By Angie Tamayo
Dressed in black, several student actresses stood in unison in Mayo Concert Hall to perform empowering monologues of one of the most talked about subjects in politics and the media — women’s sexuality.
The College’s Women in Learning and Leadership held the annual production of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues on Friday, Feb. 21. The show included performances by 13 student actresses, a pianist and the College’s acapella group, the Treblemakers.
Each student performed an individual monologue that foretold heart-wrenching and rage-inducing stories from women before the #MeToo movement, highlighting the struggles women have endured and the progress that has been made.
The first monologue performed was “Hair,” which discussed the stigma surrounding vaginal hair and the cultural idea of what is an “ideal” vagina, which is typically shaven and clean. The monologue began with the thought of vaginal hair being seen as cluttered and dirty, but then it shifted the perspective to hair playing a vital role in femininity. This piece enforced the idea that women should love their vaginal hair, because they cannot pick the parts of a vagina they want and the ones they want to erase.
“The Vagina Workshop” emphasized how women have been conditioned to believe that vaginas, clitorises and orgasims exist on an abstract plane — these words are taught to be perverse and only to be discussed in private. However, as the theme of the show suggests, it is important for women to discuss these factors in their everyday life in order to normalize it.
A “Vagina Happy Fact” was announced as well, a fact that contradicts the idea that women’s vaginas are solely for baby-making and men inevitably receive all the pleasure: The clitoris is the only organ designed purely for pleasure and has twice the nerve sensations as the penis does. After this piece was delivered, audience members stood up to cheer.
While many of the monologues had happy endings, there were also sensitive stories that highlighted the brutal hardships many women face, such as sexual assault and rape.
The “Not-So Happy Fact” brought attention to the process of female genital mutilation inflicted on 200 million girls in Africa. The process involves girls ages 5 to 14 having their clitorises cut off with a knife, razor or glass shard, which can lead to hemorrhages, infection or death.
The monologue “Because He Liked to Look At It” focused on how many women in the past hated their vaginas and pretended their body part did not exist. Through the monologue, a woman meets a man who enjoys looking at vaginas as a way to fully see the woman he is with. In a heartwarming and comedic discourse of exploring one’s sexuality, the woman has newfound confidence, studying her vagina as if she were studying herself and claiming it as an extension of who she is.
“My Angry Vagina” touched on the subject of physical comfort and social commodity around vaginas. The monologue ended with a list of desires for the vagina: pleasure, freedom, touch, orgasms, chocolate and “to be loose and wild, not held together.”
The last monologue was titled “I Was There in the Room,” which described the beauty and importance of a woman giving birth. The vagina was described as an archeological tunnel that sang with strength.
At the end of Vagina Monologues, the actresses, singers and producers stood in unison, forming a semi-circle. They sang “Praying” by Kesha as they took their final bow and the audience gave a standing ovation.
After the show, students shared their reactions to the performances.
“I really enjoyed the show,” said Madison Calello, a freshman biology and elementary education dual major. “I thought that it was somber at times and humorous at others. The cast really showed great courage in their acts and made the show a wonderful experience.”
Nathan Moncayo, a freshman physics major, said each performance gave him a fresh perspective on the struggles that women face every day.
“I absolutely loved it,” Moncayo said. “The show was very dear and personal to me, and it gave me a perspective that I have not seen before. To walk into the lives of these women’s stories, and somehow relating and sympathizing with them. I love it.”