Students put on a production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” in the Clement Auditorium on Tuesday, March 24. The event was co-sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance in conjunction with V-Day.
On Wednesday, March 25, they held an alumni and faculty production.
“The Vagina Monologues” is described in its script as “vagina interviews, which became vagina monologues.” The monologues are based on interviews of over 200 women, and it expands even today as more are added to the mix.
In the student production, two original monologues by APSU students were introduced, titled “My Vagina Can Forgive, But It Cannot Forget” and “Stages.”
Ensler is also the founder of V-Day, the fundraising foundation through which she donates her script to colleges and community groups.
“V-Day is a global organization that raises funds that go to agencies to help aid women,” said Jordan Adams, senior professional studies major and one of three directors of the production. “Most agencies help women gain control of their lives after they’ve been victims of some sort of violence.”
Ensler’s play does not shy away from controversial subjects and instead covers as many as possible. Some of the monologues are comedic, such as “My Angry Vagina,” which talked about how thongs, tampons and visits to the gynecologist make women unnecessarily uncomfortable.
“You need to work with the vagina, introduce it to things, prepare the way,” The character referred to as Woman One said in the play. “That’s what foreplay’s all about.”
There was even a demonstration of different types of moans a lesbian sex worker encountered, which set the crowd laughing. The introduction itself ran through a list of names for vaginas from all over the U.S.
Afterwards, there were other lists about what vaginas would wear or say if they could.
Other portions of the play covered more serious topics. “Not-So-Happy-Fact” brought attention to the still-practiced act of female genital mutilation.
“In the 28 countries where it is practiced, mostly in Africa, about 3 million girls a year can expect the knife – or the razor or a glass shard – to cut their clitoris or remove it altogether,” the character said.
The male equivalent to this practice is the complete or nearly complete removal of the penis altogether. This mutilation leads to multiple health problems and could even lead to death.
“The ‘Vagina Monologues’ class, and ‘Vagina Monologues’ production, is a safe place for survivors to tell their stories,” said Adams. “The first time I saw it, I had no idea about women overseas and genital mutilation. It has an educational value, as well.”
Adams wasn’t the only one glad to learn about women in other countries.
“I personally loved the part where they talked about women from other countries, because abuse doesn’t just happen in America,” said freshman nursing major Hayley Eads. “We don’t hear about cases over there.”
At the end of the performance, the performers asked people in the audience who had been victims or knew victims of sexual violence as well as people who wanted to take steps to stop it to stand for applause and support.
“For me, from a survivor’s standpoint, it gives me a kind of sense of community, knowing I’m up there advocating for other survivors as well,” Adams said. “There’s a sense of empowerment going through these monologues.”
APSU has a course on “The Vagina Monologues” that covers Eve Ensler’s script, as well as issues such as sexuality, interpersonal violence and LGBTQ issues. Students perform the play as a service-learning project for the class.
“As a director, it was nice to see how the students in the ‘Vagina Monologues’ class have been growing throughout the semester,” Adams said.
Outside of the Clement Auditorium, shirts from the Clothesline Project were hung. The Clothesline Project is another event held at APSU and in other communities nationally and internationally to combat sexual abuse. There was also a T-shirt sale that sent its proceeds to V-Day. All the proceeds from tickets went to V-Day.