Cartoon hearts have usurped storefront windows. Pink boxes of chocolates crowd prime aisle real estate. Valentine’s Day draws near.
This day has been dressed in many different meanings. Its origin, in the martyr of Saint Valentine of Terni, Italy, had nothing to do with romance. The association of Feb. 14 with lovers came through a historical rewrite that was popularized by poets from Chaucer on.
Today, Valentine’s in Asia has moved from a day to a whole season. Beginning on Feb. 14 and punctuated by March 14 (White Day; when the gents give out the candy) and April 14 (Black Day, when lonely singles, candyless, eat bowls of jajangmyeon and hope for better 14th’s to come).
Over the last 17 years the Valentine’s season has been redressing, once again.
In 1994 a Ms. Eve Ensler launched an internationally acclaimed play called “The Vagina Monologues.” The play is based on dozens of interviews Ensler conducted with women from all walks of life. The content explores women’s sexuality and the social stigma surrounding rape and abuse. The monologues—heartbreaking, funny and honest—have inspired a new dialogue surrounding women’s issues.
On Valentine’s Day in 1998, Ensler, with a group of women in New York City, established V-Day. On this day (and throughout February, March and April) Ms. Ensler allows groups of women around the world to produce performances of her play. All proceeds from the play go to local projects and programs that work to end violence against women and girls. There are now over 5,400 V-Day events annually.
This year, for the first time, Jeju will host a V-Day event. Spear-headed by Miriah Lawrence, the play will feature 17 expats. Ninety percent of profits raised from the play will go to “Rights for Women in Jeju.” The remaining 10 percent of proceeds will be given to V-Day’s spotlight campaign, this year to “The City of Joy.” The city is a compound in Bukavu, Congo, Africa. Women, mostly rape victims, go there to take courses (in self-defense, computers and human rights), learn trades and farming skills and to try and exorcise their traumas.
“I have been a part of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ for the past 5 years,” said Lawrence, who has coordinated and co-directed this year’s production of the play. “Stopping violence against women and girls is very important to me, so anything I can do, I will do.”
Brady Paron, co-director of the play, shares the same sentiments as Lawrence. “The stories are about women, but the campaign needs the support of both sexes. Men need to take a stand on violence against women. Whether you are directing, working behind the scenes, or showing up to support friends as they speak powerfully about their vaginas, this is a fantastic and entertaining way to get involved in the cause.”
The play will only have one showing at Haebyun Concert Hall on Feb. 26, at 8 p.m. Tickets are 5,000 won at the door. Further financial donations are appreciated, and will be accepted after the show.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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