On February 14, 2013, Eve Ensler and her organization V-Day hosted an event called One Billion Rising. It was slated as a global movement to end violence against women, with countries around the world participating in dance events to bring attention to what Ensler describes as shared gender oppression among women. The idea is that all women of all backgrounds around the world are subjected to sexualized violence, so we can all come together with common needs.
Last year on the 14th, Ensler decided that One Billion Rising, Canada was going to spotlight Indigenous women. What she failed to recognize and acknowledge in her spotlighting efforts was that February 14th is already an important day on the calendar for Indigenous women across the country, and has been so for decades. This year will mark the 23rd annual Women’s Memorial March, which originated in Downtown Eastside in Vancouver and has since spread across the country. These events are specific and important because they were created in the context of structural and societal indifference towards Indigenous women, and in response to the widespread problem of their disappearances and murders.
The actions made by V-Day on February 14, 2013 bulldozed and railroaded existing grassroots organizing by Indigenous women, and then attempted to silence Indigenous women for dissenting. This was not the first time that V-Day and Ensler were condemned by Indigenous women, and these actions are unfortunately emblematic of mainstream feminism and its anti-violence movement.
Today, One Billion Rising is bigger and louder than ever, with thousands of events planned around the world. A short film about them premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Pop singer Pink recently led a dance in their support. In San Francisco, One Billion Rising events will feature famous performers, including a rapper from the Black Eyed Peas. Natalie Merchant is singing in NYC. V-Day has also partnered with SAFER Campus, called Campus Rising, to produce initiatives to influence campus assault policy and procedures. The organization also has massive support from law enforcement, prosecutors, and city officials in cities across the country, and even launched the U.S. Prisons Project.