Demonstrators are using dance in protest of violence against women. On Monday afternoon at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., supporters of the One Billion Rising campaign will amass for a choreographed flash mob to raise awareness for female victims of violence. Junior Emma King and VaCA professor Paulette Moore, who was the filmmaker-in-residence at Shenandoah before coming to EMU, are organizing dance practices for anyone who wants to join them on Feb. 10. Moore engaged in the same event last year, and said “It was just a blast.” The 2013 Shenandoah flash mob was student led and run, but attracted the participation of the school’s faculty and president. It also garnered local news coverage.
“Flash mobs are just so much fun. They’re so unexpected and playful,” said Moore.
King commented that “this is a way to actually do something,” rather than just talk about women’s issues. King said that some people have declined to join the flash mob because of its exclusionary nature. “We can’t necessarily fit every social movement, every problem, into one thing. People will get overwhelmed.”
Moore hopes to contribute awareness about violence against boys and men with her participation. Especially concerning sexual abuse, “men don’t get to talk about it at all, and this is a cancer in our society,” said Moore. She explained that women have experienced a time of empowerment to articulate the violence they face, and that men now lack that space for articulation. “I think our capacity as women is now so great that we’re facilitating a revolution for men. . . they live in that violence. They perpetuate that violence; we all do.”
Moore cited the public stigma around female genetalia as one of the historic obstacles to women’s vocalization about systemic violence. “The fact that people can’t say ‘vagina’ – it contributes to violence. . . then it’s all private and unspoken and taboo.” Founder of the One Billion Rising movement Eve Ensler’s activism, such as her play “The Vagina Monologues,” is meant to express joy about women’s bodies.
In-person protesting like the flash mob has a certain power, says Moore. “Any time you add your body to a scenario and not just post online, that creates relationships.”
Those relationships are valuable, because the activists who engage in art “are the creative people,” who are fun, willing to take risks, and “solution- oriented.”
King’s involvement with the flash mob is an augmentation of her leadership role with Eastern Mennonite Student Women’s Association (EMSWA). King describes EMSWA as “a really intentional space” to provide support for women. The group is not solely for women, though, and King explained that they have “invited guys to come to ask questions,” and provide “different perspectives.” She encourages anyone interested in the flash mob to get in touch with her about practice dates and transportation to Winchester.
Beyond drawing external awareness, the flash mob is seen as an opportunity for networking between activists. “I like to create spaces where actions and conversations can begin,” said Moore. It is an “opportunity to come, meet other people, address an issue, and talk to other students.”
-Randi B. Hagi, Co-Editor In Chief; photos Paulette Moore