Something happens to the world in the month of February. Everything turns pink and red. Stores are stocked high and low with chocolates and heart shaped cards and balloons. Gifts are scouted, flowers ordered, and reservations made all in preparation for the celebration of February 14th–Valentine’s Day of course.
For myself, however, February 14th has nothing to do with cupid or love songs–not anymore. Thanks to the divine intervention of worldwide playwright/activist Eve Ensler the day has a whole new meaning and I’m never going back to the way it use to be.
Over 10 years ago, Valentine’s Day was proclaimed V-Day, a day to celebrate women and end violence. With the start of this day and the idea that a violence free world is possible, V-Day became a global movement to finally put an end to violence against women and girls.
Through benefit productions of Ensler’s award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other works the shows raise awareness of issues like rape, incest, battery, genital mutilation, and sexual slavery while raising money for anti-violence efforts worldwide. In 2008 alone, over 3,400 V-Day events took place around the world and to date the movement has raised over $60 million.
Over the years Ensler’s most popular work, The Vagina Monologues, has reached startling heights and was even hailed a “bona fide phenomenon” by the New York Times. The script has been translated into 45 different languages and is performed in 120 countries from Europe to Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, and all of North America.
The show’s success stems from its raw appeal and no-bounds approach. By giving the vagina a voice, the play has created a playground for women to examine the relationships they have with their bodies and intimate partners. The monologues open our eyes to the satisfaction of finding pleasure in our bodies and the beauty of our anatomy, the brutality of rape and violence against women and the miracle of birth and giving life, and finally the empowerment that stems from building a community based on common experiences–our vagina experiences that like an invisible thread bind all women together in sisterhood.
By breaking the silence of the vagina the show has challenged the world to respect women and their bodies and create a world where women can live safely and freely. The show has allowed women to embrace their vaginas and feel empowered by them. It has given women a platform to defend the vagina and stand up for it, to express their anger and outrage at the violence that has been inflicted on the vagina every day. V-Day believes, “women should spend their lives creating and thriving rather than surviving or recovering from terrible atrocities.” This is not a radical notion.
Every time I see The Vagina Monologues I am moved in a new and different way. What moves me most though are the performers, the wonderful women who have found purpose and meaning in the play and are as angered by violence against women as I am. I don’t know who they are; I don’t even know their names, but they inspire me and make me believe that a world without violence is possible if people just listen.
We’re waiting until the violence stops.
Note: To attend a V-Day event in your community visit http://events.vday.org/search.php
Photo by David Spigolon used under a Creative Commons license.