Thursday, February 7, 2008

Big O (Kristina Olsen)

A poignant and hilarious tour of the last frontier, the ultimate forbidden zone, The Vagina Monologues is a celebration of female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery. In this stunning phenomenon that has swept the nation, Eve Ensler gives us real women's stories of intimacy, vulnerability, and sexual self-discovery.

Celebrated as the bible for a new generation of women, The Vagina Monologues has been performed in cities all across America and at hundreds of college campuses. It has inspired a dynamic grassroots movement--V-Day--to stop violence against women. Witty and irreverent, compassionate and wise, Eve Ensler's Obie Award-winning masterpiece gives voice to women's deepest fantasies and fears, guaranteeing that no one who reads it will ever look at a woman's body, or think of sex, in quite the same way again.

Based on interviews with over 200 women about their memories and experiences of sexuality, The Vagina Monologues gives voice to women's deepest fantasies and fears, guaranteeing that no one who reads it will ever look at a woman's body, or think of sex, in quite the same way again. It is witty and irreverent, compassionate and wise. "At first women were reluctant to talk," Ensler writes. "They were a little shy. But once they got going, you couldn't stop them."

Also included in this special edition are testimonials--both joyous and heartbreaking--from young women who have performed The Vagina Monologues at their colleges for V-Day, February 14, to raise money for organizations fighting to protect women.

"I am not sure why I was chosen," Eve Ensler writes in her introduction to The Vagina Monologues. "I didn't for example, have girlhood fantasies about becoming "vagina lady" (which I am often called, sometimes loudly across a crowded shoe store.) I could not have imagined that I would one day be talking about vaginas on talk shows in places like Athens, Greece, chanting the word vagina with four thousand women in Baltimore, or having thirty-two public orgasms a night. These things were not in my plans. In this sense, I don't think I had much to do with The Vagina Monologues. It possessed me."

"As I traveled with the piece to city after city, country after country, hundreds of women waited after the show to talk to me about their lives. The play had somehow freed up their memories, pain, and desire. Night after night I heard the same stories -- women being raped as teenagers, in college, as little girls, as elderly women; women who had finally escaped bring beaten to death by their husbands; women who were terrified to leave; women who were taken sexually, before they were even conscious of sex, by their stepfathers, brothers, cousins, uncles, mothers and fathers.... Slowly it dawned on me that nothing was more important than stopping violence toward women."

This realization led in 1997 to the founding of V-Day, a nonprofit grass roots movement dedicated to ending violence against women around the world. In three years, V-Day has spread to over 300 colleges, where students and faculty have performed The Vagina Monologues on V-Day, February 14th, as part of a movement to stop violence against women. V-Day has raised over 3 million dollars which it has given to organizations fighting for the rights of women in Afghanistan, to stop genital mutilation in Kenya, and rape crisis centers in Bosnia, Croatia, and Chechnya, as well as hundreds of domestic programs to combat rape and abuse. Thanks to V-Day, The Vagina Monologues has been taken to 20 countries, including China, South Africa, The Philippines, Brazil and Turkey.

To learn more about V-Day, please visit

More about Eve and the book here...

My first experience with The Vagina Monologues was at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale about 8 years ago, with Belkys Nery (a local entertainment TV celebrity) as the featured guest - I've seen a handful of other productions since then, less "professional" but always enjoyable.

I had the pleasure of attending a university performance of The Vagina Monologues earlier this week, comprised of mostly students and a few professors, my friend Roxanne being one - she absolutely shone in her recitation of "I Was There in the Room", written by Eve Ensler after witnessing the birth of her granddaughter (full script here - scroll down to page 59). Rox rocked - the entire presentation was wonderfully acted... and I wept, for so many reasons, at her portrayal of the miracle of an infant's emergence into the world.

It was also very cool that my daughter and her friend accepted my invitation to come along - I know they were enlightened, to say the least, and we had a great discussion afterwards over beers and appetizers!

P.S. I bought a T-shirt (with the quote below screenprinted across the back) from another student performance of The Vagina Monologues many years ago - I have yet to wear it in public... :-)

P.P.S. Dar Williams was the featured guest celebrity in Northampton, MA April 3 - 8, 2001, performing The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy (page 56) - reviews can be found here and here.

SONG: Big O by Kristina Olsen

BOOK: The Missing Piece Meets the Big O by Shel Silverstein

POEM: This Poem is Written in the Shape of a Box by Sarah Wiesner

In the past months, at a handful of poetry
readings I’ve heard a total of nine vagina
poems. Two went for alliteration: the
pussy poems. Three for shock value: the
cunt, slit, and box poems. One was a found
poem from an anatomy text: I call it the
vagina poem with reference to the pubic
synthesis. The other three are a blur, but
I’m sure I’m not missing anything in my
forgetting. Just switch the words around in
the others and-Bamn-new vagina poem. As
a woman I suppose that I am somehow
obligated to author a poem about my vagina.
Don’t worry, this isn’t it.

QUOTE: "The clitoris is pure in purpose. It is the only organ in the body designed purely for pleasure. The clitoris is simply a bundle of nerves: 8,000 nerve fibers to be precise. That's a higher concentration of nerve fibers than is found anywhere else in the body, including the fingertips, lips, and tongue, and it is twice the number in the penis. Who needs a handgun when you've got a semi-automatic?" ~ Eve Ensler

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