Arts & Events

Puget Sound Rising unites campus for an open mic evening

While it’s fun to give out candy hearts and roses on Valentine’s Day, many people around the world use this day to try to put a stop to something much darker than romance.
The University of Puget Sound recently held Puget Sound Rising, an event connecting to the worldwide campaign One Billion Rising that takes place on Feb. 14. This movement raises awareness about sexual violence towards women and raises money to prevent it. The “billion” part of One Billion Rising refers to the fact that one billion women are raped or beaten every year, meaning about one in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.
Eve Ensler and her organization, V-Day, initially established One Billion Rising. Ensler is best known for writing The Vagina Monologues, a play made up of monologues about women and, as the title suggests, their vaginas.
Puget Sound put on a performance of this play on Feb. 9 and 10 and many of the young women who took part in the performance also participated in Puget Sound Rising.
The organizers of Puget Sound Rising decided to host an open mic in Jones, where those who participated in The Vagina Monologues and any other people who were interested could talk about topics related to One Billion Rising and The Vagina Monologues, such as female adolescence and rape.
Except for one or two men, the vast majority of people at Puget Sound Rising were women, and even then it was a relatively small group of people. Regardless, people of all genders are encouraged to attend events related to One Billion Rising.
Many of the people at Puget Sound Rising read from stories and poems, some of which they had written themselves. The readings ranged from humorous to touching, and one young woman’s poem about rape, “A Flea,” was very sobering.
A student read a comical and quite relatable story about getting her first period, an event that ruined a highly anticipated trip to Las Vegas.
Another student spoke about her father’s controversial opinion on women’s suffrage, and another read from a piece about feeling inexperienced the second time she shaved her legs.
Some other students shared unoriginal pieces. One student read from a book called When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams, specifically from a passage about birth control and abortions. Another student read a poem that she remembered her mother reading to her about growing up as a young girl.
The most unique presentation came from Renee Meschi, who showed off the first belly dance she had learned while she was in a troupe of belly dancers about 10 years ago.
She told the group how belly dancing “connects me to my body,” and that being in a group of young women led by a powerful matriarch had a great impact on her as a woman.
Soon, others in the group began to show their interest in learning how to belly dance as impressively as Meschi had, and they gathered in a circle in the middle of the room as Meschi taught them simple belly dancing moves.
While two others and myself sat quietly in our seats, this group of young women in the circle danced and laughed and had a great time. It seems to me that this is what The Vagina Monologues, One Billion Rising, V-Day and the like are meant to express: the strong bonds forming among young women—and not just here at Puget Sound, but globally—a unity between all women and men to erase sexual violence against women.
To me, Puget Sound Rising symbolized this unity, and it’s powerful to know that other communities around the world were also coming together to recognize One Billion Rising on Valentine’s Day.
For more information on One Billion Rising, visit