The Vagina Monologues…to a thirteen year old girl, the title itself makes you erupt in giggles and go red in the face. Well, at least that’s what happened to me when I first heard about this explosively popular play by Eve Ensler. “Did someone really just say the V word?” This one specific word made me uncomfortable. Yet at the same time it incited tremendous curiosityas to what this play could possibly be about.  Could it be about (gasp) sex?! Could it be about a girl named “Vagina”? – Oh how unfortunate the life of that poor girl must have been! My curiosity was ceaseless.  Now ten years later, I’ve finally been able to put my curiosity to rest.
A group of very talented and brave young women recently staged two productions of the play here in Bangladesh, in order to celebrate VDAY, a global movement to end violence against women. The first staging was a girls-only event; the second was open to all and was staged at the American International School/Dhaka. All the proceeds from ticket sales were going tohelp fund anti-violence groups dedicated to the indigenous women of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
So, what is The Vagina Monologues about? For those of you that don’t already know, the play is comprised of a series of monologues relating to the personal experiences of a group of diverse women, all being played by female actors. This play is essentially aboutbeing a woman: a simple summary for a variety of issues the monologues cover, ranging from menstruation, sexual liberation, birth, female empowerment, rape, sex slavery, violence against women, etc.
When I was first invited to come watch the play, I realized that I wasn’t anymore at ease with the V wordthan I was as a young girl. I am now an adult woman and vagina is a word that describes a very natural part of about half the world’s anatomy, but it still made me shift in my seat. Why was that?
Sitting through The Vagina Monologues made me realize why. As women, there is a certain level of privacy, shame, obliviousness, annoyance, and in much fewer cases love and acceptance that we associate with our vaginas. This was made quite evident through the play’s monologues.Men always talk about their penisesand are constantly boasting about its size and abilities. On the other hand, we don’t hear women talking about their sexual organs in the same way. Society and culture have implanted a deep rooted seed in all of us, this seed reminds us that a woman’s vagina is as taboo as what it represents – a woman’s sexuality. If you have ever studied the films of Alfred Hitchcock, you would know that his films are full of references to the different connotations that a woman’s sexuality has – from evil, to rotting garbage, and the consumption of food (specifically in his film, Frenzy), negative associations such as these have been prevalent throughout our history.
All across the globe, we are still struggling to spread the word that women are equal to men; however not enough women have really accepted the fact that they are not inferior to anyone, be it male or female. Only when we have all really confronted what it is to be a member of our own sex, what it means to be a man or woman, our sexuality, our bodies, the good, the bad, and the ugly; when we no longer ignore something because it makes us uncomfortable,will we start to love ourselves and embrace every aspect of ourselves, be it physiological (like a vagina) or psychological.
What this group of remarkable South East Asian women accomplished this last weekend was to take a hostile but equally entertaining and necessary takeover of the minds and souls of hundreds of women. We all came face-to-face with our vaginas (theoretically speaking), acknowledged and thought about our own experiences of being a woman, and were simultaneously united through the sharing of common experiences and through theadvocacy of the different plights of millions of our fellow women around the world. I walked out of the experience feeling liberated, finally someone (well, in this case multiple people) we’re talking about something I hadn’t ever talked about before, and I left realizing that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the word “vagina.”

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