V-DAY and Democracy By Zillah Eisenstein

Published: 17 February 2023

I have “risen” for/with V-Day and OBR for the past decade. This year feels different. It is different. Maybe it is because I live in the US where women have lost the right to abortion that we had for the past 50 years. But maybe it is also because of the visibility of the “woman-led revolution” in Iran, and the Ukrainian women snipers, and the women activists in Chile and Brazil. We can see women demanding democracy even if there are endless attempts to make us invisible.

As democracy, in whatever fashion and incompleteness it exists, is under frontal attack, it is crucial for the fight against sexual violence to be recognized as central to its defense and furtherance. We are not a side-event, or inconsequential. Without women’s freedom to determine our/their bodies choices, there can never be a meaningful democracy.

Women of every kind are leading the revolutions for freedom in Iran, in Afghanistan, in Argentina, and Chile, and in the United States. I am wanting us to see the power we have as we fight for our bodies, their right to be free from sexual violence, and their right to determine and choose their destiny. This struggle is part of the political crisis of this moment for ourselves and planet earth. 

The flip-side of sexual violence is the resistance to it. The right-wing is fierce but so are the women of the globe.

So as we “rise” this year for freedom—for our bodies and our hearts and our minds—we are also “rising” for democracy. It is important to see ourselves and one another as part of this extraordinary fight—not the bourgeois or liberal or white or abled-bodied kind, but a real and revolutionary democracy without sexual violence and with forgiveness, and love and creativity.

Women, all of us in our inclusive entirety– are a revolutionary force against the sexual violence of war/s and for the autonomy of our bodies and reproductive justice. It is our /these struggles that will save the planet.

As V-Day and OBR rise we are rising with and in support of all the movements for greater freedom to live and love and “be”.

Women are organizing and demanding rights to their bodies and winning. And our power is more visible than ever. If we did not have this power, there would be no reason to oppress us.

There is no democracy with sexual violence, or without control over our bodies.

There is no democracy without reproductive rights to our bodies.

There is no democracy if we are hungry and houseless and suffering environmental crisis.

As we rise we are joining arms with women of every kind across the globe that are creating and maintaining revolutions.

Mahsa is still rising in Iran with the women-led revolution there. We are rising with her and all the rest of us.

I am rising for our freedom.

Many Ukrainian women have become talented snipers as they bravely fight for democracy in Ukraine.

Without us and our freedom there is no democracy anywhere. Women and our bodies free from sexual fear and violence demand an unknown revolutionary world.

Women, across all our differences, create the freedom we need from sexual violence and in doing so create the only democracy that matters. Do not sideline us. See us. And we will free the planet for everyone.


Zillah Eisenstein is a Professor of Anti-Racist Feminist Theory, Emeritus at Ithaca College.

About One Billion Rising
1 in 3 women across the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. That’s ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. One Billion Rising is the biggest mass action to end violence against women (cisgender, transgender, and those who hold fluid identities that are subject to gender-based violence) in human history. One Billion Rising activists worldwide mobilize, engage, awaken and join people across the planet to end violence against all women and girls.

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