Every girl remembers her first…
…V Day performance, that is.
It was my senior year of college, and I was a little bit bitter. I auditioned for my school’s production of the Vagina Monologues two years prior and they rejected me. Regardless, my friend, a sexual assault survivor, was going and she wanted my support. So I went, and at the very first “what would your vagina wear…” I was hooked.
I felt that those monologues were my monologues. I could relate in so many ways. Hair brought me back to the time a partner told me: “if a woman is clean shaven, I’d lick her all day,” then pointedly refuse to perform oral sex on me when they saw that I wasn’t.
Because He Liked To Look At It reminded me of a time where I wasn’t just uncomfortable with my vagina, but I could hardly be naked around myself.
I remembered a time when I was terrified to say the word masturbation, let alone admit that I did it on a fairly regular basis.
As time goes on, I continue to find more parallels between my life and the monologues. Just listening to The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy and I remember my own journey towards being comfortable with moaning and pleasure. It started with the first time I was told “be as loud or as quiet as you want,” and continued on to first partner that gave me the space and safety to explore what DOES make me feel good. I can only feel gratitude towards the men and women that helped me find my moan, and the countless others that help people find theirs.
But, as much as V Day is a celebration of vaginas and vulvas and their amazing shapes, sizes, colors, textures and flavors (yes! Flavors!), it’s underlying message is much more serious.
UNTIL THE VIOLENCE STOPS.
Until women no longer face a 1 in 5 chance of experiencing sexual violence in their lifetimes.
Until women no longer face a 1 in 3 risk of intimate partner violence in their lifetimes.
Until women don’t get barred from speaking in front of a government assembly for saying the word vagina.
Until coming of age doesn’t mean experiencing the horrors of female genital mutilation.
To drive this point home, at the end of every V Day performance (at my school) the performers ask survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence to stand up. Thinking back to that first V Day, that was perhaps the most powerful and terrifying moment of all. There, I saw what I had always known but never felt: survivors were everywhere I looked. And as I thought about how difficult it was for me to know the best way to support my friend after she was assaulted, I couldn’t help but wonder if all of the people in that 2,000 person auditorium knew how to support the survivors in their lives. Or better yet, if all of the survivors in the room had known where to turn when they were hurt.
So to close, here are three things I want you to do this weekend:
- Celebrate vaginas, penises, and the people they may be attached to, especially if they’re your own.
- Educate yourself. Learn about domestic violence, sexual assault, and become a better resource for the people in your lives.
- Find a V Day Performance near you. Yell CUNT (or COÑO, FIKA, or PUKI!) at the top of your lungs. Eat a chocolate vulva lollipop. Become part of a global movement to end violence against women everywhere.
For those of you who are hyperlink-averse, here’s a list of all the links in this post:
- V Day Movement, information, statistics, and tips for action: www.vday.org
- Performances of assorted Vagina Monologues:
- Resources on:
- Sexual Assault: www.rainn.org; www.cdc.gov/features/sexualviolence/; www.feminist.com/antiviolence/natl.html
- Domestic Violence: www.thehotline.org; www.loveisrespect.org
- Female Genital Mutilation: http://www.who.int/topics/female_genital_mutilation/en/
- Michigan State Rep. Lisa Brown’s vagina controversy: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/06/14/155059849/michigan-state-rep-barred-from-speaking-after-vagina-comments