Certain words have always been a taboo topic for discussion, as if they should be relegated to nonexistence. But, does this attitude help us learn? Eve Ensler, the Tony award winning playwright, would say otherwise. Vagina was that mysteriously hushed word in her life, as it can be for most women. Ensler questioned the reason for this, and her findings eventually became the highly acclaimed and Obie Award winning play, The Vagina Monologues.
The play first premiered in 1996, and by the late 1990s the play was revised for it to become a classic part of the movement to stop sexual violence against women. Ensler used the play’s popularity to establish V-Day, which coincides with Valentine’s Day, and is celebrated the whole month of February. For 16 years many community theatres, colleges and universities have maintained a tradition of putting on a performance of The Vagina Monologues in February. It’s also meant to be completely free for attendees.
Previously at UNCG, the Women’s and Gender Studies program produced The Monologues, until a four year break ceased its production. With much commitment by the university’s professional staff, departments, and student volunteers, the play has been reinstated as a yearly tradition.
This February at UNCG is our fourth annual showing of The Vagina Monologues, presented by Housing and Residence Life and the Residence Hall Association, and sponsored by the Elliott University Center. This celebration of the vagina takes place February 10th and 11th at 7 PM, with a suggested five dollar donation, as well as donations of tampons and pads that will benefit homeless women in Greensboro. This play is bringing awareness to the Clara House/ Piedmont Family Services, a local domestic violence shelter. Students, faculty, and the public are all welcome to enjoy the performance at the EUC auditorium.
Yet, for those of you deciding to attend, you may be wondering why this play is so highly acclaimed. The Vagina Monologues, contains a blunt, yet sometimes provocative dialogue about the everyday struggle of womanhood. It has been performed in over 140 countries, and translated into 48 languages.
As a person who has seen a past production of The Vagina Monologues at UNCG and has watched numerous YouTube performances, I can say the play is an emotional experience for every gender. Ensler captured the true stories of women by interview, and wrote accounts from a plethora of backgrounds. Stories will make you cry, such as the Bosnian survivor of rape, and some will make you laugh, such as the lesbian woman who loved to make her sexual partners moan. Some stories breed a type of triumph, such as the woman who hated her vagina, but found a man who could not stop looking at how beautiful it was. Ensler has a way of making this single body part take on its own magnificent characteristics that most people could not even fathom possible.
However, with the changing times, The Vagina Monologues can seem outdated by those who believe it does not showcase the beauty of all kinds of women, such as transgender women. The latest revisions in 1996 did select a single monologue named, “They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy,” which is a lovely tribute to transgender women. Showcasing one girl’s journey to her young realization that she was not a boy, but a woman underneath the shell she was born in. The account describes the antagonistic and hateful peers that chased away her feminine emotions till she was scared into acting like a stereotypical boy, when one day she moved to an area which supported her desires and she transitioned into a beautiful woman.
This may be the only monologue featuring a transgender woman, but I believe it is done to show relatability for those going through a similar struggle between gender identity and pressures to conform to larger societal pressure.
The word vagina has been shunned from many women’s mouths out of fear that it is not okay to speak of. Women of all backgrounds and men alike can come to regard the mysteries of women through this single multicultural play. With our government’s recent turbulent attitude toward women’s needs, The Vagina Monologues is a must see, and a great understanding of how many women feel about this anything-but-simple body part.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment