Marcia G. Yerman

Marcia G. Yerman
New York, New York, USA
February 10
Marcia G. Yerman is based in New York City. Her writings – profiles, interviews, essays, and articles – focus on women’s issues, the environment, politics, culture and the arts, and can be found at She has been published by The New York Times, Women News Network, AlterNet, RH Reality Check, AlterNet, The Raw Story, and the Women's Media Center. She also writes for Moms Clean Air Force, a site bringing visibility to the issue of clean air and environmental concerns. Yerman was a co-founder of cultureID, an online platform that was dedicated to the nexus of culture and activism.


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FEBRUARY 26, 2012 3:24PM

Eve Ensler Unveils “One Billion Rising”

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It hasn’t exactly been a stellar start to 2012 for American women. Rick Santorum’s theory that birth control is “harmful to women” would have Margaret Sanger spinning in her grave. Then there was Fox pundit Liz Trotta’s question to those who have been raped in the military, “What did you expect?” The landscape has appeared dismally pre-1970.

The bright spot was the immediate and visceral reaction from women on the Susan G. Komen vs. Planned Parenthood imbroglio. It showed that social media is very much a force for organizing—a point overlooked by Komen founder Nancy Brinker when she haughtily dismissed pushback as “Internet chatter.”

Grasping the power of social media—along with the need to decisively move forward—playwright, activist, and feminist Eve Ensler has revitalized the terrain with her announcement on February 14 outlining the launch of the ONE BILLION WOMEN initiative. The yearlong action will culminate on February 14th, 2013, the fifteenth anniversary of V-Day. The goal is to have one billion women and men “dancing, striking, rising” across borders to demonstrate their demand to end the global violence against women.

Why one billion? The number is based on a computation from the United Nations statistic that one out of three women on earth will be beaten or raped in their lifetime.

On Valentine’s Day, Ensler talked with reporters by telephone to present her plans for One Billion Rising, and to field questions. Just off a plane from Australia, she joked about being able to celebrate V-Day in two time zones.

Ensler emphasized the imperative to “escalate efforts” in the fight to terminate the ongoing violence against women and girls. She said, “We are having victories, moving forward, and changing lives—but at the same time with economics, injustices, and global warming—there is a reaction to advances.”

Specifically addressing the national picture, Ensler stated, “The level of violence in America is out of control. We have the window ajar, but we haven’t gotten our body through. This action is a real attempt to go the distance now.” She added emphatically, “It’s enough already. We have to be more disruptive!” Ensler referenced the implementation of dance as a community action “speaking to people.” She suggested, “It takes up space, and allows expression of joy and outrage.”

Under the One Billon banner, varied groups will focus on specific concerns. Many of these topics were reflected in inquiries to Ensler. They covered violence in post-earthquake Haiti, corrective rape in South Africa and Jamaica, sexual trafficking, and rape in the military.

Ensler responded to each matter individually. She spoke of the “dire poverty” in Haiti and the work of Elvire Eugene, who has brought men into the process of combating sexual violence. “It’s not all of the men, it’s some of the men,” Ensler pointed out. “We must reach those who don’t stand up to stop it.” She continued, “How do we help when men’s self-esteem has been eroded? How can we redirect anger and frustration?”

Reacting to the subject of “corrective rape,” Ensler qualified it as “one of the most disturbing issues on the planet—cruel and horrific.”

On the matter of Military Sexual Assault and MST, Ensler mentioned a theatrical monologue she had written that had been presented at a V-Day in Austin, Texas entitled, “Gone AWOL.” Her exasperated reaction to Trotta’s comments was, “The idea that any woman would say to service women, ‘What do you expect?’” She added, “What she’s really saying is that women don’t belong in the military.”

During the conversation, Ensler mused that things have come a long way since 1995 when she was not allowed to utter the word vagina on television.

Indeed, Ensler has accomplished wonders in the tangible realm. V-Day has raised over 85 million dollars, public service announcements have been aired, brick and mortar safe houses have been built.

Now Ensler is taking on her biggest professional challenge yet with the conception of “ONE BILLION RISING: Dance, Strike, Rise.”

Never lacking in vision, Ensler proposed, “I think we can do this truly radical action to change the world.”

To learn more: Sign up at, Connect on Facebook and Twitter with #1Billion Rising. For mobile updates text BILLION to 50555 (USA only).


This article originally appeared on the website

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Wow, thanks for this great, timely post, Marcia, and for letting us know about the One Billion Women Rising initiative.

I was reading my son's textbook "My Sister Guard Your Veil; My Brother Guard Your Eyes, Uncensored Iranian Voices." Azar Nafisi (the author of "Reading Lolita in Tehran") has a chapter, in which she writes about the unbelievable descent of women's rights from 1979 (when women were very active in all areas of life in Iran, except the clergy), to the almost complete loss of women's autonomy and rights. At first, women took to the streets in the 100,000's to protest the new laws against them--and were attacked by knives and had acid thrown in their faces. This didn't deter them, but gradually, and most successfully, the law did...first with veils mandatory in the workplace, then shops, then anywhere in public...and then loss of freedom of the press, most genres of music...rape and loss of life for many, many women, for doing small things we take for granted each day.

I feel like similar assaults against women by people in power are beginning to occur here in the US; for example, trying to erode women's rights and access to reproductive health on many fronts is a huge, enormous step backwards, and it opens the door to many other abuses and loss of quality of life for women and families. Iran shows how quickly women's rights can be lost, almost overnight really.

When talking about the abuse and trafficking of women and children, I also wonder how much our own country causes around the world with our wars, breaking down the social fabric of other many countless women and children in Iraq and Afghanistan have lost any semblence of a decent life, and how many are trafficked, because of our wars there. We are all so related, there must be better ways to solve our world's problems than war, and more war, every decade. What the heck do we think we are we doing?

Thanks to Eve Ensler for taking this initiative, and addressing many of the different facets of violence against women, and thanks so much, Marcia, for spreading the word!
Excellent post. All the hard work of 1970s feminists has translated into more female doctors, judges and lawyers. For the majority of American women, life has improved very little.