I had to think of an eye-catching title since it’s been ages I wrote something for the blog. So Yes, the vagina talks and I am surprised too because it has a great deal to talk about. It has questions, it has answers, and it has some serious troubles. And this dawned upon me when I finally made it to the famous ‘The Vagina Monologues’ after having it on my checklist for what felt like a million years.
Originally opened in New York, it’s a series of responses of women interviewed all over the world, the agony of the most forbidden organ and an attempt at getting rid of the entire hullabaloo around the word ‘Vagina’. The responses are curated in order to shed light on the ordeal and sufferings of women. The play has garnered massive openings all across the world. (No pun intended). The play starts with a disclaimer. Yes, a disclaimer.You have to say the word ‘Vagina’ out loud. Uncomfortable,yes? The audience squirmed in their seats. But it was an exercise in getting over all the preconceived awkwardness often associated with what happens to be just another organ of the human body. But again, can’t really call it just another human organ. We have all spent a good 9 months in close proximity with the vagina. And yet surround it with the balderdash.At the end of this hilarious, insightful monologue series, I realized how restricted we are when it comes to talking about sensitive issues. The women interviewed in the said monologue series had some much to talk about. Of course apprehensive at first but eventually they shared some wonderful stories that made me wonder how much is still left to be discussed. They were asked what would their vaginae say, how would it dress etc. Some responses were utterly mirthful and some welled up tears in our eyes. But these fabulous ladies taking the play across the country never had it easy. They had their share of uncalled for interference stating that the play would in fact be an immoral move for the society and hence needs to be condemned. Funny, how the need of the hour is condemning a play that talks about women empowerment when the country is engulfed in a series of inhumane acts doled out on women. The play states horrifying statistics with regards to the number of rapes, domestic violence incidents which are increasing at an alarming rate. The stats state a woman is raped every 15 minutes in India. So, by the end of the play, another 5 women would have been brutally raped, their self esteems shredded to bits and left with absolutely no hope to lead a normal life. And here I was safe in my seat, listening to the atrocities exhibited on all these women. And all of this for what? The sexual frustration is unimaginable. I have only one question, does this ever end? I fail to understand what exactly can help solve this issue. I then happened to make it to a panel discussion which had an imminent spread of speakers. The topic was ‘Breaking Taboos’. Taboos relating to menstruation were one of the most wildly spoken topics. The speaker on the panel, Kalyani Joshi has started something called as the ‘Period Project’ after she encountered a rather humiliating episode while she was teaching rural kids. The parents disallowed their girls from attending school since they were on their period, which by the way is unholy to the extent that these girls weren’t served food in their usual utensils but had to stick to a separate set of utensils until they stopped bleeding. So much for not bearing a child in their womb. We fail at interpreting all the rituals miserably. It is said that women were excused from the housework because they needed the rest and not for all the ludicrous reasons we came up with. One of the speakers, Shikha Makan has recently shot a film named ‘Bachelor Girls’ which covers the discrimination with regards to single women in the city and how it is an onerous task to find accommodation in the Mumbai. Guess why? Because they are single,independent women who are competent enough to makes choices, be it their sexuality, their life partner, their will to get married or have a live-in relationship. The society owners often have these norms with regards to single women. They aren’t allowed to have male company nor can they be entering the premises late at night. All of this being utterly unconstitutional in nature.What stayed back with me though was how the speaker and also author of the book ‘A Handbook of my Lover’, Rosalyn D’Mello had to say. She is in a relationship with someone not of her age and how all her achievements were disregarded because of this single decision of hers. That being in love with someone not her age was something so unacceptable to her parents and to the ‘society’ that she had to move out of Mumbai to find solace. I never recognised with my feminist self strongly enough but all these talks made me introspect. Is asking for a safer environment, higher wages, equal rights constitute as something beyond the realm of reality? Enough has been spoken about all of this already, but how much has really changed? I woke up today to yet another disturbing news stating two independent women in the city succumbed to an unfortunate end.The same old saga.
Does it ever end?