Archive for February 2014

My latest photo essay over at PJMedia:

.00001 Billion Rising: another failed mass movement


February 14 has rolled around again, and we all know what that means — right?

No, you silly, not Valentine’s Day. That’s heteronormative and has thus been condemned to the dustbin of history.

And no, it doesn’t even mean V-Day, the rape-themed anti-holiday invented to promote Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues. V-Day has gotten stale.

Instead, February 14 is now 1 Billion Rising day, Ensler’s new dance-oriented hijacking of her own V-Day which was itself a hijacking of Valentine’s Day. The thesis behind 1 Billion Rising is that if the world’s one billion rape victims all rose up en masse and danced every February 14, then rape would cease to exist because unicorns and rainbows.

I attended San Francisco’s second annual 1 Billion Rising event, one of many similar events held in cities around the world.


We gathered in front of San Francisco’s City Hall at 4 p.m. for the ecstatic festivities. Would we reach one billion participants and stop rape forever?

I had previously estimated the attendance at last year’s event as somewhere around two thousand. But the 2014 1 Billion Rising, as shown by this overall shot of the pitiful crowd I snapped from the behind the stage, was much smaller — a few hundred at most. This newspaper report says there were only 100 participants, while a more generous media estimate says “nearly 400″ at the high end, most of whom showed up late in the event to hear Black Eyed Peas rapper apl.de.ap spin records as the headlining attraction.

The event’s own official Web page reveals that only 71 people RSVPed, which seems about right, considering that well over half the people on hand were the organizers, performers, staff, volunteers, speakers and security.

Even an impromptu pillow fight flash mob, which happened at the same time as 1 Billion Rising just a short distance away in SF, drew a much larger crowd, driving home the point that Ensler’s depressing attempt to transform Valentine’s Day into a rant about rape hasn’t caught on, even in the most sympathetic political environment.

Organizers counter my dismissal by pointing out that the San Francisco event is only one out of “hundreds” of 1 Billion Rising events around the world, but even their own promotional video, shown here as part of a TV news report, reveals that most of those other events are even smaller.

1 Billion Rising? More like a few thousand, grand total, worldwide. The problem with overselling yourself with a grandiose name is that when you fail to meet your promise, you look foolish. And unimportant.


In the final analysis, like all “protest movements” 1 Billion Rising is selling a product — in this case the notion that rape and wife-beating are an emergency crisis that deserves more attention and money than other crises — and to sell any product in America you need pretty girls. Except in this case they aren’t draped over the hood of a sportscar or putting on the season’s latest fashions; instead, they’re chosen to stand on stage and hold the official signs. Yet since the entire ethos of 1 Billion Rising is to oppose the objectification of women, well…am I getting dizzy or are the fumes of cognitive dissonance filling the room?


Read the rest HERE.