Thursday February 14th marked the fifteenth anniversary of V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler’s award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works. It was marked by the first global movement of music and dance – One Billion Rising - in which one billion women and those who love them were invited to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and demand an end to this violence.
One Billion Rising was marked in Second Life by a series of activities right across the grid, and centred on One Billion Rising in SL, a special gathering of talent organised by a huge team of volunteers and held in four regions commissioned and sponsored especially for the event.
Four 24-hours, the music played across the huge, region-spanning stage standing at the centre of the sims, and people rose from across the grid and around the world to dance and lend their voices to the call to end violence against women of all ages. Eighteen of Second Life’s top artists also leant their talent to the call, providing eighteen thought-provoking works on the subject of women and the violence – physical or otherwise – so many face as they go about their daily lives.
As is so often the case, One Billion Rising in Second Life brought out the very best in Second Life, with people giving up their free time in droves to organise and support the event and ensure that it would be a memorable and enjoyable event for all those who participated as visitors. The organisation was near flawless, allowing for the inevitable quirks of SL, and everyone from the organising event staff through the teams of volunteers greeters, helpers and assistants, those providing event security, the builders and landscapers, the artists who provided art, the choreographers, dancers and film crew who participated in the creation the OBR in SL version of Breaking the Chain, those who provide video filming and streaming of the event itself, the DJs and – particularly importantly – the sponsors, and everyone else who participated in bringing the event together are to be congratulated.
For my part, I didn’t get to spend as much time at the event as I would have liked. An unexpected hole in the roof and a solid downfall of snow followed by rain led to a rather unexpected domestic situation on the 13th February, and meant that most of the 14th was spent helping with household repairs. However, this doesn’t mean I can’t still show support. The four regions of OBR in Second Life will be open through until 17:00 SLT on Friday February 15th. So if, like me, your time to dance and raise your hand in support of V-Day was curtailed or otherwise limited, there is still time to see the fabulous stage build by Victor1 Mornington and his team, and witness the 18 outstanding works of art around it.
Another way to capture the event is to visit the One Billion is SL Flickr group, where people have posted their own pictures of the event. But I really do urge you to tour the regions themselves and see the art pieces on display and take the time to both read the note cards accompanying them and give thought to what they represent, and how we perhaps all too easily accept violence and harassment as an acceptable part of human life.
Of course, One Billion Rising in either real life or Second Life, isn’t going to transform matters overnight. I had planned to comment on this at length – but Saffia Widdershins has already done so very eloquently, and provided considerable food for thought; particularly for those who responded with a degree of hostility towards the event or who sought to denigrate the subject of violence against women through obfuscation and mis-direction. As such, I’ll only repeat the title of Saffia’s post, Events don’t change things, people do, and allow people to read her thoughts first-hand.
Suffice it to say that I do hope this was the first in what will become an annual event in Second Life as well as in Real Life, and that in the future we’ll be able to see it spread to include more venues across the grid, and serve as a catalyst for people to speak out against all forms of violence in the world, whether committed against women, children or men – and in doing so, change attitudes and beliefs the world over where violence is concerned, and for the better.
Kudos and thanks again to everyone who played a part in making OBR in SL happen, and who took part on the day.