Eve Ensler’s ‘One Billion Rising’

onebillionrisingThe aim of One Billion Rising (OBR) was to stage a day of global mass action on 14 February 2013 in which one billion women and men worldwide would ‘walk out’ (or ‘strike’) rise up, dance and demand an end to violence against women and girls. After a brief introduction which contextualises this event in relation to V‑Day, an organisation spearheaded by playwright, performer and activist Eve Ensler, this article will start by exploring some of the common threads in critiques of its various projects that have been offered by feminist scholars and commentators.

Drawing on this framework and focussing mainly on the various promotional videos produced in the build up to the day, OBR will be considered as a global ‘brand’ which rather than ‘transnational’ feminism represents and promotes a neo-liberal ‘feminist cosmopolitanism’. The argument is that articulated from and privileging a western perspective and focussing in consumptive practices of vision and spectacle (Hesford, 2010:55) this campaign commodifies ‘other women’ and ultimately promotes a sense of cathartic liberation rather than concrete political action. This will be explored in relation to more general issues regarding social media and transnational political activism.

Switching perspective to note the way in which V‑Day’s critics tend to emphasise Ensler’s role as ‘author’ of its events, OBR is then examined in positive terms as an event that was far from ‘monological’, so as to raise some issues around feminist critiques of feminist activism, especially those structured around performance.