The Itsy Bitsy

I used to think that Itsy Bitsy referred to a yellow polka-dot bikini, or a teeny tiny spider. Now I know that it refers to Gladys the Shoulders, and her friends the Frogs-With-Names, and above all to the Itsy Bitsy Not so Teeny Yellow Polka-dot Vulva. I found this out by cheering and stomping at a high-school performance of Eve Ensler's "Vagina Monologues", by watching a gutsy troupe of nine performers open up their hearts and bodies to reclaim the territory of womanness. Aged 15 - 18, these actors showed the old and middle-aged fogies with stitched-up minds, those who have taught women for centuries "you are a waste of space on this planet", (Grey's Anatomy) that joy is infectious and bravery not defined by detonating multi-maxi fat men and little boys onto unarmed children and women. (Nor is bravery defined by shredding the U.S. Constitution: government lawyers are right now telling a Federal Appeals Court that "the president can send the military into any U.S. neighborhood, capture a citizen and hold him in prison without charge, indefinitely". freedom.

Some young women wanted to be in the cast but were pulled out by their parents. Some faculty and administrators wanted the play canceled. One audience member signaled her/his discomfort by shuffling papers throughout the performance. But they were outnumbered by the exuberant actors, the cheering audience (including a substantial number of young men), and the courageous naming of the never-to-be-acknowledged in Ensler's script. She and the young women speaking for her convinced us that coochie snorcher is something to celebrate, something to admire.

Women flaunting the domination and demands of men are not new to history, but their exploits tend to be snuffed out of the huMAN story. We hear instead of the eccentricities of male geniuses: Thomas Edison named his first two children dot and dash, for example. Nickola Tesla had to do everything in multiples of three: swimming twenty-seven laps or building twelve hundred electric lamps for the city of Strasbourg. Tesla was also afraid of peaches, earrings, and touching the hair of other people. These stories survive. What do we hear most about famous women of yesterday, if we hear anything at all? They were witches; they rode naked on horseback; they were unlucky to have aboard ships. Menstruation was toxic and often called "The Curse". This is a simplification, of course, but no less valid. And violence against women, in large and small ways, is still flagrant world-wide.

Just as a boxer's fists are considered lethal weapons outside of the ring, so the superior physical strength of the male of our species should be acknowledged and reined in.

Any man, anywhere, who threatens a woman or child with physical violence should be guilty of a crime.

Any man, anywhere, who uses his physical strength against a woman or a child should be guilty of a crime.

Simple to understand. No code to crack. No politicospeak to decipher. No excuses. Ever.


No need for translators or intermediaries. Just a law, so simple that it cannot be misconstrued.


As Ensler has written:

"We have not elected or become leaders who understand that you cannot say you believe in protecting women and children and then support bombing Iraq. Exactly whose children do you believe in protecting?

We have not yet elected or become leaders who understand that the mechanisms of occupation, domination, and invasion operating on an international level also influence and direct what happens in the home on a domestic level.

We have not elected or become leaders who are brave enough to make ending violence against women the central issue of our campaign or office.

We have not yet made violence against women abnormal, extraordinary, unacceptable. We have not cracked the tectonic plate at the center of the human psyche that is more terrified to love than to kill."

She is right. As a society we are so much better at death-dealing than at life-affirming. Man-oh-man can we kill! Massively, effortlessly, efficiently. With rage. With indifference. With hands. With machines. We poison the atmosphere which in turn poisons our bodies which in turn makes us inject poisons into our bodies to control the malignancies that we caused in the first place. Cancer is one of the dominant industries on earth. It is also one of the most profitable. Do you truly think that all those people and institutions that earn their living from cancer really want to eradicate it?

When someone says to me, "there is so much death", I can reply, "that's because there is so much life", and it starts on a tiny stage in Silicon Valley. Next time I get discouraged about the human race, I'll stop and talk to a teen-ager. Many of them have wisdom and courage. They still believe. And I believe in them. It is the rest of us that I worry about.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2008