Somewhere in between my fifth grade graduation dance and trying to find my locker in high school I lost most of my confidence. I stopped being outgoing. I wanted to go back to that child who hid behind my mother’s skirt. I could only be described as “nice” or “quiet” to most of my classmates and remained somewhat reserved even to my friends.
So it came as a shock to all involved that two of my suite mates freshman year convinced me to audition for The Vagina Monologues. I was selected for The Not So Happy Fact. It’s a short blurb about genital mutilation and the incredible number of women who had suffered through it. You do not get applause when you give The Not So Happy Fact. It’s too jarring, too disturbing, too sad. Even my family sat stunned, not remembering to clap.
We spent months preparing for the performances and they are some of my most vivid memories of freshman year. Sitting with my roommate going over her lines, making posters (or was it T-shirts?) while listening to Le Tigre in the student union, watching young, vibrant women find their voices onstage through the stories of many.
Tonight I saw UNC Wilmington’s Vagina Monologues. It was the first time in eleven years that I had seen a performance of it and the first time I wasn’t on stage. Yes, it made me feel nostalgic. Yes, I immediately sent Facebook messages to my old roommates. Yes, I remembered most of the monologues almost word for word.
The message and its importance though felt renewed. Although I have to wonder if some of the content resonates with today’s youth (Do they know about the Bosnian war? Do they understand vagina workshops were a thing?) the message clearly does. The message of internal revolution, of female empowerment, of respect and boundaries, of solidarity felt familiar in a way that made me realize I had lost touch with it. In today’s world of negativity and divisiveness I had forgotten about being just plain old happy and proud to be a woman. To love your vagina! To love all vaginas! And to be appreciative of all those who embrace women, equality and respect.
When talking about participating in the Vagina Monologues I used to always add, “I only spoke a really small part. It was nothing.” I acted as though I was someone’s last choice. But perhaps I was chosen for The Not So Happy Fact because although I felt small, my voice was powerful. That’s what we all need to remember: that although we may feel small, our voices are no less powerful.
** Vagina Monologue performances happen all across the country around Valentine’s Day. Find the one nearest you and bring a friend. All proceeds go to local non-profits that work to end violence against women and children. UNCW has a second performance on Sunday if you’re in the Wilmington area.**