Monday, March 10, 2008

Vaginas and Triathlons

Can you tell that coming up with blog titles is not one of my strengths?

Over the weekend, Jenna and I went to see the Vagina Monologues. We thought they were pretty good minus the crowd participation (cunt monologue) and creepy old guy listening to us talk about sex (actual event rather than a monologue.) My favorites were The Moaner and My Angry Vagina. Jenna made a great observation about the Angry Vagina performance - she noticed that the woman performing was wearing a tie. Although it looked damn cool, we couldn't help but see the tie as a symbol of masculinity, thus power. This monologue was intended to be the most "in your face," bold, and forceful; so why did she need the symbol of masculinity to achieve that? Could she have gotten the same message and attitude across in a dress? Masculinity and symbols of masculinity represent power and control to this day. Suits, ties, sports cars, swords, anything remotely phallic are all examples. Even "successful" and "powerful" women are those things in masculine terms (think Hillary Clinton and her pant suits...) So... Although her vagina was angry and her monologue was powerful and bold, i wish her vagina could have been angry in a frilly pink dress with lace.

Beans and I just got back from a 4-mile trail run, It was terrific :)
Now that the weather is warming up here in CT and i have two training partners (Jenna and Beans,) I don't have any more excuses for not completing a triathlon. I'm aiming for either July or Sept, depending on the tri we pick... My first race of the season is this weekend; Jenna and I are running the O'Niantic 5K in honor of St. Patty's Day :)

Sports, exercise, and staying active are incredibly important, especially for women and girls. Sports have been shown to help girls develop self-esteem and positive body image. I think it's crucial for girls to learn at a young age that their body is an entity of power and strength rather than sexuality and aesthetics. Yes, part of everyone's identity should absolutely be sexuality but girls and women are constantly hypersexualized in the media and when girls are bombarded with stereotypical images and nothing else, it's difficult to establish a balance. This is where staying active and participating in team sports comes in: teaches girls collaboration, competition, strength in their bodies, winning/losing, positive attitudes, etc. Smirking Cat posted about the benefits of sports for girls a while back, referencing the Women's Sports Foundation. Did you play sports as a kid? If so, how did they benefit you? How does staying active benefit you now, as an adult? ;)


Smirking Cat said...

I played sports with my brothers and then basketball and track (javelin) in school. I benefitted more from playing with my brothers; we were much more aggressive, and school sports felt very slow in comparison! I learned I was strong, aggressive, and a valuable team player. My brothers used to laugh knowingly when a new guy played ball with us and wondered about "the girl". They would step back and let me strike him out or steal the ball from him and teach him a thing or two :) So I also learned about sexist jerks very early on, and how to deal with 'em.

Girls and women need to learn what their bodies can DO, not just what they look like, or worry if their bodies meet some set of criteria. My criteria? Strong, powerful, and kick-ass.

PhD in Yogurtry said...

I played sports in HS (played in the state championship game, what a thrill!). The feeling of powerful effort and team building was incredible. We had hoards of guys come out and watch our games (field hockey) as well as the occasional cheerleading squad .. an awesome revearsal. I do believe it builds leadership skills and yes, as you say, the body as strength instead of aesthetics. I have sworn off buying my girls any fashion mag subscriptions. I think those had the worst lasting impact on my psychosexual development. Too much empahasis on how my body didn't match up, instead of focusing on my body's strengths.
Great title, btw!

PhD in Yogurtry said...

Re The Moaner, I never laughed so hard in my life! I related most personally to Because He Liked to Look at It. But found most poignant the old lady's story about being in the car with her date. Sadly, how many women live their the whole of their lives feeling shame or being shamed for perfectly normal vagina happenings. I wish every woman and every man could see this show.

Sarah J said...

Maybe she saw wearing a tie as subverting gender roles rather than as trying to be masculine. I mean, a skirt is what women were forced to wear for eons.

jay p said...

Actually I was going to make a similar comment as "Sarah J" up above me here. I was thinking pretty much exactly that, perhaps it wasn't so much her trying to assert a sense of power by symbolizing with so-called masculine objects, but instead a rebellion of what women have typically always been expected to wear. Also if you're looking for more running to do, don't forget about the 5K right there in your little town that is being arranged by me on April 12th in order to benefit abused, homeless, neglected, (etc.) children!
PS-Beans is looking adorable!! :)

jay p said...

Oh and I totally forgot, go to You Tube and look up Sally Kern and Ellen if you have not already seen the clip. It's an appalling rant by an elected member of Congress, it's so hard to believe that ignorance such as that still exists!!

FeministGal said...

Thanks J :) Don't worry, i'll be there! I'm trying to get others to run the race with me :)

Dark Daughta said...

"Although her vagina was angry and her monologue was powerful and bold, i wish her vagina could have been angry in a frilly pink dress with lace."

I think that perhaps she was trying to be subversive. But at the end of the day, what is this saying about what it means for wimmin to subvert gender roles and aesthetics if we are still trapped in binaries?

She could have done it up like a performance piece wearing some bizarre objet d'art that was neither masculinized or feminized. She could have worn a black or even neutrally coloured cloth robe...unh...or leaves or a body suit covered in velcroed on geometric shapes of different colours...

My examples aren't the best, but my point is that we can be a bit lazy when we think about what it means to question gender roles aesthetically.

There are options.