Cast of Vagina Monologues promotes V-Day message

BY JULIA CINQUEGRANI ’16
Assistant Campus Life Editor

The Vagina Monologues, performed twice in the Green Room Theatre Friday, succeeded in doing what few shows can — it blended humor, heartache, and stories of strength to create a seamless show exploring the unique triumphs and adversities women around the world experience.

The show, directed by Jessica Dunbar ’13, Brianna Robinson ’16, and Kylee Roles ’16, was written by Tony-award-winning playwright Eve Ensler and first performed in 1996. The play is a series of monologues based on interviews Ensler conducted with more than 200 women about their bodies and sexuality. Monologues range from humorous descriptions of vaginas, to stories of women’s sexual experiences, descriptions of rape, and accounts of psychological and physical abuse.

In addition to writing The Vagina Monologues, Ensler also founded V-Day, a global movement aimed towards ending violence against women and generating broader attention to the issues of rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation, and sex slavery throughout the world.

V-Day activists stage large-scale benefits, gatherings, film screenings and campaigns to educate and change social attitudes toward violence against women and raise money for the cause.

In 2012, over 5,800 V-Day benefit events took place around the world. V-Day has spread to 167 countries, raised more than $90 million, and reached over 300 million people.

Performances of The Vagina Monologues are intended to raise awareness and funds for V-Day’s mission and causes. The money from ticket sales raised by F&M’s performances was donated to the Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County and the YWCA of Lancaster.

The performance began with the screening of a short video about the One Billion Rising campaign, which aims to unite people in the movement to end violence against women, and was created earlier this year in conjunction with V-Day’s 15th anniversary. Its name refers to the fact that, globally, one out of three women will be a victim of rape or other violence, meaning more than one billion women will be affected by violence in their lifetimes.

The play was preceded by an introduction by Sarah Gardner ’13, Afiesha Williams ’16, and Kenshea Malker ’16 that included a few words of caution.

“Just a warning — the word vagina will be used liberally,” Roles said.

Then the introduction took a more serious tone as the speakers explained one of the central ideas of the play.
“We were worried about vaginas,” Gardner, Williams, and Malker said. “We were worried what people think about them. And even more, that people don’t think about them. Women [when interviewed] love to talk about their vaginas, mainly because nobody’s ever asked them.”

The introduction set the tone for the rest of the play, which alternated with the incorporation of serious stories and more light-hearted tales.

“Because He Liked to Look at It,” a monologue performed by Sarah Ensenat ’14, was about a woman’s positive experience having sex with a man who appreciated her body and helped her to become more comfortable with herself as a result.

“He wasn’t grossed out or upset or uncomfortable,” Ensenat said in her monologue. “I began to feel beautiful — to love my vagina.”

Zoe Yellen ’13 performed a monologue entitled “My Angry Vagina,” which provided much-needed comic relief.
“My vagina is furious and it needs to talk,” Yellen acted. “Like tampons. What the hell is that? Do I want cotton stuffed up there? Why don’t they find a way to softly lubricate the tampon? As soon as my vagina sees one it goes into shock. You got to work with the vagina, softly introduce the vagina. That’s what foreplay is all about. You can’t do that with a fucking wad of dry cotton!”

The monologue also complains humorously about gynecological exams.

“Why the flashlight all up there like Nancy Drew working on a case?” Yellen said.

The next monologue, performed by Amalia Handler ’13 and entitled “My Vagina Was My Village,” is a sobering piece based on a Bosnian woman’s account of her rape during the War of Yugoslavia while in a refugee camp.

Somewhere between 20,000 and 70,000 women were raped as a systematic tactic of war. In the monologue, Handler’s character compares her rape to the overall destruction of her village during the war.

“They invaded it, butchered it, and burned it down,” Handler said during the scene. “I do not touch now. I do not live there. I live someplace else now. I don’t now know where that is.”

Sarah Steinhorn ’14 performed “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy” about a female sex worker who only worked with female clients. She humorously described different kinds of moans she had heard during her work, such as the elegant moan: “Not on my Egyptian Cotton Sheets!”; the Jewish moan: “La Cheim! La Cheim!”; The Irish Catholic Moan: “Jesus! Mary! Joseph!”; and the tortured-college-student moan: “I should be in Shad! I should be in Shad!”

Other monologues included “Hair,” a woman’s account of her adulterous husband’s abuse; “The Vagina Workshop,” about a woman who attended a class which helped her understand and appreciate her vagina; “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could,” about a young girl’s rape and subsequent sexual experiences with a woman; “Reclaiming Cunt,” about changing the connotation of the word “cunt” to be positive; and “I Was There in the Room,” about a woman’s feelings while witnessing the birth of a baby.

While many monologues dealt with serious topics such as rape and sexual assault, other monologues provided stories of hope and humor, which combined to create a fluid, emotionally engaging performance.

The play culminated with the cast joining together to explain the One Billion Rising movement and its mission to raise awareness of and end violence toward women.

“We are shaking the planet today, in a powerful refusal to let the violence continue,” the girls said. “We are standing together. We are saying no more.”

Dunbar ended the show with “Rising,” which tells the stories of recent, highly-publicized rapes, and her refusal to accept the continual violence against women.

“It is time for us to make a new story,” Dunbar said. “It needs to be our story. It needs to be outrageous and unexpected. It needs to happen now. And no one else is going to do it for us. It’s not a question of waiting. It’s about rising. We are One Billion Rising.”

Questions? Email Julia at jcinqueg@fandm.edu.

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