Public Action/Performance: Reading The #VaginaBlogs in Union Square Monday Night

It’s been a week since I first heard about Vaginagate; just four days days since one of my personal heroes performed her groundbreaking and award-winning play The Vagina Monologues in Michigan, in theatrical protest of the censure of two women representatives on the floor of the State House.

Over the weekend and through the day on Monday, I organized a solidarity action with a group of women in New York City; internet participants contributed links to their own #VaginaBlogs, speaking out about what had happened and how it related to women’s health and women’s issues in America today.

I arrived in Union Square with a colleague who had volunteered to come along, though she didn’t intend to read. There, we eventually found @ItsMeMarisol and her daughter, as well as @gavechase, @storygirlsarah, and one of the editors of The Veillee Blog. It was about twenty minutes past six on Monday night in Union Square – a bustling, busy time – and we didn’t have signs and we didn’t have an amplifier. Plenty of people had shown interest in the event, and we weren’t sure how to find them. There was one woman standing and looking around near the corner I’d tweeted we’d be waiting at, and the group sent me over to see if she was looking for us.

About five steps away from her, I suddenly jerked to a stop when I heard:

“VAGINA! VAGINA! VAGINA!”

The girl looked up – but she wasn’t the only one. Heading back to the group, we quickly decided the shout made for the perfect punctuation; we’d shout the chant three times, then we’d head into the first blog entry. Then we’d shout again. Then we’d read some more.

We stood in Union Square and read out the blogs that had been written: blogs by mothers, by clergy, by straight white guys, by poets, and by other – well, Ensler called them “Sheroes” during her speech on the State steps (thanks to the commenter who left a link on my previous VaginaBlogs post).

As we read, a crowd gathered. As one woman observed to me afterwards, it was mostly men who were stopping and listening – but they were listening, not leering or heckling. And the women who stopped were smiling and nodding and staying, too. From the crowd, a young woman walked up to us wearing a white t-shirt that read: “I <3 MICHIGAN VAGINAS!” She looked thrilled. I asked her if she’d like to join us; she accepted immediately, grabbed a blog entry, and jumped into line.

Once I finished reading Vagina Vagina Vagina, we shouted our chant again and moved on to  @ItsMeMarisol’s daughter. Then @ItsMeMarisol herself; this was when something amazing happened: another woman in the audience walked up to me and asked what we were doing. I explained, mentioning Eve Ensler’s performance. At the mention of Ensler’s name, the woman looked shocked. They knew each other. I was shocked; talk about a sign. (And yes, before you ask, when I got home I did my homework – she was legit.)

As we read, a crowd gathered. People approached us, asked questions. One man stood seriously for several minutes, reading to himself from Sare Liz Gordy’s blog on the idea of the Universal Feminine Painbody.

We read for about 45 minutes. It was an amazing experience. Due to noise issues, recording video didn’t work too well – but I’ll try to grab some captures from the one video that did survive and post them some time soon.

@ItsMeMarisol and I have discussed having another action in NYC, and several more bloggers have posted #vaginablogs in response to the call for work. If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to check out the blogs that have already posted, and if you wish, to contribute yourself.

Thank you to everyone who contributed, everyone who’s read, and everyone still to post #vaginablogs. Let’s keep this conversation going.

Photos of the event from @gavechase: bit.ly/11LVtiI