BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
THE Zimbabwean adaptation of the Vagina Monologues — an Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo production — was recently staged at the Jasen Mphepo Little Theatre in Harare and took the audience on a roller-coaster emotional ride with its no-holds-barred exploration of sexual issues, demystifying the notion that women in menopause do not enjoy sex.
Staged in a very sarcastic way by the quartet of Musawenkosi Sibanda, Sithabile Ndubiwa, Agnes Ncube and Lady Tshawe (pictured), the play questioned claims that older men cheated on their wives because the later no longer enjoyed sex as a result of menopause.
A commissioner with the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, Naome Chimbetete — who watched the play — told NewsDay Life & Style that a lot of men with wives on menopause cheated on them out of ignorance.
“They managed to bring out key issues that women battle with regards to sexual reproductive health and rights, but I find that there is a gap when it comes to addressing elderly women’s sexuality, especially those going through menopause,” she said.
“It’s a myth that elderly women no longer want sex, and that their female sexual organs are dry. Consequently, a lot of men start cheating because they think that their spouse’s sex organs are now tired and need rest. Even if they are dry, there are lubricants. We need conversations around this.”
Although the play was criticised by some within the feminist movement in its exploration of consensual and non-consensual sexual experiences, body image, genital mutilation, direct and indirect encounters with reproduction, care, menstrual periods and sex work, one of the participants, Tshawe, defended it.
She argued that it was wrong to conclude that women should just serve their men on the bed when the relationship should be reciprocal.
Play producer Chipo Mawarire said she was pleased by the high turnout.
“Thank you for coming through. It’s amazing to see a full house. Thank you for engaging in a great conversation. We found it befitting because it’s a conversation that was long overdue,” she said.
“It’s time for women to take full ownership of their sexuality. It explains that the female sex organ is not only meant to please men but women as well. We want men to hear our stories, appreciate and respect our sexuality.”
The original play was written by Eve Ensler and premiered in 1996 at HERE Arts Centre, Off Broadway in New York, United States.