Fluffy bears offering up stuffed scarlet hearts. Bulging bouquets available to only the most bulging of wallets. All manner of love potions, from pink champagne to pink perfume, that will intoxicate and entrap. Commericialised love is in the air, that’s for sure. But what if you don’t want to pay the price? What if all this pink, fluffy, capital lettered, capitalist LOVE isn’t for you?
Fear not, females, because Valentines day has been hi-jacked for people just like you! In fact, this year will be the tenth year that women everywhere can offer a cheery “HappyVagina Day!” to each other on February 14th. Vagina day, or V-day as it is more commonly called, is a global non profit movement that aims to end violence against women and girls. It was founded by Eve Ensler, the playwright behind the award winning The Vagina Monologues (TVM), on Valentines day in 1998. From that year onwards colleges and universities have been encouraged to stage TVM in their community with all profits going to local charities that might deal with issues such as rape and domestic violence.
Even without all the fund-raising, Vagina Day is a much needed holiday in our calendar. Vaginas are worth celebrating, and TVM makes it clear exactly why. Artfully re-telling the stories of many women who were interviewed by Ensler for the project, TVM is a celebration of anatomy and sexuality. The monologues are funny and poignant, intimate and emotional. Women don’t often get to talk about vaginas, or get to hear about them, or, indeed, to hear from them (In the book of TVM, Ensler prints the replies to the question “If your vagina could talk, what would it say, in two words?”. The answers range from “Feed me” and “Come inside” to “Too hard” and “Where’s Brian?”) TVM is such an enriching play, with the feeling of shared experiences acting as a powerful and empowering bonding agent.
The V-day movement has raised over $50 million and brought the issue of violence against women and girls to the attention of millions. But to really understand the huge amount of good that TVM and V-day can do, you must see Abby Epstein’s film Until The Violence Stops. The film follows several community groups as they prepare to stage their own TVM. One such group is the Manilan ‘Comfort Women’ of the Philipinnes, speaking out after so many years of shamed silence since they were sold as young girls to be used for sex by Japanese Soldiers during the 2nd World War. For them TVM is a step towards reclaiming themselves and seeking justice. Through the film we also meet Agnes, a woman who travels the Rift valley of Kenya educating communities with the aim of bringing the traditional culture of female circumcision to an end. V-day provided Agnes with a Jeep so that she could travel quickly between villages, and a safe house for all the disowned girls who choose not to go through the mutilating rite of passage.
In 2007, more than 3000 V-Day events took place around the world. This year there are set to be many more as people are keen to mark the 10th anniversary of V-day and continue towards a bright future without violence. So if you are still looking for a suitable way to spend Valentines Day then look no further. Or, if you have plans for the more traditional day with your loved one, you’ll be pleased to know that V-day celebrations stretch way beyond the 14th of February. To find a V-day event near you head here. So, this Valentines by all means enjoy some romantic love, but please remember to show some love to your fellow woman, and to your vagina!By: Sarah Barnes, 12.02.2008 | Comments (2)