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The Vagina Monologues

The Vagina Monologues
February 15th 2007

Having no idea what the Vagina Monologues were, I went ahead and bought my ticket on the chance that I could learn something and have a good laugh while doing it. Of course I had some pre-conceived notions about the monologues (i.e. a bunch of women standing on stage and talking about their vagina’s), and although they turned out to be true, I realized there is a lot more to it than some vagina jokes.

The first thing I noticed was how great the audience was. Everyone seemed to be really into the show, laughing a lot, and being respectful when the monologues were more serious. I thought how great it was that these people could perform and give a message (which can be quite controversial at times) to an audience that was very supportive. After the show I got to thinking about consciousness-raising groups that were formed early in the feminist movement. I was trying to think of groups that were around today, obviously there are quite a few (just a few named during our fourth blog posting assignment), but I thought that the Vagina Monologues could be a place for modern day consciousness-raising. The audience mainly consisted of women (with a few men here and there) and the play was about women. Each skit had something to do with women and the concerns they had or just stories they wanted to share and express.

As I said before, there was a lot more to the monologues than I had imagined. It turned out to be relevant to today’s world violence and strife including stories from many different wars and violent times. The monologues touched on class and ethnic issues as well as general issues that women face daily.

One of my favorite stories was about the comfort-women of Japan. The comfort-women were described (by the monologues) as women forced or bought into service by the Japanese Military from surrounding countries. These women had no rights; they were raped, abused, starved, and killed. They were basically there for the soldiers to have sex with. And now that it is 60 years later, these women want an apology from the Japanese government, but they won’t get one. In fact, the Japanese government erased all knowledge of this from their text books and literature. More information can be gathered at Comfort-Women.org, an educational site about the history and movement of these women. http://www.comfort-women.org/v2/index.html

This was just a sample of one of the monologues. Others covered topics ranging from female genital mutilation in many cultures, to abuse of women in Native American communities. The more and more I thought about it, I realized that these monologues were a way to inform and excite people into action.

Some of the more light-hearted skits had a great message as well. These skits were mostly about women’s vaginas, what women called their vaginas, what they thought of them, how they were treated or specific women’s testimonies and stories. My favorite of all of these was about a woman’s vagina that was pissed off. She didn’t like the cotton tampons or the stirrups and the tools used at obgyn clinics. There was a lot more to it and I wish I could repeat the whole thing because it was so funny. A theme that I noticed in this specific monologue as well as the rest of them was, “your vagina is you?. It can define you and you should know it, not be afraid of it, not let anyone treat it poorly, use it’s name in a derogatory fashion, abuse it… ect. It seems kind of silly for me to talk about a vagina like this, but it makes a lot of sense.

I couldn’t help but think that a lot of these women (in the stories) have experienced oppression about their own vaginas. They weren’t comfortable with their bodies (specifically their vagina) or how they wanted to use it. One monologue was about a woman at a vagina workshop who found complete ecstasy once she realized she hadn’t lost her clitoris. The fact that she ever thought she lost her clitoris says something about the way vaginas are viewed not only personally but as a society. And since a vagina is a part of every woman, it says a lot about what society thinks about women in general.

Everyone should see these monologues performed. They were sponsored by MPIRG (Minnesota Public Interest Research Group) and they are performed around Valentines Day every year. I saw them performed at the St. Paul Student Center, but Augsburg and Macalister also hosted them.