A V-DAY WEEKEND: WHEN WOMEN HAVE YOUR BACK

I flew up to Berkeley Saturday knowing it would be an intense, inspiring, emotional weekend and I wasn’t disappointed. Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues” (among many other pieces) and life-long activist, has gathered a board of directors that is off the charts in generosity, fierceness and fun.

Tony Montenieri (Director of Operations), Susan Swan (CEO of V-Day, Beth Dozoretz, Donna Karan, Me, Carole Black, Pat Mitchell, Eve Ensler, Katherine McFate, Mellody Hobson, Rosario Dawson, Emily Scott Pottruck, Amy Rao, Lisa Schejola Akin, Tony Stroebel (the photographer), Cecile Lipworth (Managing Director)

Washington, Salma Hayek, Jennifer Buffett, Thandie Newton, and Cari Ross.
We were not only In Berkeley for a board meeting, but on Sunday, we were going to see Eve’s new play, “Emotional Creature.” More about this in a moment.

We all stayed at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza and isn’t it a perfect place for V-Day, I mean, dig the colors

Colorful Hallway of the Shattuck Hotel

Even the Shattuck Chandeliers Looked Like Something From V-Day

…and a Peace Sign in the Entrance

Whenever I am with Eve, I become stronger, braver and more optimistic. She does more, travels more and is more utterly wrapped up in the movement she launched with her play than any other artist I know and yet she always has time for those she loves…and, though I must confess to a smidge of jealousy, her love seems boundless. When I had hip replacement surgery 6 years ago, she was there by my bed rubbing my feet as I drifted in and out of consciousness. She’d flown to Atlanta from New York without my even asking while in the midst of a road tour! I used to see Eve much more often. But I’ve moved to L.A. and she spends half the year now in Paris and the Congo, where gender violence is the worst in the world. I can’t think of another artist who has put her art 100% to the service of stopping violence against women and girls. Over the last 14 years, The Vagina Monologues”has been performed in 1000s of cities and towns around the world and, every Feb 14th (Valentines Day / V-Day), it is performed on 100’s of college campuses. To date, the productions have raised $90 million globally, just about all of which stays locally to support rape crisis centers, safe houses and other efforts to protect women and girls from violence and heal those who have been victims. This is more money than the U.S. Government provides to stop gender violence!

What is V-Day?

Saturday night, board members gathered for a delicious dinner at the Berkeley restaurant Revival. Eve presented us all with small, kite-like butterflies, symbolizing ‘rising’–as in rising up to stop violence- and little silver bracelets with ‘refuser’ stamped on them —as in refusing to allow anyone to violate or disrespect you.

At dinner the night before the board meeting Eve gave us all these kite-like butterflies that symbolize ‘rising’.

Some board members who couldn’t see the play the next night went to the theatre after dinner. The rest of us, along with Eve, her son Dylan McDermott and Dylan’s fantastic daughter, Coco, went to see the Wes Anderson film, “Moonrise Kingdom”–it was Coco’s idea. I’d wanted to see it cause there was so much buzz about it in Cannes. I fell in love with this movie. Listen everyone, take your young teenage children, grandchildren or friends to see it cause it may well be the first film romance they’ll be able to identify with. So unique, magical and wonderful performances from Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and, most of all, the 2 young unknowns who fall in love. This will surely be an Oscar contender.

Most of the next day was the board meeting. It’s the only such meeting during which just about everyone goes though a box of Kleenex. I’m mostly talking about tears of joy and gratitude, not sadness. This is a big reason we all love these meetings so. We are confronted with examples of transformation, salvation, hope and what seem like miracles. It is IMPOSSIBLE to work with V-Day and remain pessimistic or cynical.

Board Members Carole Black, Pat Mitchell and Eve

Me, Katherine McFate and Beth Dozoretz. Donna Karan is in the Extreme Foreground

Katherine, Beth and Mellody Hobson

Rosario Dawson

Amy Rao, Emily Scott Pottruck, Ida Schejola Akin and Carole Black

(continued on next page)

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12 Comments
  1. Dear Jane,
    I read all your text and looked attentively at all the photos. I really was impressed with all you tell us. The play “Monologue of the Vagina” has been shown in Portugal for some time, now. Unfortunately I did not see it.
    I admire your work immensely and hope we can meet someday.
    Kind regards.
    Magdalena

  2. Wow! What an inspiring time. Thank you for sharing and posting such amazing photos.

    What a phenomenal group.

    Here’s to Woman Warriors.

    • I love your comment.

      “WOMEN WARRIORS.”

      Love you!

      That we are!

      Regards,
      DL

  3. Eve Ensler brought “The Vagina Monologues” to Lansing, Michigan, after a Michigan state lawmaker was banned from speaking on the House floor because she used the word “vagina” when arguing against an anti-abortion bill. She is one powerful woman. The City of Joy sounds absolutely wonderful, handing over the power to those who desperately need it. Thank you to all of you folks who bring awareness and action to such an important cause.

  4. Dear Ms. Fonda,

    I thought you were fantastic in your film, “Peace, Love and Misunderstanding.”

    Made me want to move to WOODSTOCK!

    Just a wonderful actress.

    So, natural!

    That said.

    People are not easy to forget because they have forgotten that once they were young and innocent, too!

    Peace, love and understanding,

    Regards,
    DL

  5. I am sick to death hearing about women being brutalized.

    Just sick to death of it!

    Sick to death of hearing about children being abused from the pedophile priests to the pedophile at Penn State.

    Just sick to death of it!

    It’s about time people in this world recognize you for your goodness!

    Regards for your work,
    DL

  6. Jane,

    Seen your story on OWN, interesting story, interesting journey. I seen in an earlier BLOG of yours you have a concern for the Earth sustaining all the people who live on this planet. I believe it can and it has, how can we believe that the world just in our life times has grown. I believe it always has been. I think nature balances us out. Jehovah said to Adam and Eve go forth and multiply, I am sure he meant that for ever. Just a little food for thought.
    I wish you the best on your journey, just keep an open mind and look beyond the prize. Your sister in Christ and in humanity……. CK

  7. Hi Jane,

    I stumbled onto your blog via the Vday Facebook, and I’m so glad I did. I’m very interested in supporting your efforts around One Billion Rising in Los Angeles. If you’re open to having receiving volunteer support, please let me know: [email protected]

    -Chelsea

  8. Jane – This blog was so helpful and informative to me. I saw the V monologues years ago and enjoyed it But even as a long time activist and gay man thought it had limited potential as a play. A lot of people I knew at the time, forward leaning people were somewhat cynical about the play. Especially my women friends, which struck me as being odd. To read about the money raised is a testament to how wrong I was. My life is nearing it’s end and because I was lucky in life (mogul grandfather) every important friend has been provided before. But because of this blog and because, in my life, my most important friends were women, I have decided to leave the rest of my money to this cause. I thank you for this light bulb moment. And the influence you had on my life, which, to me, was that you were never apologetic about having money and honest about how it makes life easier. And how this didn’t stop you from being an activist. Because just being rich is a version of being famous, minus the paparazzi, but including all the scrutiny. So along with your great work as an artist, I thank you for this.

  9. Thank you, Jane, for this wonderful, exciting blog post! I tried acting for the first time this year when my friends mounted a production of the Vagina Monologues. I have so much respect for Eve Ensler. I am blown away that this one woman has raised more money to protect women than the entire U.S. government. What a fact. One woman! Think what all of us women can do to together if we all join her. Here are my posts on our Istanbul production of the Vagina Monologues. The first post is at the bottom. THANK YOU JANE! http://empty-nest-expat.blogspot.com/search/label/VDay

  10. Just saw your performance on Newsroom….You Rock!!!!!!! America needs to see POWERFUL women !!!!!!!!!

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