The UC Plaza was hosting a celebration on Thursday, Feb. 14, but it wasn’t for Valentine’s Day. The Women’s Studies department held a V-Day dance to raise awareness for gender-based violence.

V-Day, which is a women’s rights holiday that stands for victory, valentine and vagina, is a global movement to stop violence toward women and girls.

“One in three women will experience a sexual assault,” said Jill Eichhorn, associate professor of women’s studies and English. “Everyone will dance to address the rising number.” Zumba instructor Doris Dungey led women to dance, strike and rise.

In the plaza, various organizations set up booths, including the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, Psychology Club and Gay-Straight Alliance. The booths were busy selling various baked goods and buttons to raise money for charities that assist assaulted women.

“Today’s the day to make a change,” said Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance member Tabitha Gunn.
The movement to end violence against women and girls helped playwright Eve Ensler produce the award-winning play “The Vagina Monologues.”

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V-Day began in 1998 and grew out of the “Monologues.” Activism springing from this play has focused on racism, poverty, slavery, colonialism and war, among other topics. The “Monologues” demonstrate how these oppressive factors produce an endless cycle of violence and disempowerment.

“When women are empowered, communities are healthier,” Eichhorn said. Eichhorn now teaches a course in which the students take part and perform in APSU’s production of the performance. This year’s “Monologues” will be presented on campus Tuesday, March 26 and Wednesday, March 27.

According to Eichhorn, the V-Day dance event and funds collected from “The Vagina Monologues” have helped APSU raise $15,000 since 2002, which has been donated to safe houses, legal services and shelters. Back at the plaza, the crowd grew as the noon hour approached. With dance as a major part of the event, staff, faculty and students stood equally in their approach to a serious problem.

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Eichhorn also said the number of female sexual assault victims is now at one billion throughout the world.
“This is interesting, I didn’t know it was one billion until today,” said student Kristin Jefferson. “I’m thinking about (doing) the ‘Vagina Monologues’ now.”

The event was intended as a positive way to celebrate victories for women’s rights, as well as an educational forum which catered to students unaware of rape and assault statistics. The event focused on violence against women in post-Katrina New Orleans disaster areas, as well as war-ravished and devastated areas such as Rwanda and Haiti.

To further emphasize the point that sexual crimes are not merely a foreign problem, Eichhorn said someone in the United States is sexually assaulted every two minutes. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2013 marked the 15th anniversary of V-Day.

To learn how to get involved and stay connected with V-Day, visit vday.org. For more information on APSU’s upcoming production of “The Vagina Monologues,” go to apsu.edu/womens-gender-studies.