturity to whine about what Ensler hasn’t done, compared to what she has done. That aside, it is an old, old criticism of the feminist movement to slam privileged white women for their efforts to change things for more oppressed female groups.

Yeah, I can see the relevance. No one can actually walk in another’s shoes. And no one can “save” another group. But it’s privileged white women (and men) along with other principled people of all hues and classes throughout history that have made any progress for human rights possible, nationally and internationally. At the most basic level, we all share a common humanity. Part of that humanity is anger and rage, and part also is violence. When movements emphasize what we have in common – and I think a desire for peace, nonviolence, is also deeply human – that’s when they create change. And there is room enough in my women’s movement, and I’m hoping yours too, for all of us. To care, to attempt to change this – whether you are one person working as a counselor, or an internationally known artist able to pull together a global event – is a good thing. We accomplish more together than we ever will singly.

The problem of violence against women is overwhelmingly large, built into every culture and history itself, and can quickly fill anyone with rage and sorrow (men too, though obviously not all men). Dancing and “rising” above violence against women – just for a day –  is profoundly empowering and even spiritually healing. It will mean something to the many people who participate today, and it will translate (I predict and I hope) to more awareness of the issue and pressure on public policies.

Ensler is, after all, an artist, so her work is going to be creative. She has used her fame from Vagina Monologues to benefit womankind around the world. I’m grateful to her, and so are many others. So, sure, the TV running footage of the “Break the Chain” dance might not drive home the severity of the issue to those watching at home, it won’t change their mind today, but it’s not like there’d ever be coverage of the actual issues of rape and violence without some kind of event to pin it to. We have to start somewhere. Considering we may not even get our own US House to pass the Violence Against Women Act (again), any attention on the issue is helpful and timely.

VDay,” as the event is called, is a monumental collaborative effort, and a day when women celebrate their strengths and their solidarity in sisterhood. That is no small feat!

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