I read The Vagina Monologues for the first time at drama school, five years ago. Hannah Cecily, a fellow drama student, and feminist mentor, pressed the book into my hands one day.
‘You must read this,’ she said, an earnest passion shining in her eyes.
I took it home and started reading it that night. From the very first page I was gripped and transfixed and as I read, my eyes were opened. I laughed and I cried and I shook with anger. I felt empowered, enraged, reassured, appalled, joyful and sad, then I felt them all over again. Every story touched me so deeply.
In Flood, an old woman explains that after getting sexually excited on a date with her high school crush and getting her dress and his car seat wet, she thought there was something wrong with her and never touched her vagina or got sexually involved with anyone for the rest of her life. I felt a deep connection to this woman and felt so sad for all the sexual pleasure she had been denied. I ejaculated for the first time during a masturbating session in my mid-teens. I was so shocked and ashamed of myself and wrote in my diary that I would never masturbate again as ‘I wet myself when I orgasm’. It was magazines, the internet, and my female peers talking openly about sex that taught me what female ejaculation was and that it wasn’t disgusting or wrong. I wondered, had I been born fifty years earlier with no access to any of that, if the woman in the monologue might have been me.
Again and again, the stories highlighted how disconnected women can be from their vaginas, as a result of rape and assault, shame they were made to feel by parents or partners, and fear of their (or our) own sexuality. I knew then how important it is that we take back ownership of our sexuality and reconnect with our vaginas (something that Sh! is helping with marvellously by the way).
When Hannah asked me a few months ago if I would like to co-produce a production of The Vagina Monologues with her I knew I had to do it. The play is as potent and relevant now as it was then and it will be relevant until sexual assault and rape cease to be, and all women feel utterly connected to their vaginas and sexuality.
The process of putting the show together has been incredible. The fascinating and in-depth conversations that have arisen at each rehearsal and the level of respect and trust between us all is so special. Every single one of our cast members and directors has brought such truth and passion to the project and the result is a powerful, funny, heart-rending, and heartwarming production.
All proceeds from the night are being shared between four amazing charities: RESPECT UK and DVIP (Domestic Violence Intervention Project), both incredible charities who are addressing the huge problem of domestic violence by running preventative programs for perpetrators and would be perpetrators, thereby stopping it at its root; Rape Crisis, who offer support, advice and information to survivors of child sexual abuse, rape, and any kind of sexual assault; and this year’s VDay Spotlight campaign, Women in Prison, Detention Centres, and Formerly Incarcerated Women.
We would love you to join us in supporting these charities and celebrating vaginas, at 7pm on Tuesday March 5th at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. Amazing Sh! raffle prizes also up for grabs!
Together we can start to heal the wounds and one day make a safe world for our vaginas.
Many thanks to Jacinta for writing this blog post.