This strip of space, a Metro column on Valentine’s Day Eve, is basically begging me to talk about what a wonderful city Boston is to celebrate Valentine’s Day. How romantic, I should sigh. You can hold hands and walk down Newbury St. or share meatballs like in The Lady and the Trampin the North End.
Sorry, not this column, not today. Disregarding the fact that I have personal issues with Valentine’s Day (it’s an over-commercialized load of crap. If you love me, tell me the other 364 days of the year. Hallmark shouldn’t have to remind you), my celebration began and ended right on campus, one week too early.
Enter The Vagina Monologues, performed every year at universities across the country around Valentine’s Day to generate “broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls,” according to vday.org.It seems to me that The Vagina Monologuesincorporates more significant substance to the nature of my gender than does any celebration of love on Valentine’s Day.
The performance itself was wonderful, and I was thrilled to see a show discussing such important issues in McGuinn 121. Many of my peers transformed on stage, acting as voices of strength, beauty, vulnerability, and witness to the joys, and some of the horrors, of the female experience.
The Vagina Monologuesis widely celebrated, and with good reason. But my (ever-wise) roommate leaned over to me right before the show was about to start and said, “I wish there were more guys here.” McGuinn 121 was sold out, but most of the ticket holders were women. When I glanced around after her comment I counted maybe 15 guys total from my seat in the top right of the lecture hall.
Gentlemen, trust me, I can see why you may be a little squeamish to devote your time and money to something with “vagina” in the title. Were there topics that would make you squirm? Absolutely. But, there were also vastly important topics, like female circumcision and rape, that were discussed. In one of the final monologues of the play, it was stated that we were there to “honor the women who have been murdered, raped.” The sense of empowerment and solidarity in the room was incredible-however, creating this among primarily women doesn’t help the cause all that much, as it needs to be a conversation between both genders.
The Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk, recently popularized by Beyonce’s song “Flawless,” makes important points that were echoing through my head on Friday night. She asks, “Why do you need to say my experience as a woman, why can’t you just say my experience as a human being?” What has gone wrong in our culture when we need to have a play devoted to my experiences and struggles simply because of my basic anatomy?
“Culture does not make people, people make culture,” Adichie states toward the end of her talk. The Vagina Monologuesis a tangible example of the changing culture, dually opening a conversation about both respect and equality for females-but the lack of men in the audience reminded me that we have a long way to go before this conversation is over.
At the end of the performance, all the women in the show were out on stage. Clothed in all black with various touches of red, they looked powerful and happy. They looked beautiful. I just wish more of the boys on campus were there to see strong, striking women who fly in the face of the “BC biddie” we see so many of everyday.
This Valentine’s Day, rather than holding hands in the Common, ponder the lessons that were demonstrated by The Vagina Monologues. Love isn’t just about roses or even romance-it’s a demonstration of mutual respect, from and by men and women alike.