The vagina. It’s a topic most people don’t feel entirely comfortable discussing in public, yet this past weekend, a group of Tech women did just that and more with their performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.
The Vagina Monologues is a play that discusses several different aspects of female physiology and sexuality and society’s view of both.
The play revolves around a series of monologues which, themselves are based on interviews with hundreds of different women across the world.
Anyone with any doubt about how frank the play would be was set straight almost immediately at the start of the performance, as the play started with a discussion of the word “vagina” itself, and a list of dozens of euphemisms for it.
The remaining few still harboring doubts about the play’s nature were irrevocably informed of it by the first monologue, simply entitled “Hair.”
The monologues are about every topic imaginable, from the everyday (like a teenager’s first period), to the tragic (like the experiences of rape victims in Bosnia), to the thought-provoking (like an older woman’s look back on her first experience with sex), to the hysterical (like a female sex-worker doing five minutes of impressions of different moans she had heard her clients make over the years).
Not all of the monologues were quite this graphic, however. One in particular, entitled “Hey Miss Pat”, told the story of a woman struggling to support herself and her community immediately after Hurricane Katrina.
Jane Wong a fourth-year EIA major and the Monologues’s student producer at Tech said, “The content of the play itself contains many different messages. It tells the stories of many, many different women. So, not every woman and girl will feel a ‘connection’ to every single monologue, but the beauty of The Vagina Monologues is that it tells many different stories.”
While some monologues were longer and followed an individual through an entire ordeal or story thread, other sections were much shorter and often took the form of a little-known fact.
Like the longer story arcs, these ranged from the odd (such as the fact that it is illegal to sell a vibrator in the state of Georgia), to the disturbing (like statistics on the number of young girls every year that undergo some form of genital mutilation).
Despite the serious nature of several of the monologues, there was a light-hearted air about the whole event. The decorations in the theater matched the subject at the center of the monologues, with pink visible everywhere and a cloth representation of a vagina adorning the back wall of the stage. For those looking for a light snack, chocolate vaginas were for sale at the front door.
This year, the Monologue’s beneficiary was Tapestri, an organization dedicated to protecting and providing resources for battered and abused women in immigrant and refugee communities in the metro-Atlanta area.
Proceeds from the event and went to aid Tapestri in its efforts. Booths with information on Tapestri and similar organizations were set up outside the theater for interested students to learn more.
The Vagina Monologues are just part of a larger campaign, V-Day, that fights to end violence against women around the world.
V-Day was founded in 1998 by Eve Ensler, the author of The Vagina Monologues.
According to V-Day’s official website, “V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual slavery.”
Every year, V-Day focuses on the plight of a different group of women, chosen by Ensler. This year, the organization’s focus is on helping the women of the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a region where, thanks to a lack of government resources and the lack of stability in the region, rape victims have little chance of seeing their attackers brought to justice, and often remain silent out of fear of the repercussions of asking for help.
A new monologue, focusing on the people V-Day is working to help in a specific year, is added every year, and this year’s was about an encounter Eve Ensler had with a young rape victim from the DRC.
According to Wong, as of this year, Tech’s presentation of The Vagina Monologues will be a semi-annual event, with the next performance taking place in the fall of 2011. Applications are now being accepted for positions on next year’s committee.