Stigmas surrounding the Vagina Monologues
By Steffi Feldman
Though Bryn Mawr College performs Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues every year as a matter of tradition and Haverford College put on a production of their own on Feb. 24, 25 an 26, audiences new to the play may have misconceptions about the piece and can be apprehensive of the material before they see it performed
Bryn Mawr sophomore, Emily Mobus said “It’s called ‘The Vagina Monologues’ so I think some people are off-put by the name or they assume that it’s only going to be about sex. They probably just think it’s really bizarre, almost like a cult thing.”
Ensler originally wrote the play in 1996 and conducted 200 interviews with women about their feelings about being a woman. This included questions about sex, relationships, and even violence against women. These interviews were transferred into a series of various monologues that comprise the content of the play. These monologues vary in theme to discuss everything from the experience of childbirth to loving sexual encounters, rape to a diatribe against tampons.
In connection with the popular play, In 1998 Ensler launched V-Day, a global non-profit movement that has raised over $75 million to donate to women’s anti-violence groups.
Yet the play still receives a certain amount of speculation. “I know when I went [for the first time] I really didn’t know what to expect, because ‘Vagina Monologues’? You don’t know what you’re going to hear,” said Lydia Ibarra BMC ’14. “You don’t expect it to be what it is. It’s monologues about embracing who you are and accepting the things that happen to you and the things that can happen to you as a woman.”
Abby Placik BMC ’15 thinks that the play has a lot of merit and lasting value. She says that the show is about “being comfortable with your body and not treating your vagina as a separate entity. It’s a part of yourself, it’s not something to be embarrassed about.”
“I think there’s a lot of shame involved when women talk about their vaginas—or when they don’t talk about them, rather—and so I think just being in a setting where just the word ‘vagina’ is used so freely makes you feel okay about it,” Mobus said. “It makes it something that’s not surrounded in mystery.” The piece is so readily and enthusiastically embraced at Bryn Mawr College because the attitude of the material very closely matches the general attitude of the women’s college.
“I’d say that Bryn Mawr College is one of the best places to perform The Vagina Monologues because it’s one of the most accepting places. I think a big part of being at Bryn Mawr is really understanding that who you are is okay and I think that’s a very big part of The Vagina Monologues as well,” Mobus said.
Stacey Horesh BMC ’15 thinks that “Haverford doing their own production as well really re-enforces the strength of the show’s message that women should be respected for how they are and who they want to be.”
“I do feel that statistically women still have the short [end of]stick between the sexes,” said Alec Johnsson HC ’15. He feels that it is important for men to see The Vagina Monologues in order “to raise awareness of the problems [women face].”
Haverford freshman Noah Root agrees, saying that the controversial title of the play does not bother him. He feels that it is appropriate for the material and the tone of the piece. Root said that men should take an active part in supporting the message of The Vagina Monologues. “This shouldn’t just be a job for women to empower themselves. Men should help,” said Root.