By Elizabeth Crea
Fifteen years after “The Vagina Monologues” was first written, it still continues to be a well-known performance around the world as well as on the Beloit College campus.
“The Vagina Monologues” is a series of pieces read and performed by different women in which the subject ultimately relates to the vagina. The monologues include topics such as love, sex, puberty, rape, orgasm, birth and other vagina-related topics (one of the most famous monologues includes its well-known nicknames). In this way, the vagina is used as a symbol of empowerment, a way to share individual experiences and encourages women to tell their own story.
“The Vagina Monologues” was written by feminist playwright Eve Ensler in 1996 after she interviewed more than 200 women on their attitudes about sex, relationships and violence. According to Ensler, “Women’s empowerment is deeply connected to their sexuality.” While it was originally written to celebrate the vagina, after a few years its main message turned into an anti-violence movement. Issues of rape, incest and violence are an important inclusion in the monologues because, Ensler states, “…all of these things are deeply connected to our vaginas.” “The Vagina Monologues” has been revised several times and includes voices from women of different ethnicities, sexual orientations, ages and geographical locations. It has been translated into 35 languages and performed around the world, even in traditionally conservative countries such as Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan.
The V-Day Campaign (the “V” standing for Victory, Valentine and Vagina) was also founded by Ensler, and it is an activist movement to end violence against women and girls. According to vday.org, “V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sex slavery.” The movement has spread to 130 countries, and according to the site, “In eleven years, the V-Day movement has raised over $80 million and reached over 300 million people.”
Beloit College’s own “Vagina Monologues” will be performed this weekend on Friday and Saturday night. More than 20 performers, all self-identifying female students, will follow the traditional format of the monologues for the performance. While many of the monologues will be the same as years past, a new piece will be included this year. Anjelica Irizarry, a senior and co-director of this year’s production, says that every year a new monologue is introduced which talks about a current issue affecting women around the world. The piece for this year is called “Crooked Braid,” told in six parts and read by three students. “This gives it a more dramatic effect, a more diverse voice,” Irizarry says of the piece. The topic is about domestic violence and alcoholism in the American Indian community, an issue that has not yet been explored through the monologues in previous years.
Although the format of the monologues remains the same for each production, Irizarry believes that the overall feeling of the Beloit performances varies each year. “Beloit women bring a certain voice to their performances, and doing this can give women the ability and power to bring change to campus. It’s important for people to see “The Vagina Monologues” because it makes them think about women’s issues, which are ultimately social issues.”
Three “Vagina Warriors” will also be honored this weekend. The advisers who will receive this award are Professors Suzanne Cox, Laura Parmentier and Debra Majeed. A Vagina Warrior is someone who is committed to helping women in any way possible, and the award is granted to those who carry out this dedication in both their professional and personal lives. These Warriors will receive their awards at Friday night’s performance.
“The Vagina Monologues” will be performed this Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. at Wilson Theater. The suggested donation is $4 upon entry; all proceeds will be donated to SARP and the V-Day Campaign. No chocolate vagina lollipops will be offered this year, however one vibrator will be raffled off each night. Be sure to save your ticket stub if you’re interested in this coveted prize.
Also, as a post-monologues feast, the Women’s Center (located at 732 Church St.) shall be holding their Menstrual Feast from 9:30-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. Stop by for some delicious red treats and a friendly chat.