My beloved is not known for his romantic ways, but there are moments where I am completely surprised, like yesterday when a lovely floral arrangement of two dozen roses arrived at the door. As a friend commented, “how does that man know that you like pink?” Hardy har har.
Valentine’s day, February 14th, the day for lovers all over the world. A day for the males of the species to buy their women the chocolates they really don’t want to eat, as the Christmas poundage is still very evident on certain parts of our anatomy, and where a certain martyr is remembered by hearts and cupids when, in fact, there may have been up to a dozen gentlemen with the same name, including a pope.
But today, February 14, 2013, marks a new way of seeing this day of romance. Today thousands of women from all over the world will be meeting on their court house steps, or wearing pink and red and marching in their Main Street, all of them celebrating “V Day”, not the public holiday celebrated in May 1945 to mark the end of World War II in Europe, but a global movement to end the violence against women and girls.
The V Day website reads:
“In 1994, a play called The Vagina Monologues, written by playwright and activist Eve Ensler, broke ground, offering to the world a piece of art like nothing it had seen before. Based on dozens of interviews Ensler conducted with women, the play addressed women’s sexuality and the social stigma surrounding rape and abuse, creating a new conversation about and with women. The Vagina Monologues ran Off-Broadway for five years in New York and then toured the United States. After every performance, Ensler found women waiting to share their own stories of survival, leading her to see that The Vagina Monologues could be more than a moving work of art on violence; she divined that the performances could be a mechanism for moving people to act to end violence.
On Valentines Day, 1998, Eve, with a group of women in New York City, established V-Day. Set up as a 501(c)(3) and originally staffed by volunteers, the organization’s seed money came from a star-studded, sold out benefit performance at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, a show that raised $250,000 in a single evening.
V-Day’s mission is simple. It demands that violence against women and girls must end. To do this, once a year, in February, March, and April, Eve allows groups around the world to produce a performance of the play, as well as other works created by V-Day, and use the proceeds for local individual projects and programs that work to end violence against women and girls, often shelters and rape crisis centers. What began as one event in New York City in 1998 today includes over 5,800 V-Day events annually.
Performance is just the beginning. V-Day stages large-scale benefits and produces innovative gatherings, films and campaigns to educate and change social attitudes towards violence against women.”
Our local university had a free performance of The Vagina Monologues last week, requesting that the attendees donate goods to the local domestic violence shelter instead. My beloved and I attended, not having a clue as to what was in store for us that evening. Three incredibly talented young female actresses, delightfully ‘ordinary’ women with less than perfect actress bodies, presented what it is like to be a vagina. Yes, you read that right. I don’t know what I was expecting, but there you go! There were more than a few moments when I was uncomfortable, but I believe that was part of the purpose of the evening, because the underlying theme was the violence and rape of billions of women all over the world. These three actresses made me squirm in my seat as I pictured the sexual abuse of my ‘sisters’ and heard their bodies’ cries.
Unusual, yes. Shocking, oh my, yes. And, did the writer of the play manage to get her point across, you betcha. So today, watch the news, and remember the women who have been sexually victimized for centuries, and get involved in your communities, your churches, perhaps even your own families, and let your voice also be heard that it is time to make sure the violence stops NOW.