Rocking the Vagina Monologues Experience Chapin Style

I had never seen the Vagina Monologues before but it’s safe to say that I had a pretty good idea about what this type of play would consist of: vaginas, sex, orgasms, lack of orgasms, etc.  Sure, it’s invigorating to discuss these topics among American women but I kind of felt like it was preaching to the choir; to speak to the true meaning of the Vagina Monologues I felt it necessary to bring along women who continue to see sex as too taboo to discuss: my counterparts.  When else would I have the opportunity to take Guatemalans to a candid and somewhat flamboyant celebration of female sexuality!?  I mentioned to my counterpart that we should watch a play that deals with women’s issues in Antigua and she excitedly asked our mayor to give us a ride.  To my surprise, he agreed and even said that he’d join us and make it a day trip. 

I was sure that the mayor was going to cancel on us last minute because, well, it’s Guatemala and it turned out he did cancel but luckily he sent his wife in his place.  So five-thirty a.m. rolled around and we were bumping around the twists and curves on the road to leave Canillá.  Thus began our ladies’ day out, my counterpart (a Ladina women in her mid-twenties), my other counterpart (an Indigenous woman also in her mid-twenties), the mayor’s wife (Ladina and perhaps in her forties) and our muni driver (super machista man with plenty of mistresses and in his early thirties).

After some sightseeing in Antigua, I dropped the bomb at lunch, “So this play might be a little fuerte because it’s about women and sex and sexuality so yea just warning you ahead of time.” Immediately the muni driver starts laughing and exclaims “Shit, I’m going to wake up tomorrow with a husband after these girl’s day out activities and this play”. 

We walked over to the small but cute theater and I handed them their tickets. My nervousness increased; what if the play doesn’t include enough Spanish? What if they think this is wildly inappropriate? What if they want to walk out in the middle of the play?  I noticed that they were pointing at the ticket and snickering to each other. “¿Qué pasa?”  I ask.  My counterpart points to the word “Vagina” with a giggle and perplexed look on her face. “¡Les dije!” and I shrug my shoulders jokingly back at them. “Here goes nothing” I think to myself. 

The volunteers did an amazing job putting together the play and it was a perfect blend of Spanish, English, laughter, seriousness and interesting facts (did you know the female clitoris has twice as many nerve endings as the entire male penis!? 8,000 vs. 4,000 for a man; did you also know that in January of 2011 a woman was raped every day that month in the department of Alta Verapaz?) The best part of the entire day/event was the reaction of my counterparts. They seemed pumped, energized, totally on board with the fact that it is incredibly sad how women do not talk about their vaginas or their sex lives. They also called me out.  “Carolina, you totally didn’t mention what this play was about on purpose until right before hand huh? You’re sneaky!” to which I replied that there was a little bit of truth to that statement but I honestly thought if I had mentioned what the play was truly about, no one would have been interested. They definitely acknowledged that and also acknowledged the fact that never in their lives did they think they’d see a play about vaginas. It was especially interesting to see the reaction of our muni driver during the play he laughed along with everyone else, he was most intrigued by the orgasm moaning skit, and he didn’t fall asleep during the entire play which must have meant he was paying attention (and who knows perhaps it even made him think! Gasp! Perhaps for once he thought about his wife and pleasing her instead of just his, well, his “self”). We got in the car and discussed the possibility of starting our own girls groups to help empower young women before it’s too late, we made vagina jokes, we bonded.  Even the day after, my counterparts were still discussing the play and how true it is that we don’t talk about sexuality. Calidad!

I hope, even if it’s in a miniscule way, that my counterparts remember our day in Antigua and that it inspires them in some way: whether it’s being more open about their sexuality, sharing the experience with other women or, hell, inspiring them to have better sex.  What matters is that we achieved the goal of the Vagina Monologues…we talked about it!  

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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.