Tuesday, June 7, 2011

City of Joy, and discussing penises

This is a wonderful interview I just heard about a women's support center being opened in DRC. It's being put together by V-Day, and other local organizations in the Congo. V-Day is an anti-Violence Against Women organization put together by Eve Ensler, the author of the Vagina Monologues. Something like this can never be successful without the help of the "other local organizations" but I don't have easy access to their websites, (if they exist), to give credit to them by name.

Domestic violence and rape activism was something I did in a pre-grad school incarnation. Stories like this warm my heart.

In my post entering graduate school life, Eve Ensler turned a lousy day into a great story.

There were a bunch of us sitting around after lunch in the lounge, trying to avoid grading, or our own homework, or whatever work we had lined up. Somehow the discussion turned to a public figure's pennis. (Don't ask me how.) The conversation bounced around the room, getting raunchier, as these conversations tend to, ... until I added to the discussion, at which point it screeched to a halt. I think everyone suddenly realized that there was a non-pennis wielding member of the department present, and I realized that I was the only such person in the room.

I went home feeling very dirty, and realizing that this was the first time in my career that I'd been made to feel unwelcome among my academic peers because of my gender. The obvious answer to my mental slump was to read the Vagina Monologues for the first time. When I later related my reaction to the incident to a friend who was at the discussion, I was met with a lack of understanding of why women needed a space to be able to talk about their sexual organs. After all, men don't need a separate space to talk about theirs. He wasn't able to explain the general discomfort in that room to my earlier comments either.

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