I've had a lot of response from friends about performing in the Vagina Monologues. Most of it centers around the: "That is so cool! I would never dare get up in front of people to do something like that!" variety.
I don't blame them. Truth be told, I'm absolutely terrified of doing it. For one, I've struggled with a slight speech impediment my whole life. Most people don't notice it or if they do, they pretend that they don't... because they're nice people. But I know it's there. And I work hard to make sure it doesn't slip out when I'm speaking in public. Most of the time I'm successful... but sometimes the lisp shows up and I suddenly sound like I'm drunk... and you're my new best friend.
Secondly... well, I've never been on stage before. I've gotten up and spoken to rooms full of college coaches and AD's and it's no problem. Because I speak their language. I have played basketball in front of thousands of people and that's no biggie either... because I grew up on a basketball court. But a stage? OMG. Do you know that they shine bright lights on you on a stage? And that everyone - EVERYONE - is focused on you on the stage? There's no hope that they're looking at your coach or your teammate. There's no chance that they won't notice if you pick the wedgie out of your butt.
It's just you and the audience.
And I should probably stop because I'm about to talk myself out of this.
But with all the congratulations and words of encouragement my friends have expressed, no one has ever asked why. Which is totally understandable. I mean, how much of a douche do you have to be to go up to someone who is currently trying to grow, and be all: "Why are you doing this? Why 'grow' in this way?"
And the very simple answer to the question no one has asked is this: I have daughters.
Do you realize that 1-in-3 women will be beaten or raped in her lifetime?
That's 1 billion women. That's so many zero's I'm not even going to bother and figure out how many. But I do guesstimate that that number is only slightly less than the amount of questions my 2YO can ask in one day.
I have never been a victim of physical violence. But, I have friends who have been.
Too many friends.
Women who I admire more than they will ever know... who faced horrors that no one should ever have to experience. Most people who know these women will never know what they've been through, and I'm blessed that they felt enough trust to share their experiences with me. And humbled. And honestly? More than a little pissed off that they were ever hurt in such a way. I want to throttle the people that did this to them. I want to set their faces on fire and kick them in their polar vortex.
So, when Good Company Theater asked me to appear in a production of The Vagina Monologues, how could I say anything but yes?
Eve Ensler, the woman who wrote the Vagina Monologues, based it on dozens of
interviews with women. Her play addresses women's
sexuality and the social stigma surrounding rape and abuse. In 1998, she established V-Day, which advocates that violence against women and
girls must end. To do this, once a year
groups around the world are allowed to produce a performance of the
play, and use the proceeds for
local charities and programs that work to end violence against
women and girls.
Enter Good Company Theater, stage right.
And the beneficiary of the proceeds, YCC, stage left.
Add a few professional actors and a couple of complete novices who just happen to visit the coffee shop where the owner of GCT works on the side... and BOOM! You have the ingredients to change your little corner of the world.
I've read all of the scripts and there were some that were just... well, it was too hard to think about my friends going through what was so plainly written on the paper. It was too much. So, I chose something that I could identify with. Somewhat. Maybe next time, I'll have more courage to step into a role of which I have absolutely no experience with and speak their truth. For now, I'm still adjusting to the fact that I'm on stage with a group of amazing women who are going to kill it... and I'm just hoping I can keep up.
The Vagina Monologues and the One Billion Rising movement are important. They're important to everyone... not just survivors. They're important because of friends that were abused... the ones we know about, and the ones we don't. They're important because of our daughters. Daughters who have so much that they'll already have to overcome and fight for in this world simply because they're female, that adding the threat of violence against their bodies and their minds is appalling. They're important because of our sons. The boys we raise alongside our daughters, and what we teach them at home... what society teaches them... what their friends teach them when we're not looking about what it means to be a man. It's important to all of our children to see us treat each other with respect, and stand up for ourselves... and for those too hurt to do it for themselves.
If we do that - if we change our culture in our little corner of the world - it will spread. And it will make our world better.
That 1 Billion Rising? It starts with one.