By Michaela Lies
February 19, 2015
For many of us, February is the month of celebrating a Valentine or ignoring the lack thereof. On university campuses around the country, many students also identify it as time for the The Vagina Monologues. What began as one woman’s idea to raise awareness and eliminate violence against women has turned into an international affair.
Every year organizations put together the event known as the The Vagina Monologues to promote awareness of the cause and encourage donations to put towards local projects, such as women’s shelters or rape crisis centers. The performance is a way to give a voice to the stories of women. In my experience, these stories range from traumatic incidences to a recounting of very funny journeys. Each monologue has its own style. The format of the performance offers the audience a unique look into the lives of women all around the world, of different ages, races, and definitely with varying views on sexuality.
The Vagina Monologues are part of a bigger initiative known as V-Day. According to their official website, “V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations”. Oftentimes, organizations, such as my college, carry out an entire V-Week comprised of events that are inspired by the V-Day initiative.
What’s the point of this, you ask? It’s a current event that reflects the need for change. These annual performances enlighten us about the struggles of women all over the world. They show us that women are still hurting, whether it is from physical harm or the fear of their own sexuality. This is my fourth year as an actress in the The Vagina Monologues at my college. At first, I participated for myself; I needed to open my mind up to the ideas about society’s views of my body and decide for myself how I thought of what it means to be female. Now, though, I am performing because I believe these monologues deserve a voice, and I think that the women and men in the audience deserve to have their ideas challenged and their eyes opened. Many of my female friends approached me after my first performance and told me that while some of the content was startling at first, they felt empowered by these stories.
Although I have heard some of these monologues several times, their messages continue to resonate, to fill the room. The good, the bad, and the surprising things that Eve Ensler has documented continue to impress me.
Although we have made leaps and strides in the way of gender equality, we still have a long distance to run before anyone can boast about the safety of girls and women on a global level. If you’re interested in learning more about the monologues and V-Day, visit http://www.vday.org/about/why-vday-started.html#.VOQCMy6gXaw to learn how it started and about the details of the initiative. And by all means, go to a performance this month (and during the beginning of March). Sit in on a show that makes you a little uncomfortable at first, one that deals with real issues that exist right next door as well as halfway around the world. I suspect you’ll walk away with more than just a ticket stub.
Written by Michaela Lies, writing intern at Three Rivers Community Foundation and student at Washington & Jefferson College