Author: Lucy Feickert
Fluctuating between laughter and tears, the Vagina Monologues ran students through a full spectrum of emotions in Thorne Hall last Friday. Throughout the show, the audience cheered for the performers exuberantly and openly, taking in the messages of the show and appreciating the efforts of the student performers. As the Monologues addressed different topics, from pubic hair and transexual identity to domestic violence and anger, the audience went along for the journey.
The show was comprised of 19 distinct pieces called monologues, though not all were performed by only one person. The topics addressed ranged from sexual discoveries to sexual assault and domestic abuse. “Bad Men,” performed by three women, reflected upon three tales of domestic violence and rape. “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could” related sexual awakening in a humorous manner, eliciting laughter from the audience. “They Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy…Or So They Tried” addressed transgender discovery and the violence that followed. At the end of Act I, the entire cast joined in a chant of “Cunt” and then danced before leaving the stage while the audience cheered.
There was laughter at “The Flood,” the recollections of an older women on her first sexual experiences, embarrassment and subsequent repression of her sexuality. “My Vagina Was My Village” which related the stories of sexual violence in wartime, was met with a quiet and reflective audience. The crowd cheered for “The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy” as the actor ended the piece with examples of false and true moans of pleasure, closing the show.
“Some of them are hilarious and some of them will make you cry,” History and Sociology double major Hailey Jures (junior) said. Jures has been in the show for two years and will take on the co-presidency as a senior next year. “Instead of hearing those statistics that are bland and
boring, you’re hearing those personal experiences, you’re hearing us
experiencing what these women have experienced,” she said.
The Vagina Monologues, written by playwright and activist Eve Ensler in the mid 1990s and since edited and altered, tell stories of women based on Ensler’s research and interviews. Some of the Monologues are specific stories from individual women, others are compilations of experiences.
UEP major and Vagina Monologues co-president Jessica Welty (senior) joined the cast last year and then took on the co-presidency this year. “It gets people talking. We talk about a lot of things from funny subjects related to sex and people’s sexual experiences and awakening to more serious subjects like domestic violence, sexual assault and rape,” she said.
The Vagina Monologues members are not only skilled performers, bringing to life the personal stories of so many women through the Monologues, but also they are activists in the crusade to end violence against women. The women were out in the Academic Quad selling tickets and merchandise and raising awareness in the week leading up to the show, culminating in V-Day last Friday. V-Day is a global movement to end violence against women and girls, according to the organization’s website. In addition to raising awareness, the Vagina Monologues donates all the proceeds from the show and merchandise sold to the
V-Day organization and Peace Over Violence, a Los Angeles based sexual assault and violence prevention center.
The show is important to the college community because it raises awareness and educates students. Music major Sarah Hyun (sophomore) is new to the Vagina Monologues this year. “Although we are a small liberal arts college, it’s
surprising to see how much people don’t know about these issues and how it’s not brought up and how much victim blaming goes on and how flawed the
sexual assault policy is,” Hyun said.
Welty, who graduates this year, hopes the Vagina Monologues will continue at Occidental. “I think it’s something really important that should be happening on every college campus and needs to continue. Especially with all the conversation that’s been happening on campus this year around Oxy’s own sexual assault policy,” Welty said.
At the end of the show, the co-presidents, Welty and Biology major Maggie Berrigan (senior) asked the audience two questions. The first was a request that those who had been or knew someone who had been affected by sexual assault and violence please stand. Over half of the audience stood up. Once they were seated again, Welty and Berrigan asked for those who were ready to end violence against women to stand. Everyone in Thorne Hall stood, committed to ending the violence and taking action.
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