This post is a departure from my usual writing, but I felt moved to share my experience with you. I recently attended a performance of “The Vagina Monologues” directed by Stevie Rae Stephens. After my interview with Stevie Rae a few weeks ago, I wanted to see the production that had such a profound impact on her life. I knew a little about what to expect from my interview, but I also was curious if I would be the only man in the audience. The collection of stories presented were funny, sad, and infuriating.
There were some light-hearted moments where everyone laughed. There were a few times when I thought something was funny, but nobody else laughed. On those occasions, I wondered if I was wrong for being amused. The stories of abuse were incredibly sad, but also infuriating to think that any man thinks he has a right to control a woman and exert power over them.
The show gave me perspective on what it is like living in this world as a woman. The shaming culture society has perpetrated on women has allowed injustice to occur over and over. When powerful men take advantage of women, and nothing happens other than they lose their job, that is not okay! Women who face domestic violence, and think it is their fault, please know it is not. Every human being is responsible for their actions. At the end of the show, they ask you to stand if you know anyone who has been a victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault, nearly the entire audience was standing. That gave me pause, to think about how we change our thinking when it comes to women, their upbringing, and how we treat them in our society. Women, be confident in your abilities and who you are. Show the world your beauty inside and out. Men, some of us need to get over ourselves and recognize that women don’t need our permission to be amazing, they are. As men, we should support the women in our lives, to live a life in which they can indeed be themselves without fear of being marginalized by those around them.
While I have always thought of myself as a gentleman, this performance made me pause to reflect on my interactions with women over the years. I can recall instances when I was less than respectful in the words I have used. While I never intended to offend a woman or make her feel like she is less of a person, I recognize that I may have done so. If any woman reading this knows me, if I ever wronged you somehow, please know that I am deeply sorry for my actions that caused you pain. Even though I acknowledge my imperfections as a man, I also have tried to protect women around me from other men. When I date a woman, I want her to feel safe with me. I want her to be able to be herself around me and not fear that I am trying to take advantage of her. Dating in my forties, and for the first time in 17 years is a daunting task. I want to project confidence without being a jerk. It is important to be appropriately aggressive so that a woman understands your intentions but to do so in a manner that is respectful. In my quest to be mindful of her needs as well as my own, I must find that balance.
Every woman and man should see “The Vagina Monologues,” at least once. It has made a profound impact on how I see women, and I will stand with women in this world, so they are never made to feel like they are less because they are a woman. I will stand against domestic violence and sexual assault. Our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, daughters deserve our support since nobody would have lived without them.