On Thursday and Friday, I will be in the Vagina Monologues at Columbia University.
The noted collection by Eve Ensler brings attention to the plight of women in the world. As a part of the global V-Day Campaigns, the controversial play is an unapologetic pronouncement in femininity and sexuality. It critiques the hardships many self-identified women face, while acknowledging the social rewards and come with carrying emotive female genitalia.
Already a contentious staple in cultural dialogue, the Columbia VagMo run will feature an all women of color cast. The added layer of race, self identity, and ethnic background are sure to arouse suspicion and hesitancy from those people uncomfortable with unabashed diversity.
I will be in the play. I’m The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy. My monologue is challenging; I’m a tax attorney turned lesbian dominatrix. I go into detail about my rise in profession, and how much I love the art of moaning. My mom will be so proud.
I chose to audition for this particular series of VagMo precisely because it was an all women of color cast. I was very familiar with the Vagina Monologues before, and was always open to the possibility of acting in it. However, I did not know if I was the right *fit* for such a production.
Feminism, although a noble theory, is often implemented by the privileged elite. Mainstream feminism fails to capture the diversity of womanhood, and at times ignores the unique obstacles faced by woman of color. My views on mainstream feminism are common; many women of color express their discontent with national feminist discourse.
This isn’t to say that mainstream feminism has no merit; quite the opposite. Mainstream feminism is a laudable belief system. In broad terms, feminists believe that woman should be treated with financial and social respect in the workplace, that government should never enact legislation that limits a woman’s health options, and that rape and sexual assault be prosecuted with profound gusto. As a Black feminist, I don’t disagree with these views and unapologetically promote them.
However, I feel that mainstream feminism does not delve deep enough into the reasons why women make certain choices, especially when such choices are exacerbated by socioeconomic factors. So yes, I’m pro-choice, but I recognize the difference between the white middle-aged professional who chooses to get an abortion versus the Black inner-city teenager who does so.
Mainstream feminism has been diluted to a base pop culture standard that undermines the complexity of gender equity, femininity, and womanhood.
That’s why, in the past, I actively avoided mainstream feminist interactions. I was afraid that I’d get too angry…too frustrated with topical declarations severely lacking in gravitas.
But when I heard of the all women of color VagMo production, I was intrigued. To date, I cannot articulate why I was so drawn to the production. My attraction ran deeper than my skin color or my thoughts; hidden beneath my political opinions was a primal sense of belonging and community.
Being a part of this production was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I cannot express the love and acceptance I feel at rehearsals; the camaraderie of various voices sharing private experiences to an army of supporters. I can’t accurately verbalize the passion when we’re together, the safety to be ourselves. We do not hide our flaws…we are strong, in spite of them.
Tonight, I will perform alongside some of the most talented, enthusiastic, dedicated women I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. If you’re willing to leave your privilege at the door… if you’re looking for a movement you can relate to… if you’re willing to empathize with the distinct narrative voiced by Yellow, Tan, Brown, and Black women… then join us.