How often do we really talk about our insert-euphemism-here?
Ashley Wadhwani, Arts & Entertainment Editor Ω
“Let’s just start with the word vagina. It sounds like an infection at best. Maybe a medical instrument. ‘Hurry, nurse, bring me the vagina!’”
The Kamloops Women’s Resource Group Society presented The Vagina Monologues from March 6-8 at the Kamloops Convention Centre. This presentation also touched on One Billion Rising – a campaign fighting for the safety and justice of all women.
Originally written by playwright, performer and activist Eve Ensler, the timing of the event, being held on the same weekend of International Women’s Day, was no coincidence.
The 16 different stories narrated on stage shared the taboos, awkwardness and fears of the vagina that girls and woman think about, but rarely talk about. For example, the first monologue “Hair” was of a woman sharing the problems her husband had with her hair that she did not agree with.
Others discussed the physical attributes and awkward encounters, all creating laughter of understandings and shock in the crowd. For some it may have been giggling from feeling uncomfortable, while most were laughing at how relatable the monologues were.
The stories in themselves were entertaining, but knowing that they came from real women of all ages, orientations and cultures through interviews Ensler had conducted herself made them raw and fascinating.
Some stories were empowering and also identified the subtleness of the patriarchal culture that reinforces most of the taboos surrounding vaginas. For instance, “Vagina Happy Fact” shared that vaginas have 8,000 nerve fibers, which is more than any other body part on the female and male body. It ended with the line, “Who needs a handgun when you have a semi-automatic?”
Others were sobering testimonials of domestic violence, rape and genital mutilation. These stories sparked upsetting feelings amongst the crowd – the idea that this could happen to any woman, and often does. Women’s struggles from these injustices around the world were a much-needed inclusion in the show, with statistics not just coming from war-torn countries.
Sharing both the comedic and traumatic events the vagina can undergo mirrored the complexity of the social and biological makeup of the vagina.
It was no surprise that the audience went through howls of laughter and also tears, but it was a great experience to be feeling these feelings in a room full of other women also feeling them. Similarly, the comfortable nature of the show had the potential of sparking conversations about the elephant in the room we all too often don’t talk about.
Finally, “I Was There in the Room,” Ensler’s own story about watching the birth of her granddaughter, reintroduced our perceptions of the vagina in a new way beyond the biological conversations on reproduction.
“And as I stared, her vagina suddenly became a wide, red, pulsing heart. The heart is capable of sacrifice. So is the vagina.”
Like going through any experience for the first time, The Vagina Monologues can be more than just an event to bring awareness, and it allows any woman to internally reflect on their relationship with their vagina while de-stigmatizing the way we view and talk about it. If you couldn’t make it to the show, the book written by Ensler includes the same monologues and can be purchased at most bookstores or online.