May 17 was VDay on the Shore, the sixth VDay at The Old School in Musquodoboit Harbour. VDay is an art show, a silent auction, a costume party, and an empowering event through dance, stories, and songs. It is also a celebration of women’s bodies, and an acknowledgement of the difficulties women face and have faced in this community and in communities around the world.
On Saturday evening there were original stories, music and dance performed by women from the community. There was a composite story created by those who read and adapted monologues from Eve Ensler’s award winning play, The Vagina Monologues. There were harrowing stories of abuse, loss, survival, resilience, scars, joy, rage, solidarity, and hope against all odds.
It’s impossible to recount all the hilarity, scorching satire, intelligent poetry, and tears of joy from this singular evening, but here are a few examples.
After hearing Fur is Back, Michele’s bitter satire and plea for action, it’s impossible to make small talk, party talk.
After Laurel’s dance, the sound and shock of her body hitting the floor, a visual and visceral metaphor for violent encounters with men, it is hard to uncoil the mind and heart from the level of brutality many women face daily.
Jennica’s angry and impassioned cry against the silencing of her voice, of all women’s voices, and the theft and disappearance of women’s bodies brought everyone to their feet.
Susan’s story, Our Choice, asked for accountability and responsibility, and vitality and good vibrations. It was remarkable for the risk taking and truth it contained, and the movement from pain and betrayal to a complex state of joy, receptivity, and rootedness. It asked for acceptance at the same time as not forgetting or forgiving those who hurt you deeply and the price you pay when you remain silent and alone.
Jude’s story and her T-shirt with the printed words, Still Sane, showed how heroically sane she is, and how heroically sane all of the performers are. They forcefully demonstrated that sanity isn't a given or a steady state, not something you have, but something you work at, like a balancing act. It takes sensitivity, nuance, skill, and an ability to pick yourself up when you fall. There will always be losses of balance. There will always be the opportunity to rise up.
It’s getting better. The Old School was packed. And there were three men at this year’s VDay. Last year there were only two. It’s getting better.
To put VDay on the Shore in perspective, there are V–Days all over the planet, in every country where the cycle of progress and backlash operates. Yes, there have been hard won victories both small and large. And those victories need to be celebrated and defended. For everyone in that room in The Old School, there was a sense of sharing knowledge, sharing joy, and passing strength on to younger women in the struggle for women’s rights as human rights. And all of us shared the same deep concern in this present climate of intolerance, wondering how our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren will be affected.
Is it getting better? Come to VDay #7 in 2018. It will be a celebration for both women and men.