After their annual production of “The Vagina Monologues” this past weekend, “Vaginal Wonder” will have lost at least some of its taboo, thanks to VCU’s gender, sexuality and women’s studies department.
The production, held at the Shafer Street Playhouse this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday, had audience members laughing and crying simultaneously.
Playwright and prominent feminist, Eve Ensler started writing “The Vagina Monologues” in 1997. Ensler interviewed 200 women of various ages, occupations and races about their vaginas. She asked the women what their vaginas would wear, what they would say and what they would smell like. Similar responses were compiled in one monologue, but some women’s stories stand out in their own monologues.
Every year, a new optional monologue is added. Any group performing the monologues can choose which of the many optional monologues they would like to include. This year’s new monologue included the hate of Facebook groups which justify rape and the recent legislation over birth control.
“I am over the government telling me I don’t have the right to not be pregnant,” said Raven Wilkes, a freshman theater arts major, who performed the 2012 monologue.
Other topics included women attempting to see their own vaginas, lesbians, trans women, giving birth, sex workers for women, different types of moans and reclaiming the word “c—.”
“It was the one swear word I told myself I’d never say, and I love it now,” said Jessica Skiles, a freshman theater major, who had her fingernails painted to resemble vaginas, complete with a “glitt-oris.” At the end of her monologue, the entire audience was chanting “c—” in chorus.
Another topic of discussion for the monologues is the taboo of the word vagina. One segment involved all 13 actresses, dressed in shades of pink and red, yelling various nicknames for vaginas.
“It’s breakfast of champions in Richmond, Va.,” one actress exclaimed.
“Why? It’s a body part. It’s nothing to be afraid of. Love your vagina. I feel like every girl should have a relationship with her vagina, but don’t view it as something separate from you. It’s the heart of you,” Skiles said.
One monologue in particular sparked protests during “The Vagina Monologues” last year. In 2010, one of the optional monologues called “They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy… Or So They Tried,” about trans women, was left out in 2011, said director and junior English major, Erin Willis. Protesters thought that the monologue was neglected in 2011 because of a dislike of transgender people.
“It was a lot of misunderstandings,” said Elizabeth Popp, director and gender, sexuality and women’s studies grad student.
“The Vagina Monologues” are a part of a larger organization called V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls. Complimentary rights are given to any group who wishes to perform “The Vagina Monologues”, but groups are asked to take donations for an organization chosen by V-Day each year.
This year, 10 percent of proceeds from “The Vagina Monologues” go to help the women of Haiti. VCU’s “Vagina Monologues” will also be giving the other 90 percent to the organization RAINN.
RAINN is the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. It’s the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization. All donations to the show went straight to the local counseling center at the YWCA in Richmond.
“It’s not just a play,” Popp said. “It’s a movement that raises awareness for violence against women.”
Photos by Amber-Lynn Taber