This is a copy of Andrea Hoang’s, McClung’s Assistant Editor, story in the Ryersonian.
Hoorah for more women’s groups on campuses!!
Virginia Tran loves vagina.
Sure, those flowery, fleshy folds of pinkish skin provide a multitude of sensory pleasures and sensations.
But Tran says there’s more to love of the female organ than just that.
“I respect the vagina,” said the 23-year-old freelance artist. “It inspires me. The vagina is the creator, it brings life. The
woman’s womb has to be respected; it’s a universal law and truth.”
It’s Friday night at the Ram in the Rye and Tran, known to everyone as “V,” is preparing for the night’s Mr. Vagina-Friendly contest.
Tables packed with merchandise are set up along the wall facing the bar. Spectators and passersby can purchase copies of The Vagina Monologues, and T-shirts and pins with the slogans “I love my vagina,” and “I love her vagina.”
The ledge at the back of the room holds an assortment of goodies – health class-style diagrams of the female anatomy, lubrication, a coffee jar full of condoms, and pink Play-Doh – props and materials that will be used later on for the evening’s planned activities.
The night’s festivities are held by V-Day, a club new to Ryerson this year. The “V” in V-Day stands for vagina, valentine and victory.
Birthed in 1998, the organization, which has chapters all over the world, advocates the awareness of violence against women and girls through hosting events and fundraising for local and international causes.
Each year has a spotlight cause, and this year’s focus is the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where women are being used as weapons of war.
Tran went to Taiwan three years ago to travel and to teach English and art. On a whim, she went along with a friend to audition for a part in The Vagina Monologues – a play written by Eve Ensler, who is also the founder of V-Day.
She was surprised and a little shocked when she got the part in the play, but even more surprised at how much she didn’t know about her own vagina, and that inspired her to join the feminist movement.
Tran was so motivated by her work with V-Day in Taiwan that she knew she had to spread the word when she returned home.
Instead of joining the Toronto group, she turned to Ashley, her 20-year-old sister, and together they started a new chapter.
This way, the Trans could have total creative control of their projects. With some help from the Ryerson Women’s Centre and the Ryerson Students’ Union, V-Day at Ryerson was conceived late last semester.
Back at the Ram, Dane Cameron is vying to be crowned Mr. Vagina-Friendly – sort of.
“My girlfriend signed me up for this, unbeknownst to me,” he said. The 23-year-old engineering office worker sheepishly said he merely knows the basics of getting around vagina-land.
He asks the bartender for a coffee. He’ll “need something” to get him through the night.
The coffee pots get turned off at eight, and unfortunately, it’s nearly nine. He settles for water instead.
“I just hope I don’t have to sing or anything,” he says nervously.
V-Day has been in Toronto for eight years. The city has its own chapter, and there are branches at other schools such as the University of Toronto and Queen’s.
But while their presences have gone widely unnoticed, V-Day at Ryerson is hoping to make some big vibrations.
Tran says some clubs have rocky beginnings, but Mr. Vagina-Friendly will be the third successful event for V-Day at Ryerson.
They have already organized an open-mike and a public lecture about the situation in Congo.
Ashley Tran, V-Day at Ryerson’s official president, says everyone employed at the non-profit organization works on an unpaid, voluntary basis, but it’s her sister’s full-time job. She eats, sleeps and breathes V-Day.
The night is coming to a close at the Ram, but the crowd is still wild, and the DJ is ready to start spinning.
After pinning the bush on the vagina, impersonating a vagina and moulding one out of Play-Doh, Darren Krishna (otherwise known as Big Dirty) is declared Mr. Vagina-Friendly 2009.
Ashley Tran, a third-year business student, proclaims the night a success, just like V-Day at Ryerson, which she says has received nothing but positive feedback.
She says she thinks V-Day has done so well because Ryerson is located in the core of downtown Toronto, and has such diverse and open-minded students.
The sisters, along with their team, have planned for three more events to happen by the end of the semester, and hope for the continuing success of V-Day at Ryerson and other schools.
Although Virginia Tran acknowledges that some people, mainly men, may feel intimidated by women’s issues, she says that it’s not just about women. “It’s about being human, and you’re an activist just by coming out to events.”
To raise funds and awareness for ending violence against women and girls, Ryerson theatre students will be presenting a reading of A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. in Ryerson’s Abrams Theatre.