Performing in The Vagina Monologues

Performing in The Vagina Monologues

“My vagina’s angry. It is. It’s pissed off. My vagina’s furious and it needs to talk. It needs to talk about all of this shit. It needs to talk to you.”- The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler.

V-Day cast 2019! P.C. goes to http://www.vegeldaniel.com.

Before I performed, “My Angry Vagina” at CEU last Winter, I messaged my sister to tell her about it. She was interested–definitely curious–and asked, “Are you actually going to say the word VAGINA aloud??”.

That night I said the word vagina 20 times in front of a crowd of about 400 people. At the beginning I yelled it while complaining about tampons, pap smears, and thong underwear. By the end it was said softly as I conveyed hopes for my vjayjay to travel, learn, eat chocolate, and be free (of course at that point it was a metaphor).

The Vagina Monologues is a play daring to cover consensual and non-consensual sexual experiences, body image, genital mutilation, encounters with reproduction, sex work, and several other topics from the perspective of a diverse group of women. Women around the world perform the play every year as part of the V-Day movement, which supports grassroots efforts working to stop violence against girls and women. The wonderfully diverse community of CEU, is the perfect place to perform The Monologues if you ask me–and our opening scene in which we said vagina in 15 different languages is the tangible evidence I will give you to prove it.

So… what prepared me to get up there and voice my frustrations about the ridiculous expectations women face? The Human Rights Initiative at CEU and the amazing individuals performing alongside me. I wouldn’t have been able to publicly shout about my angry vagina without their support, or if I hadn’t watched fellow cast members fully jump out of their comfort zones during the rehearsals. A special shout out also goes to my roommates and friends who helped to further normalize these topics. These people truly encouraged me while we advocated for issues that are otherwise considered too “taboo”, “vulgar”, or “raunchy” for a group of women to cover, and that is ultimately what The Monologues are all about. 

 

You see, for me, the performances have two immediate effects:

1.) Empowering the audience

2.) Raising $$$ for local organisations focusing on women’s issues

I first saw the monologues as a sophomore in undergrad, and let’s just say I’m glad the spotlight did not shine on me at any point during the show. It sure was an awkward handshake. One minute my cheeks were bursting red with embarrassment and another tears pooled in my eyes form the pain expressed through stories. But that initial performance gave me a lot to consider, and eventually a hell of a lot of confidence to go out and live my best life.

Last year I didn’t feel the slightest bit of embarrassment. I was, however, overwhelmed with anxiety and worried that I would tank my monologue. At one point I was whipping anyone who came near with a prop. But that stress eventually turned into strength as I repeatedly recited my lines in preparation. In the end nothing was forgotten (THANK GOD) and I left the auditorium hoping our performances would have the same impact on our audience in Budapest as they had on the 20 year old nerd sitting in the chapel at Carleton during a snowstorm.

My vagina is still angry. Pissed off. It’s still talking to you as I write. But it feels a hell of a lot better knowing we raised quite a bit of forints for NANE, a Hungarian nonprofit supporting victims of domestic violence, and we did that by sharing some of the most important stories on women’s issues that I believe every person needs to hear.

Good luck this year to HRSI and the crew. Break a tampon!

P.S. In case you are wondering I wrote the word vagina 15 times in this post.

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Owning My Identity in a Taxi

Owning My Identity in a Taxi

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Because I can’t pronounce French, and because Taxi drivers in Tunis don’t really speak English, I usually slide into a cab while frantically giving directions in Tunisian Arabic. (The frantic part comes from the fact that I have this problem with being late. ALMOST ALWAYS.)

How do drivers respond? I assume in their head it’s something like, “Dude why is this white girl speaking our language?? Like not even formal Arabic, but the Tunisian dialect?”

A few moments later they are polite enough to inquire by asking, “Are you French?” And I say, “No.”
Just no.
Not, “No sir I’m American.”
Or, “Actually I come from the U.S.”
It’s just a straight-up NO.

The really curious ones will run the list. “So you’re German?”
Nope.
“British?”
Nahhh.
“What’s your first language?”
This is the point at which I have to admit I’m American–because there just aren’t enough Australians or South Africans to go around these days.

My younger self refused to be associated with a cheeto head.
Okay, name calling is NOT okay and there is more to the story so:
I refused to be grouped into the lump of people who supposedly elected a president who has said and done an array of racist, sexist, and classicist things. That is not me. Therefore, I’m not American today.

And thus, I spent many a days trying to blend in with hair ten shades lighter than the average person on the street and eyes that are about one in a million here. It went so well.

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I grew up a bit watching this president continue to offend and harm individuals nationally and internationally. I also grew up A LOT living the majority of the last five years outside of the U.S., and it turns out that spending time abroad also means spending a considerable amount of time explaining the thought process behind the American lifestyle and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

And every time I explain I grow up a little more. Now I’m so grown up that the beginning of my taxi ride sounds a little something like this:
“Are you French?”
“I’m American and I come from this small little town that’s only a few hours from Canada–you got it it’s in the north but the middle of the country so not close to any (in)famous places you know like California or New York and it’s super cold but do you know the Timberwolves or Vikings because yeah that’s my state and it’s called Minnesota and it’s in AMERICA!! And I LOVE McDonalds!!”

That’s 100% true by the way, and loving those double cheeseburgers is probably the thing that I should be ashamed of.

And after I catch my breath, I think to myself:
“Yes, I’m an American and I care enough to learn your language.”

 

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