"I'm strictly a female female...
I enjoy being a girl."
- Flower Drum Song, Rodgers & Hammerstein
Much is being made of V-Day this year. Not Valentine's Day. Vagina Day.
Back in eleventh grade, my most progressive high school English teacher brought in The Feminine Mystique for us to read. To speed the process and get straight to a class discussion, she assigned one chapter to each of the students in the class, which we would then present to the others. Mine was the chapter on penis envy.
It had never occurred to me before that my existence was driven by a Freudian desire to have a phallus. After reading the chapter through several times, I concluded that the supposition of penis envy was false - at least for me. Being a tomboy didn't make me want to be a boy.
As a child growing up in the age of Title IX, Gloria Steinem, and the Sexual Revolution I arrived in my teens in the mid-eighties a jock, a feminist and questioning my sexual identity. Wanting a penis seemed pointless. Wanting change seemed urgent.
The penis envy incident didn't translate into vaginal pride for me. I first heard the term at the 1993 Dyke March. A topless Lesbian Avenger strode down Fifth Avenue holding a placard on high that proclaimed: "Vaginal Pride - Use it or Lose it!" I found it amusing, head-turning and fun, but took it as just a sign. Years later, while working on a small off-off Broadway show, I met the woman who would bring the term to life for me.
Eve Ensler, a gifted writer, director and performer had been interviewing women around the world about their relationships with their own genitalia. She wrapped these women's voices up in a wonderfully theatrical package called The Vagina Monologues, and performed it as a one-woman show all over the country. It was a minor hit.
This year it's a major hit. Valentine's Day has been proclaimed V-Day, Vagina Day, and to celebrate women and help end violence against women, The Vagina Monologues will be performed as a gala benefit by great famous females such as Glenn Close, Whoopi Goldberg, Goldie Hawn, Rosie Perez, Susan Sarandon and Gloria Steniem, among many impressive others.
Is vaginal pride the next fashionable trend after "Lesbian Chic?" I can just see the covers of Time, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone... "From the Lilith Fair to Vagina Day - American Women Take Pride in Their Parts. Inside: Exclusives with Susan Faludi, Urvashi Vaid and Anne Heche."
If I really want a penis, I can go to Eve's Garden and buy one for $14.95. If I want vaginal pride I have to look within, or go to the Hammerstien Ballroom Theater on February 14th, dressed to the nines.
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