On Friday, Feb. 15, the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Davis Learning Center hosted a production of “The Vagina Monologues”. An audience of about 78 people, young and old, men and women alike, turned up to share in this amazing reading. Admission was either five dollars or at least three donated items for the Prescott Area Women’s Shelter. Ninety percent of the proceeds would go back to the Prescott Area Women’s Shelter and 10 percent to the Vagina Day (V-Day) Spotlight campaign to help women in communities in Prescott, Ariz. and all over the world.
“The Vagina Monologues” is part of V-Day’s One Billion Rising: Strike, Dance, Rise campaign, a variety of benefit performances and events that are produced annually around the world to raise awareness and money for anti-violence groups. Set on Valentine’s Day, V-Day is a day to celebrate women. The V in V-Day stands for victory, valentine and, of course, vagina. V-Day’s mission is to have an organized response against violence towards women, a vision to see a world where women live safely and freely, and a demand to end rape, incest, battery, genital mutilation, and sexual slavery. The people participating in V-Day hope to be a catalyst for change in how society and individuals treat women and give women the confidence to “Strike”, “Dance”, and “Rise” against violence.
“The Vagina Monologues” was written by Eve Ensler, the founder of the V-Day movement, and she took the dreaded V-word, vagina, and ran with it. A Tony award winning playwright she was inspired after writing and performing “The Vagina Monologues” to create a movement that would strive to create a world where women and girls could thrive not just survive. “The Vagina Monologues” has been translated into 44 languages and is performed along with other benefit performances and events on V-Day internationally.
When the audience had settled the show began. There was no time to be embarrassed about vaginas as within the first few lines it was said at least 20 times. The monologues were presented by Kate Hawkes, Director, Allison Cisneros, Producer, ERAU students Alison Irish and Lilith Matthews, and International Student Office staff member Kelly O’Brien and community member Ali Cassidy. As per the specifications of the playwright, the monologues were read directly from the script, allowing for a more spontaneous reading. The script was funny, witty, and sometimes shocking, and focused on women’s thoughts and feelings about their vaginas. The script brought up questions like: “If your vagina could talk what would it say?” or “What would your vagina wear?” Answers like “slow down” or “no, over there” and “a backwards Mets cap and converse” were all included. There were answers to questions you “know” you were dying to ask. Other parts of the script told the stories of women and their experiences with their vaginas, both good and bad. One woman’s story went all the way through her childhood traumas with rape and injury, to love and a new appreciation for her body and her sexuality.
The monologues also presented funny comparisons and names for the vagina to help people become more comfortable with discussing it. Referring to the vagina as black holes, basements, a tulip, pillows, Coochi Snorcher, and even a red leather couch put a funny spin on a strangely taboo topic. Society is strangely skittish, and often times disregards the female form as something to objectify resulting in a callous outlook on women. A monologue about a rape victim was performed by two of the readers highlighting what she felt about herself before and after the incident. Poignant words about the violation of a part of her that was her “village” and how “they invaded it”, caused a prickling of tears in many of the audiences eyes.
Facts and statistics were interspersed between monologues that would shock most people and sometimes hit home. The inspiration for the “One Billion Rising” campaign is the statistic that one in three women will experience rape or violence in their lifetime and that should not be acceptable. It is up to everyone to rise up with those victims so we can all stand tall. The evening closed out with a viewing of the “One Billion Rising” promotional film that made you want to cry and dance at the same time. After a few closing remarks and a drying of eyes the audience was invited to dance and show their support for the movement.
The purpose of “The Vagina Monologues” and V-Day is to lower those barriers that keep people from talking about vaginas and to let the world know that women are not something to be used and abused because they have a vagina, but that they are individuals who dance and who matter. “Dancing insists we take up space” and women are entitled to thrive and make their mark on the world. As a non-profit organization, V-Day has earned over $90 million in funds to help educate and help women around the world. Voted one of the 100 best charities by Worth Magazine, V-Day has continued to build shelters and educate women and men on how they can help change the social attitudes towards violence against women.
“The Vagina Monologues” was an amazing production that brought to light some of the problems women are facing today all over the world and let them know that they can be proud of their vaginas. A thank you should be given to Cisneros for bringing this astonishing production to the Prescott community and ERAU. Director Kate Hawkes was honored to have the “opportunity to support a brave student” and share this play with the community. One Billion Rising and counting, someday there will be an end to this violence against women and everyone will be dancing in the streets celebrating freedom for their vaginas.
If you would like to become involved or learn more about “The Vagina Monologues”, the One Billion Rising campaign or V-Day vist the websites http://www.vday.org/home or http://www.onebillionrising.org/page/event/search_simple. See what you can do to stop violence against women and make the world a place for everyone to dance and thrive.