By Diana Solano
The glowing “V” emanated from the projector on center-stage as crowds of students filled the seats of Mayo Concert Hall. The actors performing in the production sat on the risers and waited to deliver their monologues that touched on topics such as physical pleasures, women’s empowerment and self-love.
The College’s Women in Leadership and Learning program held its annual production of Eve Ensler’s, The Vagina Monologues on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. in Mayo Concert Hall. The event emphasized the importance of reclaiming the word “vagina” and the stigmas that currently surround the concept of women’s reproductive health. Different performers delivered their own monologues that shared how they each learned to value their womanhood.
This event created a space for people to talk and learn about vaginas in a way that some in the audience may have never experienced or thought about in such a setting.
Mary Lynn Hopps, the director of WILL, spoke about the main purpose of Ensler’s play.
“Eve Ensler traveled all over the country and eventually the world talking to women and getting their stories,” Hopps said of the playwright. “The girls have cards onstage because they are telling real women’s stories through the monologues they perform.”
Hopps stressed the importance of a significant turnout for this type of event.
“You receive more consciousness about the issues and violence that women and girls face,” she said. “It’s a world pandemic. Eve, in the inception of this, had the purpose of raising awareness.”
The audience’s reaction varied depending on the monologue, but most were full of praise for the performers and their courage to talk about vaginas in a public setting. The performers also spoke about topics that addressed sexual assault, gender transition and the right ways to pleasure the vagina. One of the most memorable performances came from Gigi Garrity, a senior finance major. Garrity is a member of the WILL program and is also one of the 2019 Vagina Warriors, which is an honor given to a valued student of the WILL program.
After watching a previous performance of the Vagina Monologues, Garrity knew that she had to be part of the movement.
“I saw the monologue before and I wanted to do it ever since,” she said. “I had to be confident. If I wasn’t, the audience would have known and that would have made things uncomfortable. I had to convey a character. I had to be funny, painful and emotional to create an impact that would stay with the audience.”
Garrity’s monologue, “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” showcased the science of satisfying a woman and the art of moaning.
“I really hope that from this event people lessen the stigma surrounding talking about vaginas,” said Gabbi Petrone, a sophomore psychology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies major when asked what she hopes the audience will take away from this event.
Petrone wanted to see an end to the stigma surrounding the word, “vagina.”
“There really shouldn’t be any (stigma) because so many people have them,” she said. “A vagina is a part of life and it gives life. It shouldn’t make people uncomfortable to hear about it. It shouldn’t make women uncomfortable to talk about it.”
Leslie Castro, a sophomore Spanish major, spoke of her experience attending this event for the first time.
“I really thought it was empowering and gave a different perspective on the matter of speaking about vaginas,” she said. “I feel like society fails to shed a light on this topic.”
Castro felt that society should develop a more gender-inclusive perspective on the journey of discovering oneself. She felt women were underrepresented in this process.
“It’s like they want to keep it a secret,” she Castro said. “In society when it comes to the opposite side of the spectrum, I hear more of what satisfies men and their journey to manhood.”
This event did not display a vagina as an organ. It instead gave each vagina a story that the performers relayed to the audience in a way that was meant to honor the vagina, instead of stigmatize it.
Students like Petrone viewed the monologues as a way to lessen the fear associated with discussing what is currently a delicate topic in society.
“The monologues demonstrate that women were scared to talk about their vaginas at first,” she said. “If talking about vaginas makes someone uncomfortable then it’s their problem, not ours.”