- Eve Ensleraward-winning playwright and creator of The Vagina Monologues and V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls.
- Christine Schuler DeschryverCongolese human rights activist with V-Day. She is the director of City of Joy, a revolutionary community for women survivors of gender violence in Bukavu.
Today is V-Day, a global day of action to end violence against women and girls. We speak to V-Day founder Eve Ensler and Congolese activist Christine Schuler Deschryver about V-Day, conflict minerals, the City of Joy, as well as Donald Trump and the other domestic abusers in the White House. “We haven’t really gotten to the root of rape culture in America,” Ensler said. “But I also think that predatory mindset is affecting everything. Right? We’re gutting regulations on air, on water and on the earth. We’re escalating extraction. We’re seeing the ransacking of laws, a disparaging of immigrants.”
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. When President Trump signed an executive order two weeks ago to temporarily ban refugees and people from seven majority-Muslim nations, he said it was needed, in part, to protect women. A little-noticed part of the executive order reads, quote, “The United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including 'honor' killings, other forms of violence against women,” unquote. Some observers have noticed the irony in the executive order. Both the man who signed the order, Donald Trump, and the man who drafted the order, his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, have in the past been accused of committing violence against women.
During the presidential campaign, Trump famously boasted about sexually assaulting women and grabbing them, quote, “by the pussy,” unquote, in a leaked video recorded by NBC’s Access Hollywood. Eight women have now come forward and accused Donald Trump of sexual assault and harassment. In the 1980s, Trump’s ex-wife, Ivana, said during a divorce deposition that Donald had raped her. The author Harry Hurt described Trump holding back Ivana’s arms, pulling out fistfuls of her hair, then forcing her to have sex. Ivana Trump later softened her language to say she felt violated by what happened.
Meanwhile, Steve Bannon was charged with domestic violence and battery in 1996. A Santa Monica, California, police report said Bannon grabbed his then-wife, Mary Louise Piccard, quote, “by the throat and arm” and threatened to leave with the couple’s twin daughters. Bannon pleaded not guilty to the charges, which were dropped when Piccard did not appear in court. Piccard claimed in divorce proceedings that Bannon pressured her not to testify.
And Trump and Bannon are not the only accused domestic abusers in the new administration. Trump’s pick to be labor secretary, fast-food giant CEO Andrew Puzder, was accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife, who even went on Oprah in disguise to speak about domestic violence. In a 1988 petition, the ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, said Puzder had, quote, “assaulted and battered [her] by striking her violently about the face, chest, back, shoulders, and neck, without provocation or cause,” unquote, and that, as a consequence, she suffered severe and permanent injuries. Puzder’s ex-wife later withdraw the allegations as part of a 1990 child custody agreement.
Meanwhile, advocates of domestic abuse victims have expressed alarm over the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as attorney general. In 2013, he voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a law which he will now be responsible for enforcing. Tom Price, the new secretary of health and human services, also voted against the law’s reauthorization. There are also reports that the Trump administration may eliminate programs that aim to reduce domestic violence, dating violence and sexual assault.
We’re joined now by two pioneers who have spent decades fighting domestic abuse. We’re joined by Eve Ensler, playwright, author of The Vagina Monologues, and Christine Schuler Deschryver, director of V-Day Congo.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Well, that was quite a list that I just read. Can you talk about your response to the Trump administration?
EVE ENSLER: Yes, and I think I’ve been feeling this for over two years, that, you know, watching Trump and watching the people Trump surrounds himself with, we are seeing the escalation of rape culture, a predatory mindset, in many respects, but I’ll particularly address towards women. I think—I think, from the very beginning, listening to Trump and listening—how is it possible that a nation of people felt OK with electing a self-confessed sexual assaulter? How is it possible we feel OK with Bannon, who seems to be running the show right now, who is known to have beaten his wife, right? If we look at that as something that’s acceptable—right?—in a general way, then we understand we haven’t really gotten to the root of rape culture in America. Right? But I also think that predatory mindset is affecting everything. Right? We’re gutting regulations on air, on water and on the earth. We’re escalating extraction. We’re seeing the ransacking of laws, a disparaging of immigrants. And this is all part of a predatory mindset, which is really about one person in power who does what he wants without the consent—right?—of the people around him, which is exactly what rape culture is. You seize people’s bodies, you take them against their will, and you do whatever you want to them.
AMY GOODMAN: Christine Schuler Deschryver, you’re coming here from the Congo. How much attention is being paid to the Trump administration in Congo? And your thoughts when you come here?
CHRISTINE SCHULER DESCHRYVER: Well, we are really following what’s going on in the U.S. And I have to say, we are very shocked. First of all, I remember, like weeks ago, we were talking about “What about if Trump was a black president, who had like three—I think three wives?” The kind of guy that he is, I think things would have been totally different. And today we are talking about the U.S. as the—it should be a model. But right now, it’s like Eve just said. It’s like a rape culture is back. And we are really worried at also the impunity, and it will affect all of us. I think this has to change. And when we were talking, we felt like we have—we also have to march in Congo to stop all this.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting you talk about impunity. The women who have come forward and said that Donald Trump sexually assaulting them, Trump’s response, saying they weren’t telling the truth, was, as soon as the election was over, he would sue them. We haven’t heard anything about these suits. Eve?
EVE ENSLER: Well, it’s the tactic of the perpetrator, right? Like you always make—you’re the victim, right? You take it—you reverse it. It’s a mind game, right? You’ll sue the people you’ve already attacked. It’s sort of like bombing—
AMY GOODMAN: But, of course, he hasn’t, because that would mean discovery—
EVE ENSLER: No, of course not.
AMY GOODMAN: —and information coming out.
EVE ENSLER: But there’s—it’s kind of a mindset, too. It’s like we bomb Iraqis, and we destroy people in the countries around the world, and then we refuse to give them admission and safety. So it’s this double thing, right? Not only are you destroying people’s lives, but then you’re refusing them safety and refuge—
CHRISTINE SCHULER DESCHRYVER: Absolutely.
EVE ENSLER: —after you’ve destroyed them. And that’s the same thing as like after I rape you or after I harass you, I sue you. Right? That way, it takes all the attention off the act that I’ve done, or even the threat of that. You know? And I also want to say, in terms of the Congo—I mean, we’ll get into it, but in the course of all these kind of things that he’s attempting to deregulate for the benefit of corporations, you know, now there is a leaked memo saying that it would free the U.S. companies to buy conflict minerals from Central African warlords, which is something we have been fighting and fighting and fighting to get these regulations on these conflict minerals. And if they’re—if they’re freed again, we will see the escalation of rape in ways that we knew five and 10 years ago.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk more about this, Christine? It’s just now we’re seeing some reports in The Guardian and The Intercept about the possibility of Trump signing an executive order that would deregulate conflict minerals.
CHRISTINE SCHULER DESCHRYVER: No, it brings us like 20 years—20 years before. And it really legitimates all the perpetrators and also the rape. So, it will strengthen, you know, like all the dictators we have in Central Africa, because now they will feel free to plunder Congo with all the multinationals. And I think that the violence will escalate much more. And the last three, four years, it started, you know, to go down, but now I think all the dictators will be like so comfortable to continue to plunder the Congo with the international community.
EVE ENSLER: And I think what’s connected to that is we know where there is plundering of mines, you know, where multinationals come in and use proxy militias, in the same way that the oil companies are using state violence in Standing Rock, we know women are always on the front lines of those struggles, and women suffer sexual violence. I was in the Bakken oil fields, for example, where—I was there with, you know, Winona LaDuke. And—
AMY GOODMAN: Of North Dakota.
EVE ENSLER: Of North Dakota.
AMY GOODMAN: Where the fracked oil will come from that goes through the pipeline if it’s ever completed.
EVE ENSLER: Exactly. And the man camps that were set up there, the rate of sexual violence that had escalated there was mind-blowing. Well, this is the same situation in the Congo, once these corporations make deals with warlords, right? The warlords are licensed, and the way they get into these villages, the way they get access to these mines, is they rape, and they destroy women in these communities. They break apart the communities, and then they move in to take the mines. So Trump is not only unleashing rape culture in this culture; he is unleashing it in Africa by, you know, destroying these conflict mineral protections. And to me, that is very terrifying.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go for a moment to a few clips. I want to go back to what was called the October surprise from last year’s presidential campaign, Donald Trump, well, taking a hit and several Republican lawmakers distancing themselves from his campaign, following the release of this 2005 videotape showing Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women.
BILLY BUSH: Sheesh, your girl’s hot as [bleep]. In the purple.
DONALD TRUMP: Whoa!
BILLY BUSH: Yes!
DONALD TRUMP: Whoa!
BILLY BUSH: Yes! The Donald has scored!
DONALD TRUMP: Whoa!
BILLY BUSH: Whoa, my man! Wait, wait, you’ve got to look at me when you get out and be like—
UNIDENTIFIED: Just remember who set this up. Just remember.
BILLY BUSH: Will you give me the thumbs up?
DONALD TRUMP: That is very funny. Look at you. You are a pussy.
BILLY BUSH: You’ve got to put the thumbs up. You’ve got to give the thumbs up.
UNIDENTIFIED: You can’t be too happy, man.
BILLY BUSH: You’ve got to give the thumbs up.
DONALD TRUMP: All right, you and I will walk in.
BILLY BUSH: Oh, my god!
DONALD TRUMP: Maybe it’s a different one.
BILLY BUSH: It better not be the publicist. No, it’s her. It’s her.
DONALD TRUMP: Yeah, that’s her, with the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
BILLY BUSH: Whatever you want.
DONALD TRUMP: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.
BILLY BUSH: Look at those legs. All I can see is the legs.
DONALD TRUMP: Oh, looks good.
BILLY BUSH: Come on, shorty.
DONALD TRUMP: Ooh, nice legs, huh?
BILLY BUSH: Oof, get out of the way, honey. Oh, that’s good legs. Go ahead.
DONALD TRUMP: It’s always good if you don’t fall out of the bus. Like Ford, Gerald Ford. Remember?
BILLY BUSH: Down below. Pull the handle.
DONALD TRUMP: Hello. How are you? Hi.
ARIANNE ZUCKER: Hi, Mr. Trump. How are you? Pleasure to meet you.
DONALD TRUMP: Nice seeing you.
ARIANNE ZUCKER: Pleasure to meet you.
DONALD TRUMP: Terrific. Terrific. You know Billy Bush?
ARIANNE ZUCKER: How are you?
BILLY BUSH: Hello. Nice to see you. How are you doing, Arianne?
ARIANNE ZUCKER: I’m doing very well. Thank you. Are you ready to be a soap star?
DONALD TRUMP: We’re ready. Let’s go. Make me a soap star.
BILLY BUSH: How about a little hug for the Donald? He just got off the bus.
ARIANNE ZUCKER: Would you like a little hug, darling?
DONALD TRUMP: OK, absolutely. Melania said this was OK.
BILLY BUSH: How about a little hug for the Bushy?
AMY GOODMAN: So, those are the words of the now president of the United States, Donald Trump. The only one who went down over that whole episode, Washington Post releasing the videotape, was Billy Bush, the person who was with him at that time, from entertainment television. Eve?
EVE ENSLER: Well, to me, you know—it was so alarming to me, having worked all these years to get an idea of what rape is and what sexual assault is and what it means for women to have agency over their own bodies, and to see not only a president who arrogantly just grabbed women and felt he had access to women, but also to see Republicans and to see so many people around him normalize that so quickly. I mean, that story was in the news for maybe two weeks before it was normalized, before it was accepted. OK, that’s just what men do, right? And even the talk of, you know, this is locker room talk—remember that whole period. Whose locker room? Like which locker room are you in? Like I know a lot of men who don’t talk that way in locker rooms. But the locker rooms you’re in, they’re having those kind of—and—
AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting. I saw a poster. Actually, it was a waitress who carries a towel with her that she wrote on so that she can protest anywhere she wants to. She balls it up and puts it in her bag, and it says, “The world is not your locker room.”
EVE ENSLER: Yes, yes. And I think if we look—OK, let’s take the Women’s March, which was an unbelievable outpouring of women demanding, speaking up for and cherishing and knowing what their rights are. What did he do a day later? He destroyed reproductive rights and the support of NGOs who were even offering a discussion about abortion around the world. That was his cynical, violent response to 5 million women and men rising around the world. And that is rape culture. That in itself was an act of rape. It was like, “Really? You think you’re going to have power? You think you’re going to—watch what I’m going to do the next day.” I feel like so many of these executive whatever we’re calling them, orders, as you said, tweets, you know, moments of dementia, are all these kind of violent acts that are saying, in no uncertain terms, “I do what I want, regardless of your needs, regardless of what you want in your body, in your life, and I’m going to continue to do that in any way I want.”
AMY GOODMAN: And, Christine, what does this mean in the Congo, when we’re talking about issues of rape?
CHRISTINE SCHULER DESCHRYVER: You know, for me, I want to compare it like, for example, when you talk it’s like they have access to women, women, you know, as a thing, the way they have access to the earth, to the land. And maybe, you know, we also followed in Congo all the grassroots women march for the Standing Rock. And I think it’s exactly the same in Congo, because the way they rape women, that’s the way they rape the earth also in Dakota, when we see all the pipelines, you know, like raping, raping, raping, raping the land. And we cannot dissociate that. That’s also one of the reasons I think all the grassroots women, from all over the world, they have to be—they have to be leaders, and also to protect Mother Nature, because we cannot dissociate both of them. At City of Joy, for example, we—
AMY GOODMAN: And explain what City of Joy is.
CHRISTINE SCHULER DESCHRYVER: City of Joy, it’s a place where we receive 90 young women to heal their bodies and minds, and we train them to be leaders.
AMY GOODMAN: They’ve all been raped?
CHRISTINE SCHULER DESCHRYVER: Most of them, yes. But they are survivors—
AMY GOODMAN: By?
CHRISTINE SCHULER DESCHRYVER: Survivors of gender violence. But most of them, I have to say, they were raped by militias, by the police, by domestic rape. And they’re all survivors of atrocities. And they stay—they stay there. It’s in Bukavu in eastern of Democratic Republic of Congo. And they stay there for six months. So, the program is to transform their pain to power. And after, some of them, they go, because we also have a farm to transform pain to planting. So they work at the farm. So we also—you know, we live with Mother Nature, and we give back to Mother Nature. For example, they learn how to make—to make compost. And I think City of Joy has to be an example, an example for the whole world, because right now I think the women, like the grassroots women, are the ones who paid—who paid the most for everything that happened. Look in Dakota. Look in Congo, everywhere.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn now back to the United States to the comments of these chief advisers and officials in the Trump administration. We just heard Donald Trump himself talking about grabbing women. I want to turn now to remarks by Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, that surfaced from a 2001 interview in which Bannon called progressive women, quote, “a bunch of dykes.”
STEPHEN BANNON: In fact, the women that would lead this country would be feminine. They would be pro-family. They would have husbands. They would love their children. You know, they wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven—you know, the Seven Sisters schools up in New England.
AMY GOODMAN: Eve Ensler, that was Steve Bannon.
EVE ENSLER: Well, it doesn’t surprise me at all. I think this entire group, this cabal, this regime, whatever we’re calling them, are men who are terrified of women on every level, particularly powerful women. We only have to look at the censoring of Elizabeth Warren to understand that. They are terrified of black people. They are terrified of immigrants. They are terrified of indigenous people. They are terrified of anybody who isn’t essentially a white man or a white man billionaire or white man corporate.
And I think—I think one of the things we have to keep remembering is that we were moving forward. We were moving forward. Women were having breakthroughs. We certainly hadn’t gotten all the way there. We are still living in an incredible racist patriarchy. But we were making progress. And I think, in many ways, this is the last major gasp of the patriarchal dragon, right? Like, but we know last gasps can be deadly. Right? I think this is going to be—we’re going to now wipe out every rule, every move forward, every—every progressive idea that’s occurred. But it’s not going to happen, because you know what? Women’s vaginas are out of the bottle, and they’re not going back in. Women are not going to stand for having rights being taken away. African Americans are not going to stand for it. Immigrants are not going to stand for it. We’re too—we’re too far out to go back in. So now what we’ve got to do is go much further than we’ve ever gone before.
AMY GOODMAN: Before we go to the actions that are planned for Valentine’s Day, for V-Day, I wanted to turn to what happened to Senator Elizabeth Warren, being silenced on the Senate floor on Tuesday over the confirmation of Jeff Sessions for attorney general—this after she read a 1986 letter written by Coretta Scott King, who was then opposing Sessions, in 1986, when he was nominated for a federal judgeship. Senator Warren was first cut off by the presiding officer, Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: “It has been a long, up-hill struggle to keep alive the vital legislation that protects the most fundamental right to vote. A person who has exhibited so much hostility to the enforcement of those laws”—
SEN. STEVE DAINES: The senator is reminded that it is a violation of Rule 19 of the Standing Rules of the Senate to impute to another senator or senators any conduct or motive unworthy or becoming a senator.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: Mr. President, I don’t think I quite understand. I’m reading a letter from Coretta Scott King to the Judiciary Committee from 1986 that was admitted into the record. I’m simply reading what she wrote.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Massachusetts Senator Warren, who was then allowed to continue reading the letter. Afterwards, after Warren continued speaking, she was again interrupted—this time by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL: Mr. President?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: They are—
MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL: Mr. President?
SEN. STEVE DAINES: The majority leader.
MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL: The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama, as warned by the chair. Senator Warren, quote, said Senator Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens. I call the senator to order under the provisions of Rule 19.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: Mr. President?
SEN. STEVE DAINES: The senator from Massachusetts.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: Mr. President, I am surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Warren was then prohibited from speaking for the remainder of the debate, which was hours and hours and hours. She was prohibited from speaking on the debate over the confirmation of Senator Sessions as attorney general—this after the Senate passed a party-line rebuke of her. Now, male senators, her Democratic allies, like Senator Sanders, Senator Sherrod Brown, Senator Merkley, actually did read Coretta Scott King’s letter. They were not rebuked. And what’s also interesting is that when Coretta Scott King sent her testimony 30 years ago to the Senate Judiciary Committee chair, Strom Thurmond, and expected it was going to be entered into the Congressional Record, he never entered it. And so, now, 30 years later, the very act of reading her letter was the first time it was entered into the Congressional Record. But then, Warren was silenced. Eve Ensler?
EVE ENSLER: Right. The only way Coretta Scott King’s letter could be entered was through the voice of white men. Right? That’s really the truth. And I think there was something really, really disturbing that happened, where he just told her to take her seat. It was an incredibly infantilizing moment, this attempt to take this woman of such stature and such voice and such power and reduce her to nothing. And I think one of the things we have to know and we have to be really aware of is we’re not going to take our seats. That’s not going to happen now. And I think—I think the attempt on this administration to reduce women, to make women feel small, to make women feel that they don’t exist, to embarrass women, to shame women, will not work on us. We’re past that point.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s go to, once again, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL: She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless she persisted.
AMY GOODMAN: “Nevertheless she persisted.” That became a hashtag of people supporting Senator Warren—those the comments of the Senate majority leader explaining why Senator Warren was punished.
EVE ENSLER: I want to say that as terrible as all this is, what is really exciting right now is to see what this is evoking in people all across this country and around the world. It is that persist feeling. It’s that we are not only going to persist, we are rising up. And I think like what we’re seeing this year in One Billion Rising, which is a global campaign through dance and through resistance to fight all the forms of violence, whether it be the violence of racism or climate change or economic deprivations or workers’ rights, we are seeing more risings this year across the planet, more militant risings, more joyful rising, more fierce risings, more specific risings, more determined risings, because what we’re all feeling in our beings is not only are we going to not give up on the rights we have, but this is an opportunity to reformulate our progressive world into a much stronger, more unified, more visionary, more prophetic movement than we’ve ever had before and to really understand that the struggle for antiracism, the struggle against the destruction of the Earth, the struggle for women, the struggle against [inaudible]—these are all one struggle that we’re part of. And I am very encouraged, in the little towns and places all across America, to see people in Texas standing up for Muslims, to see artists doing beautiful posters. And there’s more creativity, more outpouring that’s going on right now. And I just want to finish by saying I think the resistance is the creation. As we are resisting, we are beginning to not only mobilize ourself into a unified, but we are actually creating the vision of the world we want.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to a clip of One Billion Rising.
ISATOU TOURAY: Along the way, what happened was that there was this whole issue of the whole world coming in unison, in unison everywhere you touch. You either check the internet, you read the papers, call the countries. You hear everybody talking about One Billion Rising Against Violence Against Women, One Billion Rising for Justice and so many other issues that lead to violence against women. That is sort of magical. The energy was so extraordinary that the whole world was rising. And it actually forced those who were giving deaf ears, or those who were taking for granted some of the issues affecting women, to recognize the fact that, on the whole, the whole world is now speaking, and we have to listen.
EVE ENSLER: I think one of the most profound things we’ve seen is One Billion Rising, that after 15 years of our movement, we were able to put out a call that was just an invitation for women and men to rise and dance and resist violence against women across the planet. And that call was taken up, and, actually, each community made it their own. Each community took it to the places they wanted to take it and create this global solidarity and force of energy that really made violence against women central stage.
AMY GOODMAN: One Billion Rising. Eve Ensler, explain what this is. What’s going to be happening on Valentine’s Day, or V-Day—and explain what V-Day is—all over the world?
EVE ENSLER: Well, V-Day started as productions of The Vagina Monologues, and I wish I—to some degree, I wish it were outdated. But we are seeing more productions this year than we could possibly imagine. I think there are 800 places doing the show this year.
AMY GOODMAN: Around the world?
EVE ENSLER: Yeah, and all across America. And it’s wonderful to see young women in the red states doing it, as a way of kind of organizing and coming together to finding their power and finding their voice against this regime.
And One Billion Rising grew out of that after 15 years, because we really wanted to escalate it and take it a step further. So, five years ago, we put out this global invitation for women to rise and dance and to really dance at the places where they wanted to see justice, where they wanted to see violence end. And it was—it was massive. It was massive. And every year, it’s grown and grown and grown. And now, you know, it’s in 200 countries. I was just on the coordinators’ call yesterday. Twenty-two states in India are rising, 131 cities in Germany, 90 cities in Poland. We are seeing all kinds of people, from trans women, from workers, from indigenous people, everyone beginning to use this idea of dance resistance, because dance is so powerful.
One of the things we’re seeing right now is people are being traumatized every day, by these executive orders, by these kind of horrible statements, by hateful, aggressive reactions. And I think one of the things we have to be very careful about is that we don’t get hooked on a cycle of trauma, retrauma, trauma, retrauma. We have to also come into our bodies and dance and feel our sexuality and feel our joy and feel our energy, because that will give us the fuel to keep fighting and keep resisting and keep creating the way we want to go.
AMY GOODMAN: And how is One Billion Rising, Christine, being expressed in the Democratic Republic of Congo?
CHRISTINE SCHULER DESCHRYVER: First of all, I think Eve had the idea when she was visiting—she was visiting Congo, and it was after her cancer, when she saw all the women, you know, like the raped women, were dancing. And she was like, “Oh, my god! The energy they have!” So the idea came from there, from Congo. And I have to say, like in Congo and, I think, mostly in Africa, we dance. We have special dance when we bury people. We have special dance when we are happy. We have special dance when we have baby. So, it’s a way to express our feelings. So, I have to say that the One Billion Rising in Congo, and also we rise also for the Mother Earth.
EVE ENSLER: And tell her what you’re doing this year, who you’re rising for.
CHRISTINE SCHULER DESCHRYVER: This year we will rise again for Mother Earth, because let me remind you that Congo is the second lung of humanity. And without the forests in Congo, I think there is no more life all over the world. And we will rise also for the women. You know, during the war, they displaced all the soldiers with the wives. And the ones who died, they just left widows everywhere. So we will rise for these women, with these women. And I have to say, “rising” is the word in English, but all over DRC they use the word in English. Every time they see they disagree with something, it’s like, “OK, we will rise for this.” And also for the minorities, like the grassroots women, like the Pygmies, who are like invisible, invisible in Congo. And we had also few girls coming from this community at City of Joy, where they learn, you know, to write and read. So they will also rise in their community.
EVE ENSLER: In New York, on February 14th, we’re having an Artistic Uprising for Revolutionary Love. We have joined forces with a wonderful woman named Valarie Kaur and Reverend Barber, who have launched this campaign called Revolutionary Love. And we will be rising in Washington Square Park from 6:00 to 9:00. There are 25 amazing artists, a gospel choir, drummers, singers, poets. And we really want everyone to come, because, really, we need art more than we—we only have to look to Melissa McCarthy, her brilliant portrayal of Sean Spicer, and see the way artists and irony are really changing consciousness.
AMY GOODMAN: And interestingly, Eve, you know, on Saturday Night Live, when Sean Spicer was portrayed by the comic, the actress Melissa McCarthy, apparently what disturbed Donald Trump most—
EVE ENSLER: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —was that his press secretary, Sean Spicer, was being played by a woman.
EVE ENSLER: Which only tells us more women need to be portraying everybody in that administration every day. You know.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s see what happens if, in fact, the rumor is true—
EVE ENSLER: Yes, that Rosie’s going to—
AMY GOODMAN: —and Rosie O’Donnell play Steve Bannon.
EVE ENSLER: I think that will be brilliant. And I think, really, the way we’re really going to, I think, have an impact on Trump is his ego, because I read recently that he only reads things that are about himself, which that is his entire worldview. So now we have to get into that worldview, so when he’s reading and watching his eight hours of television a day, he sees constant spoofs of himself and constant ironical portrayals of himself. But also, like how are we, as artists in this culture, going to rise, going to speak out, going to create into this times? This is no-business-as-usual time. This is—this is the opportunity we have to reset the world, you know?
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us. Eve Ensler, playwright, author of The Vagina Monologues, is being honored by the Athena Film Festival in New York City. And Christine Schuler Deschryver, who is director of V-Day Congo. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.