It seems like almost as soon as New Year’s Day is over, stores immediately begin decorating everything in pink and red, with hearts and cherubic cupids abounding from every display. Valentine’s Day can be a wonderful way to celebrate romance and relations (or it can be a somewhat harsh reminder of the lack thereof, depending on the circumstance), but it’s not the only V-Day in February. The lesser known V-Day is a movement to end violence against women that I think every classy co-ed should know more about. This semester, I am participating in my campus’s annual production of The Vagina Monologues, and as part of the process of putting on the show, speakers are brought in to teach the cast about issues related to women.
What I’ve learned:
1. Violence against women is a lot more prevalent than I realized.- Even here, in the United States, about five hundred thousand women are raped each year. I couldn’t believe all the different kinds of violent atrocities occurring in the world without my knowledge.
2. The way society portrays female issues affects how we feel about them.- As a young woman who considers herself to be a classy co-ed, I always feel a little guilty being explicit about things related to sex and just vaginas in general (it’s literally hard for me to type out these words knowing that people will be reading them). However, being in The Vagina Monologues has taught me that it isn’t a negative thing for a woman to express her sexuality. That you don’t have to be conservative about sex and women’s issues to be classy. The media portrays things like getting a period or being a girl who enjoys sex as dirty and unusual and wrong and something to be ashamed of, but as classy co-eds coming from a world of opportunities, we should not allow society to continue to shame us into silence about ourselves, our feelings, and our bodies. On that note, it’s always classy to know your options so maybe you should check out Jessica S’s article on Birth Control Options- http://collegelifestyles.org/2011/01/calling-all-co-eds-stay-informed-on-birth-control-options/
3. That finding “The One” isn’t the secret to happiness.- You probably don’t know me very well, and, even if you did, I don’t come across as the kind of girl who thinks she needs to be in a relationship to be happy, but, in the spirit of full disclosure, it’s always there in the back of my mind that if I want to have the life I dreamed of as a little girl, with the husband and the kids and the dog and the white picket fence, I’ve got to find a guy (and get him to commit) in a certain amount of time (stupid biological clock :p). The monologues don’t expressly discuss this topic, and nothing specific has ever been said about not needing a man to be happy, but in hearing about the struggles of women in different situations than me, I have come to realize I have so so much to be thankful for and to be happy about. We are college students. We are women who are being educated at some of the finest institutions in the world. We are women with vast opportunities and the ability to be honest and open about love and sex and being women and that, in and of itself, is amazing.
How to Get Involved:
1. Go see or audition to be a part of a local Vagina Monologues production: Tickets are often inexpensive and most, if not all proceeds, usually go to benefit local women’s charities.
2. Donate to or volunteer with your local women’s shelter: Women’s shelters help women escape violent situations and cope with the aftermath of these traumatic experiences, eventually helping many of them into happier lives. Many of these shelters are underfunded and understaffed and could use your help. www.womenshelters.org offers a list of women’s shelters in various areas.
3. Learn more about the issues facing women today: So many people are unaware of the tragic circumstances that many women face around the world and raising awareness can start with you. V-Day has a website that features a Get Involved section that has a good Get the Facts section in it.
4. Be safe and help keep your friends and sisters safe: As women in college, there are specific risks of violence that we face in our campus communities. I know you’ve heard it all before, but don’t be an easy target. While assaults are never, ever, the fault of the victim, there are steps you can take to prevent situations that put you, your friends, or your sisters in danger. Don’t go to parties alone, watch your drinks, watch each other’s backs.
Women are strong, amazing people too, and we deserve to be safe on campus and around the world. Let’s be a part of making the world a better place for women.