This Valentine’s Day, senior Shyanne Ruiz, along with a group of Ithaca College students, will take part in a choreographed flash mob to take a stand against women’s violence for a movement called One Billion Rising.
Ruiz helped to choreograph the One Billion Rising flash mob from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday in IC Square. One Billion Rising is a global movement founded by the V-Day foundation to end violence against women and girls.
One Billion Rising is the uprising that Eve Ensler, author, director and playwright of the Vagina Monologues, created in honor of the 15th anniversary of V-day. V-day is a movement fighting violence against women and girls, and the Vagina Monologues is a play portraying important values promoted by supporters.
Debbie Allen, an award winning choreographer, has choreographed a dance to “Break the Chain” by Tena Clark and Tim Heintz to encourage one billion people around the world to stand up and dance to support the end of women’s violence.
Assistant News Editor Sabrina Knight spoke to Ruiz about the One Billion Rising campaign on campus.
Sabrina Knight: What issues are you fighting for?
Shyanne Ruiz: There is a lot of putting down of women, and I’ve noticed that even in everyday language, the things that people say. We live in a very gender-based society, so I just wanted to put myself into something that I would probably be uncomfortable with but that I would learn something from, and I really thought that I learned a lot about myself [from participating in the Vagina Monologues] and I wanted to do it again, so the One Billion Rising event that we’re doing, the flash mob and everything, we’re teaching people what One Billion Rising is and just inform people that this is happening. I do it for myself, I do it for my mom and my sister, all the women in my life that have just been so influential to me, because it is just really important to me that we are standing up and speaking out and not just being docile and sitting on the edges.
SK: What are your plans at Ithaca College?
SR: The song associated with the dance is just really beautiful, and at the end the music just stops and there is this woman’s voice who says something like “one billion rising” and everyone raises their arm up together. It’s just so powerful to know that all the girls on this day, everyone, all these women are going to be doing the same dance, and there is something beautiful about that even though this one event isn’t necessarily going to directly fix all the world’s problems, but it’s a good start to get people talking.
SK: What message are you trying to convey to the IC community?
SR: There is a lot of silence. Really bringing it to IC, because it is such a small community, it is nice to have an international, worldwide event happening on campus, because it’s showing that yeah we are the small community but there are some of us who are conscious and aware of trying to do something, of trying to be part of the bigger picture. The only ways you can do that is to start in your own backyard, in your own community… There are so many levels and layers of feminism, and I’m not going to go around chopping penises off, that’s not what I’m going to do. I want to make a difference and show that I too am the woman, and as a Latino woman I’ve been through a lot. I’ve been through struggles, so this is me sharing my story without really sharing my personal story.
SK: Why do you think this issue is prevalent in today’s society?
SR: It’s so ingrained, like gender issues, and so ingrained in our language and our everyday thinking that we don’t think about it. And the whole rape culture, like when people say “Oh I just raped that exam” that’s not OK, that’s not funny, and it bothers me and I make sure to shut anyone down that says that around me, like that’s not funny, rape jokes are not funny. And it’s just such an issue. The issue is people just don’t think about it, and people are just not aware.
SK: In light of recent abuses globally, in India in particular, why do you think this is still an issue and how can it be solved?
SR: There are just women’s issues all over. I can’t even really touch the surface right now. There are things about the Vagina Monologues that I want people to think that this is something that women in the United States do to show the struggles of women in other countries because it’s the struggle also of women within our own country. People don’t realize or fail to realize or don’t want to realize that these issues of rape and abuse are happening right around the corner or down the street or just next door. It’s silent. A light is always put on issues that are happening in like India or Africa, and that’s not OK. Those are important as well, I’m not saying it’s not important at all, but people need to be aware of what’s going on in their home as well. I don’t necessarily have an answer of how it can be solved. This movement of One Billion Rising is a good way for women to get together and feel connected and share their stories and just dance it out. It’s a global strike.