Saturday, February 17, 2007


Meg suggested that I could have written, yesterday, about how she vibrated me during our college's first ever presentation of the Vagina Monologues. My phone was in my coat pocket, and the coat was draped against the back of my seat, and while one of the young actresses presented an impassioned version of "My Vagina was my Village," it began to vibrate.


On my left, KC looked around.

Why is this phone so fricking vigorous? I wondered. I wanted to clutch the pocket and see if I could mute it, but I knew it was buried down near the bottom of the seat, under me, and I'd cause more of a ruckus trying to get at it. I thought it was my friend Amy calling from Texas (the Bush state, how appropriate would that be?)--we'd been playing phone tag for days. But it was Meg, who'd gotten her Valentine's Day present from New College, a phone interview that went stunningly well, that ended in a "I'm sure you'll be hearing from us soon" exit line.

Our college is Catholic, and so getting the Vagina Monologues has been a long, strange trip. Every time we get the idea that we'll do it, someone in the Cardinal Newman Society gets wind of it and starts a bombing campaign.

Afterwards, some of us stayed behind with a few of the actresses and a professor who teaches Feminist Theology to talk about the production, and the impediments against it. Some of the actresses, all of them students at the college, thought that it might have something to do with the "vulgarity" people ascribe to the word, vagina, or to the repressive nature of Catholic conservatism, wanting to shut sexuality into a box that can only be opened after marriage, and then only for a second before clapping it shut again. Some of us thought that the idea of pleasure is too upsetting to the Puritanical American sensibility.

I think it has a lot to do with love; love is a dangerous, unsettling activity. It opens us up, makes us take risks, makes us vulnerable, might even change our minds. Love takes work. Love takes thought, effort, energy.

It's hard for us to love ourselves, especially if we're women. Self love is power, confidence, assertion, empowerment. If I say, hey, this is what I want and I demand it, then I'm aggressive, potentially a bitch. If I say "vagina," I make people look at me, see me, hear what I have to say. Think about me. If I say that I love my vagina, then I say that I love myself, and at the same time I take that part of myself out and show it. Make it seen.

Do we want people who have historically been taught to love others above themselves to turn that love inward rather than outward? Do we want women to celebrate their bodies, themselves, over the bodies of their husbands, their children, their country, the law, God?

Probably not.


Frank H. said...

I think it's just like most things in life, in that is there is a level of balance that must be achieved. It's tough for me to comment on this as a man, but I like to believe I am an enlightened fellow. I think that because there has been such an imbalance for so long, some women feel that they must become the extreme opposite of where society has for so long tried to place them in order to achieve happiness. And in the process of gaining power and status they lose sight of other important factors of life. Part of this is the fault of society because women still are forced to put in a much larger exertion into getting the same status in the workplace as men in many cases. But what I've noticed, at the very least with my generation as that is the extent of most of my experience, is that most women are much more career driven than the men I know. I feel as if it is almost a role reversal from the past. If this is the case we are destined to find unhappiness in the same way many in generations before us have. Those are my three cents for what they're worth although I don't think the "Franc" is worth much in conversions since the implementation of the Euro.

Laurie Mac said...

From what I can tell, studies show that young women are in many senses more "driven" than men of the same age--in college (to get good grades, for instance) and then afterwards. will this cause unhappiness? most probably.