Women’s Advocacy Group Calls for “Revolutionary Love”

On Valentine’s Day, hundreds of New Yorkers gathered together for, what organizers called, “a Revolutionary Day of Love.”

Eve Ensler, women’s rights advocate and creator of One Billion Rising

Manhattan’s Washington Square Park was the site for a rally to end violence against women and girls on the holiday famous for love. The rally was organized by the women’s rights campaign, “One Billion Rising.”

The campaign was spring-boarded by a movement known as “V-Day,” an annual Valentine’s day event that calls for the end to sexual violence and for the protection of women and girls around the world. This year, however, the occasion blossomed to include not only advocacy for women, but for the protection of a broad variety of groups around the country in the midst of, what organizers claim to be, “the current racist, misogynist, and xenophobic political climate.”

“The ‘We’ is far more important than the ‘Me,’” said the campaign’s founder, Eve Ensler, “Tonight let’s commit ourselves to each other, let’s refuse their divisions and hatred, and let’s put our bodies on the line for all of those in this country: our immigrants, our refugees, everybody who is marginalized and under threat.”

Ensler was a victim of sexual assault herself, and has since been dedicated to protecting women and girls around the globe. Her play, “The Vagina Monologues”, has not only made her an awarded playwright, but has served as an inspiration to people everywhere who view it as a rallying cry for women.

“Eve’s mission in life is to eradicate violence and sexual violence towards women around the world, and so she wrote ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ which is a really powerful play,” says Kathy Berry, a longtime volunteer for “V-Day”.

For this event, Ensler combined her theater background with her desire to impact change, and in doing so created what was called an “Artistic Uprising.” The rally sought to spread a “Revolutionary” message of love through the arts, poetry, song, and dance.

Ribbon distributed at the Rally by group volunteers

Though it was a chilly New York evening, the crowd, donned with red ribbons tied around their arms that read “#RiseInSolidarity, One Billion Rising, and #RevolutionaryLove,” stood warm by chanting, singing, dancing and hugging. Meanwhile attendees took to the stage to speak out against a motley of issues, many of which were politically charged. Though the rally was not a direct protest against the current administration, many speakers and attendees voiced their concern and dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump as well as some members of his cabinet and party.

“We know that women continue to be exploited in so many ways in this country and in this city, and so much progress has been made because of advocates and activists like the ones here tonight,” said New York Comptroller, Scott Stringer, “Imagine what this generation must be feeling like knowing that the Republicans and Donald Trump are going to roll back the health and reproductive rights of women if we don’t stop them.”

This statement from Stringer comes as a response to the President’s stances on issues such as abortion and planned parenthood.

Among others speakers were Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis, the Senior Minister at New York’s Middle Collegiate Church, a progressive, ecumenical church established in 1628. Lewis brought over some members of the church group to support the cause and spread their own message.

Joe Rivello and other members of Middle Collegiate Church handed out signs to spread their message

“We wanted to support the effort and the movement, which is, I think, not just the rise and solidarity of women, but also what we feel is Making Love Everywhere,” said Middle Church member Joe Rivello.

The group began the event by sending out their choir to serenade the crowd with the aptly chosen freedom hymn, “Woke Up This Morning.”

Many in the crowd also voiced their discomfort with the political climate, still, this event seemed to push beyond the political sphere. While those on stage took to voicing many opinions and concerns, some of those gathered came with just a simple goal in mind: to spread love.

This was not the first time this event has taken place and will definitely not be the last, but given the time and current state of tension throughout the nation, everyone could certainly benefit from just a little bit of love.