Monday, February 15, 2010

Culture: Careful What You Call V-Day

TORONTO, ONTARIO - This year, it seemed like I heard yesterday referred to as "V-day" more often than ever before. That would be one thing if people understood the activist significance of referring to Valentine's Day as "V-Day," but in most cases I think people were just trying to be clever. Those that are familiar with Eve Ensler's V-Day movement had to cringe whenever we heard it, as in that world, V-Day has a triple-meaning--a very serious meaning--of Victory, Valentine and Vagina.

I suppose I must be one of the few men in the world who was not dragged to see Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues." In fact, I rather dragged a female friend, who clearly got a lot more out of the evening than I did. I just knew that Eve Ensler performing the play she had written probably wasn't going to happen in Boston very often, so it struck me as something I ought to experience.

To say that the performance was powerful would be a major understatement. Never mind a gender gap, understanding the cultural gap between the experiences of some of the women's stories that were presented and my own could be mind-blowing. I'll never react to a woman describing a lover as a "Bob" or hear TLC's Unpretty (played during the curtain call) the same way ever again. It's hard to believe some of the things still going on in the world today, and easy to understand why Ensler felt compelled to write the play.

As serious as the "Vagina Monologues" is, there has been some great satire over the years that has to be mentioned. The CBC once ran a brilliant commentary called the "Regina Monologues" (starting with "every country should have a Regina"). Comedian Kate Clinton probably had the best line of all, stating in her performances that "my vagina isn't interested in monologues, it's interested in dialog."

Indeed, Ensler has gone way behind monologues and dialog into a full-fledged movement against violence. With "V-Day" events now occurring regularly across the world, there is much greater awareness of the issue and resources available (including the 2004 film Until the Violence Stops) to address the issue.

That's what someone should be referring to when they refer to February 14th as "V-Day" instead of Valentine's Day. Anything else is representative of the ignorance that enables the very problems Ensler is trying to fight.

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