Like many of my fellow anti-rape, anti-domestic violence, anti-sexism, anti-misogyny, anti-heteronomativity feminists, I attended "The Vagina Monologues" last weekend (both shows sold out, way to go Claremont!). First, I must say, the performers were quite impressive; I was swept away by the impassioned dedication with which each one of the monologues was delivered. Bravo!
That being said, this was certainly not the first time Eve Ensler has inspired me. I first read the Monologues about six years ago. I was 15 and had decided I was a capital-F-Feminist. I planted my fury deep within me like a seed and watered it with the inspiration of Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and Our Bodies, Ourselves—a book that I still feel is an absolute necessity on any woman's bookshelf. During my introduction to feminism, I found that the more you read, the more you learn, the angrier you become. The fodder for this fire never ends—just last week, I was emailed an article about how female physicians (hopefully my future profession) are paid 40% less than their male counterparts. Well, guess I better find a nice boy to help me pay back all those student loans. But now I am even more deeply mired in this swamp of male dominance. What's a girl to do? My point is: the system is unfair in a million ways and it's f-ing annoying. I'm a Feminist and I'm angry and I've never been embarrassed about that fact.
I was somehow absurdly lucky in terms of my family, my friends, even my high school at large, because I was never once questioned or challenged about the huge Feminist! badge I wore daily with more pride than a Brownie who just got her colors. It was only my first semester at Scripps, in an Introduction to Women's Studies class, in which we discussed the stigma of being an F-word (you know, pro-female). Feminists are, well, angry. They complain a lot. They yell, they protest, they bitch and moan. And yes, to a certain extent, these statements are all very true. Because, as Eve Ensler will tell you, and as 99.99% of women know from their own experience, women have a good bit to complain about.
But what I could not stop thinking about during my last "Vagina Monologues" experience were not those things about which I am (legitimately) angry, but instead the other, equally important, half of the monologues: the vagina-loving part. Sometimes I get so caught up in feminist rhetoric and rage that I forget to look inward and really ask myself: how do I feel about my vagina? Do I respect it? Do I adore it in the same way that a guy who calls his dick his best friend loves his penis?
These questions were answered as I listened to the Monologue entitled "Because He Liked to Look at It". Even if you haven't heard this one, I bet you can guess what it's about. Basically, this guy, Bob, ends up turning on the lights and staring, deeply and intently, at this chick's vagina. The very thought of that situation horrifies me. I mean, I am down with my vagina, but stare at it? For an hour? "Excuse me while I go yak up my lunch" was the telepathic message I sent to my roommate sitting next to me as we listened to this part. And this is when I realized: I needed to re-channel some of that angry-feminist energy into vagina-loving energy. I think if we are honest with ourselves, most of us do. How can we be angry, face the world who tells us to hide our anger, without actually, really truly loving ourselves—loving our vaginas?
It is so easy to define ourselves by who we condemn, by what makes us angry, but at times I feel like we become so bogged down by these anti-definitions that we forget to look at what and who we are. We are women and, especially this week, we are beautiful women. Our beauty comes not only from our smiles, our hips, our clenched fists, but also from our vaginas. Our vulvas, our yonis, our down-theres, our mindges, or even our coochie-snorchers. Call it whatever you will, but call it something. Name it. Be aware of it, appreciate it, and—for Love Your Body Week—give it some extra special attention. You know, the kind you give to that special lady (or gentleman, whatever your preference may be) on a first date, or, better yet, the kind Ms. Pamela Hillings recommended during the Scripps etiquette dinner last weekend.
Yes, that's it.
Your vagina deserves the same proper etiquette and respect as a stranger at a mock(cock)tail hour. After all, you are going to be networking with it long after those potential business associates have faded. Smile, make eye-contact, shake hands, act interested and ask some friendly questions. Eve Ensler recommends a few: If your vagina/cooter/punani got dressed, what would it wear? If it could speak, what would it say? And if you're really bold: What does it smell like? Personally, I'd rather stay away from that last question, so I will replace it with a few of my own suggestions: Are these jeans really too tight? Do you prefer Hanky Pankys or Honeydew? And, how was Saturday night for you?
So, at least this week, turn your gaze inward. Be informed. Read up on vaginas and women's health. Get personal, get comfortable and below all, show your vagina some love.