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Stop buying gender stereotypes

Valentine’s Day, the $20 billion investment Americans make in romance each Feb. 14, is beginning to acquire a sharper edge.

That’s because it is now also being called V-Day, a movement spawned by Eve Ensler, whose episodic play, “The Vagina Monologues” invited women (and men) to re-examine the feminine experience and discover ways to gain empowerment and end violence against women.

V-Day, in turn, has birthed 1 Billion Rising, a global campaign calling attention to the 1 billion women who will be victims of rape or violence during their lifetimes, a statistic of staggering dimension.

Last year, on Valentine’s Day (aka V-Day), an estimated billion women and men participated in activities in 207 countries calling attention to violence against women. The movement wasn’t very visible in Sonoma last Friday, but the issue itself got fresh attention when Jennifer Siebel Newsom appeared at the Sebastiani Theatre Feb. 3 (see the page 1 story) to talk about her film, “Miss Representation,” and her work with The Representation Project, to “rewrite the story” on both women and men.

Siebel Newsom appeared as the inaugural voice in a new speaker series launched by the Mentoring Alliance, and she drove home a number of points that reverberated around the re-envisioned version of Valentine’s day.

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