Calling Valentine’s Day “V-Day” is a little too close to D-Day. “V-Day” makes it sound like go time. it brings to mind images of U boats storming the beaches of romance, an uphill battle against perilous love, the outcome unsure (the battle reason unsure), but still we fight. Some will be victors, get medals for wounds, some will be called survivors. Some of us feel like the soldiers who get blown up but their body keeps running because they don’t know any better.
There’s another VDay that helped me get through the last few Valentine’s Days. Like it sounds, it was a call to action. It is a foundation and series of events created by Eve Ensler, the most popular event being “The Vagina Monologues”. All four years of college I was involved in VDay, helping bring awareness to local and international violence and injustice. I performed, produced and directed.
My involvement made me realize how fortunate I am on many levels. I have a family who loves and accepts me. I don’t have to worry about locks being changed on me or being disowned for my beliefs. Some girls couldn’t tell their families what they were doing because their families would. It made me realize there are good people out there. It made me aware there are some very evil people out there. I met some vagina zealots and some man haters. I didn’t agree with them but I understood and respected where they were coming from. You learn quickly what you believe in, what you feel comfortable with, and where you stand so you can feel good about yourself.
Some people don’t like “The Vagina Monologues” including some feminists. Why reduce a woman to one part, one part that is often sexualized and thought to be derogatory? For that reason. Slang for it is often used to denote someone as less than human, stupid, etc. Lots of words are used to be hurtful. I’m on the fence about reclaiming words. I don’t know how I feel 100% of the time about a select group being allowed to use a word as a term of endearment, to create camaraderie, and only they can use it because they are part of that group. I think it creates confusion–how come you can use it and I can’t? Sometimes I’m persuaded it takes the power away from the word or changes the power. While nothing is perfect, I still think it can create a slippery slope no one can climb however hard they try and however far up they think they have gotten so far.
I liked “The Vagina Monologues” because they were needed for some people. It was therapeutic for some survivors of rape to get onstage and tell the story of another woman. It was empowering for a post op woman to read a scene with other women about what it means to someone to undergo that operation. It was liberating for some audience members. They didn’t know some of the things in the monologues went on. they didn’t know some of these things still happen. They didn’t know there was a way they could get involved to raise awareness or help in the name of their mother, sister, friend or even themself.
My four years of VDay were some of the most challenging events and discussions I’ve ever had. I went on “Take Back the Night” walks and had guys yell at us how they loved rape. I got called names and had assumptions made about me that were unprecedented. They were also some of the best times. I ended up doing “Vagina Monologues in the Park” because the venue double booked the time slot and kicked us out. We had a sold out audience so we performed in the parking lot and alley. Some of the monologues take on a whole new meaning when you’re shivering, the words echo off apartment buildings, and people come to their windows to watch.
I learned things about myself, others and created great friendships.
It also made February 14th more than candy and your Facebook status.