"The Vagina Monologues" at the European Parliament

Article published on March 21, 2012
Article published on March 21, 2012
By Lisa Kittel Translated by Susanna Gürocak Exclamations such as “Pussies united!” or “Vagina mother fucker” in the European Parliament? Just almost unimaginable. On Tuesday evening, nine women Members of the European Parliament recited, played and moaned the play of ‘Vagina Monologues’ initiated by the American writer Eve Ensler to raise awareness for violence against women worldwide.
Countless women but also a number of male visitors made their way to this unique performance; they certainly returned home with a slightly different state of mind.

The Vagina Monologues, in which the word ‘vagina’ is as common as the rain in Brussels, are amusing but also cruel scenes of different women at all ages who talk about sexuality, the relationship with their bodies, and about the abuse on it. Each scene is based on real sexual experiences which were captured through personal interviews.

One out of three women is beaten or raped in her lifetime. This accounts to six billion women worldwide. In South Africa, a number of girls and women undergo ‘corrective rapes’ in order to ‘cure’ them of homosexuality. In Baby Factories in Nigeria, young women are forced to give birth to children, so that those can be sold to human traffickers or be used for different rituals. In Congo, according to V-day information, 48 women are raped per hour!

But also in Europe, the amount of abuses draws an alarming picture: as MEP Kartika Tamara Liotard states “at least 45% of European women are confronted with physical abuse, and 10% have been a victim of sexual abuse” and “yet, the European Commission does not provide extra financial means to fight against this problem. I suggest that the Commission should think about all these vaginas, which are affected by this decision!”

The play thematises not only the abuse on women but also highlights the importance of their sexual self-discovery. For example, a 72-year-old woman who has never experienced an orgasm in her life, states in the interview: "In my life, no one would have ever talked about it”, but then, she opens up and explains how she made a negative experience with a man when she was much younger, which kept her from exploring her sexuality any further. Newly inspired by this interview however, she starts her journey of discovery by spending one hour in the bathtub, breaking out in tears of joy when she finally discovers her clitoris. On the other side, a 6-year-old girl, who was asked to tell ‘something special’ about her vagina, responds shamelessly: "Deep down inside, there’s a really, really smart brain!" And it smells like? "Snowflakes!"

Eve Ensler has founded the V-day movement to promote a natural attitude of women towards their sexuality, so that they learn to love themselves and their body. Charity performances and other artistic activities generate the financial footing for the projects. Despite issues on if this contested theatre play expresses violence against women properly or if it exposes populist features – without doubt, it strongly attracts public attention worldwide, and the audience in the European Parliament followed it with great enthusiasm. After the performance, Ensler announced: Since there are one billion abused women worldwide, V-day calls for one billion women and for all people, who love women, to take to the streets against this violence on 14th February 2013, the 15th birthday of V-day. Therefore, if you love at least one women on this planet, you should note down this date for 2013.