In talking yesterday with a potential audience member for the upcoming Women’s Center-sponsored performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, this objection came up: “It’s fine to be against violence against women, and to raise consciousness, and money, and all that. But why do we have to be so in your face with the word . . . ?” [VAGINA, that is.]
Good question, and there’s a good answer, too.
If we can’t name a part of our body, we also can’t talk about what happens to it. If it’s injured, violated, destroyed, we can’t tell the story of that. Maybe — since we can’t name it, aren’t supposed to mention it — it wasn’t really that important in the first place. Not worth mentioning. Since we can’t talk about it, maybe what happens to it isn’t even anything. Maybe there can’t even be “violence” against something that was nothing worth mentioning in the first place, barely even there . . .
So it’s important to say the word VAGINA, to name it, to insist that the VAGINA is worth mentioning, is valued and valuable rather than nothing much, is protected space in the same way that the face or the hand or the heart is protected space, that it’s better for it to be happy than hurt, and that its stories need to be told.
Because if we can’t say VAGINA, we can’t tell the vagina’s stories, and if we can’t tell the vagina’s stories then we will only have silence with which to call for an end to violence against women and girls. When we need SPEECH.