V-Day, One Billion Rising draw attention to global violence against women

One Billion Rising Logo

By Janelle Thompson, Courtesy of the Women’s Center

This Valentine’s Day marks the 15th anniversary of the V-Day campaign, initiated by Eve Ensler in 1998. Ensler envisioned a day in which people from all walks of life would come together and raise awareness about violence against women and girls.  Inspired by her work as an activist, Ensler penned the “Vagina Monologues.” Since the play’s publication in 1994, the playwright has enjoyed global success. Eve’s work, heralded by the New York Times as “Probably the most important piece of political theater of the last decade,” has gained popularity for the way that it celebrates the female form and brings the discussion of womanhood to the forefront in a comedic yet liberating way.

Gettysburg College students, faculty, and members of the administration will be performing “The Vagina Monologues” on Thursday, Feb. 21 and Friday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. in CUB Ballroom.  Proceeds will go to local organizations that support individuals affected by domestic violence and sexual assault, so be sure to come out and show your support.  Not only is it a great event, but by attending you can help raise awareness within our own community.

On February 14th in conjunction with V-Day, the College will be participating in One Billion Rising (OBR).  I got the chance to sit down with Kara VanBlargan, the director of the OBR celebration here on campus, and discuss OBR over coffee.

What is One Billion Rising?

It’s an event that Eve Ensler started in hopes of bringing attention to violence against women.  Did you know that one in three women is beaten or raped in her lifetime?  The idea behind OBR is that women reclaim their voices and their power through dance.  All over the world people will be celebrating, and so will we here in Gettysburg.

I understand that the slogan for OBR is women rising.  What are some of the reasons that people rise?

Well there are many reasons.   Some people have loved ones who have been affected by violence; others rise because they have a voice and they can speak out against what’s going on to help promote change.  It’s such a shocking statistic that chances are everyone knows at least one person who has gone through something like this, even if they don’t talk about it.  Some husbands have even chosen to rise for their wives.

So the event isn’t just for women?

No, guys can definitely come too.  There will be something for everyone to enjoy.  The more people that come, the better.  It’s all about raising awareness.

What about those of us who can’t dance?

[Laughs] I mean, I’m pretty sure the only people there who will be qualified to dance are the performers, but that’s what makes it fun.  You don’t even have to dance if you don’t want to.  It’s a free event so you can just show up; there will be lots of other things to be a part of.

What can people who are attending the event expect?

We are planning on having excerpts of the Vagina Monologues read aloud, dance performances, and a cool video about how people are affected by this movement.  Also, people can make signs explaining why they rise.  Some representatives from Survivors Inc. will be attending and some of the College administrators too. It’s really going to be great.

There is no doubt that One Billion Rising will be a great kick off to V-Day, and a fun filled event. The celebration will take place on Valentine’s Day in the Junction from 4:30pm to 5:30pm. Bring a few friends and be one of the billion who rise for change.

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