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It’s Vagina Time

2007_03_01Vday.jpg In 1996, we learned that, (a), a book had been published under the title The Vagina Monologues, (b), said book began with the question “If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?”, and (c), what followed were the documented, serious answers from women who sat down and actually thought about what their vagina would wear if it were getting dressed. At the time it seemed like a bad feminist joke.
Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong.
What started as a book of monologues about women’s experiences, or more correctly, the experience of being a woman, has transformed into V-Day, a global movement committed to the eradication of violence against women and girls. V-Day intends to achieve this goal through productions of The Vagina Monologues, as well as other activities, that raise awareness and funds for worthy organizations.
The importance of addressing the issue of violence against women cannot be underestimated. Statistically, every two and a half minutes a woman is sexually assaulted, with almost 60% of all assaults going unreported. Even more disturbing, 73% of assaults are committed by non-strangers, and younger women, ages 14–24, are the most likely to be assaulted.
Two productions of The Vagina Monologues will take place during the 2007 Toronto V-Day celebrations. Tanisha Taitt, producer of V-Day Toronto and director of this year’s Vagina Monologues, gives a glimpse of what to expect.


1Mar07_amber_ensler.jpg“This year’s production of The Vagina Monologues is all about the text. There have been productions in the past that have tried to incorporate some sort of “gimmick” with the set, costuming of the cast, etc. I made it my goal to focus entirely on the script. We have a wonderful pool of talent in the show, from professional actors to women taking the stage for the first time.”
The first will be on Saturday, March 3 at the Workman Theatre (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 1001 Queen Street West). This all-ages show will be hosted by Olivia Chow, M.P., and those between 14–18 are encouraged to attend. Tickets are $19.50 and the show starts at 5 p.m. (doors at 4:15 p.m.).
The second performance will be on Sunday, March 4 at The Phoenix Concert Theatre (410 Sherbourne Street). Hosted by Dr. Maria Shapiro, this show is 19+ and seems like the more scandalous of the two. The Toronto V-Day site states that “ID will be checked and admission denied to those under age of 19.” Tickets are $36.50 and the show starts at 5 p.m. (doors at 4:15 p.m.).
Performers include MuchMoreMusic host Traci Melchor, Rockstar: INXS finalist Tara Slone, Degrassi: The Next Generation actor Lauren Collins, local indie music darlings Simon Wilcox, Wendy Lands and Mia Sheard, and Stargate: SG1 star Amanda Tapping.
Taitt is also putting a new spin on V-Day by holding a benefit concert called Strike a Chord…Not a Woman, which features exclusively male performers in support of the eradication of violence against women.
“Unfortunately, when we hear about violence against women, we hear about men as the perpetrators. But there is never attention paid to the fact that they are also the dads, husbands, boyfriends, brothers and best friends who would do anything to protect the women in their lives,” Taitt explains.
1Mar07_amber_taitt2.jpg“I wanted to celebrate the amazing men that are out there who believe that violence against women is not only unacceptable but abhorrent. I’ve organized several benefit concerts in the past and find it a wonderful way to educate while entertaining people. We’re much more responsive to messages shared in song, or in between songs, than we are to being lectured.
“There are still guys out there who, unbelievably, think that hitting their girlfriends or wives is OK and asserts their manhood. But the exact opposite is true. All it does is display a terribly underdeveloped set of coping skills, a lack of empathy, humanity and a dreadful lack of self-respect. No one who truly has respect for himself reduces himself to savage behaviour.”
Strike a Chord…Not a Woman will take place Saturday, March 10 at the Workman Theatre and features Kevin Fox, Brian MacMillan, Jory Nash, Jonathan Seet, Royal Wood, and Matt York. Tickets cost $18.50 and the show starts at 7 p.m.
This year’s proceeds will go to the Anduhyaun Residence, a shelter for abused Native women and their children, with 10% going to the 2007 V-Day Spotlight, Women in Conflict Zones, which are several organizations assisting women victimized by violence in the Sudan, Iraq and the Congo.
Tickets for all events can be purchased at the door or on TicketWeb. To find out more about V-Day Toronto check out their website and for more statistics on violence against women click here.
Photos of Eve Ensler (left) and Tanisha Taitt (right).

Comments

  • AgentSanchez

    Meh… I abhor violence in all it’s forms, but do we really need to differentiate between the different kinds of violence out there? Seriously… I’m thinking of starting my own NPOs to counter violence against gays, homeless, and obnoxious people.

  • 2fruition

    >>I abhor violence in all it’s forms, but do we really need to differentiate between the different kinds of violence out there? Seriously… I’m thinking of starting my own NPOs to counter violence against gays, homeless, and obnoxious people.
    Let’s see. Violence against women is not just violence — it’s the abuse of social power that men have and women don’t. That’s why men have been able to get away with it for so long. It’s most often perpetrated by “friends” and family and often includes a component of sexual abuse. That’s a little bit different from a random person getting roughed up when mugged on the street. Violence against women, despite so often happening in private, is an overwhelmingly huge part of our culture. It has a special quality that we are better off addressing than ignoring.
    There are non-profits that address violence and lesbians/gay and the homeless too, and so there should be, because this violence has its own specific qualities and it too is specifically about the abuse of social power, rather than standard-grade barroom fisticuffs.
    As for violence against obnoxious people, well…

  • NeverGirl

    Violence against women is arguably different on the basis that there is a long history of treating women as a group that is less than human, ie not white, privileged men. This wonderful history also exists for people who are gay, homeless, not white, etc, but is unique for each group as there are different prejudices, which have arisen for different reasons, and with completely different histories.
    Women have been able to vote for less than 100 years, and equality laws (which have been making a huge splash in the news the last couple days regarding survivor benefits for gay couples) were only cemented in Canada in 1985.
    Just because the law says one thing and recent generations have grown up hearing about equality does not mean it fully exists, or that violence against women isn’t a huge problem that should be addressed. Look at the stats.
    V-Day is an organization started by a woman interested in what it means to be a woman and she can choose to support whatever she wants. V-Day is not responsible for ending all forms of violence against everyone at all times.
    It’s funny, people make the argument AgentSanchez has like they’re exposing some huge flaw, but where is your organization? What the hell are you doing? V-Day is probably the largest, globally recognized organization concerned with violence against women that is capturing the attention of everyday women and men through the huge success of The Vagina Monologue book and play, which you can see in just about every major city and on every major university campus. Not only that, the organization has raised a ton of money for very important and worthy causes.
    Violence against women and violence against other identifiable groups is a huge problem, one that needs a lot more help than V-Day can provide. thank god V-Day exists to make the difference it does. Otherwise all we’d have is wise cracking know-it-all’s who are more interested in criticism than getting off their asses and doing something.

  • Marc Lostracco

    All it does is display a terribly underdeveloped set of coping skills, a lack of empathy, humanity and a dreadful lack of self-respect. No one who truly has respect for himself reduces himself to savage behaviour.

    This statement is fantastic. Unfortunately, when doors are closed, too many women are stuck in horrible situations that take an incredible amount of strength to leave. People always wonder why victims just don’t walk out the door, but aside from the emotional and psychological issues, leaving often also means instability, poverty, and a fear for one’s safety—as necessary as leaving might me. The shame and stigma of being an abused partner also limits how people get help from themselves.
    Women who manage to escape abusive situations and break chains of abusive relationships should be honoured for their strength instead of ridiculed for perceived weakness. What breaks my heart is that people live out their entire lives imprisoned in violent relationships because it’s often so difficult to consider other options.

  • T Taitt

    Hello all,
    Just a reminder of the last event for V-Day 2007. This men are all incredibly beautiful artists and I can’t recommend them highly enough. If you haven’t heard of them, I guarantee you’ll leave a fan. The show is a NOW Magazine Critic’s Pick for this weekend so do check it out.

    STRIKE A CHORD… NOT A WOMAN
    The V-Day Men Benefit Concert
    Hosted by Diego Fuentes
    Kevin Fox · Brian MacMillan · Jory Nash · Jonathan Seet · Royal Wood · Matt York

    Saturday March 10th – 7 pm – $18.50 cash only at the door
    Workman Theatre, 1001 Queen West at Ossington
    Preceded by a screening of the award-winning V-Day documentary Until The Violence Stops at 5:30.
    Screening free with concert ticket purchase. Tickets available at the theatre beginning at 4:30 p.m.