One of the main drives behind Eve Ensler’s V-Day movement is to repeat the words “cunt” and “vagina” in public as often as possible. One could spend hours analyzing a. Ensler’s stated reason for doing this, b. Her actual reason for doing this, and c. The unintended consequences of doing this. But that discussion is perhaps for another time. Meanwhile, as part of the strategy, some of the organizers wore “I hella ♥ Vaginas” shirts.
The penis-centric “intactivists” continued their recent tradition of piggybacking on any and every San Francisco protest, injecting their off-topic grievance into settings where it isn’t always appreciated. They not only acted like typical aggressive men by physically dominating the protest-space, but they even hijacked the feminist language by characterizing circumcision as “gendered violence.” No fair! This event is about the power of women, and you’re testosteronizing up the place!
At past events, the intactivists got in hot water by displaying messages which could be construed as faintly anti-Jewish, an impression which was confirmed when one of their members released a controversial comic book featuring a villainous rabbi. They retrenched and tried to defuse criticism by tweaking their message, but here at 1 Billion Rising they unveiled a new villain, the Circumcision Octopus representing the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, upon closer inspection…
…the Circumcision Octopus does look distinctly Semitic, possibly Arab (is that a turban?) or Jewish (the big nose and the long tradition of depicting Jewish influence as an octopus). The jury is still out.
There is a great deal of conceptual overlap between 1 Billion Rising and Slutwalk. While the baseline message of both is “Women should not be blamed for being raped,” the vibe of 1 Billion Rising is “How sad; let’s make futile gestures!”, while the vibe of Slutwalk is “Men are all rapists!” Also: you wear normal street clothes to 1 Billion Rising, but you wear provocative “slut” outfits to Slutwalk. Despite all this, not everyone understood the difference, and some young women showed up at 1 Billion Rising wearing last year’s Slutwalk costumes. Except that in this context, they stood out as inappropriately dressed. How embarrassing!
At auditions, someone gets chosen, and everyone else gets rejected. But hierarchy and meritocracy are patriarchal and oppressive. So how can you possibly choose winners and losers at a Vagina Monologues audition? Does everybody get chosen, as a matter of philosophical consistency? Or do you somehow tell a roomful of women that they’re just no good at talking about vaginas?
A group of artist/activists set up some kind of installation involving windows on which people could glue shreds of paper with messages about violence. It was fairly unphotogenic, so I initially ignored it, until I noticed that some of the messages merited dissection…
“My mother was hit. She hit me. I hit her. End the cycle.” This gripping and tragic tale of intergenerational family violence had me on the edge of my seat until the final sentence, which was a command for me (or society in general) to “end the cycle.” Your family story is sad an’ all, but how exactly am I involved, to the extent that I (or anybody else) can intervene and stop the violence? Perhaps you, the person who made the sign, can “end the cycle” by ceasing to beat up your mother. Ever thought of that?
“Justice is an illusive social construct. Illusive for those who are not part of the dominent hegemony.” It always amazes me how people can go to college and memorize all these post-Marxist buzz phrases, and yet still never learn how to spell.