I went to see a production of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues recently. A friend of mine directed it and I was pleased and proud of her work and the fierce commitment she shows to promoting healthy sexuality for men and women.
I’ve seen the monologues several times. I’m always struck by how happy the audience is to see women speaking frankly, poignantly, honestly about their vaginas. I can only imagine how stirring the original interviews were, or for the early participants to see their words, their experiences on stage.
Some of the monologues are sexy and sassy, about women learning how to love their vulvas, their very essence. Some are about how much happiness and pleasure they give, how much they want to say. They have a lot to say about pleasure and joy and earth-shattering explosions.
They have a lot to say about how angry they are. They have a right to be angry. About waxing. About shaving. About cold ugly stirrups, about chemical spray perfumes, about people who don’t treat them very well in bed, about the jokes made about them, and especially about assault.
I’m also struck by how hard the more dramatic monologues are to watch. “My Vagina Was My Village” is probably the hardest one for me to watch, though hearing the ending story last night, about how to survive being sold into sexual slavery in the Congo, was gut wrenching.
And it made me fucking furious. Cold. Confused. As much as I think about the topic, as much as I’ve forced myself to read….I just don’t understand. I don’t understand why women are treated like…
I get scared sometimes, after seeing shows like that….We all sat in the audience, so safe. All of us so western and mature and well fed and gentle. We are so civilized, yes? Nothing could change that, right? Men and women are moving towards equity and respect and mutually beneficial relationships and nothing like what happened in Congo could happen here. Right?
It happened in Kosovo, after all. And given that there are at least 200,000 reported rapes in the US per year and that some 60% of rapes go unreported….I don’t know how gentle we are after all.
I came across this article, while I was looking up information on the Congo. The title says it all and is sickening. “Rape Is Cheaper Than Bullets”
The information in the article is disturbing, but it should be read. (And in part, it should be read because we as westerners are complicit in the problem. We use electronics. Electronics that require the minerals the Congo has in its posession. The market benefits from an unstable Congo, from war. And rape is, indeed, cheaper than bullets.)
We are, and perhaps we always have been, casualties of war, of people far more in control than any of us. Of being female. And that makes me so, so very sad, so very angry, so very cold. But if I have anything to do about it, it won’t always be this way. Rape, assault (of men and women, adult and children alike-for men are terribly affected by situations like this, and children…well, I don’t even want to think about it) should be exposed.
If you’d like more information on the programs that the Vagina Monologues are supporting, please go here.
Lest I leave this entry on too bitter of an note, there was one monologue I’d not heard and it was by Eve Ensler on the birth of her granddaughter. I couldn’t find a video that did it justice. It was powerful, as only birth can be. Her description of the vagina as heart, as allowing entry and exit, as expanding and contracting, as breaking and healing, as a spiraling entry way between one world and the next, left me in tears.
Maybe it is because I’ve had two babies of my own, written about the experience with awe, but I thought in that moment, we are all so precious and fragile, men and women alike.
We really should stop hurting each other so much. That kind of violence, sexual violence, especially should be stopped.
My vagina, for one, would like that kind of thing to end.
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