I took my 15 year old son to see the Vagina Monologues

I know I have mentioned it before, but for those of you who are new, I am a college student at Old Dominion University.  Yes, I am almost 50.  Yes, I am working on my undergraduate degree.  What can I say, like a fine wine, I have gotten better with age….

Anyway, I started going to ODU in the spring of 2013.  I had a wonderful Professor for my Intro to Women’s Studies, and she offered extra credit points to us if we attended the Vagina Monologues being put on by some of the women at ODU.  Never one to turn down easy points (really it only cost 20.00 for two tickets, a large portion of which went to the local YWCA to fight violence against women). I talked Karol into joining me and away we went.

We really liked the production. We laughed, we cried, and even yelled!  It was eye opening, and I was especially impressed to see the quite reserved love of my life sit and enjoy it.  To be honest I had as much fun watching her reactions as I did the production itself!

I did not realize that it was an annual event at ODU until this year.  I started hearing some of my classmates and a professor (the same one that introduced me to Women’s Studies, Robin Ormiston), talking about this year’s production of the Vagina Monologues to be held Valentine’s Day weekend.  Of course I wanted to go, but Karol was traveling to visit her family in Minnesota that weekend, and I didn’t want to go alone. I started thinking about who I could invite (and would be willing to go).

I have talked about my youngest son, aka The Genius, and his feministing ways.  That boy is a feminist if ever I met one.  He is all about equity and he is incredibly intentional about his actions, particularly when it comes to race and class.  I have been teaching him since he was quite small that because he is a white male he is the most privileged type of person in this country and that he needs to use his privilege to help others achieve the same status.  Until we no longer have white privilege in this country he should use it for the benefit of people who don’t have it. This lesson has definitely struck home with him, and he is an incredible human being! I see great things in his future!

Anyway, I asked him if he would like to go to the Vagina Monologues with me and without hesitation he said , “Yes!” He then asked if his bff could come along with us.  I said sure, but please make sure her parents knew where she was going….(I did not want to get in trouble for taking a minor to Vagina Monologues without parental permission). The young lady received permission and off we went to the 2015 ODU production of The Vagina Monologues.

VM-Flyer2015

I have to admit I was a bit nervous because having seen it before I had a small inkling of what these kids were going to be exposed to.  Of course as we walked in the first thing we were asked as we gave our tickets was if we wanted to purchase Vagina lollipops. (chocolate lollipops shaped like a vagina).  The kids said yes, so I bought all three of us a vagina lollipop after I made them promise NOT to eat them at school…..(can you imagine the phone call I would get if that happened)  “Um. Ms. Rood, this is the Principal calling….ummm, there was an incident with your son and a food item today….. ummm”

I have to admit the first time the word “cum” was used, the mom in me did get a bit squinky, and I glanced over at the kids, and they had not even looked away from the stage……whew, okay that was fine, and then I relaxed.  After that I was able to remove my “mom” persona and just enjoy the fact that I was introducing two teenagers to a world of feminism and the idea that we can celebrate a body part that is often seen only as “dirty” or “smelly” or sexual.

Think about it, the slang names for a penis are strong or weapon like: rod, sword, stick, love muscle, one eyed monster, cock, etc etc. However, the words for vagina have a different feel: twat, cunt, hole, cave, gash….not the same genre of words at all.

But in the 2015 Vagina Monologues these amazing women were on stage CELEBRATING the Vagina!  Celebrating wearing a short skirt.  Talking about uncomfortable things like rape and abuse. Talking about wonderful things like empowerment and love.  Talking about Vaginas!

When it was over, I introduced the kids to some of the women actors who I knew, and congratulated the women on an outstanding performance.  When Robin asked the kids what they thought of the show, they both said an emphatic ” I LOVED IT!”

I know these kids are meant for great things!

Just so you can experience some of what we experienced I will leave you with a video of a monologue from Vagina Monologues.  If you ave some interest and time, check out videos of “The Moaner” and “My Angry Vagina”.  Both are great! In fact, it is all great. Go see a show if you ever have a chance!!

One of my favorite monologues: My Short Skirt

( I wish I had access to the one done this year at ODU, but after viewing many of these, I liked this one the best!)

Why are the men who commit violence against women invisible?

So I was thinking about women and violence against women.  And I was thinking about the media and how the media reports crimes against women, and it occurred to me that when you think about crimes and violence against women it is not women who are the perpetrators (usually) but men who are the people committing violence against women. So why are the men who commit violence against women invisible?

But what do the headlines say?  What do the websites say?  The headlines read:

Violence against women is on the rise.”; “Global and regional estimates of violence against women”; “Ending Violence against women”; “Hate crimes against women”

etc, etc, etc …..

So who is committing all of this violence and crime?

Men. Men commit the crimes against women.  Men commit the violence against women. 

teachboysrespect

Okay, so before you start whining about how women kill each other, and women hurt each other, and every other thing you can throw at me, Yes, you are right.  Women do assault each other.  We have all heard about “cat fights”.  We know women kill each other, and are generally awful to each other a lot of the time.  But when you look at statistics about violence against women and who is doing it, the answer 8 times out of 10 is: MEN!

Just because I like statistics:

18.3% of women in the United States have survived a completed or attempted rape. (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010)

63.84% of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked since age 18 were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, boyfriend, or date. (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010)

The Campus Sexual Assault Study estimated that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 college women experience completed or attempted rape during their college years (National Institute of Justice 2007). I would argue this number is higher now than in 2007

About one-third of female murder victims ages 12 or older are killed by an intimate partner. (Department of Justice 2007)

batered women

So now that you have seen some numbers and statistics, lets reshape the way the headlines SHOULD read.

“The amount of violence men are committing against women is on the rise”; “Global and regional estimates of men committing violence against women.”; “Ending male violence against women”; “Hate crimes men commit against women”.

The media says things like:  “the Columbine shooters:, “the Newtown shooter”; “Kids killing kids”; “the alleged shooter”.  They are called psychopath, or shooter, or murderer, or killer, or maniac….which are all genderless names.

Then the media has experts come on who talk about mental illness, or violence in video games, or gangs, or dysfunctional homes, or many other reasons why this violence is happening.  Hmmmmm, I am pretty sure that girls and women also deal with mental illness, and dysfunctional families, and play violent video games, and are exposed to violence in society, and are in gangs.  So why are the people committing the violence disproportionately men.  And why don’t we call them out for it?  Why are the perpetrators in visible, and the the headlines genderless, unless of course you are mentioning the gender of the victims.  Let’s mention the gender of the people doing the raping and the killing.

Because the lives of women are important.  The lives of women matter.  Women’s stories need to be told.  #womenslives

 

Do you “see color” when you look at people? I do…..

So, here in the United States there are some people who believe we live in a “post racist” society.  Apparently some of these people are even my friends on Facebook, based on some of the posts I see on their walls.  Interesting…  It always amazes me when I see comments such as “I am not racist, but…”  That “but” says a lot about how you really feel inside, whether you know it or not.  While explicit racism is not as common as it once was, implicit racism is rampant.

You may be wondering, “what is implicit racism?”  Well, good thing for you I wrote a paper and did extensive research for my Research Methods class last semester on implicit racism, explicit racism and and how those things make us value (or not) diversity.  So explicit racism is overt, obvious……using the N word, talking openly about people who are not white, or Christian, or middle class being “less than” or not as good as the person who is doing the speaking. It is easy to see and hear their racist beliefs and we can choose to avoid them, if we don’t want to be exposed to that nonsense..

Implicit racism is harder to see, and is usually a set of thoughts or stereotypes or biases we believe and act on, whether we are aware of it or not.  Such as crossing the street if we see a black man walking on our side of the street, clutching our purse a little tighter, thinking poor people are “lazy”, or just don’t try “hard enough” to get themselves out of poverty.

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But I think we are dealing with another form of implicit racism these days.  People who want so much not to be looked at as racist or biased that they go to great lengths to publicly state their “non bias”.  They say things like, “I don’t see color when I look at people.”  Ok, at the risk of getting yelled at, I am going to publicly say I think that is a ridiculous statement.

*ducking to avoid tomatoes*

Okay, now before you get your undies in a bunch, I DO understand what they mean, but I think by saying they don’t “see color” they are actually devaluing diversity and cultural differences.  There are cultural differences (in my humble opinion) between races.  They may be small, but they are there.  I think these differences should be celebrated, not done away with.  Cultural diversity (in fact ALL diversity) makes the tapestry of humanity more colorful and vibrant, it doesn’t detract from that.  Why would we want everyone to be the same??? What an incredibly boring world that would be!!

So I am going to say I DO see color when I see people.  I see all the beautiful shades of skin tone, and hair color and hair texture.  I see eye color, and body size, and fully-abled or less-abled bodies.  I see gender, whether male, or female or ambiguous.  I see age, and sometimes I can see wealth or poverty.  I see all of those things when I look at people.  That doesn’t make me a racist.  It makes me observant.

diversity

In my opinion, the problem is not in seeing our differences, but in assigning stereotypes and biases to the people we see based on what we see.  To assume when we see a black person that the color of their skin somehow tells us something about their character is the problem.  To see an Asian person and assume they are good at math is the problem. To see a brown person and assume they are not hard working is the problem.   To place stereotypes and bias on a person merely by looking at them IS THE PROBLEM!! This does not just apply to the color or “hue” of someone’s skin, but also their gender, their physical bodies, their mental abilities.

Think about it, we can’t even assume that a person with darker pigmented skin is “african”.  They may be of Caribbean, or African, or Middle Eastern, or indigenous heritage.  They may be biracial, or multiracial.  We can assume very little about someone based on external appearances.  Assumptions and assigning stereotypes is the enemy, NOT seeing their “color”.

I think if we do want to truly become a post racist society we really need to think about this, and start valuing all humans for their differences, not try to make all humans the same. Do you “see color” when you look at people?

Go ahead and “see” a person’s color, and celebrate it!  Move past bias and stereotypes and get to know the person,  no matter what they look like on the outside. Find something of value in them, and remove the stereotype! THEN maybe we can become the post racist society I dream of us becoming!

I believe with all my heart that we can overcome bias and stereotypes that cause so many people difficulty.  Join me in this effort!

Read more about Women’s Lives here. Women’s stories are important!

 

#womenslives