That project grew out of Enlser’s early work with The Vagina Monologues — out of her experience that after her early performances of the award-winning play, women in the audience would stand in line to talk with her, and often the talk was about their own experiences of abuse, incest, rape — violence. The idea that The Vagina Monologues could play a role in a movement to end this violence took shape from that initial, unanticipated, and overwhelming experience.
The film dramatizes the experience a few of the many communities of women, and their male allies, have had in the staging of The Vagina Monologues — the exuberance, the discoveries, the serendipities and acts of creativity that, e.g., bring hosts of residents of Ukiah, California out at night with flashlights to view vagina quilts hanging in the shop windows of the town, or bedeck a glittering cast at the Apollo Theater in Harlem with extravagant red feather boas.
The film also makes vivid and personal what this term “violence” covers: a stately, dignified woman who never told her mother about the incest she had endured; the enviable celebrity who after years of involvement with the V-Day project acknowledges her own experiences of sexual abuse; the woman who says “my mother died from being hit in the heart”; the man who can barely speak when he remembers his own attacks on his wife, and the time his 2-year-old son “had to protect his mother from me.”
The humankind that was made in the image of God, male and female, has sustained a lot of damage. Maybe we didn’t need to watch this film to know that. But watching this film helped us notice it, in a new and vivid way, in a personal way. It also made a bit clearer how bringing vaginas into the story — on stage, so to speak, out into the open — is part of the process of repairing that damage, and stopping the violence that does it. Because what we don’t talk about, don’t listen to, don’t respect, don’t think is worth mentioning, don’t think dignified enough to mention, don’t think interesting enough to mention, don’t think human enough to celebrate, humanly and creatively, dwells in that zone of disregard, of disposability, where violence seems permitted, or at least, unnoticed and unrebuked. The V-Day project is the project of bringing women’s experience out of that zone of disregard, and into the out-loud and lively human conversation. The violence that it, and we, seek to end can’t end without that step.
Viewing the documentary inspired the group! There was enthusiasm for our campus performance of The Vagina Monologues before, but now there is a sense of mission as well. We look forward to showing the film and sharing that sense of mission again, as we move towards the February 13 performance of The Vagina Monologues.
We also hope MANY members of the community will get involved in the project. One great way to do that will be to come to the open auditions for The Vagina Monologues, which will be held in the Women’s Center on Saturday, November 15, beginning at 9:00 a.m.