Penises have an interesting, albeit somewhat positive reputation for the most part; phallic imagery runs rampant in literature, Freud’s “Penis Envy” certainly has a reputation, the penis represents power, and it has penetrated many aspects of life other than sex.
Vaginas are the red-headed step-child of sexuality. Vaginas get a bad rap; they are smelly, hairy and inconvenient.
This consensus changed when Eve Ensler penned the Obie-award-winning “Vagina Monologues,” and in turn motivated the UMW Vagina Monologues, now in its sixth year.
Sophomore Melody Ain, production manager, commented on the performance’s outspoken material.
“Men often view the show differently,” Ain said. “The subject material can be uncomfortable. At UMW, people don’t always talk about female concerns.”
Students audition for the event, and chosen students each perform an Ensler monologue during the Friday and Saturday night performances.
Each year, the UMW’s “Vaginia Monologues” donates ninety percent of proceeds to a charity. This year, they donated approximately $2,000 to Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER), a student-run organization that started at Sarah Lawrence College in ‘05.
“We decided to donate to SAFER because of the sexual assault that happened earlier this year on campus,” Ain said. “They never caught the man who did it.”
SAFER is dedicated to helping students win definite improvements to their colleges and universities sexual assault prevention and response activities.
“Awareness is pertinent to our campus,” O’Connor said. “Assault is something that happens so often but people don’t report it. We want to show people that things will get better and that we can move forward.”
Within her monologues, Ensler presents monologues revealing how a woman finally became comfortable with her vagina, and it was all because of a man who loved looking at it. He thought they were beautiful and she came to agree.
“Eve interviewed every single kind of woman,” Ain said abut Ensler’s drafting of the “Vagina Monologues.” “With all of these different women comes many different perspectives, and that makes the monologues more well-rounded.”
Junior Katie O’Connor, who spear-headed this year’s event, was satisfied with the outcome.
“It went pretty well,” O’Connor said. “One setback was that it usually takes place in Great Hall, but it was booked every single weekend.”
With the help of Cheap Seats, O’Connor booked Monroe 104 for the performance.
The actors made the most of the situation.
“The stadium stage helped,” O’Connor said. “Everyone could see the girls, and they were able to make more eye contact with the audience.”
O’Connor succeeds Deniz Soyer ‘08 as UMW “Vagina Monologues” director and chair for the V-Day 2009 Committee.
“[She] showed me the ropes, how to direct and organize these events,” O’Connor said.
There were a few medical facts about the vagina given during the performance.
There was the “Vagina Happy Fact.” It explained how the vagina has 8,000 nerve fibers in the clitoris, more than any concentration on the human body (male or female) and it is solely for pleasure.
Sophomore Becky Little fittingly ended the detail with, “Who needs a handgun, when you you’ve got a semi-automatic?”
One monologue portrayed the character Miss Pat who lives in New Orleans. She reminisces about the old days-before the levee broke and Katrina came swirling in and took her community and lovable neighbors away.
Sophomore Taylor Roberts performed the monologue “The Flood,” in which a woman becomes embarrassed and disgusted by her body’s reaction to being aroused for the first time.
The Vagina Monologues encountered embarrassment, empowerment, loss of innocence in good and bad ways, the stereotypes of women, and all aspects of being a woman in this new, twenty-first century.
“The monologues explain what a woman goes through all the time, often speaking from the voice of her vagina,” Ain said.
In the playbill, PRISM, assistant professor of English Gary Richards, professor of psychology Christopher Kilmartin, professor and chair of the theatre department Gregg Stull, and the UMW Sound Tech Crew were acknowledged in helping with the production.
The other ten percent of proceeds from the production are sent to V-Day, which stands for Victory, Valentine, and Vagina, according to the event’s website.
V-Day was generated by the “Vagina Monologues” and it is a global movement to stop violence and abuse of women and girls. In 2008, there were about 4,000 V-Day events that occurred around America and the globe.
For more information contact www.vday.org, or www.safercampus.org.
Additional reporting by Brittany De Vries.