Breaking taboos, celebrating bodiesWomen are often defined by their ability to give birth, and this female endowment begins with the menstruation cycle, usually in the early teen years.
To celebrate the delicate idiosyncrasies of womanhood, and to call for the liberation of the female body, the feminist group Bultok (which means “free space” in the Jeju island dialect) will sponsor its Fifth Menstruation Festival at Yonsei University’s Nocheon Theater Saturday evening.
This annual event boasts a wide array of feminist expression, including performances by singers and theater troupes, films, lectures and open-mike sessions. “We are not just emphasizing menstruation, but also that women should have more discretionary power,” said Lee Kang of Bultok, adding that the festival is geared toward women of all ages.
The festival, whose theme this year is “One Hundred Women, One Hundred Colors,” seeks to dispel taboos surrounding the female body, and to convey the message that women can enjoy a freer, more independent sex life.
The festival’s title fits in with the sponsor’s desire to challenge the notion that the female anatomy shouldn’t be discussed in public. By leading discussions about natural occurrences in the female body such as menstruation, and issues such as sexual bias against women, Bultok hopes to empower women in the male-dominated Korean society.
Street activity outside the theater kicks into gear at 6:30 p.m. People of both sexes can jot their thoughts about sexuality on public boards, and learn how to use tampons and condoms. Visitors can buy herbal tea that is considered to provide health benefits to women, pick up feminist literature and buy jewelry made by prostitutes. The movie critic Yu Gina will be on the scene.
The 7:30 p.m. main event includes dance and music shows (a play by the group Mokto is called “If a Man Menstruates”). Also on the night’s schedule are a condom-breaking event and a discussion of the female body and how it should be viewed and treated. A rave party will close the evening.
Pre-festival activities that were held across Seoul in late August featured women activists writing female liberation slogans on sanitary napkins, rap music shows, exhibits on contraceptive use and body painting centered on the image of menstruation.
by Choi Jie-ho
For more information, call (0505) 966-0906 or go to www.MenseFest.com.