At one point, someone will stand up and yell, “MY VAGINA’S ANGRY!”
Before that, an old lady will profess her love for Burt Reynolds.
Later, we will laugh about something someone shouldn’t have taken swimming.
The Vagina Monologues, written by Eve Ensler, is a play of bodily experience, identification and empowerment. It is based on interviews that Ensler conducted with women across the globe, where she inquired about their life experiences being women. Not only do interviewees talk about their physical vaginas and their relationships with them: how they view them, frustrations and joys they find comes along with them; but they also go into depth with their experiences as women. The play is sectioned into individual monologues, each performed by different WSU students. Some of the monologues are funny, some sad, and some are lighthearted and fun. The wide variety of expression and emotion feels like a roller-coaster ride of experience.
The purpose of The Vagina Monologues is to raise awareness around gender based violence. After all, one in six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape, and 10% of sexual assault victims are men. Also, in the Kissi District of Kenya, 42 percent of women report having been”beaten regularly” by their husbands. This is just to name a few jarring facts that represent the different acts that occur that are considered violence against women or gender based violence.
The Vagina Monologues is paired with Ensler’s “V-Day” campaign, where the profits of the performances will be donated to a local Women’s Resource center and Ensler’s V-Day campaign. The local performance at WSU will donate part of its proceeds to the Women’s Resource Center of Winona, the rest to the V-Day spotlight campaign.
I have participated in The Vagina Monologues all five years that I have been a student at Winona State University. The experience moved me so much that I became a gender studies minor, became an advocate and pledged to be a life-long advocate committed to ending violence and empowering all people. I had always enjoyed theater growing up, but The Vagina Monologues was different. Seeing it, being in it, I found it moving, engaging, and it demanded that I actually do something. It is a play that one cannot walk away from without some sort of personal and social introspection. This is a very affective form of activism.
The Vagina Monologues is about more than just talking about a single experience, and has expanded to be more encompassing of identity. In fact, Ensler has recently revised her play to include the emotional and physical violence that so many transwomen experience. The identification and category of gender is widening, and so is awareness about the violence against those who identify on the woman side of the identification spectrum.
This year’s performance will feature monologues written by Winona State Students. The Vagina Monologues intends to give victims, survivors and communities of women a voice. No longer will women shroud in silence about the violence, harassment, sexism, and discrimination that they experience. They no longer will accept the statistics. They will notice what violence looks like and what behaviors, actions and judgments perpetrates it.
The Vagina Monologues is activist theater, intending to move audiences to doing something to end violence against women. Whether it is standing up to someone who made a rape joke, participating in speak outs like Take Back the Night or donating time, energy or resources to social justice, every bit of activism helps end the cycle of violence. One can be inspired to make lasting social change, and it can begin by absorbing activist theater.
The four performances will be held in Somsen Auditorium on: