A nearly sold-out audience came together to celebrate vaginas for three days, Feb. 19-21, in The Mildred & Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall, thanks to sponsor Women in Leadership and Learning (W.I.L.L.).
“The Vagina Monologues,” in its ninth consecutive year at the College, is the brainchild of Eve Ensler, a playwright, performer and activist who interviewed more than 200 women of all ages, religions and ethnicities about their vaginas to create the monologues.
This year, as in the eight previous years, the College showed support for V-day, Ensler’s global movement to stop violence against women and girls.
“It proclaims Valentine’s Day as V-day until the violence stops,” Mary Lynn W. Hopps, director of W.I.L.L., said in her welcoming address. “Then V-day will be known as victory over violence day.”
All of the monologues were performed with clear passion. With each monologue, the passion varied from funny to serious to awed to silently strong.
In one monologue, “My Vagina Was My Village,” freshmen open options major Valerys Diaz told the story of a girl in Bosnia who was raped repeatedly for seven days by soldiers with rifles, bottles, the end of a broom and other objects.
“They invaded it, butchered it, and burned it down,” Diaz said. “I do not touch now. I do not visit. I live someplace else now. I don’t know where that is.”
English literature graduate student Kristin Bennett performed “The Little Coochie Snoorcher That Could” directly after. At first, this monologue had a completely different feel because of Bennett’s cutesy Southern accent and the fact that she was speaking in the voice of a child (who started at age five and grew to age 16), but a disturbing mood took hold when she spoke of the girl being raped by her father’s friend when she was just 10 years old. Yet an air of triumph permeated when the girl was 16, since she discovered herself through the love of an older woman.
New this year, “I Was There in the Room” celebrated something previously forgotten by the “Monologues” — birth. Sophomore English and secondary education major Micaela Ensminger delivered the monologue about a grandmother watching the birth of her grandchild with just the right amount of wonder.
While all of the other monologues declared feminine independence and rejoiced in it, one strayed from the pack. “Because He Liked to Look at It” was a refreshing addition to the evening as the first monologue to mention a male in a positive light. Tamra Wroblesky, senior history and women and gender studies major, spoke of Bob, the man who helped the woman come to love her vagina.
Other monologues included transgender plights, older women getting in touch with themselves and vagina workshops, but two clearly stood out as the finest of the evening.
“Angry Vagina,” performed by Caitlin Dougherty, senior biopsychology major, started with an angry Dougherty storming in from the back of the hall and stalking down to the stage, screaming about why her vagina was angry. She went on to complain about tampons, thong underwear and all the other stuff “up there.”
She insisted that her vagina be seduced and then raged, “You can’t do that with a fucking wad of dry cotton.”
But the show-stopping monologue was “The Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy.” Freshman statistics major Nadya Pena portrayed a prostitute who worked exclusively for women because of the way they moan. She proceeded to give examples of some of the best moans out there. Highlights included the almost moan, the elegant moan, the WASP moan, the Jewish moan, the African-American moan, the Irish-Catholic moan, the machine-gun moan and the surprise triple orgasm moan. But the College moan (“Oooh, I should be studying!”) and the Twilight moan (“Oh Edward! Oh Jacob!”) brought down the house.
The evening ended on a somber note with this year’s spotlight monologue, “A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Surviving Sex Slavery,” where Hopps and six performers listed the eight steps to survival. Steps included “don’t scream,” “don’t look at him” and “build a hole inside yourself and climb into it.”
Hopps finished with number eight — “No one can take anything from you if you do not give it to them.”
To end the performance, everyone who was either sexually abused or knew someone who was sexually abused was asked to stand up. After, everyone in the audience stood up, vowing “to break the silence.”
The performers then reminded everyone of the point of the evening — “V-day, until the violence stops.”
Caroline Russomanno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.