That Word... that word...

by Martha Thomas, Tofino


I never realized what a controversy "that word" is. Or maybe I just forgot, living here in Tofino where many parents teach their daughters the correct and anatomical name for their "private parts". They encourage the use of the word and support a healthy attitude toward it.

I forgot how it can intimidate people, make them blush or squirm in their seats.

Until the woman at the bookstore in Victoria became flustered, nervous and shy when I asked her help in locating a book that has "that word" in the title. I didn't understand. I could see why my brother in law became uncomfortable talking about the book and having that word tossed around so casually. I could understand hearing other men say they liked the book but felt a bit overwhelmed by it. But this woman in the book store, why was she so uncomfortable? Did she not have one herself?
I found the book I was looking for in the Women's studies section and upon reading it I became more aware of the issues around "that word." And not just around that word, but the whole thing. I read women's stories that made me laugh, cry, turned my stomach and put a big smile on my face. I began to see the importance of this book. I saw the significance of it becoming a play for others to see. I developed a great respect for the author Eve Ensler and the whole V-day movement that she initiated.

The V-day movement was born in New York, in 1998 and is one of pure purpose; to stop the violence toward women and girls. This is done by bringing communities together to raise awareness of women's issues and to raise funds for organizations that work to keep women and children safe. The movement itself has become worldwide and on this International Women's Day, March 8, Tofino will join in.

Some of our phenomenal local women (there are many more out there!) will be putting on a production of this powerful play. We will share these eclectic women's stories and be their voices.
There are stories of women from all over the world and they will stir you. They may shock you, make you laugh, or cry, or both. There are accounts of self-realization and wonderment as women discover, uncover, and re-connect to themselves. There are stories of women's pains and traumas, their narration, an attempt to heal and be heard. Most of all these stories raise awareness about women's issues and the violence that has existed toward women and girls.

We'd like to think that we have evolved beyond such violence. That the women's movement, feminism and the new age goal of world peace would have put an end to these tragedies, yet violence toward women and girls still exists. This needs to change. And it will not change by keeping that word locked up in our vocabulary and our eyes closed to the women of the world. These anecdotes have been brought forth to wake people up. Open them up; words to touch and move them. Perhaps even to make them a bit more comfortable with "that word."
And so, we invite you. We encourage you. We dare you, men and women alike. Come out and experience this mind expanding play. Leave your fears and inhibitions at home. Get ready for that word. Be prepared to be excited about that word. Come and join the movement, get involved, donate and get ready for some "no holds barred" fun. I ask you West Coasters out there... are you ready? Are your minds open? You may consider yourself politically correct, environmentally friendly, and pet and dolphin friendly even. But are you and will you become, vagina friendly????

The Vagina Monologues, a play by Eve Ensler will be performed on International Women's Day, March 8th with successive showings, March 10, 11, 17 and 18, at the Clayoquot Community Theatre. Show time is 8:00. Look for tickets around our towns. Copies of Eve Ensler's book, The Vagina Monologues will be for sale during performances. There will also be an outreach booth to provide support and information about our community resources such as the Women's transition house and society. Funds raised through silent auctions and ticket sales will be donated; 10% to the worldwide V-day movement, with 90% going to our local West Coast Community Resource Centre.

Please keep in mind that subject matter is mature and is not suitable for all ages. Hope to see you out there.

Martha Thomas practices Reiki in Tofino. She is now developing her acting career.

Tofino Time March 2006

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