Last year, rageprufrock wrote about women like the burst-open lips of figs, about how women have worn their history as odalisks and sacrifices and mothers and daughters and victims like jewelry -- she wrote about how despite all of this, we sometimes forget how far we have come, and more importantly how far we have yet to go.
It's 2007 and the third most powerful person in American politics, second in line to take over the presidency, is a woman: Nancy Pelosi -- but half of the coverage she earned after her first State of the Union was about the color and cut of her clothes. Hilary Clinton is a two-term senator of New York and former first lady bracing to run for the Office of the Presidency in 2008 -- and yet people are preoccupied by her gender, by how pretty she might be and how she does her hair, whether or not she got plastic surgery. Women are still being raped and killed in Darfur; the Chinese countryside still has families practicing infanticide despite the country's rapidly skewing sex ratios. Girls are still giving themselves eating disorders comparing themselves to impossible standards of beauty, still acting less intelligent than they really are -- to be non-threatening, to be liked. One in three women will still experience sexual assault in her lifetime. So much has changed and so much has stayed the same.
It's 2007 and women are still odalisks and sacrifices and mothers and daughters and victims -- and we owe ourselves and all other women more than that, we owe ourselves better. We can do more.
V can stand for vagina, like Eve Ensler's groundbreaking monologues. V can stand for violence, under whose auspices all women continue to make a home.
V can also stand for victory.
On the V-Day website, it says V-Day is a response against violence toward women, that it is a demand that calls for an end to rape, incest, battery, genital mutilation, and sexual slavery.
It is all of those things and more.
V-Day is about self-love and respect and sisterhood. To hurt one of us is to hurt all of us. As long as women are sexually abused, not one us can live without the knowledge that it is happening and it could happen to us. As long as women suffer from domestic violence, we cannot sleep in our homes without recognizing that there are those that cannot sleep safely in their own. As long as women can be cut and mutilated, our own bodies are not safe.
V stands for Victory, Valentine, and Vagina.
Over the years, many women have told Eve Ensler their stories. Some spoke to her of their vagina, of the beauty or strangeness of it, and some told her their stories of rape, incest, genital mutilation, and domestic violence.
Women have opened to her like flowers, wanting to tell their stories, to be heard.
V-Day is about the end of shame. It's looking at your body with its imperfections, looking at your body and the past written on it and saying, "I'm not ashamed."
V-Day is about giving others hope.
When I was fifteen, I was raped, but I survived and you will too.
14 Valentines has inspired women to write about academics and sexual abuse, about the greatness of women and the things we've accomplished. We've come a long way, but we're not done yet. There's still a long way to go.
I'd like to thank all of you for your contributions to this community, for the dialog some of you have opened up in your LJs, for increasing awareness and telling your own stories.
Lastly, I'd like to end with a small excerpt from I Was There In the Room from The Vagina Monologues.
The heart is capable of sacrifice.
So is the vagina.
The heart is able to forgive and repair.
It can change its shape to let us in.
It can expand to let us out.
So can the vagina.
It can ache for us and stretch for us, die for us
and bleed and bleed us into this difficult, wondrous world.
So can the vagina.
I was there in the room.