Rough history and Vagina Monologues controversy

Controversy, violence and the vagina make their way to UVSC for the fifth year in a row, presenting The Vagina Monologues.

The Vagina Monologues has been a running tradition at UVSC – a tradition of outrage and intolerance shared by both sides of the issue.

Many feel it is unnecessary and grotesque, ripping posters advertising for it off the wall to demonstrate their disapproval; others believe the truth lies in the stories it tells, shaming rape and highlighting important women’s issues such as love and abuse.

"We need to ask ‘Why?’ when our play posters get anonymously pulled off of bulletin boards, or people turn and run from anything with the word VAGINA in it," Carmell Hoopes-Clark, the director of this year’s play, said. "What are people so afraid of?"

What exactly is "The Vagina Monologues?" Why is it that is causes so much debate?

It is a play made up of several one-person speeches and skits that are read by a varying number of women.

Every speech is somehow related to the vagina. The relation could be through sex, rape, menstruation, mutilation, masturbation, birth, orgasm, the variety of names for the vagina, or simply as a physical aspect of the female body.

"I read the play as I was coping with instances of abuse in my own life, and found reading it to be amazing in facilitating healing for myself and others who faced similar traumas," Errin Julkunen-Pedersen, contributor and cast member of The Vagina Monologues, said. "I knew that it would be able to help countless other women in this area, and realized it had to happen."

The play was written in 1996 by Eve Ensler. She wrote it as a way to "celebrate the vagina" and show that it is a tool of female empowerment – the ultimate embodiment of individuality.

Originally, Ensler acted out each monologue herself. It was her way to battle and destroy the shame and embarrassment that many women still associate with their bodies or their sexuality. This battle continues today.

The presentation is thought of as a tribute to women’s sexuality and a condemnation of its violation.

In connection with the play, she also started what is known as V-Day. It took place for the first time on February 14, 1998. The V stood for valentine, vagina and victory. It was an attempt to link love and respect for women, while ending violence against women and girls.

The proceeds from these performances go to programs that work to end violence against women and girls, including crisis centers and women’s shelters.

In one of the monologues, "I Was There in the Room," Eve Ensler describes the birth of her granddaughter.

Another one is called "My Vagina Was My Village," a monologue compiled from the testimonies of Bosnian women subjected to rape camps.

"I feel very fortunate to have been part of a production that has helped many people, women and men, have a change of perspective regarding women and their bodies," Julkunen-Pedersen stated. "I hope that this, and other projects like it, can remind our society that there is no reason for violence – in any form."

Every year, at least one new skit is added to the performance.
The play will be held Tuesday, February 26, at 7 p.m. in the Ragan Theater.

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