While not perfect, #1billionrising is a step in the right direction

One Billion Rising is a global movement started by playwright and V- day founder Eve Ensler. Today on the 15th anniversary of V-day, in cities across the globe, survivors and allies are gathering in solidarity to bring awareness to the epidemic of violence against women by  dancing flash mob style.


A global strike
An invitation to dance
A call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rape and rape culture ends
An act of solidarity, demonstrating to women the commonality of their struggles and their power in numbers
A refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given
A new time and a new way of being

Like Slutwalk, One Billion Rising has feminist critics. While I was a vocal critic of Slutwalk, for a variety of reasons, One Billion Rising, while not perfect, does have an appeal to me as a survivor of violence. Sure, dancing isn’t going to prevent a man from committing an act of violence, but there is something very powerful about survivors and allies getting together to dance, because dancing is literally about the physical movement of your own body. There is liberation in that autonomy. 

I would actually be interested in polling folks to see if there is a significant amount of overlap between the critics of Slutwalk and One Billion Rising. I agree with some of the critiques of One Billion Rising, namely, that it doesn’t actually address the causes of violence against women, it simply brings awareness. Obviously, bringing awareness to an issue is necessary, but it’s not sufficient in order to actually solve the problem. Dancing isn’t going to change rape culture, but if it makes a survivor feel free and in control of her body, if only for a few minutes today, dance on.

And let me know when One Billion men are rising.


Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/itslightoutside/ Robin

    While I definitely see why there are critics I do want to throw out two things. One, a lot of One Billion Rising events, had tables and talks that discussed what caused violence against women, and how people can help. The Women’s Center that I work at was just one of many tables at our event on the University of North Florida campus. The reason I really love this event, is that many people heard the music and saw the dancing and came in, which gave us a chance to talk to them. And hopefully they are made more aware.

    Two, I would also love to see One Billion Men dancing for this. But there were definitely men at many of these events. Maybe not 1 billion. But a lot. We had many, including myself, there which I think is awesome. And from pictures I’ve seen, there have been some men at every event. Which is a start at least. :)

  • http://feministing.com/members/marniejoyce/ marnie joyce

    I was not aware of significant criticism of the One Billion Rising events scheduled to happen today. I did read the piece you linked to, and if that is an indication of the opposition to the event, then to that I can only say that i do not perceive these events as offering dancing as a panacea for violence. But sometimes we must have joy. and always, we must have solidarity with our sisters and our allies. 1 in 3 of us have or will experience violence. That is a worldwide statistic – in some places and professions the numbers are higher than others – but as a global community of women this is what we are facing. For those of us who have experienced violence, we can not live our lives in anger alone – forever reliving our pain. For those of us who will someday experience violence, we cannot live our lives in fear of this pain which we have not yet suffered. Todays’s event is about today – dancing together, today.

    To suggest that Eve Ensler is not sensitive to the needs of women world wide is to not know Eve Ensler. To suggest that money would be better spent on something other than dancing is to forget that point of awareness is not only to let people who are unaware know that this violence exists but to let those of us who have suffered violence know that we are not alone and that this violence does not define us.

    Since you asked specifically about overlap between critics of Slutwalk and One Billion Rising, I can say that for me, it’s apples and oranges. While I support Slutwalk because I support any activity created by and for women, where they see a need, in order to raise their voices against injustice – Slutwalk is not for me. I’m not interested in “reclaiming” the title “slut” and I feel that to a certain extent, using the term “slut” reinforces the notion that women who are harassed or attacked are either asking for it or enjoying the attention. Slut originally meant a dirty, unclean, or slovenly women, dating back to the 14th centuray – maybe longer. Eventually it came to mean prostitute. Today young women are seeking to redefine it, and I wish them well, but it is not a term I seek for myself or my daughter. I don’t find power in it, instead I find acceptance of blame. I understand that is not the point of the movement – indeed, the opposite, but that is my criticism, and it is a personal one. The walk itself is empowering, and I think the idea of women walking in the clothing they choose to wear (or none at all) to spread the message that our outfits are not invitation is a wonderful idea. It is merely labeling a women in the clothing of her choice as a “slut” or asking me to claim that title for myself whether I walk in a turtleneck and fuzzy slippers or lingerie – that is the part that gives me pause. It seems to reinforce the notion that clothing and presentation DOES matter.

    But fundamentally, I feel that if we are not supporting each other, then we are without support. And therefore though I could find fault with either of these activities or many more, I choose to participate in the ones which give me strength and applaud from afar the efforts which do not appeal to me.

    We need to stand together. We need to celebrate each other. We need some joy mixed with our outrage. And that’s why I think One BIllion Rising has got it right.

  • http://feministing.com/members/moemerry/ Moe Merry

    One Billion Rising raised $ 80 million dollars for anti-violence organizations. That’s my idea of action. Slutwalk hasn’t done that.

    I’m no longer ambivalent about Slutwalk. We have something much better with V Day.
    Three things I don’t like about Slutwalk: 1, It’s a poor communicator, which is
    More likely to strengthen negative perceptions of rape victims. 2. They continue to endorse or agree with claims that men are raped at the same rate as women (example, Feb 8 Facebook Slutwalk Toronto, respons to Bill Briggs nbc article). 3, it’s not possible to reclaim a word that was never yours, and they really meant “re-appropriate”, not reclaim, so, this ties in with reason #1.
    in with reason #1, they are poor communicators. Don’t tell me you’re the master of tof the a

  • http://feministing.com/members/moemerry/ Moe Merry

    O.B.R. Raised $ 80, 000, 000 with a global movement. They got global attention without resorting to using the word “slut”. Awesome!
    I’ve been content to call myself a pro-sex feminist, so I never needed to reappropriate “slut”. It’s hard enough to reclaim “feminist”. They spent so much time trying to justify the name Slutwalk, and “reclaiming” a word that was never ours to begin with, it wasted resources b error spent elsewhere. They actually me any “reappropriate” , not re claim, only adding to the confusion. It would be great to come up with a new, better way to spotlight the role victim blaming and shaming plays in rape culture.