Pink, red, and white Valentine’s Day is in sight. This year Valentine’s Day, also known as V-day, has a new meaning to me and many other women around the globe. V-day stands for a day to celebrate women and to stop the violence.
Eve Ensler gained critical acclaim from her visionary, yet controversial show “The Vagina Monologues”. The Vagina Monologues is based on over 200 interviews with women speaking about their vaginas. The show has been translated into over 24 languages and has been performed around the world. As an offspring of her work, Ensler and other women created V-day as a way to empower women to take the anti-violence message to their own communities. V-day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing ant-violence organizations.
I was cast in the Vagina Monologues not knowing what to expect. I had not seen the show or read it. Everything I knew about the show was from other people’s point of view.
Now I find myself not able to wait for rehearsals. Something about the cause brings out amazing and talent women who want to be involved. Working on the production is empowering on many levels. This is mainly due to the fact that the show brings people to terms about how they feel about sexuality on many levels: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
As an American woman I have heard stories of women from other countries who have been violated by violence that fills me with pain. For example, it is common for little girls to have their vaginas sewn together in some parts of Africa because it is thought that it will make them less promiscuous. A small hole is left for urine and menstruation. When the women get married and have sex for the first time, the stitches are not taken out, they are penetrated though the stitches. This could lead to permanent damage or disease in the vagina. After I heard about this, I was speechless. This practice is going on with many women including some in the United States. While to me and many other activists, this is violence, someone from a culture who practices this would surely disagree.
Each year productions of the Vagina Monologues happen around the world from New York to Tobago as a fundraiser for the V-day foundation. The money goes to different causes that support ending the violence on women, including a safe house for women who run away from their communities for not wanting to be violated by vaginal mutilation. The women can never return to their communities, because they have shamed their families.
The vagina is a road well traveled. Knowledge is power. Look for a production near you at www.vday.org.
If you are experiencing violence or know someone who is:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
Rape, Abuse, & National Network (RAINN): 800-656-HOPE