Every year around Valentine’s Day, women all over the world unite to talk about a subject that is considered taboo, impolite, and even shameful: their vaginas. Students at St. Mary’s raised their voices along with the “V-Day” movement on Feb. 10, 11, and 12 at this year’s version of “The Vagina Monologues.”
According to their website, V-Day is “a catalyst that promotes creative events to create awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations.” Its goal is to generate more attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation, and sex trafficking. Every year, college students and local volunteers put on benefit performances of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” to raise awareness and money for the cause.
“The Vagina Monologues” took the world by storm in 1994. Ensler’s monologues are inspired by interviews with women from all life circumstances and backgrounds who were asked questions like, “If your vagina could talk, what would it say?” and, “What would your vagina wear?” After every performance, Ensler would find women eager to share their stories of survival and womanhood, leading her to see that the play could be more than a work of art. The play could be used to end the violence that women suffered.
This year’s event was directed by first-year Emma Kaufman and staged in a cozy café atmosphere. The C-Word, “St. Mary’s finest secret vagina society/coffeehouse,” according to the event’s Facebook page, hosted the Vagina Monologues Open Mic night and offered a wide variety of performers and topics.
The performances generally consist of monologues that are presented every year, dealing with a range of topics from pubic hair, rape, sex, and birth. The director also chooses two additional monologues: one spotlight monologue and another that is chosen from a collection.
The spotlight monologue this year, performed by first-year Labs Fraser, was called “For My Sisters in PortauPrinceBukavuNewOrleans” and packed a commanding message. Fraser’s powerful performance drew attention to the violence against the women and girls affected by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the bloody 15-year civil war in Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. “The monologue really moved me,” said Fraser. “I felt a real connection to those women, and I knew I had to give them a voice.”
The additional monologue chosen by Kaufman was called “Over It.” It is one of Ensler’s most recent monologues to date. Performed by junior Ariel Hirsch, it addressed rape and how Ensler is “over” the rape culture and lack of compassion towards victims of rape in the world.
Other highlights included “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” performed by senior Briana Manente and junior Katie Pidner. Told in the perspective of a sex worker who caters specifically to women, it showed the impressive moaning range of Pidner and startled boisterous laughter from the crowd.
On a more sober note, first-year Allegra Garrett’s emotional performance of “What If I Told You I Didn’t Have a Vagina” told the heartbreaking story of a victim of female genital mutilation. Garrett was moved to tears during one performance. “I felt this anonymous woman’s pain,” said Garrett. “I can’t even imagine what she must have gone through.”
This year’s event was an enormous success for V-Day and St. Mary’s students and faculty. The performances had a substantial turnout and the talented actresses portrayed Ensler’s anti-violence message. “I was really impressed with how large the talent pool is at St. Mary’s,” said junior Jaimie Wilder. “The intense emotions that I saw on that stage were genuine and moving.”
“The whole cast really connected with their monologues,” said Garrett. “I’m really proud of all the women I’ve had the honor of performing with.”