All over the United States, and throughout much of the world, The Vagina Monologues make people blush, laugh, cry, get angry, and feel hope on an annual basis. This mixed up rush of emotions takes place within a 90 minute performance where amateur (and sometimes professional) actresses bring to life the intimate confessions of other women’s vaginas.
But playwright Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues is no longer simply a theatrical production, the VMons (as many of the women who have participated in them come to call them) have transformed into the V-Day Movement, a movement that will continue “Until the Violence Stops.”
From their website: “V-Day is a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sex slavery.”
The V-Day Movement is comprised of much more than just The Vagina Monologues: at least five other annual events take place under the V-Day umbrella including two other performances, two film screenings, and a workshop, in addition to teaching events surrounding the Spotlight Campaign.
A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer is a performance piece that encourages men to get involved and perform monologues to help stop violence against women. “The volume features such authors and topics as: Edward Albee on S&M; Maya Angelou on women’s work; Michael Cunningham on self-mutilation; Dave Eggers on a Sudanese abduction; Edwidge Danticat on a border crossing; Carol Gilligan on a daughter witnessing her mother being hit; Susan Miller on raising a son as a single mother; Sharon Olds on a bra; Patricia Bosworth on her own physically abusive relationship; Jane Fonda on reclaiming our Mojo; and many more.”
Any One of Us: Words From Prison is another performance piece. It chronicles the experiences of women in the prison system in the United States, and explores how violence shaped women prisoners’ lives even before they broke any laws. “Together these writings reveal the deep connection between women in prison and the violence that often brings them there.”
Until the Violence Stops is a film screening that gets its name from the mission of V-Day- to continue to combat violence against women and girls until there is no more violence. This film is a documentary of the experiences of women around the world who have worked in the V-Day Movement.
What I Want My Words To Do To You is a film that documents Eve Ensler’s conversations with women inmates. “The film culminates in an emotionally charged prison performance of the women’s writing (the first edition of “Any One of Us”) by acclaimed actors Mary Alice, Glenn Close, Hazelle Goodman, Rosie Perez and Marisa Tomei. The film documents both the wrenching personal journeys undertaken by the inmates to find the words that tell their own stories, and the power of those words to move the outside world.”
Finally, V-Men is a powerpoint presentation and teaching workshop for men only. It is a safe space for men to discuss their own feelings (and sometimes their own actions) surrounding violence against women, and ways they can help end violence.
Some of these events require an admission fee, most don’t, but all of the events, whether they raise money or not, help end the silence surrounding violence against women, and help survivors heal. Ninety percent of proceeds from any events held are to be donated to a local organization that is working to stop violence against women and girls, while the other ten percent is given to the V-Day Foundation to be donated to the women of the Spotlight Campaign. This year V-Day has been focusing on the women and girls of Haiti and the unbelievable amount of physical and sexual violence they face on a regular basis. V-Day also operates a scholarship program and numerous safe houses around the world.
“Since the Campaigns’ inception in 1998, participation has grown exponentially. In 2010, over 5,400 V-Day benefit events took place in 1,800 locations, including all 50 U.S. states and 55 countries. That is 400 more communities than were reached as recently as 2009.
The proceeds generated from these events have also grown. College and community activists raise an annual average of $4 million for local groups such as domestic violence shelters and rape crises centers. Also, ten percent of each event’s proceeds are channeled back to V-Day’s Spotlight Campaign.”
Any and all information regarding the V-Day Movement is available at vday.org and I encourage you, if there is not yet a production of The Vagina Monologues planned for your town, do it yourself. You won’t be disappointed. The V-Day website is also a wonderful resource.
- It’s Not Easy Being a Vagina (incitemaguci.com)