Ooh, it’s such a beautiful Sunday! Admittedly, I skipped church this afternoon. With the sun shining, people playing outside and children riding their unicycles, I felt more at peace spending the day walking around in the sun, doing a little grocery shopping to BBQ on a deck of my building tonight with Renee, and sitting on my bed next to my giant window reading and writing. As I look out on this gorgeous day it makes me miss home, yet also makes me feel grateful to be here.
Last night Renee and I traveled to Itaewon to see The Vagina Monologues. I’ve gone to this performance a few times during college, and I was so excited to hear that it had come to Korea. For those of you who don’t know what the Vagina Monologues are, they’re performances by women retelling the stories of women who were interviewed about their lady parts. Some stories were sad – about the genital mutilation that goes on in areas of Africa, about women who were raped, about women sold into sexual slavery and used as “comfort women” during times of war. Other stories were happy and hilarious – discovering how to have an orgasm for the first time, reclaiming the word cunt, a sex worker who loves to make women moan (whilst demonstrating a triple orgasm with all the moans combined), and many more inspirational, funny and heartbreaking monologues. We got to Roofers, the bar where it was held, about ten minutes after the doors had opened and it was PACKED. We stood for most of the two hour performance, but it was completely worth it. I walked away with a shirt that reads “If your vagina could talk, what would it say?” and a chocolate vagina on a stick. All of the proceeds of this event went to The House of Sharing, which houses and provides therapy for the Korean Comfort Women who were used by the Japanese soldiers during WWII. These women range in age from 80-90 something years old, and their dying wish is to get a formal apology from the Japanese government. So far their wishes have not been granted.
All of this talk of vagina might make you all a bit uncomfortable, and that’s understandable. But it’s MORE than just the physical part of the body that is being discussed. This is the part of a woman that differs from any man on earth, obviously. These stories are about women who have found themselves and found love in themselves – beyond just physical satisfaction. One of my best friends lived in a house during college with seven or so other female roommates. Throughout their house they had walls dedicated to vaginas. They would ask, “How is your vagina feeling today?” and give you a piece of paper and art supplies to create. Pictures ranged from swirls to trees to faces to erratic lines. Of course they weren’t exactly asking “How do your lady parts physically feel at this moment?” but rather, “How is your soul as a woman today?” I love this idea and practice, and it’s not a man-bashing thing either. It’s a woman thing, bottom line. It has nothing to do with men.
One of my favorite artists is Georgia O’Keeffe, and she is known for painting vaginas. They come mostly in the form of flowers, and I have always found her work beautiful. In fact, the header of my blog is part of one of her paintings (surprise!!).
Basic moral of this blog: love your parts. Whether you are a man or a woman, find the love in yourself beyond just your personality and your likes/dislikes. Be proud of who you are, where you come from, and LOVE YOUR BODY. Stop hating and picking at yourself – your body is capable of AMAZING things, and you never know how beautiful and astonishing your physicality is until it starts to fail.
I leave you with a poem by Martha Serpas I found a few years ago, and it has stuck with me since.
We hated the early anatomists
for showing us how fragile we are,
how God’s imagine is composite:
the liver the bright bruise of a sunset,
the thyroid wrapped around our throats
for luck. They saw our brains folded
against our foreheads and knew our hearts
pump dumbly on through the wash.
And wily guts take the brunt of it,
pushing to get rid of while we insist
on taking in and taking in and taking in.
Theirs was heresy, that is, a choice
to reach the Artist by testing the art,
human suffering always the requisite cost.
Change, what keeps all of it the same,
the Teacher says, no new thing
under the sun. What we make, let’s make old
instead, older than the first tool,
which smelled much like the body —
the first blacksmith must have thought —
not quite like displaced blood, but blood at home
in its place among other parts in their places,
and that must be how we began to confuse
the power to examine and change
with the power to create, to be discrete agents,
why we like to see ourselves as whole,
despite the diener pilings legs on a cot,
despite the pruned artery, tired and cut.