‘Vagina Monologues’ combats negative feminist stereotypes

As part of the global V-Day Movement, students and faculty are putting on performances of the play during the week. Often, ‘V-Day’ is a term many associate with the holiday during which significant others are

LEE MILLER TTN File Photo Last year, HEART hosted a performance of “The Vagina Monologues” on Main Campus in conjunction with the global movement, V-Day. This year, the office is putting on the show again from Feb. 16 to 18 in the Student Center.

As part of the global V-Day Movement, students and faculty are putting on performances of the play during the week.

Often, ‘V-Day’ is a term many associate with the holiday during which significant others are put on the spot and roses are passed out like pieces of paper. In terms of women’s rights, however, V-Day stands for so much more than just a candlelight dinner and a heart-shaped box of chocolates.

V-Day is a global activist movement that uses arts and creative events to raise awareness and aid to end violence including rape, battery and incest against women and girls. V-Day uses small communities and universities as well as large scale benefits to help spread the voice of their cause to every corner of the globe.

A popular event during V-Day is the various productions of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” which raises money while providing a boisterous outlet to promote awareness.

“The Vagina Monologues” is a production consisting of various monologues which are derived from interviews with real women from around the world. The play touches on topics that are representative of global issues faced by women, be it a young girl’s first period or a woman’s battle for equality and sexual rights.

Inspired by the performances in “The Vagina Monologues,” Ensler founded the V-Day movement in 1998. According to the V-Day website, Ensler’s goal is to “envision a planet in which women and girls will be free to thrive, rather than merely survive.”

Along with the work V-Day does to have on-going movements in areas including Africa, the Middle East and Asia, it spreads its cause via smaller communities and universities by providing any organization the chance to produce its own benefit performance of “The Vagina Monologues.” This provides communities, like Main Campus, the ability to educate the neighborhood on the global and communal problems women face.

Alison Stricker, a junior English major and co-director of the university’s production of “The Vagina Monologues,” said she thinks the play provides a brand new depiction of the feminist movement.

“The best thing [‘The Vagina Monologues’] has done is deterred us away from using the term ‘feminist,’” she said, adding that the term “feminist” has gained a negative connotation in the past.

Seeing the actresses stand confidently on stage and proudly talk about “My Angry Vagina” may lead those who are unaware of the cause to conclude that the play is a work of feminism. But V-Day and The Vagina Monologues presents what Stricker deems as “third wave feminism.”

Stricker said “The Vagina Monologues” is more than just a show.

“It is a production, a moral lesson,” she said.

Kate Schaeffer, the Health Education Awareness Resource Team program coordinator, said she’s been familiar with the play since 2001, and said she believes the play provides a universal way to observe women’s issues.

Schaeffer said she feels that “The Vagina Monologues” presents women’s suffrage and violence in such confidence that women are able to “feel correct and supported” in their quest for equality.

“The Vagina Monologues” goes beyond women’s rights by presenting worldly issues that are schemed down and acted out through women.

According to its website, members behind the V-Day movement believe that creating the opportunity for communities to interact in productions including “The Vagina Monologues” is beneficial because local women know their communities best, and “lasting social and cultural change is spread by ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

N’Keya Peters, a junior social work major and HEART peer educator, said she is anxious and excited about her first opportunity to work with a production about which she has always felt strongly.

“It’s very empowering,” Peters said. “A dream come true.”

Before becoming involved in “The Vagina Monologues,” Peters had little knowledge about the V-Day cause. She said she believes that bringing the production to more than just schools and producing it in a larger, more populated environment would help educate everyone.

Main Campus’ production of “The Vagina Monologues” is donating a portion of the funds to V-Day, while the rest will be given to a local organization: Women Organized Against Rape. In an attempt to raise as much money as possible, there will be a bake sale during each show, the proceeds of which will be donated, as well.

The production will consist of many of Ensler’s original monologues as well as a spotlight monologue, derived from a current major world event. According to Stricker, everyone should keep an eye out for “My Vagina was My Village,” which is an act so powerful it will give the audience chills.

Schaeffer said that acts including “I Was There in the Room,” which tells the story of a mother watching her daughter give birth, will move people to tears while other acts like “Reclaiming C***” will kill you with laughter.

“The Vagina Monologues” will be performed Feb. 16 through Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. in The Underground of the Student Center. Tickets will be on sale from Feb. 13 to Feb. 17 starting at 2 p.m. in the HEART office in Mitten Hall, and cost $5 with a TUID and $10 without.

Jenine Pilla can be reached at jenine.pilla@temple.edu.

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