that V word that people tend to avoid..

For any of you who haven’t read The Vagina Monologues or seen a V-day event in college, I highly suggest you find a local performance to attend or order you a copy of the fabulous book by Eve Ensler. For those that know me, I am a feminist book reading aficionado. I love having my bookshelves stocked with progressive authors who detail any social issue, whether it be feminism, environmentalism or human rights. So in my last book ordering spree with Better World Books, I ordered 9 or so women’s rights focused pieces of literature. (I highly suggest checking out this amazing book operation that is not only cheaper than the colossal Barnes & Noble, but also donates proceeds and books too!) One such chosen book was The Vagina Monologues.

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For some background info regarding the V-day movement- Eve Ensler interviewed hundreds of women regarding all facets of female sexuality: birth, sexuality, violence, coming of age and so on. She compiled these stories and created a play, The Vagina Monologues. With the success of the play, she then joined forces with some other incredible women in NYC to create the first V-day event in 1998 with celebrity performances of her stories. Celebrities like Glenn Close, Roseanne, and Alanis Morissette performed to over 2,500 people. The next year, they expanded across the country and even abroad with the College Initiative. Many people probably remember people in the quad or in the Student Union selling chocolate vulvas or vagina candy during February. This was all in association with V-day.

The whole premise of V-day is to raise money for various women’s organizations, such as domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers and refugee organizations- to bring awareness and help end violence against women.

Some statistics from UN Women and feminist.com regarding violence against women:

  1. Intimate partner violence accounts for 40-70% of female murder victims.
  2. More than 64 million girls worldwide are child brides– Child marriages results in early age pregnancies and pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death for 15-19 year-old girls.
  3. About 140 million girls have suffered female genital mutilation.
  4. Rape as a war tactic: 20,000-50,000 women were raped in the Bosnian war between 1992-1995, 250,000-500,000 girls were raped in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
  5. In the United States, 83% of girls age 12-16 have experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.
  6. The Campus Sexual Assault Study estimates between 1/4 and 1/5 college women experience completed or attempted rape during their college years.

The list could go on and on, but I think we all get the point- There is definitely a problem. So my ranting and raving is over, and I hope that at least a few people have learned something new. For more interesting reads regarding women’s rights, consider:

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  • Manifesta by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards – Authors try to bridge the gap between feminist hubs to inspire a new generation of women’s rights advocates. 
  • Infidel: My Life by Ayaan Hirsi Ali – Autobiography of her life from childhood in many countries, her work with the Labour Party, and her election into Parliament.
  • I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali – The true story of a 10-year-old girl in Yemen forced into being a child bride.
  • Grassroots by Jennifer Baumgardner – A how-to for becoming an activist in your everyday lives.
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin – A novel that was originally censored and considered immoral upon publication in 1899 due to its depictions of female sexual desire and a main character who defied social norms and gender roles.
  • The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir – I couldn’t quite get through the first chapter that depicts in excruciating detail, the sperm vs. egg phenomenon. It was a landmark novel though- so probably a good book overall.
  • Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn – Many stories from around the world of women’s oppression and how “the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential.” Also has a documentary that is quite good on Netflix!
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick – A young 13-year-old girl from Nepal is sold into prostitution in India, away from her family and everything she knows. A fictional tale of the horrors of human trafficking that wrecks the world today.
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi – A memoir of her teaching at the University of Tehran in 1979 and her later formation of a female book club.
  • Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein – Depiction of the marketing machine that promotes the trend toward ultra-feminine especially poking fun at Disney princesses and the like. Hilarious and quite quotable!
  • I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai – I think the title pretty much explains it. A remarkable story!
  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf – A sensical account of why women have not been prominent in literature until they were allowed a room of their own provided for with their own income. How can a woman write great works of fiction with the constant interruptions of children, cooking and knitting? Good point.
  • The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti – These last three books I have yet to read. I will update later!
  • The Women’s Room by Marilyn French
  • Yes Means Yes by Joclyn Friedman

So I have officially run my mouth/typing enough about this issue. Hope you enjoyed it!


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