I was witness to something extraordinary last night. Truly extraordinary.
Lovely Passionate Feminist (LPF), who will turn 21 this week, landed a major role in The Vagina Monologues. She's been part of this play for each of her three years in college, but been part of the chorus or a trio. This time, she had her own monologue: Crooked Braid.
For those of you who don't know--and I didn't until LPF got involved in this--The Vagina Monologues is produced on college campuses every year around Valentine's Day. The reason? To draw attention to violence against women. It is a powerful, powerful play, based on the interviews conducted by Eve Ensler. (Not sure if that's Ensler pictured above or not, but that's the photo on the website). When Ensler asked women about their vaginas, many of them took that opportunity to speak to her of that which is at the center of their being as women. They spoke of their pain, their joyous breakthroughs as human and therefore sexual beings, their deepest desires, the miracle of their embodiment, and...yes, again, their pain.
LPF's monologue was that of a Native American woman. She spoke of being married to a man who beat her. Beat her to a bloody pulp, then apologized, then was unfaithful and blamed her, then beat her again, sometimes almost killing her. A cycle of violence, which, we learn, was witnessed by her husband against his own mother, and which has been witnessed by their own son, so the cycle continues. After we have witnessed this woman's individual story of brutal cruelty, the monologue ends with words signifying her understanding of the context of Native American peoples and how that context has emasculated many of their men-- and how, of course, she has, in her very body, born the brunt of that violent sociocultural emasculation.
The monologue itself is so important. But it is not what I meant when I wrote that I witnessed something extraordinary.
It felt to me that I witnessed LPF move into herself last night. Perhaps I am projecting. Perhaps if she reads this she will not resonate with it. Still...my intuition is strong.
LPF is passionate about issues of social justice (as is her sister, btw--it's gorgeous to see and hear them give voice to their passion). LPF stood up there last night and told this woman's story, and believe me, the whole audience was in rapt attention because LPF WAS this woman: standing proud against that which sought to make her a victim; righteously angry in the midst of an intention to beat the anger out of her; and so incredibly articulate in the face of the Unspeakable.
Finding our passion goes a long, long way toward fashioning our sense of self. When we allow ourselves to be passionate, we experience the triumph of love over fear. (And fear is the biggest culprit in a weak sense of self.)
Like all of us, Lovely Passionate Feminist has known pain in her young life. What I witnessed last night tells me she is not allowing it to determine her. She is transforming it toward the good, the strong, and that which is true for her. I am privileged to bear witness to this.
As we all stood in the aisle of the auditorium last night, congratulating her, talking and laughing, I suddenly felt as if I were saying goodbye to the LPF I have known. Tears stung my eyes. She is leaving childhood behind her. Vestiges of it will remain, of course, as is true for all of us, but last night I felt like I actually witnessed part of the movement, the transformation. I felt true and deep joy, but it was a bit painful, too, for now she must confront the inevitable pain of living without the "cover" of childhood innocence. (Does that make sense? As is often the case with powerful experiences, I'm finding it difficult to articulate the feeling.)
Well, anyway---One more thing. Speaking of my daughters by marriage, I'm going to need to find another name for Beautiful Genuine Musician--she told us yesterday that she is changing her major from music to Ethics. She wants to study social ethics. I was just blown away and so very happy for her.
Wow. WOW. WOW.
As always, I am so grateful to be in the lives of all of my children-by-marriage and their significant others.