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The Vagina Monologues will be presented at APSU Clement Auditorium on Feb. 26-27 at 7 p.m. Admission is $5.00.
One in three women are raped, mutilated and/or assaulted, says Eve Ensler, creator of The Vagina Monologues. If that’s the case, why don’t we hear about it all the time, everyday, every hour? Because women have a tendency to think that it’s their fault.
Dr. Jill Eichhorn, Coordinator of APSU’s Women’s Studies Program, teaches The Vagina Monologues class, a class whose students participate in The Vagina Monologues production. This is the 7th year The Vagina Monologues has been presented at Austin Peay State University. Eichhorn hopes to help women claim control over their lives, their bodies and their voices. She wants women to release the shame that comes from sexual abuse, including the abuse that women and girls experience daily when they see women objectified on the media.
Dr. Eichhorn (left) with Eve Ensler at Vanderbilt University
Women think that the horrible feeling they have after being assaulted somehow belongs to them. Being invaded or touched inappropriately invalidates them incredibly. It makes them feel as if their own body is disgusting, that their body has betrayed them; they hate it for that. They think that they have become the nasty, fear-based, controlling, invasive feeling that they are left with. It makes them feel so low down that they cannot speak up.
After a violent episode, the abuser can become lovable and sweet. Eventually tension builds, escalates and explodes again. Immediately he asks forgiveness or blames her for the explosion. She may think she’s crazy to want to leave him, he’s such a good person. She might stay because of financial reasons and to protect the children.
Women seldom talk about their own sexuality; they don’t talk about what pleases them, and they also do not talk about sexual abuse. When rape, mutilation or assault happens, the victim feels stuck in an isolated world of terror.
On the subject of rape, 60% of men surveyed think that “she brought it on to herself.” Surprisingly 40% of women surveyed think that she brought it on herself. Men who have justified date raping often use these excuses: because of the way she dressed, because she asked a guy out on a date, because he spent a lot of money on her, etc.
MTV continually flashes us images of females as the ideal male fantasies. In those fantasies, women always want sex, they don’t mean it when they say no, their minds and feelings aren’t important – in fact, they don’t exist, they are lost without men, and they lust for man’s approval. This imagery is not balanced by imagery that shows more truthful aspects of women. An excellent movie about it is Dreamworlds III
Monologue’s author Eve Ensler says that as far as sexuality goes, men and women are both lost. Boys are brought up not to cry, taught not to have feelings or else they are sissy boys. They are practically tortured by their piers as adolescents for anything that is different about them and any feelings of inadequacy that they show. Ensler, who spoke to a full house at Vanderbilt University in Nashville on February 18, said that Martin Luther King Jr. is her mentor. He taught her to focus on the task. Many people told her not to use the word vagina in the title to the monologues. She said, “What should I call it, furniture?” She said that people still tell her that word is too strong to use. They still tell her to shut up.
She’s visited many countries and cities and been witness to many stories of abuse and rape. The worst, by far, is the Congo, she said. In the Congo there are whole towns of raped women. Their bodies have been mutilated by the rapists and I won’t share the details here.
Ensler says she will not stop saying the word. She has a purpose, a revolution. There has been a global strategy to undermine women, a strategy she calls femicide. Dealing with each crisis as it happens is not going to solve the problem. Ensler says we need to redress the bigger issue. Every single culture gives permission to violence.
Ensler wants all of us to stop pretending to be found, and be lost, together. Women cannot stop men from committing violence on women. Men can stop men. There needs to be a global strategy to figure out why love is harder to do than killing.
“The Clothesline Project”
An Art exhibit called The Clothes Line Project will be displayed around the auditorium.
This is the 7th year The Vagina Monologues are to be shown in the Clement Auditorium on campus. This year Ensler is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the release of the monologues. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $50 million and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it. As elsewhere, Clarksville benefits go to the Safe House, Legal Aid of Tennessee and Sexual Abuse Center.
The monologues tell vagina stories. They are funny and sad and sassy; they are stories collected and collaborated from real women. The play opens with the lines, “I bet you are worried. We were worried. We were worried about vaginas.” There’s no place in this play hiding in shame about the existence of the vagina. The monologues give women the notion that their sex organs don’t have to be and shouldn’t be a big secret.
From the movie, VDay, Until the Violence Stops: Being in shame about women’s sexuality and not talking about it has not gotten women anywhere; in fact:
One of the many handouts given to the Vagina Monologue class by guest speakers from Legal Aid of Tennessee shows the Power Control Wheel, which illustrates the pattern of abusive and violent behaviors used by a batterer to establish and maintain control over his partner.
Coercion and threats: Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her. Threatening to leave her, commit suicide, or report her to welfare. Making her drop charges. Making her do illegal things.
Intimidation: Making her afraid by using looks, actions, and gestures. Smashing things. Destroying her property. Abusing pets. Displaying weapons.
Emotional abuse: Putting her down. Making her feel bad about herself. Calling her names. Making her think she’s crazy. Playing mind games. Humiliating her. Making her fell guilty, ashamed.
Male privilege: Treating her like a servant: making all the big decisions, acting like the “master of the castle,” being the one to define men’s and women’s roles.
Economic abuse: Preventing her from getting or keeping a job. Making her ask for money. Giving her an allowance. Taking her money. Not letting her know about or have access to family income.
Isolation: Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, and where she goes. Limiting her outside involvement. Using jealousy to justify actions.
Using children: Making her feel guilty about the children. Using the children to relay messages. Using visitation to harass her. Threatening to take the children away.
Minimizing, denying, and blaming: Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously. Saying the abuse didn’t happen. Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior. Saying she caused it.
This handout from the Clothes Line project got a lot of discussion in class:
Dating Bill Of Rights (for men and women)
I have the right:
I have the responsibility:
Women, get yourself to these monologues.
Statistics show that you are only slightly behind men in thinking that women bring rape on to themselves. If you think this way, you are enabling a diseased violent crime to continue and you are hurting your fellow womankind.
Men get yourselves and the women and daughters in your life to this. If you really want to protect them, realize that women need to “own” their bodies as a key to protecting them.
They need your support and encouragement in this.
Dr. Eichhorn says the monologues will help bring understanding to our community about what it means to be female.
Debbie and her family moved to Clarksville slightly after the tornado of 1999. Debbie founded the group, Clarksville Freethinkers for Peace and Civil Liberties, in 2004. She participated in Gathering to Save Our Democracy, a group dedicated to obtaining free and verifiable elections in Tennessee. She has supported groups including the NAACP, Nashville Peace Coalition, PFLAG, Friends of Dunbar Cave and the Mountain Top Removal Series of Films and speakers. She participated as an artist in the ARTZ gallery group in Clarksville and won Best of Show, First and 2 Second Place awards for four of her sculptures. She won a voter’s choice award for a performance at the Roxy Regional Theatre. She is a wife, mother and cancer survivor. She is always amazed at the capabilities of the human spirit, and the wisdom to find humor when there is none.
TopicsAustin Peay State University, Date Rape, Domestic Violence, Eve Ensler, Jill Eichhorn, Rape, The Vagina Monologues, V Day
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