Last week I went to The Vagina Monologues by Eva Ensler at the Maidment Theatre. I went with a group to support our friend, Chantelle, who was acting in the play. She's the gorgeous blonde at the back on the right. I wasn't sure what to expect and was a little nervous about the content. I was also wondering how you could make a whole play about vaginas. We settled into our seats, then the lights went down. There was some nervous giggling.... from me! The naughty side of me surfaced with a sudden desire to call out "penis!" I resisted it and so the play began.
There were stories of all sorts of women's experiences from countries all round the world. Women of all ages and racial backgrounds were represented. Their stories, whilst related to their vaginas in some way, ranged over a wide range of topics - sex, love, loss, mutilation, rape, menstruation, birth, orgasm, empowerment, names and the physical nature of the vagina. The stories were funny, moving, sad, poignant, heartbreaking, sometimes a little scary and sometimes a little too much information.
Several have left a lasting impression on me. The lovely 72 year old lady's story that had me laughing and crying and wishing that her experience could have been different.... that she could have seen what a beautiful person she was.... sad that her sense of loss had coloured her whole life and how she felt about herself. What a waste!
Also the young woman from Kosovo who was a victim of war, where soldiers used rape systematically as a weapon of warfare. Her optimistic hopes and experiences of romantic love contrasted to her experiences of violation, mutilation, torture and the loss of her innocence. Heartbreaking and unimaginable. So overwhelming. I am crying as I write about it.
Then there was one woman's story about Bob and his adoration for her, all of her! So funny but also empowering, helping her to really love and appreciate herself.
Chantelle was very impressive, especially as an angry vagina assaulted by tampons, douches..... We were all laughing. These are common experiences that women deal with on a daily basis.
One story was momentus not so much for it's content but that it made one older lady behind us moan spontaneously! She said it just came out.... that she couldn't help it. That was a little scary!
I came away with a lot to think about. I think that the overriding theme was not really vaginas but that as women we have universal experiences and feelings.... that it's important to talk about them, to open up, share and listen to each other.... that with that comes empathy and understanding.... a real sense of embracing each other as women and that is empowering!