V-Feb events address gender-based violence

by Rachel Pakianathan | 2/23/18 2:10am

V-February, Dartmouth’s annual campaign to promote gender equity and end gender-based violence, will feature a series of performances, events and discussions throughout the month of February. The month-long program expands on V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls.

Programs associated with V-Feb this year include Valentine’s Day card making, dinner discussions hosted by Multi-Faith Conversations and the Cutter-Shabazz Center, an art display by the Triangle House at the Hopkins Center for the Arts and student performances that include “Upstaging Stereotypes,” “The Vagina Monologues” and “Voices.”

Gricelda Ramos ’18, director of the 2018 program, said the program changes each year to incorporate more campus groups and introduce new perspectives.

“As we’re becoming more inclusive as a society, I think it’s reflected in the mission and the heart of V-February,” she said. “V-February is a program that is constantly learning, and constantly trying to be the most inclusive it can be.”

One of the first programs of the month was a Valentine’s Day card-making event held at Collis Common Ground.

Ramos said it was intended to allow students to write cards to anyone they loved or appreciated.

“It didn’t necessarily have to be heteronormative love, it could’ve been to anyone,” she said. “We’re trying to create spaces where anyone can feel like they can come and find a sense of community and a connection.”

Some events new to the 2018 program are “Chowdown” meals hosted by ambassadors for the Office of Pluralism and Leadership to discuss topics like #MeToo and the impact of social media on raising awareness against sexual harassment, an art collective featuring transgender women of color and a guest appearance from Schuyler Bailer, a Harvard University undergraduate who was the first transgender man on the Harvard men’s swim team.

The program also includes Dartmouth’s 20th rendition of “The Vagina Monologues,” a series of monologues dealing with the feminine experience; “Upstaging Stereotypes,” an original performance exploring the intersection of masculinity, personal identity and experience; and “Voices,” an original performance of pieces written by self-identifying Dartmouth women and gender non-conforming individuals.

Co-director of “Voices” Lydia Freehafer ’18 said that an effort is being made to increase the intersectionality of V-February programs because there are many different aspects of identity to consider, and it is necessary to create a space for marginalized voices. She also noted the choice to open up the “Voices” cast to include gender non-conforming individuals.

“Gender-based violence is alive and well here,” Freehafer said. “It’s alive and well outside of here, and I think that every year these conversations become more nuanced and complex.”

Freehafer added that she has seen the impact of performances like “Voices” on both students who perform and student who attend.

“I’ve heard people say things like, ‘It really changed me,’ ‘It opened my eyes to problems on this campus,’ and ‘It was really empowering to hear people be brave enough to share their stories,’” she said.

Ramos said she attributes the success of the programs to the members of the V-February committee, who have been impacted themselves by participating in programs of past years.

“The leadership that we have, the people we have on the committee right now, I’ve never seen such driven, focused, passionate individuals,” she said. “I think our mission is really being accomplished through the hard work that they are putting in.”

Ramos added that while this year’s V-February committee is predominantly composed of self-identifying women, she hopes that in the future more men will be inspired to join.

“The fight to promote gender equity and end gender-based violence is everyone’s responsibility,” Ramos said. “I feel a lot of self-identifying men are afraid to join a V-February committee or are not interested in joining a V-February committee. That’s something I would love to see change in the years to come. I think V-Feb as a whole would benefit from having all kinds of perspectives.”