Last Friday’s leak of the Access Hollywood video plunged Donald Trump’s presidential campaign into crisis, but it also brought to the forefront of national coverage attitudes towards women and sexual assault.
Activists Eve Ensler and Kevin Powell were alert to the issues long before Friday, which is why they agreed nearly two months ago to title their Uncharted Festival conversation “Violence or love? Rape culture, race and building social movements.”
Exactly one week before the video leak, Ensler had published The Undeniable Rape Culture of Donald Trump on Huffington Post.
“It’s kind of amazing that all of this is out now,” Ensler, the creator of The Vagina Monologues and V-Day, said this morning, in a call to Berkeleyside with Kevin Powell before Uncharted kicks off on Friday. “We are talking about a toxicity that is so rampant, that is so sickening. But in a way we all now know what we’re fighting.”
“I’ve been sharing Eve’s article with everyone. It foreshadowed the madness of this weekend,” said Powell. “We have to speak very candidly about where this country is going or could go.”
Ensler said she was particularly interested in having the conversation with Powell, who has grappled with issues of race, patriarchy and power in his acclaimed memoir, The Education of Kevin Powell, and in his activism.
“These issues are united,” Ensler said. “We have to be talking about the racist rape culture. It’s the same dominating, patriarchal, oppressing mindset.”
Both Ensler and Powell believe that the country is poised for change.
“That’s where social movements come in,” Ensler said. “We now have an opportunity as progressives to organize as never before. The people who really get Hillary into office can really push her on every front.”
“It’s all about organization. We need to have a progressive, multigenerational movement,” Powell said. “It’s not lost on me that we’re going to be in the Bay Area 50 years after the Black Panther Party was founded.”
“Violence against women is affecting one in three women in this country. That’s a huge uniting factor for this country,” Ensler said.
Ensler and Powell will be speaking at 2 p.m. at the Berkeley Rep on Saturday at the Uncharted Festival of Ideas. There are a limited number of $10 tickets for people who want to see their conversation about rape culture and take part in the other festival activities on Saturday afternoon. Simply use the promo code KPEE when you buy tickets.
Berkeleyside’s Uncharted Festival brings extraordinary innovative thinkers and performers to downtown Berkeley for two days of mind-opening conversations, inspiring performances and a fantastic party with great food, drink and music. Full program and tickets available at BerkeleyIdeas.com.