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February 25, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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V-day 2008: Ten years of singing “Cunt”

Welcome to the Women’s Column for 2008. I’m proud to say I’m a feminist. In my eyes being a feminist means acknowledging that women have historically been oppressed and that although things are better today (in the Western world), they are far from perfect. I guess I’m also really interested in how “gender” and “sexuality” as a whole is constructed and enforced in our society, so for me, being a feminist doesn’t exclude looking at men’s issues – in fact I prefer looking at things in tandem. Just as women are forced to being feminine, polite, modest, men are also encouraged to be aggressive and strong. Massive simplification there. Anyway, more about that later on in the year… Today I want to tell you about an awesome happening called V-day. Ten years ago American playwright Eve Ensler wrote a play called The Vagina Monologues, based on interviews she conducted with women across the world – about, well, their vaginas.

She wanted to debunk the myth that vaginas were dirty, secret things that we shouldn’t talk about – and turn them into the glorious, pleasurable, feminine things that they are. Something to be celebrated. And so women across the world danced in the aisles shouting “Cunt” (in an attempt to reclaim the word from males who had colonised it for their own purposes). They wept at stories of rape and mutilation. And they laughed at the awkwardness of first sexual encounters.

The Vagina Monologues turned into V-day – a global movement to end violence against women. On Valentines Day, colleges and community groups stage fundraising performances of Ensler’s play, with all proceeds going to local women’s refuges and global women’s groups. In 2007, more than 3,000 V-Day events took place in the U.S. and around the world. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over fifty million dollars and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media, and PSA campaigns, launched the Karama program in the Middle East, reopened shelters, and funded over 5,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. The “V” in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina.

Ensler’s brand of feminism is simple – violence against women is wrong. Thus, it’s palatable enough that celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Jessica Alba and Oprah Winfrey frequently join the party. Ensler never really addresses why violence against women occurs, because that might be a bit more radical than most could stomach. However, no one can deny the cause or the outcomes are good. And finally V-day is coming to Wellington! For two performances only, at Te Whaea Theatre, Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School Sally Richards will direct Tina Cook, Sam Selliman-Layne and Renee Sheridan in this classic play. They’ll be raising funds for Wellington Women’s Refuge

What:V-Day Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School 2008, a benefit production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, raising funds for Wellington Women’s Refuge
Where: Te Whaea Theatre, Toi Whakaari, NZ Drama School, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown.
When: Tuesday 26th February, 1pm and 7pm
Admission: Full $15, Concession $9, Addict $5
Tickets: vday08@gmail.com

Get down there and bring out your inner Vagina Warrior.

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Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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