Vagina love and worship; Vagina heartbreak and pain…

November 5, 2006 at 11:29 pm | Posted in The Vagina Monologues, Thesis | 1 Comment

Tonight, I am overwhelmed with emotion for what we, as women, go through.

I spent this afternoon in the amazing company of three wonderful women, doing my thesis interviews. We talked about an enormity of things. My thesis, as I’ve discussed before, is on The Vagina Monologues (TVM), but more to the point, on theories of collective remembrance and bearing witness.

Today, I feel as if I was privileged to bear witness to the experiences of three incredible women and I am in awe, and humbled by their experiences.

While our conversations began around their experiences as actresses in TVM, it wasn’t long before it turned to personal experiences. And what I can’t help but think is, I really had absolutely no clue at all what these women had gone through before they came to the show, and just how meaningful and incredibly important being in the show has been for them.

I’ve read alot of discourse on TVM, much good and much bad. The arguments of course, are of the heteronormativity and heterosexuality of the play, and also the white ethnocentrism. More recently I’ve been reading discussions on how TVM promotes another ambigious and overarching, all-encompassing word for female genitalia – “vagina” – without taking into consideration that the vagina is simply one organ in the entirety of the female genitalia – and the discussion’s questions are of course – are we replacing one general word (cunt, down-there) – with another general word as opposed to teaching and making acceptable all words (labia, clitoris, uterus, etc)?

The discourse and criticisms are great – and have a lot of good points. In talking with these women today, some of the criticisms did come up – the heteronormativy in particular, and the lack of bisexuality, homosexuality or transsexuality in the piece.

But despite these criticisms, I’m finding one thing has to be said about the play – the absolute, utter importance of it for so many women, in enabling them to share with other women their common, yet unvoiced and secret experiences, to heal with one another, to heal eachother, to share, to grow, to voice what was previously unspoken and shameful and turn it into something that is acceptable.

It is so so important.

Today we talked about hatred of our bodies, absolute utter hatred of our bodies manifesting itself through eating disorders (3 out of 4 of the women I’ve spoken with so far have had some form of eating disorder), repressed sexuality, fear of sex, abusive relationships, fear of female friendships.

There was so much crying, so many tears. Some of the women, though having been in TVM for a year, for several years at times, still feel shame and contempt of their bodies. And my heart broke for their pain, and what they are going through.

But being in TVM, for all of them, being surrounded by like-minded women and being able to voice their fears and shames and to be open to an environment where the body is beautiful, and where they will not be looked down upon for thinking otherwise of their own bodies – was an essential, integral, utterly necessary and life-altering experience for them.

Eve
I am in such deep awe, such deep worship of women in this moment.

And of Eve Ensler, for bringing forth such a mechanism for women to work with, to evolve to, and for women to continue to mold and shape as The Vagina Monologues.

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  1. Hey Artemis. Your thesis topic sounds really interesting- I helped with a production of the VMs last year and I was suprised the responses people had, and the amount of people who still can’t say the “v-word”! I guess at the very least it gets people talking about feminism.
    Cheers.


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