The timing of One Billion Rising is amazing.
In the past four months, events in this fine city have unearthed some troubling victim blaming tendencies in the public, particularly in the context of sexual assault.
That inspired Linda Ross, president of the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, to tell women not to go out alone and to avoid drinking. It also inspired VOCM to ask whether women did enough to “ensure they don’t become victims of the ‘date rape drugs.’” That last one even made it to Jezebel.com.
Much discussion followed these two PR blunders. (They’re “blunders” because, well, the only way to “ensure” people don’t get raped is to “ensure” that people don’t rape in the first place. So, y’know, it’s probably more appropriate to focus education about sexual assault on those who sexually assault people — maybe talk about what constitutes consent, like these “Don’t Be That Guy” posters that helped cut sexual assaults in Vancouver by 10 per cent. But you know that.)
Then, last month, Sara Tilley had her drink drugged downtown and wound up in the news over it. Guess what happened? People blamed her for it; check the comments in that story.
So, it’s pretty incredible that One Billion Rising is happening now. When I first saw the Facebook event, I wondered if it had been initiated here in St. John’s as a response to all this horsepoop.
But it’s bigger than that.
One Billion Rising was initiated by Eve Ensler, in response the horrific acts of violence against women in India, Pakistan, Steubenville, and — sadly — everywhere else in the world. According to Ensler in this article from the Women’s Media Centre, the UN estimates that one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime. That’s over one billion people.
So the idea is to have a billion people stand up and dance, instead. If possible.
“What if we did a call to those one billion to walk out of their jobs and schools and houses and to get with their posses and groups and to do a global dance action?” she asks.
One Billion Rising events take place on Valentine’s Day, this Thursday, across the world. The St. John’s event will take place from 4pm until 10pm at the Knights of Columbus Hall, on St. Clare Avenue. There will be booths and tables set up by various community organizations like the Downtown Community Watch and us here at the Women’s Film Festival, and there will be dancing. And food by the Multicultural Women’s Organization of Newfoundland and Labrador.