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To Take My Place as Survivor, Educator and Activist

For the past week, every day our blog has featured writing from a member of the 2015 Boston Community Production of the Vagina Monologues.  We are proud of the women taking part in this community building performance, and hope that you will join us this weekend - Friday February 13th and Saturday February 14th at the performance. Tickets are on sale today! 

We invite you to read, share and engage in today's post, the 8th in our series brought to you from two time VDay Cast member, Tori. 

 

I Rise To Take My Place as Survivor, Educator and Activist

The problem for women is that when society dictates to us a false belief that we have no agency in our own sexual experiences, and are at the mercy of our rhythmic biology, this belief carries over to the rest of our lives. If women can only be passive sexual partners, or worse, come to believe and internalize that sex is something that is unpleasant and a bit messy and thus we must endure it politely, once in a while, then so we are also internalizing that women ought not to have agency in other areas of our lives.

I am a Unitarian Universalist minister in training, and a chaplain, and my own stories of survival stand as one testimony in a sea of stories, of disempowerment, submission, violence.  I’ve sat with untold numbers of women for whom agency was taken from them in relationships and of their own bodies. In the conservative Christian religious culture I came from, I wasn’t taught about safe, consensual, pleasurable sex. From the pulpit and classroom, I was taught about submission to my husband, and taught to be chaste until marriage so that my marriage was godly enough that God would be honored and the marriage bed frequently occupied. Huddled gatherings of the married women of the culture I come from would talk in hushed tones about “winning wayward husbands back to the Lord”, ways of withholding or using sex to get what we wanted from our husbands, which was often simply mere survival, disguised as a concern that he was “upset at dinner” or that “work must have put him in a sour mood”.

Nobody told me it wasn’t okay when my husband abandoned me at a store, hit me, drove into traffic, made threats and a plan to enact them, slammed the brakes on the car on the highway with every intention of causing a miscarriage of the baby we were convinced I was growing inside of me. See, the women talked, but we never talked about what was really happening, never named for one another what we each suffered; each of our husbands was wayward and it was our duty to win them back, not to complain, to accept sex as often and whichever way on the promise that real and true submission and obedience would make everything better forever, or at least for a little while.

                I rise to take my place as a survivor and I rise to take my place as an educator and activist. I am proud to be in the vagina monologues cast for a second year. I am proud of the work the cast has done together to break down barriers between us as women, and to engage in our own education. I am proud of the conversations that have happened and will happen as the show is seen, both about the sexual and personal agency of women and about the very real trials and triumphs women face because we are women. I rise with a commitment to do better -to speak more boldly, and to teach and facilitate classes in my ministry settings about safe, consensual, and pleasurable sex that begin with giving women and men the power to name for themselves their own experiences and power.  

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