Can Dance Ignite a Revolution Against Rape Culture?

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Thursday is Valentine’s Day. For some, this is a day to give (and get) flowers, cards, and chocolates. For others,  Valentine’s Day represents an opportunity for 1 billion women and men  to rise up and dance.

If you have somehow missed it, people are increasingly rebelling against rape culture on a global scale. While this is by no means new, challenges to cultural climates that make rape and sexual violence common (and even trivial) have taken center stage over the last couple of years. Consider, for example, feminists calls to Occupy Rape Culture,  the national protests over the alleged rape of a 16-year old in Steubenville, Ohio (an act that was covered up to protect the high school football team), and the global protests to the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey on a bus in Delhi, India (including an eye catching protest by Indian men wearing skirts asking others not to skirt the issue of violence against women).   This week, women in communities around the world will be united by music and movement. According to the website (http://www.onebillionrising.org/pages/about-one-billion-rising), the number is symbolic.

ONE IN THREE WOMEN ON THE PLANET WILL BE RAPED OR BEATEN IN HER LIFETIME.*

ONE BILLION WOMEN VIOLATED IS AN ATROCITY

ONE BILLION WOMEN DANCING IS A REVOLUTION

On V-Day’s 15th Anniversary, 14 February 2013, we are inviting ONE BILLION women and those who love them to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence. ONE BILLION RISING will move the earth, activating women and men across every country. V-Day wants the world to see our collective strength, our numbers, our solidarity across borders.

What does ONE BILLION look like? On 14 February 2013, it will look like a REVOLUTION.

ONE BILLION RISING IS:

A global strike
An invitation to dance
A call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rape and rape culture ends
An act of solidarity, demonstrating to women the commonality of their struggles and their power in numbers
A refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given
A new time and a new way of being

 

Dancing is an enjoyable way to spend a lunch hour, but can it ignite a revolution?

I suppose this depends on what you think a revolution looks like.

It is definitely an event with value, if the opportunity is seized by local activists. It provides an opportunity for local activists to educate a community.  Activists that have publicized the event may find that the issue of rape culture gets media attention. A news brief can alert new people to the event and in-depth coverage can create a forum for discussing a social problem relative to a community (this happened in Tallahassee).  More importantly, it provides a fun way for generally like-minded people to organize around a serious (and generally depressing) issue. If local organizers are savvy, the dance will just be the beginning.

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About Double take Sociology

I am a professor of sociology at Florida State University. I research (and write about) social movements, mass media and politics. My new book is "Abortion Politics, Mass Media, and Social Movements in America" (2015, Cambridge University Press). Be sure to visit my website at www.DeanaRohlinger.com!
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