On the topic of sexuality, voices are silenced. Speaking out about sexual desires is considered improper for women and much more alarmingly, speaking out against violence towards women—as survivors of it or as supporters of survivors—is difficult, for the pain and suffering is all too much to relive the ordeals. However, through theater, these stories of women exploring their sexuality and surviving sexual assault, war, and domestic violence can be told boldly and with absolutely nothing held back. Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues goes deep into the varied experiences of the female organ, and performers and activists from the Asian Pacific American community went all out in their recent opportunity to honor the strength and courage of women everywhere, even in the face of adversity.
In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and V-Day San Francisco co-presented a landmark production of The Vagina Monologues on May 17th at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theater. Under the direction of Gabrielle Patacsil, the all-Asian Pacific American cast of women from different walks of life came together to perform in this very special presentation, the first by the only national, multi-issue Asian and Pacific Islander women’s organization in the country. Proceeds benefited the Bay Area chapter of NAPAWF and V-Day.
For many of the APA women performers, including Connie Chung, who works at the Asian Women’s Shelter in San Francisco, participating in the production was a valuable chance to address taboo issues amongst the community.
“In media and arts and entertainment, Asian-Americans have such a small presence because of the different barriers that don’t allow them to take front stage,” said Chung. “To have a discussion about sexuality and empowerment is so important, so to bring those two together is such a rare opportunity.”