Who could have predicted the effects of a group of women talking about vaginas? 17 years ago, Eve Ensler, a New York playwright, opened the play she had been writing for two years, The Vagina Monologues. Drawing on interviews she had done with more than 200 women, the resulting monologues have grown to popularity among women and men on college campuses across the nation, including a group of Gustavus women who will perform the monologues on March 22 and 23.
“We’re excited to present the monologues. They do a really good job of outlining the differences in experiences that women have and how they affect who they are,” Campus Organizer of The Vagina Monologues and Junior Jessica Martinez said.
The monologues work to display different female experiences with themes touching on sex, love, rape, menstruation, birth, masturbation, etc.
“I think that for the actresses, it’s empowering and enlightening to hear about the stories and to get to present them to other people,” Campus Organizer of The Vagina Monologues and Junior Liz Kramer said.
It has become tradition for the play to be performed by various female actresses to further personalize each story told. Titles of the monologues include, “I Was There in The Room,” a piece on the beauty of birth and the powerful capabilities of the vagina, “My Angry Vagina,” a display of outrage at the injustices surrounding vaginas, and “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” a tale of a woman who found herself through pleasuring others.
“The monologues touch on some uncomfortable subjects, especially for males, but I think it is our job in an academic setting to sometimes feel uncomfortable in order to learn and break down walls,” Senior Jonathan Warling said.
Warling is the only male working with the Womyn’s Awareness Center on The Vagina Monologues. As advertiser, his role is to promote the monologues. While working with the women, he’s realized the importance for males to step forward alongside women in their effort to dispel gender differences.
“I think it would be great to have more men involved in supporting women, especially after Chimamanda Adichie coming to campus. I hope she opened peoples’ eyes to the importance of stepping forward as a male feminist. I think that’s something we definitely need to see more of,” Warling said.
While the monologues have remained the same since first performed, the performances feature a new spotlight piece each year. This year’s spotlights feature a poem by Eve Ensler titled, “And Then We Were Jumping,” a piece written through stream of consciousness as it tells of a young woman’s coming to terms with the past experience of sexual
abuse from her father, and “One Billion Will Rise for Justice,” a call for women and men everywhere to harness power and imagination to rise for justice.
“Everybody hurts with patriarchy. It affects everyone. Say, I’m not a woman and I listen to The Vagina Monologues I might be able to help heal the gap between the sexes,” actress in the monologues, Junior Tia Gustafson said.
The Vagina Monologues is at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 22 and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 23 in Alumni Hall. Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for the general public.
Junior Nicole Frame shares her own monologue
I have a very complicated relationship with my vagina. A person who is highly gender-fluid/gender-neutral I sometimes wish my vagina was a penis when I lean on the male side of the spectrum at the same time though I am a realist and I know that my vagina will never be a penis yet still the wish is still there. As I said I have a complicated relationship with my vagina but at least we can get along well enough to have some fun while my roommate is out of the room.
Senior Jonathan Warling shares his own monologue
The Vagina, I’ve actually never seen one. However I am fully aware of how our society has shaped our view on The Vagina. It is deemed something to be conquered, controlled, and freely given. I mean come on, what if the tables were turned? Why isn’t the Penis something that we should be told to be ashamed of or the only way to feel something of worth? Instead of women being told what size, shape, and color to be, why aren’t men held to the same standards? The Vagina. Something that I fully respect, and understand that in a heterosexual male dominated society is something that should have equal power as the Penis does. So ladies, grab ahold of your right to wield a phallus, a power symbol, and tell the men where they can stick it!