What I Learned From Organizing "The Vagina Monologues"
In third grade, my class teacher played a children’s introduction to sex education during class. For the first time in my life, I heard the words vagina and penis used at the same time. All of the class giggled. Laughing is a great mechanism to make uncomfortable moments feel easier. I laugh when I stumble and fall in front of my crush.
It is not surprising that vaginas and penises are often a taboo-- people usually don’t like putting spotlight on this topic and it doesn’t appear in our daily conversations. The truth is, it makes us uncomfortable. However, it becomes problematic when discomfort blocks conversation. If I cannot say ‘vagina’ out loud without my cheeks turning red, I will never be able to feel completely free in my body. It distracts us from talking about issues relating to vaginas: from genital mutilation to rape and sexual assault.
Therefore, I think it is easier if we start by laughing about vaginas and here is where The Vagina Monologues come in. The first time I heard the Vagina Monologues, I was embarrassed and I was fascinated. I wanted to applaud and leave. I was shook and enlightened. The Vagina Monologues are complex just like the issues and taboos related.
The Vagina Monologues for me became a platform where I could listen to and say the word ‘vagina’ as many times as I wanted and as loud as I wanted. I did not need to care much about why I need to hear this word because it was already so liberating just to use it freely. A lot of the monologues in the play are sarcastic and ironic; they are written to make the audience laugh. At this moment, I do not feel like my laugh is a mechanism of defense. Laughing, for me, is my feeling of liberation.
This month, I organised The Vagina Monologues at my university. I was motivated to share my freedom with others. I learnt how relating to the experience of others can be eye-opening from listening the monologue performers. When a girl after a performance came to me and told me she would go home now to finally take a look at her own vagina, I learnt that sometimes the first step is simple acceptance. Some people were still not convinced and some wanted The Penis Monologues. From them I learnt that demand for a stronger conversation is bigger than I thought.
In the end, I learnt that my vagina has a voice. What about yours?