the v word
pinays in san francisco are staging their own version of the famed eve ensler play, 'the vagina monologues.'

that's some double whammy of an ownership-type play; it flies in the face of the assumption that all filipinas are catholic, therefore aren't supposed to be so loud and overt coz there's nothing, really, to be screaming about.

so say the critics. the problem with the play is that it mentions the V word. so taboo, it's absurd to even mention. it's like a lady kicking down the door locked by her husband and screaming what the hell are you doing.

and it's been interpreted such - the motif of the screaming woman with PMS, stay away from her. her inability to give words to what she thinks and feels because, presumably, the world is shaped by the victors, who all happen to be men.

and so when a graduate student of philosophy asked, "i wonder if it's enough for a person to base their whole lives on just their sexuality," a castmember jumped the gun, "this play helped me recover from being raped, made me realize i was still valuable."

the fact that such material exists should be evidence enough that there isn't enough discussion on abuse against women. or women letting the abuse repeat. or just even how a woman looks at things.

there's such a thing as wrong really being done to you, and wrong you've imagined inflicted on you. and often the only way to tell the difference is when someone else recognizes it for you.


i first saw this play as a junior at loyola. loyola would send students to far-off places like the south side of chicago and developing nations like cuba to carry out social justice concerns, but you'd raise eyebrows if you planned big things that mattered to students, like sex.

so the theater school wanted to shake things up and announced they wanted to perform ms. ensler's play. the school said no. they persisted - and won a one night only special. tickets were first-come, first-serve, 2 only per school ID, because the venue was tiny, velvety mullady theater, seating 298 (yes. that's why huge gentile center is right next door). you'd have wanted to swipe the ones waiting at the box office window when the ticket agent wasn't looking. ten minutes after doors opened, we sat at the aisles.

the scene that stayed with me the longest was of soldiers gang raping a european woman during some sort of war. i think they changed it to the sarajevo war - the school at that time was closely watching president clinton's moves while yugoslavia tore itself apart. the soldiers raped her, one inserting the barrel of a rifle into her. the character screamed they just kept laughing and she wasn't sure if they were going to fire or not.


a lot of people stayed after for the q&a portion. as expected, no one dared ask the first one, so the director and the cast stated the obvious - how a play of this sort is needed on campus, how theater students rehersed for it same as any other production, how they were glad that, for starters, the school allowed them to show the play even if it were just for one night. the questions were difficult to stem once they started. the play is now staged every year.

for a jesuit school priding itself as the only one in chicago, it was groundbreaking on-campus but illicited an "it's about time" everywhere else. the school got over the hype and realized it needed to laugh at the absurd at least once every year. ignore the other half of the world, you're left with half a world. that's not the way to function at all.
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