Another article I started writing many moons ago (bus journeys are great for finishing off posts!) about something very close to my heart.
Lancaster Vagina Warriors, BREAK A LEG! I’ll see you on Saturday💙
Content Warning: statistics of violence towards women.
Part 13: V-Day
I want to talk about V-Day, all that comes with it, and how it has effected me and my feminism. By ‘V-Day,’ I am taking about February 14th, but I am not talking about the lovey-dovey flowers, cupids, chocolates and secret admirers. I’d probably better explain.
V-Day is the name of a global activist movement, a feminist movement, inspired by The Vagina Monologues and dedicated to ending violence towards women and girls.
V-Day first entered my life over three years ago when I auditioned for The Vagina Monologues at Lancaster University. I had seen the play a few years before and could not have been more excited to be involved in it, especially given my new found interest in feminism at the time. Whilst the play is not to everyone’s taste, it resonated with me: it was touching and heartfelt, passionate and turbulent, funny and true. That said, it actually wasn’t the play which kept me coming back for more every year, it was V-Day.
What people are not always aware of is that The Vagina Monologues is, first and foremost, a means of raising money for charity. Of the money made from the performances 100% is given to charities dedicated to supporting women and girls who have been victims of violence. And it’s not just the performances, there are bake sales, fun runs, vagina parties, sponsored tattoos, open mic events and one year I may or may not have had my hair shaved off to raise money for this cause.
V-Day has taught me about the global and local atrocities which are committed against women every day.
Globally, 1 in 3 women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime
– United Nations
It was from this statistic that ‘One Billion Rising’ arose. A tiny bit of maths (sorry, bad habit): if there are six billion people on this forsaken planet, half of which are women, then that amounts to one billion people (women that is) whom will be subject to violence in their lifetime. One Billion Rising is a part of the V-Day campaign with the aim of encouraging a billion people to rise against this injustice.
V-Day sees gatherings across the globe of people protesting against these statistics through various empowering public stunts, flash mobs and the like and the events are quite something to behold…
A in 2013 I had the pleasure of helping to organise and be a part of Lancaster Rising, a One Billion Rising event set up as a fundraiser for V-Day complete with a flash mob. The cherry on top of this particular cake being that none other than Eve Ensler (author of The Vagina Monologues and founder of the V-Day charity and movement) attended our event. At the event, Eve gave one of the most invigorating, passionate and empowering speeches I have ever heard.
Eve discussed in her speech the atrocities she had witnessed both close to home and globally. Atrocities that don’t just happen in far off corners of the globe, but next door to you.
A few close to home, close to the bone UK statistics:
• Every minute, one minute of domestic violence is reported to the police.
• Two women a week, on average, lose their lives subject to domestic violence.
• It is thought that approximately 85,000 women are raped in England and Wales every year.
Around the globe, but just as close to the bone:
• In America, someone is sexually assaulted every 90 seconds.
• More than 133 million girls and women have experienced some form of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East – FGM still happens elsewhere in the world.
• 1 in 12 transgender individuals are murdered.
If these statistics don’t chill, I don’t know what will. V-Day has opened my eyes to these facts and has made me more fierce and forthcoming about my feminism.
I want to also take a moment to thank all the incredible individuals I have met over the past three years of being involved in V-Day. You have inspired me more than I can say, and the work you achieve every year makes me proud to have even been a tiny cog in this movement.
Lastly, I want to encourage everyone this year that whilst getting cards with slogans such as ‘I love us,’ on the front and teddy bears holding little hearts is lovely, take a moment to consider those who won’t be having such a gooey Valentine’s Day. Wear a White Ribbon Campaign, make a pledge, donate a few pennies to raise awareness. We can only change those statistics if we strive to make a difference.