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Rising for a just reason

Flickr / outwithmycamera

In an effort to demand the end of the violence against women, the Eve Ensler’s V-Day organization invites one billion voices to rise up and speak out against the worldwide horrors affecting women and their bodies.

The V-Day organization is a non-profit activist movement dedicated to ending violence against women. This organization garners most of its monetary support and publicity through productions of “The Vagina Monologues” on college campuses and in communities worldwide.

The production is produced and acted entirely by women, as stipulated in the contract one receives when applying to perform the piece. Ensler, the playwright of “The Vagina Monologues” and founder of the V-Day organization, believes that this production offers women a space where they can work together and grow together.

Each year, “The Vagina Monologues” incorporates new material to keep the issues current and to feature one particular group that will receive a significant amount of funding from that year’s revenue.

In celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the V-Day organization, the “One Billion Rising” has been launched, encouraging one billion people to rise up and state why they are dedicated to ending violence against women. At UMass this semester, a group of women will be putting together a production of “The Vagina Monologues” in support of the “One Billion Rising” campaign.

As a community, it is important that we lend our support to the campus’ production as well as the campaign as a whole. Though seemingly arbitrary, the number “one billion” corresponds to the number of women that will experience some degree of violence in their lifetime, according to the movement’s website. They go on to posit that one third of the women on the planet will be hurt for being a woman.

Though the sheer numbers are staggering, it is important to be aware of the individual stories of attacks. In Ohio, an unconscious 16 year-old was brutally raped multiple times by a group of high school football players. In December, a woman in New Delhi was gang raped and later died from the assault. On our own campus last semester, a young woman was raped in her dorm room.

We are living in a day and age where images of violence, death and war are constantly presented to us. I admit that I can watch a marathon of Law and Order SVU, any day at any time. I subject myself to hours on end of rape cases, murder victims and a justice system that often cannot persecute the offenders. Though I am affected by the stories and characters the show presents, I confess that I hardly ever remember that many of the storylines are derived from real headlines.

By producing “The Vagina Monologues” at UMass, an inherent dialogue within the community is created. We will discuss going to the event with our friends and perhaps what about the event makes us want to or not want to attend. We will ask each other if the whole show will be done through vagina puppets or if there will be a celebratory bra burning afterwards. And if you weren’t wondering what the show was about before, I’m sure you are now.

This dialogue is an opportunity for people in our community to figure out why and if they are rising to help end the violence against women. If nothing else, the validity of the problem of gendered violence has been brought to your attention. What you choose to do from there is entirely up to you.

I am rising because women in real life face the horrible violence that is portrayed on television crime shows. I am rising because whether I go to school in Ohio, Massachusetts or London, England, I am still a woman who might get attacked for being who I am. I am rising because by rising, I am adding one more voice toward ending the silence around this pressing issue.

Allie Connell is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at aconn0@student.umass.edu.

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