by Jacqueline Goldman
The room was full of many different faces. Some were bothered and uneasy, some were simply curious, but most were looking for greater understanding. Whitworth hosted its third rendition of the Vagina Monologues last Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre. It provided further understanding to that uncomfortable subject: the vagina.
Most are familiar with the Vagina Monologues, written by Eve Ensler, and what they are seeking to inspire. The general idea is to release the taboo associated with talking about women’s sexuality and for women to gain an appreciation and acceptance of the lady friend between their legs. The message is clear during the performance, but what one might find surprising is the student body’s reaction to the Monologues.
During the day prior to the performance, Whitworth students around campus were asked to give their overall reaction to the Monologues: if they were going, why or why not and what they thought the Monologues were about. These were some of the responses.
Diana Cron, junior sociology major, discussed her general conception of what the show was about.
“I guess I think of women talking about difficult experiences they’ve had because they’re women,” Cron said.
Lindsay Evans, senior psychology major, said the Monologues aren’t exactly something she finds necessary.
“I would never go to it,” Evans said. “It’s just so feminist. It would be like if guys had a penis monologue, and that would be ridiculous.”
Jessica King, senior psychology major, talked about her reaction to the production after having seen it previously.
“I was really nervous when I went to go see them,” King said. “I thought it was going to be a bunch of feminist stuff, and it is, but a lot of it is a comedy, so it’s funny. It’s a good discussion about female sexuality.”
King went on to put some commonly held rumors of the production to rest.
“It’s not a man-bashing event,” King said.
Empowering women in accepting their sexuality is a strong theme and contrary to some belief, not at the expense of men. But one student argues that the theme might come across too strong and no longer applies to our generation.
“Seeing the signs for the Vagina Monologues, personally I think it’s ridiculous,” senior mathematics major Stephanie Semb said. “Yes I live in a man’s world, and I understand that. More women are becoming empowered and that’s great, but personally I’m already empowered and I’ve embraced my womanhood, or my vagina, and I really don’t feel the need to push that issue.”
One may think that the Vagina Monologues is a feminist production that pushes girl power, but during the panel after the production, the deeper themes really stood out.
“The core message really is stand against sexual abuse and violence,” said Brittany Roach, senior political science major and also the special and cultural events coordinator for ASWU. “It’s a stand for women to claim a part of who we are in our sexuality. If we do not claim this aspect of ourselves, someone else can.”
During the panel discussion the theme was further hashed out. The Monologues do talk about the vagina and all its “glory” and the focus tends to be on that, but not everyone realizes the greater theme of raising awareness of sexual abuse.
Senior English and theatre major Isabel Nelson said the issue of sexual abuse is a tender and important subject that the Monologues brings up and creates an environment for victims to connect through.
“That’s what this event means to me,” Nelson said. “Approaching someone you’re afraid of and say, ‘You shared something and I want to share something.’ It makes people courageous in a scary way.”
At the end of the show, audience and cast members are asked to stand if they have been victims of sexual abuse. The desire is to let those men and women know that they are not alone.
“I have a responsibility at the end to stand up and encourage people to be honest, but not push them to be uncomfortable,” Nelson said. “Someone deciding we can’t have the Vagina Monologues might hurt some people, and some people may never know but the person that it does affect starts to feel boxed in.”
Next time the Vagina Monologues come around, be aware there will be talk about vaginas, but there are other themes that may inspire deep questions.
“It really makes you focus on individual femininity and what makes you a woman,” senior communications major Breezy Moser said. “You definitely leave thinking, ‘OK, I’m a woman, so what do I think of my vagina?’”
Contact Jacqueline Goldman at firstname.lastname@example.org.