The first time I saw The Vagina Monologues I was shocked: they said “vagina” numerous times without feeling the least bit embarrassed, made being female seem beautiful, and shared stories of violence and heartbreak from real people. And even though I’ve almost memorized the stories by now, I continue to see it every year. The Vagina Monologues is one important (and fun) part of the V-Day Campaign, a global movement to end violence against women and girls.
The V-Day campaign reminds us that gender equality is far from being a current reality and that emotional, mental, physical, and social violence is still happening all around us. However, it also reminds us that we are a part of the solution and that hope, and progress, is in our hands.
First Step of Progress: becoming aware and educating ourselves about gender inequality. The following video breaks down what sexual objectification is and why it’s problematic (linking to sexist media portrayal and sexual violence).
Second Step of Progress: becoming inspired and involved. As mentioned in previous blogs, The Representation Project works to create gender equality in the media by raising awareness of and working to remove stereotypical, sexist portrayals of women. During the Super Bowl this weekend, you too can be a part of this process by calling out the individual ads and the companies that represent/create them with the new (free on iTunes) “Not Buying It” app.
However, issues of violence in the media are just as important to discuss as sexist portrayals. Rape scenes, for example, are present in multiple movies and TV shows, including a recent scene in one of my favorites: Downton Abbey. At first, I was appalled by such a depiction. Then I was reminded that, according to the White House Council on Women and Girls: “Nearly 1 in 5 women, and 1 in 71 men have experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes. These statistics are stunning, but still can’t begin to capture the emotional and psychological scars that survivors often carry for life, or the courage needed to recover.”
As horrifying as it would be for victims to have to relive such atrocities through the media, if we ignore it, what will happen? If it reminds people to stop blaming the victim, to help support survivors, and that real consequences exist for criminals, then does it serve a realistic and moral purpose?
Eve Ensler includes challenging stories in her creation, The Vagina Monologues, not for the sake of sharing drama, but to educate others in the pain that is caused by such violence, and to inspire victims to continue to be brave because they are not alone. It is through these stories and joint efforts that progress is made. She reminds us that the V-Day Campaign is not just about 1 billion female victims of violence in the world, but being part of one billion men and women who join to together to make a difference.
For more information about progress, such as the “White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault,” feel free to visit the following website:
Remember, no matter what gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. you identify with, if you believe in gender equality you are a part of the progress that can be made. The Vagina Monologues performance is an educational and inspirational experience for those who are just becoming introduced to these important gender equality issues and for those who are already spreading awareness for these important causes.
Performances at the Maintenance Shop in the Memorial Union take place Feb. 13th at 8:30 pm and Feb. 14th at 6 and 8:30 pm. Tickets are 10$ for students, but proceeds are donated (as well as the majority of proceeds for other buttons, shirts, etc.) to ACCESS, Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support, and the V-Day Spotlight Campaign. And for more information: http://www.vday.org/home