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Vagina’s Not a Dirty Word

On Friday night, in the basement of a local church next door to my high school, young people (including myself) gathered together in a positive environment in protest of the violence against women and children around the world. OPRF high school’s Students for Peace and Justice organization rallied students to participate by performing songs and monologues, informing us of shockingly high numbers of women who suffer from abuse, and promoting awareness about our own bodies and sexuality. Proceeds from the event supported Sarah’s Inn, a shelter that supports victims of domestic abuse. This V-day event was part of a much larger V-day campaign started with a play called The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, a playwright and activist who has raised awareness about women’s issues around the world.

According to Ensler’s website:

“V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls…V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual slavery.”

After my experience at the event, I came across  an article published in the Wednesday Journal, a local newspaper, online. Not only was I offended by the article but I was genuinely outraged as well. The writer bashes the event by calling it vulgar and crude. She specifically objected to the vagina shaped chocolates and openness about sexuality, both meant to break down the inhibitions many of us have in talking about healthy sexuality and our bodies.  The purpose of V-day is to promote awareness about sexuality and sexual organs, which however misunderstood is not to encourage any type of promiscuity or early sexual activity. But how could any woman be expected to try to stop violence and sexual abuse if she does not learn about and celebrate her body, especially the most sensitive and most taxingly abused part of it? My answer is that she cannot.

This critic also strongly states that she believes the event takes the importance away from women being strong, educated, accomplished beings and over-emphasizes their sexuality. I am thoroughly assured that any young girl who attended the event would agree that a woman’s education is important. Educated women value their bodies and their sexuality. In Chicago, intelligent, female CEOs, politicians, and artists have all supported and been involved in the V-day and The Vagina Monologues.

The “V” in V-day is for many things, but first and foremost it is for vagina. The word may be uncomfortable for some people, but according to Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues “it really is the best word we’ve come up with to describe that area.” I think we could all name a few other words… They don’t quite seem appropriate or like words that have respected our bodies. So I think that the word vagina, used in anatomy textbooks is going to have to trump the words that we hear partially bleeped out in music videos. The writer of the article I mentioned previously may feel uncomfortable with the word. She may think it’s vulgar. But the problem with that is there truly is no better word that means the same thing. By tip-toeing around words to describe our genitals, we are muted in speaking out about the violence and sexual abuse against women. So let’s claim the word and keep it positive, abolish the taboo, and eliminate all and every type of violence against women.


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