V to the Tenth!
But why vaginas?
It’s not a word that typically is bandied about in polite company. That, Ensler says, is precisely the point. She equates society’s apparent discomfort with saying something as basic as the name of an essential female body part with its more disturbing discomfort with recognizing the problem of global violence against women. Breaking down the taboo of the word is Step 1 in breaking down the barriers to communication and understanding that keep violence toward women — in all its insidious forms — generally out of the public eye.
“Saying the word ‘vagina’ and breaking through that taboo is equivalent to breaking through the complacency and the normalization of violence toward women —
getting people to understand that, for example, rape is actually a problem and that beating women is actually a problem and that the desecration of women’s bodies is actually not normal and it’s extraordinary,” the effervescent playwright explains.
“It’s been a great challenge to get people to say the word ‘vagina,’ and it’s actually been a strange asset because, you know, when we started this 10 years ago, there weren’t many people coming our way,” she adds. “People were really scared. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would, like I did this week, be addressing the [U.N.] Security Council, I would have laughed. The major foundations and organizations didn’t want vaginas to be a part of what they did. People were terrified, yet drawn to it too. It’s that thing of ‘I don’t want that, I don’t want that … bring it here.’”
And though she’s fiercely serious about her play and what she’s almost single-handedly trying to accomplish, the humor in the way she’s trying to accomplish it is anything but lost on Ensler and her merry band of Vagina Warriors.
- People Magazine