I was in the Vagina Monologues before ever seeing it. I just never got around to seeing it before, I told myself, but the fact is that I didn't want to. I didn't understand it, didn't want to be associated with it. When friends brought me back a chocolate vagina from a production in college, I thought it was funny, but I couldn't bring myself to eat it. It was weird. Vaginas, I thought, were weird.
It took me a long time to get over the negative messages about women’s bodies that surround all of us and the mystery and shame that accompanied whatever they were calling sex ed in Mississippi at the time. But that was a while ago, and surely things have changed, right?
It seems hard to believe that a show like the Vagina Monologues would be interesting or necessary-- it's 2015! Aren't we thoroughly desensitized? Is there anything less shocking than our anatomy?
Now let me remind you that just three years ago, a congresswoman in Michigan was banned indefinitely from speaking on the House floor because she used the word "vagina" in a debate on reproductive health legislation. When questioned about the event, her male colleague said her words were too “offensive" to repeat. (My no doubt highly controversial stance on this is that if you can't say it, you can't legislate it.)
And don't forget, just earlier this week, South Carolina’s own Senator Corbin referred to women as "lesser cuts of meat." (And I’m linking you to the Daily Mail to show that this ridiculousness has made international news.)
So, yeah, it's 2015, and it seems like women still need a safe space to tell their stories and use correct terminology when discussing their bodies. We still have a long way to go until vaginas aren’t viewed as weird, gross, or less than.
The Vagina Monologues at USC presents three shows this weekend—at 7pm on Saturday and Sunday, and a Saturday matinee. Evening tickets are $12 general admission and $10 for students, and the matinee is $10 for everybody. You can preorder your tickets here.
One of my favorite parts of the show isn’t a monologue. As you enter the auditorium, you’re asked to jot down your favorite vagina euphemism and put it in a box. Before the show begins, one of the directors will share a few of the best ones. (So make sure you come prepared to contribute your favorite slang term!) This silly little way of engaging the audience loosens everybody up while also revealing the absurdity of the extraordinary lengths we go to avoid the reality of our anatomy.
I also love that the Vagina Monologues gives a group of women a unique sisterhood and gives their audience the experience of hearing stories drawn from the experiences of real women—stories that are so often missing in popular media. The best part of the Monologues is definitely the cause it supports, though. Your purchase of a ticket goes directly to the prevention education and support services of Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands.
Treat yourself by seeing the show, and treat our community by contributing to the cause.