The Vagina Monologues is coming to Enid, Oklahoma Feb. 14th, 15th, and 16th. It is causing much discussion in this little Bible Belt town. Many people only hear the word Vagina and are offended before they even know what the play is about. Are we still so rooted in the dark ages we should have called it, “The Private Part Monologues?”
Enid is fortunate to have a group of very brave women performing in this play. They are dedicated along with their director, Stephanie Ezzell, to bring awareness about violence against women. The money from ticket sales will go to our local YWCA.
While writing this article, I began to think how many conversations I had with my group of female friends over a glass of wine about sexuality. Several of my friends, with their voices soft and shaky revealed for the first time in those discussions, that they were raped as a child or adult; traumatized by their mother or father; date raped, abused by their husband or boyfriend. They shared how they have stuffed the trauma of the incident down deep inside having never healed from it. In one of those late-night chats, I learned my own daughter had been date raped. Something I did not know until twenty years later. However, when these groups of well-educated professional women discuss sexual issues, we seldom use the word vagina. We will use the slang words, but something about using the proper name makes the discussion feel extremely real. It is time to heal and “The Vagina Monologues,” is a step toward that direction.
Enid is a beautiful little town but behind closed doors bad things happen here too. It is important we support this play. It is time to restore those who have had their spirit broken by having their vagina disrespected. It is time to protect those who have not had violent acts against them by making the public aware of the harm the violence causes. It is time to bring respect and understanding that a woman’s empowerment is deeply connected to her sexuality, and she is vulnerable without knowledge.
To quote Eve Ensler, writer and performer of, The Vagina Monologues, “When you rape, beat, main, mutilate, burn, bury, and terrorize women, you destroy the essential life energy on the planet.”
For those of you unsure if this play should be on our stage in our modest town a bit of history may help you understand what it is about and why it is important. The play is made up of a varying number of monologues read by women dealing with aspects of the feminine experience. The monologues range from matters of sex, incest, love, rape, menstruation, mutilation, masturbation, birth, orgasm, menopause, and more. The monologues may change, but the theme of female empowerment does not. As of today, The Vagina Monologues has raised over $75 million dollars for women’s anti-violence groups.
The play was written by Eve Ensler, in 1996. She didn’t set out to write a play. In 1994, she was talking with a friend of hers about menopause. Her friend had a very negative understanding about her vagina. Eve started talking to hundreds of women about their feeling centered on their vagina. She laughed; she cried, and she knew something must be done. Her original intent was to teach women to celebrate the vagina; however, the play took a twist, and it became a movement to stop violence against women.
Eve did the first performance herself in a tiny theatre in downtown New York. She was scared to death because she was talking about a taboo subject using an unacceptable word. Afterwards, women would come up to her and tell her their stories and weep because they felt like they had been heard. From that little stage, the monologues have been played in about every place on the planet today. This play is still surrounded in much criticism. Some say the play equates men with the enemy, that the focus is on brutal sexual encounters, that it is too graphic in details about the vagina. I find this criticism sad. We have many plays that celebrate love and sex and women and men, and we need those too. Every issue that touches us so deeply needs to be explored.
As women, we still have so much work to do towards empowerment. Just last summer, a female legislator, Lisa Brown, was banned from the floor of the Michigan legislature for saying the word “vagina” during a debate about reproductive rights.
This little play that sparks so much healing and hate will play Feb. 14th, 15th, and 16th, at 8 pm, at the Gaslight Theatre in Enid, Oklahoma, in the Turpin room. It is selling out fast and tickets that are left can be purchased by calling the box office at 580-234-2307.
The ladies who have brought this to our town deserve our respect and gratitude as they work toward making a difference in the life among the women and men of Enid, Oklahoma. Thank you to the progressive, thinking, and caring women putting yourself on stage, knowing you will receive cheers and criticism; you will empower women by your strength for taking the risk!