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Calling for conversation

Lauren Price | Monday, February 9, 2004

Little has appeared in Viewpoint about why many subjects in “The Vagina Monologues” – however offensive to younger brothers – must be discussed. “Telling the story” is how we claim control and recover from sexual violence. Eve Ensler herself was abused as a child, and now “Monologues” gives others unprecedented social permission to talk and heal. Maybe my story can provide a new perspective. I was molested by older teenage boys, at 14 and 15. That pain poisoned my trust and burst the innocence of my worldview. It’s taken five years – sobbing cathartically last year at “Monologues,” blessed with amazing friendships – to recover to where I talk openly about those shadows which swallowed my identity. So many women (and men) have been used for their bodies. You know. It hurts. But now I know: almost-aggressive-joy (as in “My Short Skirt”) is exactly that confidence we deserve to have in the beauty and power of our bodies, saying, “This va-va-voom is not yours to take. You must earn my trust and love to merit my freely gifted goodness.”Sexual self-possession isn’t an endpoint; real love is mutual self-gift. But that short-skirt, radiant self-confidence is a prophetic sign of when we won’t fear or wield our body’s power, and thus love without jealousy or greed. Whether starting with the Monologues or Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” my point remains: we need to start talking about our bodies, about the damage that has been done and the wholeness which can bloom from the wreckage. Ideally, no one would feel the need to stand on stage and shout that women should be respected as self-realizing individuals. But it’s a place to start the serious conversations. Listen to the real issues behind the entertainment. And they’re supposed to provoke. Literature isn’t a “how-to” manual; you don’t read Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” and then eat Irish babies.Seriously. One in four women will be sexually abused by the time she leaves college. Please. Listen. Think. Ask. Pray. Be not afraid to talk. See the mosaic, chiaroscuro reality of post-Eden, post-Easter sexuality. And let’s start making ours a culture where the darkness of fear dissolves into light: a culture of life.

Lauren PriceseniorMcGlinn HallFeb. 8