skip navigation

V-Tour 2005 Recap From Executive Director Jerri Lynn Fields

04/12/2005

Dear V-Supporters,
We are well into V-Season 2005 and I wanted to share our travels with you as we get a glimpse into over 1,100 communities around the world putting on V-Day events to end violence against women and girls.

V-Tour 2005, Leg One

Rhode Island

The V-Day 2005 V-Tour began in the small, but very Vagina Friendly state of Rhode Island -- there are 8 V-Day events there this year! To help kick off V-Day 2005 events in Newport, Eve participated in a number of wonderful, grassroots events:

  • Nancy Rafi, an organizer for the past 4 years, brought 100 people from the community to celebrate four local vagina warriors, Jeffrey Gallus, Eustacia Miller and the co-directors of Breakaway, Bobbi Jo Joval and Gretchen Nelson.
  • Cast members from Worldwide and College Campaigns joined Eve for crowded book signing of "Vagina Warriors" at the historic Viking Hotel. The room was decorated with framed pictures from the book surrounded by hot pink boas and handmade female torso statues.
  • There was an engaging and inspiring Q&A dialogue with Eve and the audience.
  • Rose Bell (former Ukiah V-Day and Until the Violence Stops film premiered organizer) joined forces with Nancy to create a gorgeous night.

Yale

Marie Otsby directed and organized a spectacular V-Week which included a variety of artistic workshops, a Violence against Women of Sexual Minorities - panel discussion coordinated by the LGBT Co-op, (co-sponsored by MARS: Men Against Rape and Sexual Violence) a Master's Tea with performer/activist Nighat Rizvi, a screening of "What I Want My Words to do to You", a project presentation on sex trafficking in Iraq, Religion and Women: an interfaith panel discussion, Vagina art gallery opening, and Sexual Violence in War: a discussion focusing on women in Iraq.

  • The V-Day team had lunch with Yale organizers and a wonderful reunion with Nighat Rizvi, the woman who brought V-Day to Pakistan and was invited by Marie to be a part of V-week activities.
  • Eve addressed a group of students at the Women's Resource Center
  • Signed books at the Yale Bookstore
  • A reception at the Slifka Center with Jewish students and faculty.
  • The show was sold out and there was a waiting list! The performance was wonderful and Nighat performed "Under the Burqua." The cast wore beautiful dresses designed by a Yale freshman—each dress designed specifically for the actress. The event benefited the Miles Foundation, a private non-profit organization providing comprehensive services to the military community. The Miles Foundation and its partners drafted "Improving the US Armed Forces Response to Violence Against Women: Recommendations for Change."
  • We enjoyed a post-show reception at the women's center which included chocolate vaginas and an Until the Violence Stops cake.

Wabash College, Crawfordsville, IN

A first in V-Day history -- a V-Day production on an all men's campus! Professor Jennifer Young and Lucinda Huffaker, Wabash faculty and staff respectively, wanted to see V-Day happen on campus. Lucinda's daughter, Amy, attends Valparaiso College so they invited female students from Valparaiso to perform in this historic event. We knew we were going to have a great time when the first male student we met had a t-shirt with "VAGINAS…" on the front and on the back: "…it's not HOW you love them, it's THAT you love them."

  • Our visit at Wabash began with a press conference and then Eve conducted a workshop for the V-Day cast and Wabash organizers and volunteers
  • We then attended a dinner with the cast, organizers, volunteers and faculty
  • Wabash students held a Bake Sale in the lobby of the fine arts center during the show.
  • The fine arts centers was a buzz with activity as those on the waiting list for the sold-out show anxiously awaited news on whether they would get a seat. Soon there was an announcement that they would make an exception and let everyone it, some sitting on the stairs in the theatre! The show was wonderful and a highlight was "My Angry Vagina" performed by a theatre department faculty member's wife, a local librarian—she had the young men rolling in their seats!
  • Eve led a Q&A with the audience after the show, which was heated at times, but thought-provoking, while the male students who coordinated the bake sale passed buckets for donations for the Crawfordsville Family Crisis Center.
  • Our night ended with 2 hour book signing—every book sold out ("The Vagina Monologues," "The Good Body," "Vagina Warriors")

Click here for an article on the event:
http://www.wabash.edu/alumni/news.cfm?news_ID=2243

St. Xavier, Chicago, IL

This is the third year of ongoing opposition lead by the Cardinal Newman Society to stop Catholic College V-Day events. (Background on this issue can be found here: http://www.vday.org/contents/vday/press/release/0403011)

We decided that visiting a Catholic campus or two was definitely a must this V-Season! First stop, St. Xavier:

  • This was St. Xavier's first V-Day event!
  • Colleen Sullivan and her team of V-Day organizers held a reception honoring Eve, local vagina warriors and their beneficiary "Friends of Battered Women and Their Children." Eve made remarks to the group and enjoyed an intimate book signing with much of the cast and event supporters.
  • The show was fantastic and there was an incredibly diverse cast. Eve spoke to the audience post-show. It was a perfect way to spend V-Day, February 14!

V-Day Chicago 2005

While in Chicago we wanted to help raise awareness for the upcoming V-Day Chicago 2005 event. This is the 4th or 5th V-Day Chicago. First brought to Chicago by Mary Morten, this year Mary is being honored as a Vagina Warrior by C.C. Carter, the V-Day 2005 organizer, at their event on March 5.

  • We started with a book signing at Women & Children First where many former college V-Day organizers came to meet Eve, including four women from Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, IL, a young man from Simpson College in Iowa who wrote and performed the men's monologue in his college production two years ago, three young women from Notre Dame's 2004 V-Day event, and Jasmine from Skidmore College, who just happens to be featured in the "Vagina Warrior" book that Eve was signing!

  • It was Mary's birthday and she brought a picnic dinner for us to enjoy on our drive from the bookstore on the north side to the next event on the south side.
  • The V-Day Chicago 2005 presenting group, POW-WOW, Inc. dedicated their weekly open-mike night at Lee's Unleaded Blues to Eve and ending violence against women and girls. A multi-generational line-up performed poetry and Eve closed the show with "I'm an Emotional Creature." The evening ended with a great DJ spinning and everyone dancing. V-Day Chicago 2005 will be held on March 5 at the DuSable Museum.

Notre Dame

Back to Indiana, this time to support the young women of Notre Dame who, for the fourth year in a row, held V-Day events. When we arrived on campus we were handed Bishop John M. D'Arcy's written opposition to "The Vagina Monologues." We knew we were in for a wild ride.

  • We passed through a small group of protesters before attending a lunch in which Eve keynoted. The luncheon was held by the Notre Dame organizers on behalf of their two beneficiaries, SOS (Sexual Offence Services) and the YWCA services for survivors of domestic violence. The event began with two survivors sharing their stories of violence and there message of hope as they had both received services from the local groups.
  • Immediately following the luncheon Eve participated in a panel discussion, "Contextualizing 'The Vagina Monologues' and Its Place on Campus" with three members of Notre Dame's faculty, Gail Bederman of the history department; Jessica Chalmers of the film, television and theatre department; and Glenn Hendler of the English department. At the panel discussion, each professor spoke briefly -- Chalmers about the history of women's theater since the 1960s and the role of performance in social activism, Hendler about academic freedom and student activism, and Bederman placed Catholic opposition to "The Vagina Monologues" in the context of the Catholic concepts of love and marriage and the grace they confer upon a couple in the form of the sacrament of marriage -- and then Eve opened the discussion to questions from the audience.
  • Following the two-hour panel discussion, Eve met with the press and then it was show time! The cast of 50 women performed for a large audience with incredible interpretations of the monologues including an entirely unexpected version of "Reclaiming C*nt" (edited for the sake of email filters) in the form of a cheer! Eve addressed the audience and her words "I really believe violence against women supersedes faith, class and ethnic groups. It happens in all of these groups. If you beat a woman ... you are dishonoring life" resonated with the audience who responded enthusiastically by rising to their feet
  • Eve signed books for an hour and a half to an enthusiastic group of students and supporters.

We left the Notre Dame campus grateful that there had been space and time for such a respectful dialogue on the issues, which can often be so polarizing. Click here to read an article on the visit to Notre Dame:
http://www.southbendtribune.com/stories/2005/02/17/local.20050217-sbt-LOCL-A1-Ensler_faces_ND.sto

Los Angeles

L.A., the last stop on this leg of the tour, was packed with great V-Day Activities!

  • Eve held two "Vagina Warrior" book signings where she was blown away by the number and diversity of local V-Day organizers who attended. This year alone there are nearly 30 events, including

    Arcadia
    Bakersfield
    Burbank
    California State University, Long Beach
    Golden West College
    Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California
    Long Beach City College
    Los Angeles
    Los Angeles 2
    Los Angeles Harbor College
    Loyola Marymount University
    Mid-Peninsula
    Newport Beach
    Occidental College
    Pepperdine University
    Riverside
    Santa Monica
    South Bay
    South Gate
    University of California, Irvine
    University of California, Los Angeles
    West Hollywood
    California State University, Fullerton
    California State University, Northridge
    Fullerton
    Fullerton College
    Glendale Community College
    Riverside Community College

  • Scripps College: Eve attended Scripps College and enjoyed a reception and dinner followed by keynoting to hundreds of students, many of who immediately came to her after to sign on as Vagina Warriors and to join our movement!
  • Cal Tech: While in L.A. Eve wanted to be sure to meet the strong, powerful women of Cal Tech, particularly in light of a certain Ivy League president's comments about women in the sciences; many of the women she met are studying to be scientists. Women make up one-third of the population at Cal Tech so they feel it is important to make their voices heard. This year marks Cal Tech's 3rd V-Day event.

It was inspiring to see women and men in this movement—from coast to coast and from college to city—demonstrate leadership and vision in their communities with one distinct purpose: to end violence against women and girls.

V-Tour 2005, Leg Two: Ireland and Iceland

  • We arrived to the wonderful news that before tickets to the V-Day production of "The Vagina Monologues" was even announced they had sold half the house! One particularly touching story we heard was the woman who bought 20 tickets—she works with disadvantaged and poor women in Dublin and recently a group she leads was reading and discussing the book "The Vagina Monologues." She promised the women in the group that if the play came to Dublin she would take them—she said that fact the Eve would be there was beyond their wildest dreams.
  • To help launch the five-day festival Eve met with press from NewsTalk 106, Village Magazine, and The Star. We attended a reception for festival supporters and volunteers in which Eve thanked them for their hard work and then the festival was launched by a rousing keynote address from Eve. Immediately following was the production of V-Day Dublin, to a standing room only crowd.
  • The next morning Eve kicked-off the Amnesty International Student & Youth Conference, held in tandem with the festival. Nearly 200 young people, mostly women, attended the kick-off speech. Eve talked about Vagina Warriors, the V-Day movement and then performed ‘My Short Skirt' and ‘I'm an Emotional Creature.' She took fantastic questions from the youth, including the young man who asked "How can I become a Vagina Warrior." Later that day we had the privilege to join the Amnesty staff, along with their other honored guests from Mexico and the Congo, for a celebratory dinner before attending the premiere of an Amnesty-commissioned performance "She Was Wearing.' Irish writers, including Sebastian Barry and Maeve Binchy, were asked to write a piece on violence against women…using a piece of clothing as the theme. The performance included pieces such as ‘Scuffed Shoes,' ‘A Coat,' and ‘A Modesty Vest.' It was a beautiful production.

The next day Eve and I joined Cecile Lipworth, V-Day's Worldwide Campaign Director, in Iceland for the V-Dagur team's fourth year of V-Day celebrations. Our time in Iceland began at the Blue Lagoon where the five leaders of V-Dagur - órey, Hlín, Ingibjörg, Björn Ingi and Hildur treated us to a swim in the hot springs—it was a wonderful way to get to know our hosts! Immediately after our swim the V-Dagur team led a presentation on the work of V-Dagur in Iceland since its inception in 2001.

  • In the summer of 2001 there were a record number of rapes reported at an annual Bank Holiday festival; V-Dagur formed and began working with the city theatre and two service programs for survivors, Stigamot and the Rape Victims Centre. The mission was to raise awareness, focus specifically on date rape and changing attitudes, get men involved and involve well know Icelanders to speak publicly on the issue. They planned to do this by doing an annual anti rape campaign, working closely with grassroots organizers, hold a V-Dagur event annually, make the Icelandic legal system friendly to victims and to follow the mission and goals of V-Day.
  • The first V-Dagur event was held in 2002 with special guest of honor Teri Hatcher. Well known Icelanders such as the President, the major of Reykjavik, actresses, actors, singers and politicians attended. In conjunction with the event there was an anti-rape campaign in the colleges. The 2002 activities were high profile and brought about tremendous awareness.
  • V-Dagur 2003 included the premiere of a television ad campaign "Friends," focusing on date rape. V-Dagur held lectures and panels on violence against women at the University of Iceland and the launched the www.vdagur.is website.
  • V-Dagur 2004 focused on college campuses and V-Dagur entered a five year contract with the association of colleges. In 2004 the ad campaign which launched the previous year was chosen "the best TV advertisement in 2003" by the association of advertising and marketing agencies.
  • The team ended the presentation with their 5-year "practical" and 5-year "warrior" goals:

    o Have a full-time position government funded

    o 200 members of V-Dagur

    o Five major corporations as annual sponsors

    o Strategic sex education for all high schools

    o 1500 people attend V-Dagur

    o Ensure shelter for rape victims at the annual festival

    o 90% of Icelanders will know about V-Dagur and what it stands for

Needless to say, we were impressed with the creativity, dedication and impact of the movement in Iceland, particularly because we were able to see the direct results of the V-Day movement in Iceland. During the Bank Holiday festival in 2001 there were 21 rapes reported—this spurred the V-Day movement in Iceland—and after extensive outreach and visibility by the V-Dagur team, there were only two reported rapes during the Bank Holiday festival in 2003! Eve asked the V-Dagur team to consider attending the organizer workshop in Brussels in April to present this model approach to bringing V-Day to an entire country. Our first day in Iceland ended with a meal overlooking the Blue Lagoon and the pleasant surprise of Northern Lights in the sky on our way to the car. To cap off a perfect first night in Iceland, when we arrived in our hotel rooms we were able to catch our very own documentary "Until the Violence Stops" (subtitled in Icelandic) which aired on Channel One, one of two local Iceland television stations.

The following day was very busy!

  • We visited Stigamot, a comprehensive direct service program for survivors of violence against women, and met with the director of the Rape Victims Centre, which works in hospital emergency rooms. Both groups are providing critical services to women in Iceland, including offering counseling, self-help groups and critical care in the E.R.
  • Eve taped an interview on Channel One, to be televised the following day, a few hours before the V-Dagur event.
  • We were given a tour of the newly re-opened National Museum. The director of the museum has made a conscientious decision to highlight women in the history of Iceland and has managed a beautiful display of Icelandic history.
  • We ended our day enjoying dinner with the V-Dagur team and the director of V-Dagur 2005, Maria, who was responsible for bringing "The Vagina Monologues" to the Faroe Islands. When she called her friends on the island to say she was bringing it there, a phone chain started with everyone trying to figure out what the Faroe word for "vagina" was -- no one knew! And on top of that there was also no word for "clitoris". Needless to say Maria not only made a huge impact on this tiny country with the play but they now have two new words in their vocabulary -- "gina" (vagina) and "snippan" (clitoris)! And when most told her it was a bad idea, a man who owned a hotel told her he would give them the ballroom to use as a theatre—he has a wife and daughter and felt that it was important.

Our final day in Iceland was International Women's Day

  • Eve began the day talking with two young women, survivors of date rape, who would be a part of the evening's event. The time was very special to the young girls.
  • We lunched with four women members of parliament, all from various parties: Independence Party, Green Party, Progressive Party and the Social Democrat Alliance (formerly the women's Party). In a fascinating meeting some clear goals emerged, including the need to raise awareness on Domestic Violence throughout the country, and, to our great delight, the idea that the 22 women members of parliament (of 68 parliamentarians) do their own V-Day production of "The Vagina Monologues" in October of 2005. Eve was so impressed with the leadership of the parliamentarians that she suggested they consider attending the Omega/V-Day Women and Power conference in New York in September. The meeting ended with a photo opportunity in which all 4 women parliaments, along with Eve and the V-Dagur team, donned their VDAGUR t-shirts.
  • Our next event was a true honor. We were invited to the President of Iceland's home for a reception honoring Eve, V-Dagur and International Women's Day. President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson has been a strong supporter of V-Dagur since its inception and was a gracious host to us, the V-Dagur team and the cast of "The Vagina Monologues." We were delighted when he held up his "Vagina Warrior" t-shirt as he posed for photos with Eve! Click here for photos of our meeting with the parliamentarians and the President: www.vday.org/iceland
  • At 8:30, a half hour before the big event, there was a line down the street at the The Icelandic Opera House in Reykjavík. Eve's interview on Channel One brought people out in droves. V-Dagur 2005 was a beautiful v-pageant of music, dance, inspiration, stories of survival and vagina tales. A girls choir sang of a world of peace; the former Mayor of Reykjavik performed "My Vagina was my Village;" a group of male politicians, athletes and well known personalities in Iceland stood up in the audience and answered the question "Imagine a World without Violence," they showed the Kenya piece from the documentary "Until the Violence Stops;" Vagina Warriors Gurún Jónsdóttir and Eyrún Jónsdóttir of Stigamot and the Rape Victims Centre were honored and Eve ended the evening with tales from V-World and performances of "My Short Skirt" and "I'm an Emotional Creature." It was a special and unique V-Celebration.

From Indiana and Illinois to Ireland and Iceland, Vagina Warriors are making a huge impact in their communities and in women's lives. It is our privilege to witness their leadership and drive. Next up, a dynamic series of V-Day Europe events in Brussels in April.

Kind Regards,
Jerri Lynn

P.S. Worldwide press on V-Day 2005 is more vast than ever, below are just three examples of hundreds and hundreds of articles raising awareness to end violence against women and girls.

THE STANDARD
CHINA'S BUSINESS NEWSPAPER
March 11, 2005
Frank show to hit stage

Katie Lau
http://www.thestandard.com.hk/stdn/std/China/GC11Ad08.html

CHARLESTON GAZETTE (Charleston, West Va.):
March 7, 2003
More `Vagina Warriors' needed to help end abuse

Marsha Ibos
http://www.wvgazette.com/section/Columns/200503062

DAILY EXPRESS NEWS
INDEPENDENT NATIONAL NEWSPAPER OF EAST MALAYSIA
March 11, 2005
Not right to use taboo word openly: Jornah

Kota Kinabalu
http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=33109

Click here to go to:
V-Tour 2005, Leg One