By: BEKKA OXLEY
Annually, lovers everywhere mark their calendars for Feb. 14, the day of love. This year, however, some local men and women are marking Valentine’s Day on their calendars for something much different than the giving and receiving of chocolate, flowers and heart-shaped balloons.
For some this year, Valentine’s Day in South Bend is reserved for political action.
On Feb. 14, One Billion Rising in Michiana, the Feminist Federation of South Bend and Michiana Monologues, are teaming up with The State Theater to organize a flash mob under the theater’s marquee as part of a global movement to combat violence against women.
According to the United Nations, one in three women alive today will suffer from violence in their lifetimes. Globally, that’s just over one billion women. One year ago, One Billion Rising was launched as part of the V-Day movement that was started by Eve Ensler, playwright of The Vagina Monologues.
According to April Lidinsky, co-organizer of the event last year and director and associate professor of women’s and gender studies at IU South Bend, when Ensler launched the One Billion Rising campaign, she invited people from all over the world to take part in it. She organized one song and one choreographed dance in order to globally recognize the one billion statistic and make visible how many people wanted to rise and act against it.
“She [Ensler] wants to use Valentine’s Day, a day that we celebrate love, as a day where we might think of love in a more political and empowering sort of way; love as a force of good against hate and violence,” Lidinsky said.
On Valentine’s Day, anyone wanting to participate in the One Billion Rising in Michiana event can gather under The State’s marquee at noon. Around 12:15 p.m., everyone will be invited to participate in a 3-minute, free-style dance flash mob to Aretha Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” sung by Connie Peterson-Miller, director for the office of admissions and international student services at IUSB.
“Personally, men and women can feel loved and supported if they have faced violence of any sort in their lifetimes or they can be the ones giving support and helping to raise awareness,” said Karen DeCocker, co-organizer of the event. “We had such a great time last year with people hugging, dancing and crying happy tears. It will only be better now that we have moved this out into the open and for the whole community.”
After dancing, participants will be receiving fliers announcing upcoming opportunities to forward the movement and movements like it in South Bend.
“We want to be able to rally forth with refreshed energy to tackle a problem that disproportionately impacts women, but doesn’t just impact women. It’s really a global, cross-gender issue that affects us all. This is just one way to lift your voice and begin the journey,” Peterson-Miller said.
The event is free of charge and no registration is necessary. For more information on the One Billion Rising movement, visit www.onebillionrising.org