Vagina Monologues promotes open dialogue on sexuality

Alexandra Finkel

In her hometown of Billings, Mont., Cathy Muskett would never have been caught yelling the word “vagina.”

“I grew up in a really conservative part of the country and went to Catholic school,” the Weinberg freshman said. “My parents have never said the words ‘vagina’ or ‘sex’ in front of me in my entire life.”

That’s why Muskett joined this year’s production of “The Vagina Monologues.” She said she found it empowering to say “vagina” multiple times in front of her peers.

The play, directed by Communication sophomore Grayson Vreeland, was performed three times on Sunday at Ryan Family Auditorium.

Written by women’s rights activist Eve Ensler in 1996, the play is based on 200 real interviews she conducted with women about their experiences with their vaginas. Inspired by the reactions to her show, Ensler then created V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women.

Vreeland said she hoped to transform the sometimes serious show into a more positive and uplifting experience.

“I saw it last year and I liked it, but I remember feeling there were some changes that I would have made had I directed it,” Vreeland said. “The show can come across as aggressive, but I wanted people to have warm, fuzzy and happy feelings when they left.”

The one-hour performance featured 10 monologues from a diverse group of women with differing perspectives about their vaginas.

“We were worried about what we think about vaginas, and even more worried that we don’t think about them,” one woman said as the show began. “There’s so much darkness and secrecy surrounding them – like the Bermuda triangle. Nobody ever reports back from there.”

Muskett performed “Because he liked to look at it,” in which a woman describes her personal transformation of thinking her vagina was ugly to appreciating it after meeting a man who spent hours looking at it. Later in “The woman who liked to make vaginas happy,” a dominatrix explains her love of pleasuring women and ends with a vocal demonstration of a “triple orgasm.”

The play juxtaposes these humorous topics with more serious monologues and facts about rape and female mutilation.

Set designer Shannon Oliver-O’Neil sewed together dozens of white sheets and draped them from the ceiling to create a more intimate experience in the large lecture hall. Oliver-O’Neil said she got involved with the production because of the importance of female sexual empowerment.

“I still feel like we are so behind. I went home over Christmas and spoke to so many girls who are scared and misinformed when it comes to their vaginas,” the Communication sophomore said. “I feel like this is a step in the right direction. I want the audience to come away interested and not be so afraid of talking about female sexuality.”

All proceeds from the show went to charity – 90 percent toward Deborah’s Place, a charity that helps homeless women, and 10 percent to V-Day’s official charity.

Communication sophomore Emily Anderson said she was impressed by how intimate the setting seemed.

“If the audience doesn’t feel comfortable, then it won’t have had the same effect,” Anderson said.

Daniel Lazar had already seen the show at DePaul University before he went on Sunday. Lazar said he enjoys the show not only because of its creativity in presenting the monologues, but because of its message.

“I think, to an extent, it takes some of the shock value out of feminism which can sometimes be that way,” the Communication sophomore said. “The more these ideas are presented, especially in such a passionate way, takes some of the edge out of it.”

[email protected]