A Set of Monologues by Shaneisha Dodson
Cast of Characters
KENYA: African American female, fighting against genial mutilation.
JUDY: Any race, female. Transgender. Big personality.
SANDRA: Any race, fighting against sex trafficking.
LAURA: Any race, female. Victim of domestic violence.
MONICA: Any race, female. HIV positive.
ESTELLE: Any race, female. Secretly suffering from depression.
Male International Headquarters.
I know when you see me you see perfection. I’m beautiful. Nice figure. Educated at the top university. Mother of three. Loving Wife.
But things are not always what they seem to be.
Behind this smile is anger and depression. I’ve worked hard my whole life but have never received the full fruits of my labor. At times, I want to give up on life.
I do twice as much work as my male colleagues. And they still earn more money than me. One day, I approached my boss for feedback. With an evil smile, he said you interviewed well. Checked off all the requirements. And have superior ratings on your performance reviews. You beat everyone in all the categories except for time in position. The man that was selected has been on the job a month longer than you.
I go home and vent to my husband who had the day off. He says honey it’s not a big deal. Do you mind cooking dinner a little early tonight? The children need to bath. The nanny just left.
What has he done all day? Evidently, nothing.
So, I cook dinner. Wash the dishes. Bathe the children. Get their school clothes out. Help them with their homework. Iron my husband’s work clothes. Take a shower. And finally curl into bed.
As soon as my head hits the pillow, the alarm goes off. Now it’s time to do it all over again. Sometimes I hate my life. I’ve thought about disappearing far, far, away. But what type of woman would I be if I abandoned my family?
Look at my shiny new bracelet.
My husband got this for me.
Look at my new purse.
He purchased this for me to. I should be happy, right? Who wouldn’t want a man to shower them with gifts?
According to my husband, these are I LOVE YOU gifts. Every beating comes with a bigger and better one. I guess I will get a mansion next.
(Laura points at a pair of shoes.)
These shoes equal my broken rib.
(Holds up a ball gown. Spins around in a circle)
This ball gown. It represents my forth miscarriage. That beating almost killed me. He was mad that day because the food was cold.
(Waves keys in the air)
These keys belong to my new car. But I can’t drive it. Two months ago, I went to the store. He checked the odometer. I drove over by one mile. He accused me of cheating and dislocated my jaw.
It’s ok. He says he loves me. He promises not to do it again.
But first thing this morning, he got up on the wrong side of the bed. He said he had a dream that I was planning to leave him. He punched me in my eye.
When he got home from work, he was happy. He kissed me on the cheek, showered, and raced back out the front door. I know he is going to see his new girlfriend. He has her number saved in his phone as wifey. She calls all the time.
Guess what? I’m not upset because there is a new gift bag waiting for me. Inside is two tickets to Cancun.
As soon as my bruises disappear and my bones are healed, I’ll put on the new swimsuit that he brought me last year.
My hubby loves me. He promises not to hit me again. This time I know he means it. (Removes shades from face, shows black eye)
They said it was a rite of passage. But I don’t have the right to say no.
My mother said Kenya you will be cut. We all did it. She looked me straight in the eyes and said wait here.
So I sat on a stump for what felt like an eternity.
Then, a hand appeared from the skies. An unfamiliar voice said, “Follow me.” I was led to a dark room. And was told to lay flat on my back.
I spread my legs and that’s when I received the first cut.
Mother said don’t scream. You will cause shame to the family.
Before, I knew it. I was cut again.
No pain killers. No anesthesia. Nothing.
I felt like I was being gutted. The sharp object cut a piece of my vagina leaving a trail of blood down my inner thighs. The excruciating pain was too much for any girl to handle so I blacked out.
Hours later, I woke up wrapped in a cloth.
My private area was swollen. I couldn’t walk. I was told to be still. Someone would take care of me.
Clueless, of what was going to happen next. I lay in silence as the villagers talked about the other girls who were cut.
Their conversation made me realize that I was lucky.
Lucky to still have my life because the five-year-old girl who was cut before me, bled out and died.
Woman of the year. Blasphemy. Sinners don’t go to heaven.
Queens. Queers. I’m not gay. Homophobia. Lady boys. Confusion.
If you haven’t figured it out. I’m the girl born without a vagina.
Every since I was a young child, my inner self didn’t match my body. I always knew it was a little girl inside of me screaming to get out. But no one could hear her. She was my best-friend. I named her Judy Ann.
She was fierce. But couldn’t let it show. My parents said little boys don’t wear dresses or red lip stick. They wear khakis and pee standing up. How boring? So when Judy turned 18 she said F the world.
She came out the closet wearing a red pair of patent leather pumps. Her parents disowned her. While her friends cheered her on.
Her pastor said she was going straight to hell with gasoline draws on. Because God don’t make no mistakes.
Judy was so much braver than John the introvert. She spoke her mind all while serving face.
She let everyone around her know that if they couldn’t accept her for who she really was. They could kick rocks.
Judy saved up all her money to get what was rightfully hers. A vagina.
A clip here and there. A little nip and tuck. Here and there.
Now she is the girl that she always wanted to be.
But her new appearance came with labels.
So Judy let the world know. If you want to label me, just call me human!
Searching for additional income, I came across a job in the newspaper that supplied me with enough money to take care of my family. But there was one catch. I had to leave Belarus.
This is how I landed in America. The land of the free and the brave.
I was thrilled.
With my adrenaline at an all-time high, I exited the airport and looked for my sponsor.
A gorgeous man greeted me with a smile and a sign that read Sandra.
He took my bags and we drove off into the sunset.
An hour later, we pulled up to a beautiful home. In my opinion, it was truly the American dream. As soon as the front door closed, he slapped me across the face.
“You belong to me. You have a debt to pay.” I was in shock.
He dragged me to the shower and stripped me of my clothes.
A million thoughts raced through my head until a forceful knock hit the bathroom door. It slowly crept open, and I watched as man after man entered. Each having their way with me. This went on for so many years that I lost count of the numerous monsters who took a piece of my soul.
One day I found a penny and used it to make tiny tick marks on the wall. Each representing a man who violated me.
Before I knew it, the wall was covered from top to bottom.
I no longer knew who I was.
I stopped crying.
I stopped living.
I stopped feeling.
He stripped me of my vagina rights. And made me walk around naked.
Said it was for his entertainment.
It went from viewing to touching. From touching to the unthinkable.
Said it was natural.
He blamed me for being so pretty.
Said I looked just like my mama.
He paid me a quarter for my silence.
Said that I would be rich if I kept my mouth shut.
I never understood why he chose me. I was a good girl. I never did anything wrong. Made good grades in school. Cleaned my room. And always followed orders.
One day I couldn’t hold my secret any longer so I confided in my sister. To my surprise, I found out that she was once his opening act.
I couldn’t believe my ears, but I vowed to break the cycle. I wanted to take his power. It was time that we got our voice back so I came up with an elaborate plan to expose him.
But Daddy had the last laugh.
He didn’t care who I told because he left an invisible piece of his crime inside of me. I’m HIV positive.
I have traveled all over the world and emerged myself into different cultures. I found that we (women) may be in different parts of the world, but we share the same problems. This inspired my play Vagina Rights. The play focuses on a group of women who fight for their rights by creating a Vagina Rights code. As each woman details her trauma in the form of a monologue, we can’t help but to think about their mental health. How is it possible to deal with so much trauma and not seek counseling? I know many women who have mental health issues but choose to suffer in silence. They are too afraid to tell their stories. Or, mental health is frowned upon in their culture. In my family, we never really discussed mental health issues. But, one day I looked at the people around me. I could clearly see that depression runs in my family. Many of my family members have cried out for help but make excuses for not seeking help. This makes me sad. I feel that everyone deserves to live a fulfilling life. Therefore, I encourage everyone to get help. It’s okay to talk to a therapist. It’s nothing to be ashamed of…I think society needs to work a little harder to normalize counseling within the minority communities.
Shaneisha Dodson is the founder of Black Girlz Productions and Dodson Foot Hydration. Dodson was born in Arkansas and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. She holds a B.A. in psychology from Grambling State University, M.A. in counseling from Dallas Baptist University, and an Ed. S in education from Walden University. She is currently pursuing a certificate in women’s entrepreneurship at Cornell University.
Dodson has won several awards: 2020 Director of the Year nominee, 2018 Top 25 Women in Business by Courageous Magazine, 2018 Top 30 under 40 for m-lifestyle magazine, 2018 Top 35 Women by Women Doing It Big magazine, 2018 Honoree for her contributions in entrepreneurship and women empowerment, 2017 ACHI Magazine Award, 2016 Black Women Are Inspiration Award Winner, 2015 Best Playwright, 2015 Extraordinary Person Honoree, 2014 Celebrated during Women’s History Month, Who’s Who of small business by Career magazine, and 2011 literary excellence award winner. In 2012, she took her love of the arts to the next level and founded Black Girlz Productions, LLC. Her company’s motto is “Dream BIG or go Home!” Dodson has written, produced and directed three full length productions and one short play. Her one act play Vagina Rights debuted off-Broadway in NYC summer 2017. Her play was awarded best theatrical presentation by NYC Success in the Arts awards. Her latest children’s play “Dog, Cat and The Red Bird” was published in Drama Notebook. In her spare time, she enjoys writing and spending time with loved ones. Follow her on twitter @sdodson08 and Instagram @blkgirlz12.