The Vagina Monologues Continued to Raise Awareness For V-Day

03.21.12 Page 13 Image 0002The University held its eighth annual performance of The Vagina Monologues in Pollak Theatre on March 6. The play was written to raise awareness of violent and sexual crimes committed against women.

The Vagina Monologues has come to support the V-Day movement by raising money, and garnering support for the issue of sexual violence. The “V” in V-Day stands for “all sorts of V words, like victory, but especially vagina,” said one of the performers. The proceeds of this movement go to local charities and shelters.

This particular performance of the play was to benefit the local charity, 180: Turning Lives Around. Sara Billings, a member of this charity, ran an information booth in the lobby. “Our mission is to end domestic violence in the community. The proceeds are going to our agency, so we really appreciate the support and assistance in raising awareness.”

The play, originally slated to commence at 7:30 pm, had to be held until 7:45 pm because of the throngs of people making their way into the Pollak Theatre. A cast of 14 women performed to a nearly-full house.

The performance was dynamic, engaging and, above all, fun. The actresses performed well and kept their composure during portions that would’ve made most others burst into laughter. One line that really left the audience in stitches was, “I don’t want my p***y to smell like rain!” Even the most conservative audience members began to loosen up as the performers got the crowd to let out orgasm moans and chant the “C” word.

All of the members of the audience, from men and women to old and young, could relate to the characters in this play.

One skit, titled “My Angry Vagina,” was a rant on consumerism and the way people are expected to conform to society’s ideals on beauty. Though obviously in the context of female sexuality, everyone has had some experience with what they are “expected” to look, sound or smell like. This point of view was backed by an earlier story about a woman whose husband was cheating on her. His excuse was that “she couldn’t please him sexually,” though the only issue was that he wanted her to have a shaved and hairless vagina and she said no.

However, the performance did not allow humor to overshadow the very serious message. One member took note to share the tragic reality of crimes against women.

Statistics were shared with the audiences that included the fact over 50 million girls have suffered and three million suffer such gential mutilations every year.

Another is that over 200,000 women in America are raped every year - and those are only the reported incidents. Such facts were brought into a tear-jerking perspective when one cast member shared the story of a woman who was captured by a militant group then beaten, tortured and raped. She told this through a metaphor of a village. While at first, the village (her vagina) was happy, fertile and prosperous, these men invaded it, ruined it and tore it apart. The woman suffered irreparable damage to her reproductive system; her mental and sexual health will never be fully restored.

Despite such information, there is always hope. The V-Day movement has raised over 80 million dollars in addition to the incredible amounts of time, labor and other non-monetary forms of assistance. The University raised $17,000 last year and hopes for $19,000 this year.

At the end of the show, two individuals were named “Vagina Warriors” for their efforts towards preventing and eliminating abuse against women. The 2012 recipients were Blaze Nowara and Jamie Mitchell. Gail Temple, Ellen Bloom and Monica Schiffman were named as runner-ups.

Blaze Nowara, a grad student in the class of 2012, was noted for his work with current and former inmates through alternativetoviolence. org. “It’s amazing to see all these people out. The production was fabulous tonight. That’s what really needs to happen. People need to come together to accomplish something. To be a part of that… I feel honored,” Nowara said.

Many of the others involved shared similar thoughts. “It was a lot of hard work, but tonight was so moving. It went a lot better than expected. Hearing the reactions of the audience, seeing the nominees, it was inspiring,” said performer and senior Sarah Clemency.

Fellow performer Maria Kohut, also a senior, added, “the whole point of it was to open peoples’ eyes. Some of it was sad, but it was all enlightening.”

The production stressed that an estimated one billion women throughout the coming year will suffer from violent or sexual offenses.

For those who want to be a part of the fight against such crimes, they can text “billion” to 50555 or go to vday.com/rising for more information.

PHOTO COURTESY of Simone Takacs