I was 18 when I first saw The Vagina Monologues. I was so green. Green doesn’t even really cut it. I actually am surprised I went to see The Vagina Monologues at all. I couldn’t even say the word vagina at the time. I have always loved words and always believed some words are more powerful than others. Somewhere inside me I must have known how powerful the word vagina really is. Watching the show, though, I began to realize that the word vagina didn’t yield evil power as I had suspected or as my Catholic upbringing had darkly hinted at. It didn’t make you a ‘hussy’ to talk about your vagina or to want
to know if things were normal or not. It was ok to want to have sex and it was ok to think that you deserved something more than what you were being offered.
I was right though. The word vagina is powerful, because women are powerful. We are powerful, amazing creatures. After seeing the show I had never in my life felt so proud to be a woman. I was flooded with the beauty of how complex it is to be female and how beautiful our stories are. At the end of the night I walked home and to my roommate’s dismay screamed ‘Vagina!!’ at the top of my lungs. I felt so free.
A few years later I didn’t feel so free. A boy had me trapped in his room. He held my wrists and would not let me go. I forgot I was powerful. I forgot I deserved more. I honestly in the moment was afraid of hurting his feelings. I talked and talked to him and eventually he let me go. Instead of being angry with him, I was concerned that I had done something wrong. I swallowed my pain and for years it fueled a sense of shame.
Not that long ago a young boy I worked with grabbed me by the wrist. He was angry with me for taking something away from him. From the moment his fingers wrapped around my wrist to the moment he let go, I was petrified. Though he was young he was still bigger than me. But it was more than that. It reminded me too much of the feeling of powerless I had experienced years before. I couldn’t even look at this boy the next day. I watched him struggle. He couldn’t understand why I was bothered. In his life this was just how you deal with things. I swallowed my hurt, but this time in a different way. I swallowed my pain, but instead of letting it fuel my insecurities I let it fuel my passion for helping children and communities. I looked this boy in the eye and continued to help him as best I could.
So I rise for the girls who blame themselves. I rise for the young boys who have yet to learn how important it is to respect the women in their lives. I rise for the young men and women who do not have role models in their lives to teach them how important it is to treat everyone kindly and equally. I rise for communities for we can not have healthy communities without having healthy relationships between the men and women who populate them. I rise for those who have no one to rise with them. I rise for everyone who does not believe they deserve more.
And finally, I rise for someone whose story is not mine to tell. I am sorry no one heard your voice. You were a little girl and you deserved more. I love you. You deserve all the love in the world. We all do.
Today's blog post comes from Jennifer Jeane. She is a social worker and writer who believes in the beauty of everyone’s story and challenging one another to see the beauty in one another and in our communities. Jennifer is a member of the 2014 cast of the Boston Community Production of The Vagina Monologues. Tickets can be purchased at http://vaginamonologuesboston2014.eventbrite.com/