Saturday, February 26, 2005

Happy belated V-Day

Must-read post here. It's not that the phenomena described in the post are unique, only that it's good to be reminded of what's out there. We're close to two weeks out from V-Day (Victory, Vagina, Valentines Day), and I thought I'd do my small (masculine) part as a "Vagina Warrior" (a woman or man committed to ending violence against women and girls).

I guess I owe you all (the loyal, um, three?) a post about seeing the Vagina Monologues on February 11th here at Yale. Eve Ensler, the playwright, came and spoke at the end of the performance. The performance itself was tremendous; it was deeply moving, hilarious, and very true. Eve Ensler herself was moved. She spoke about the other performances she'd seen, far more significant ones, like a performance in Islamabad, Pakistan, which invovled a word of mouth whisper campaign and took place in a secluded basement.

It was interesting to me to see how closely sex is linked with power in the Vagina Monologues. Though the play deals with sexuality, it's most often in a way that links sexual freedom to empowerment. Sex, as in real life, is never just sex. When, in one of the monolouges, the actress mimics a whole litany of different moans, there's the sense that these are really battle-cries.

I'm taking a Biology of Sex and Gender class, and it's clear from discussion sections that some Yale men and women, whether they know it or not, support the lessons of the Vagina Monologues to heart. In discussions about the female orgasm, it was obvious that women expected to have them and that their men were expected to help. Now that the female orgasm is not an object of such intense mystery and women are, at least in some places, allowed to be independent, assertive sexual agents, men are expected to be sensitive, effective lovers. This is something that some men understand, but that a couple members of the men's hockey team in the section didn't seem to quite grasp.

While there are some negative consequences of this development—a NYT story about young men using Cialis and Viagra in order to enhance performance details one new method of fighting performance anxiety—for the most part, this can only be good for society. As Eve Ensler would argue, when vaginas are free and able to express themselves, women will be more powerful and freer from violence.

I admit I'm a bit out of my element in all this. Ah well.


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