The Vagina Monologues at Emory University.
It had been skirting around the periphery of my awareness for over a decade and I had no idea what it was about, so it seemed like a pretty good idea. I love vaginas, I may as well hear what they have to say.
I donned my gray pin-striped suit and the traditional Leap Day colors of blue and yellow. I had to go buy a yellow tie for this. As far as single colored ties I had black, white, silver, blue, red, and green, but I didn't have yellow... orange or purple for that matter. The reason for this is that I have never seriously explored the art of clowning. But hey, Leap Day makes fools of us all.
It was a gorgeous evening and I couldn't have been in a better mood. Once I got there, the first thing I noticed was that I was the only straight man in the entire building. There was only one other man in the audience. He was a well-dressed, clean-shaven black man with happy eyes and emphatic gestures. I don't know for an absolute fact that he was gay. Given a completely different context, I may have never had the thought. However, as it was, if someone put a gun to my head and asked me if he was a homosexual I would say "first of all, if you want to know if he's gay, you should probably ask him yourself instead of assaulting me. Second, since I have to guess, I would say that performing fellatio is probably on his to-do list for the week." There were two other men. They were the producers and most certainly gay. There really isn't any room to theorize about that. Trust me.
Before I go any further, let me say that I had a great deal of actual, sincere fun at this show. It was touching, joyful, mournful, tragic, provocative, and humorous... and all in the right mix. The acting wasn't very good for the most part, but I found that did nothing to stop me from liking it. Even though the delivery was often off, it was clear that the women on stage believed what they were saying. They felt it and that made me want to feel it. I recommend this completely and whole-heartedly.
For the most part the show was about self acceptance, sexual pride, and human equality. These are all concepts that everyone can appreciate and I really enjoyed seeing them from an angle that I was not completely familiar with.
The next part of the disclaimer is to say that I think it's a terrible shame that we have spawned a global culture that necessitates this show at all. Some people may think that's the wrong message to pull away from this, but I don't think so. If we had that world of absolute gender, racial, and religious freedom that we all deserve... well, I just don't think we would need this show. As it stands, though, it is absolutely vital that women get together and demand acceptance from others, each other, and themselves.
But some of that rhetoric was absolutely ludicrous and I spent most of the show with an enormous, likely inappropriate, grin. I've come to understand that I feed off the mildly-to-moderately inappropriate. There is a tension when a situation is slightly off kilter from what it's supposed/expected to be. That tension creates energy and that's what fuels me. A big enough elephant in a room could feed me for a week. Some of these lines were so sublimely ridiculous that they became a fine delicacy. If you ever get to see the show, do what I did: Envision all of the women as men who are talking about their peni. It changes the entire vibe of the show and even further illustrates gender inequality. Imagine a man in stage saying "I love my penis. I am my penis. My penis is beautiful, powerful, and the lens through which I see the world. It is my physical and emotional center." No one would put up with that. And they shouldn't, it's ridiculous. Genitals will always be important, and in this cultural moment it's great to have solidarity and vag power, but once we get to gender equality, there won't be much difference between an innie and an outie. Personally, I don't think anyone should ever feel like they're just a walking, talking reproductive organ. That just doesn't seem healthy to me.
(I know I'm being super cautious and pre-defensive here, but in my experience, women hate it when you laugh and their privates. No one likes that. So I'm trying to find away of saying "With all due respect, your shit is hilarious.")
So this naturally made me want a Penis Monologue. I don't want to subvert of co-opt the original purpose, but I'm jealous, envious. It seems like it would be nice to be so open and honest about that sort of thing. I would like to be a part of the spirit of the movement, but I don't really have a vagina to offer to the cause. A quick Google search showed me that there were a few attempts at these man shows, but were handled mainly as parodies, satires, and such. That's a real shame. I feel that there's a real need for the real thing. I expect a certain amount of resistance to the idea. You know when you're a kid and you find out about Mother's Day and Father's Day and you ask "Why isn't there a Children's Day?" and your parents inevitable reply "Everyday is Children's Day," and that answer seems pretty cheap, but you let it go because you don't want to argue and eventually you realize what they mean? I think is basically the same thing when a guy says "Hey, why can't we talk about our peni?" Someone inevitable says "Everything we say is about peni." Actually, they might use the word penises because they don't know about fun plurals. Anyway, there's no real forum to talk about those tender moments of manhood. There should be, though.
Gender equality goes both ways and men need to be given room to grow, too.
I know, I know, it's a complex topic and I'm not doing it justice by just touching on it and running away. I know that there's a lot more to be said, but that's what you get. I'm sleepy now.