When Ellen DeGeneres hosted the Emmys this past fall, she asked in her introduction, "What would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?" We've got a hunch: a single day featuring hundreds of performances of Eve Ensler's Obie Award-winning play The Vagina Monologues, in which all kinds of women--lesbian, hetero, white, black, teen-age, senior, blue-collar, high-dollar--talk frankly about their vaginas.
Of course, you don't have to be Taliban, or even male, to cringe at the word "vagina." Ensler herself admits this. She says in the play, "Doesn't matter how many times you say it, it never sounds like a word you want to say. It's a totally ridiculous, completely unsexy word." Then she adds to that a roll call of equally unsexy euphemisms--from pooki to Mimi--making it a no-holds-barred wince-fest.
But no matter the preferred nickname, Ensler just wants people to talk about vaginas. To aid in this, she helped start V-Day, a worldwide celebration of vaginas on Valentine's Day and a way to earn money for organizations that support women who have been raped, abused by partners, enslaved or had their genitals mutilated. Anybody (but mainly theater companies and college groups) can stage a reading of The Vagina Monologues and donate the money to local, national or even international charities that help victims of violence. And just like Ensler's now infamous topic, each benefit is unique.