When I first heard of The Vagina Monologues back in high school, I thought it was just an open forum where women could walk on stage and started talking about whatever came to mind about their lady parts. Well, when I got to college not only did I learn the truth, but I actually saw it performed for the first time.
My freshman year, I joined the feminist club at school with my friend. At one of the early meetings we attended, I learned that our campus was putting on a production of The Vagina Monologues. I attended, still not totally sure what exactly I was going to go see, but as you may imagine, the show’s set-up was different than my high school assumption. No, it wasn’t an open mic-night where women just all got up on stage at random, but rather an actual theatrical performance with actors and a script.
The show is a series of monologues, written by Eve Ensler and based on interviews she conducted with many women. The show’s aim is to explore female sexuality in its many forms and experiences. People worldwide have been exposed to The Vagina Monologues, as performances have occurred in 140 countries and the piece has been translated into 48 languages.
Okay, so if a title like The Vagina Monologues makes you kind of laugh nervously, that’s okay because some of the monologues performed do have a humor element, and some deal with positive sexual encounters. However, a number of the monologues also deal with more serious topics, including violence against women in various forms. These can be both hard to listen to and be an extremely powerful experience.
I think because I didn’t know that it dealt with such a range of female experiences, I wasn’t expecting to be so emotionally affected by The Vagina Monologues. I realized though that I felt it was important to show my respect for the women who shared their story with Ensler by listening to all of them – even the ones that made me feel uncomfortable or cry. I had previously given little thought to vaginas, so the show really stuck with me as I reflected on the fact that every piece performed was at least one woman’s reality.
Over the years, The Vagina Monologues has generated some controversy, and as there are some graphic themes and language in the performance, viewing The Vagina Monologues may not be right for everyone. Still, The Vagina Monologues continues to be performed each year at colleges and in communities, and in doing so, they not only raise awareness, but also money, to help women who face violence in their lives and communities.
The Vagina Monologues are performed around this time of year as a benefit for the non-profit V-Day. Ensler started V-Day to work toward achieving an end to violence against women throughout the world. V-Day events might feature performance of The Vagina Monologues or other select works, film screenings or workshops, all in an effort to inform people about this global issue and raise funds for the V-Day mission. Since V-Day was first founded, they have raised more than $90 million for their efforts.
This year will be the 15th anniversary of V-Day and the special campaign this year is called One Billion Rising, which calls for a billion individuals “to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence.” So what is the official date of V-Day? You guessed it – February 14.
Had you heard of The Vagina Monologues before? What about V-Day? Do you know if V-Day events happen in your community? Tell us in the comments!