Jurich: One billion risingWritten by Stacy Jurich | | email@example.com
In 2004, as a student at Ohio State, I auditioned for the “The Vagina Monologues,” not having any idea why, and little idea of what I was actually doing. I showed up to audition in a small room in the basement of the Student Union with two older female students who made me very nervous. I selected a monologue from “The Vagina Monologues” titled “The Flood” and performed it at the audition with a southern accent. I suppose I thought highly of my accent, knowing that my superior inflection skills would wow the judges, and thus earn me a spot in the cast.
I did earn a spot, although I was asked to choose an alternate monologue; my friend Laura was going to perform “The Flood” (in the suggested Jewish Queens accent), a monologue based on an interview with a 72-year-old woman who had never seen her vagina nor had an orgasm. I decided on the monologue “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could,” the story of a young girl whose experiences with her vagina are through pain, violation and embarrassment, and she is renewed with her self, spiritually and physically, through the guidance of a “lesbian cougar” down the street (I still performed it with some sort of accent).
Since the time of my on-stage debut, I have learned that my fond “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could” (and other aspects of “The Vagina Monologues”) are actually quite controversial. In the original version of the story (1994), the 13-year-old female character is given alcohol and has sex with a 24-year-old woman, which, ironic to “The Vagina Monologue’s” mission, is statutory rape. The original piece ended with the line, “ … it was a good rape.” This raised the question from Robert Swope in 2000, “Why is rape only bad when a man commits it?” Subsequently, the character’s age has been changed to 16 and the line about “a good rape” has been removed.
Further critiques condemn Eve Ensler, playwright of “The Vagina Monologues” and founder of V-Day, a “global activist movement to end violence toward women and girls” through performances of “The Vagina Monologues,” large-scale benefits, campaigns, educational tours, films and more activities.
For example, in John Hembling’s 2011 piece for “A Voice for Men,” he attacks Ensler’s frivolousness with the word rape, her carelessness in citing her numbers, and her violation of the principal “Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius,” meaning “expression of the part excludes consideration of the whole.” Hembling argues that Ensler should not talk about rape while excluding the fact that “twice as many men are raped in American prisons than women are raped in the entire United States” and that “men are routinely raped in wars on the African continent.”
These tensions become more relevant as energy amplifies approaching Feb. 14, a day many Americans celebrate as dutiful capitalists (and romantics and lovers) and the day that Ensler and many feminists around the world have been celebrating as V-Day (V for victory, vagina, valentine) since 1998.
This year, V-Day has launched the One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign to honor its 15th anniversary. Leading the movement is the motto, “One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a revolution.”
According to its website, onebillionrising.org, OBR is “A global strike;?An invitation to dance;?A call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rape and rape culture ends;?An act of solidarity, demonstrating to women the commonality of their struggles and their power in numbers;?A refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given;?A new time and a new way of being.”
There will be three “risings” taking place in Toledo this V-Day:
- UT Rising Up! — frpm noon to 1 p.m., Feb. 13, UT Thimble Lounge;
- Rising at the Rock! — 5:30 p.m. Feb. 14, Sanger Branch Library (front lawn);
- A Day of Rising at Elizabeth’s House — from noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 14, Elizabeth’s House.
Valentine’s Day originates as the eve of Lupercalia, the Pagan Roman festival of fertility, yet across the centuries has come to include many variations. Across the board, however, Valentine’s Day is a symbol of love. The V-Day efforts may have some holes, but they can be filled with cooperation, understanding and education to end rape, brutality, mutilation and abuse of all genders, and create a global status quo of love. Do your part.
Email columnist Stacy Jurich at firstname.lastname@example.org.