This is Viviana Arcia. She is a feminist, a Stanford University student, and a W.O.M.A.N., Inc. volunteer. She works regularly on our crisis line and with the Latina Program. She has also helped extensively in building our Domestic Violence Information & Referral Center and in contributing to our work around LGBTQ-inclusive services. In late April, Viviana and her fellow students will present a production of The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, with all of the proceeds going towards supporting W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Check out the details of the performance on our Upcoming Events page and read our interview with Viviana below!
How did you get involved with the feminist movement?
I first became interested in gender issues and empowering women in high school. I created a conference called Girls to Women, aimed at empowering middle and high school girls in my hometown. When I got to college, I began taking classes in gender and feminism, and I was so transformed and changed that I decided to major in Feminist Studies.
What do you feel are the main goals of American feminism today?
I think that feminism today has made huge inroads in examining how gender and women’s position in the world intersects with so many identities and social conditions like race, sexuality, poverty, xenophobia, disability, etc. I think that a main goal for the feminist movement is to better understand how these identities intersect as well as how the identities can catalyze coalitions between groups in order to advance social justice.
As a feminist, do you feel like you have to battle with a lot of misunderstanding of what you do? How do you address the misunderstandings?
On campus there are definitely negative stereotypes and misconceptions about feminism and violence against women. Over the years I’ve been involved in education and programming efforts to have students discuss these issues more openly and learn more about what feminism means. I also address the issue by bringing up the point that feminism and an end to violence benefit both men and women. Feminism allows us to be free of patriarchal notions of what both genders are supposed to be and act like.
How did you get involved with W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?
I co-led an Alternative Spring Break trip as a junior in college, and one of the organizations we visited was W.O.M.A.N., Inc. The organization definitely stood out as operating around a survivor-based advocacy model as well as being conscious of how different identities affect women’s experiences and response to domestic violence. I wanted to become a part of it after listening to Jill speak about the organization and its work.
What do you like the most about working with W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?
I think the staff is amazing and so supportive of its volunteers. They see volunteers as an integral part of its organization, especially since we are often the first contact that W.O.M.A.N., Inc. survivors have. I definitely value that an organization I work for values me as an important piece of the puzzle.
The Vagina Monologues performance is part of the V-Week awareness campaign. Could you please tell me a little bit about that?
The V-Week at Stanford is a student group aimed at raising awareness of violence against women worldwide, as well as raising funds that ultimately go towards a local beneficiary organization working to end violence against women. In the past two years we have raised over $9,000, which have gone to organizations like La Casa de las Madres and SFWAR. This year, we are proud to have W.O.M.A.,N .Inc. as our beneficiary organization.
How are you involved with the production?
I am Co-President of V-Week, which means I oversee The Vagina Monologues as well as fundraising/ publicity efforts.
Why The Vagina Monologues?
I think The Vagina Monologues was a watershed movement in the feminist movement. Eve Ensler was, I think, one of the first people to bring up the issues of female sexuality and sexual desire, sexual and domestic violence, rape as a tool of war, and how violence and shame operate in women’s lives. Because the play has served as an entry point into more open conversations about these issues around the world, V-Week has made it its official event and fundraising source.
~ Interview by Julia Glosemeyer