“We have been doing this work for a long time in the women’s movement only for us to hear our president, including (President Donald) Trump and other world leaders, normalizing violence against women.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
The V-Day Movement is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and they are celebrating it in the Philippines with the restaging of The Vagina Monologues, this time a Filipino version of the monologue will also be performed.
One Billion Rising global director and theater actress Monique Wilson said that the restaging of the play is a direct response to President Duterte’s hateful remarks against women. She said Duterte is almost the main representation of what misogyny and sexism looks like.
“As artists and activists, we can no longer be quiet. We have been doing this work for a long time in the women’s movement only for us to hear our president, including (President Donald) Trump and other world leaders, just normalizing violence against women,” she said in a press conference last July 30.
The V-day Movement is a global movement to end violence against women and girls initiated by playwright and activist Eve Ensler. The V-day started staging The Vagina Monologues (TVM) in 1998, a play was written by Ensler following her interviews with 200 women talking about their experiences from one’s sexuality to violence committed against them. The V-Day stages the play royalty-free to raise funds for the victims of violence against women. The V-day then gave birth to the One Billion Rising, which is also in its seventh year.
The artists playing in TVM include satirist and member of #BabaeAko campaign Mae Paner, stage actress Missy Maramara and Wilson. It is directed by Thea Tadiar, also a stage actress, teacher and women’s rights activist. The play is produced by New Voice Company executive producer Rossana Abueva who also has produced a number of TVM benefit performances here and abroad.
Strengthening women’s voice
In a time when there is a blatant disregard for women by the country’s president, there is a need to show that women will not take it sitting down, said Paner adding that the political situation in the Philippines compels women to stand up.
“We are in a context that makes TVM relevant especially now. Our president, his daughter (Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte), Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the Marcoses, many of them are women and they are unruly (“pasaway”). That is why we have to stand up against them,” Said Paner in Filipino.
Meanwhile, Tadiar said that it is imperative that shows such as TVM should be produced continually especially in a situation when there are leaders “blatantly degrading and humiliating women in such a casual fashion.”
Joms Salvador, Gabriela secretary general said art is also a space to discuss social and political issues “that we so badly need to discuss especially in our context now when misogyny and sexism are blatant.”
Salvador said the present time needs shows such as the TVM to politicize the younger generation to understand why women rise and dir them to stand up too against misogyny.
Art as a tool for raising awareness
Wilson also shared their struggles in promoting and staging TVM, especially when there were no sponsors and promotion was challenging as no publication would agree to print the word vagina.
But years later after a number of shows in different venues, Wilson saw the acceptance of the people and how it has raised awareness and understanding of how women feel about their body and the trials they endure when they are being violated.
TVM was staged at the House of Representatives through then Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza in 2003 and eventually at the Senate.
“We do TVM mainly to raise awareness and fight for justice. You can see what the play does, it opens consciousness and at the same time empowers women,” said Wilson.
Wilson encouraged women viewers to also bring the men in their lives to see the show. “We need to be clear, this is not a show only for women. You need to bring your boyfriends, husbands and uncles because women don’t rape themselves, don’t violate themselves. We need to change the consciousness also of men and there are many good men around us now like the ones who are in the V-Men Movement,” said Wilson, but added that there is still more work to be done to get more men involved in the movement.
The play will run on August 11 at 8:00 p.m. and on August 12 at 3:00 p.m. at the Carlos P. Romulo Theatre, RCBC Plaza, Makati. The August 11 run will be in English and the Filipino version will run on August 12. This will be attended by the Lumad from Mindanao, said Wilson.