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Vagina Monologues: VDAY

The artistic event that I attended for class was the “Vagina Monologues.� The event took place at UWEC in Eau Claire, WI. The Vagina Monologues is based on a book written by Eve Ensler. She interviewed hundreds of women and got them to talk about their vaginas.

Some of the questions she asked them included; What would it wear, what would it say, what does it smell like, and have you ever had an orgasm? It took a while for the women to open up, but when they did there were many issues they wanted to talk about. The purpose of the monologues is to draw attention to women’s issues around the world. It has become an international event to celebrate “V(agina)-Day.� In Eau Claire, the Vagina Monologues proceeds are going toward the Bolton Refuge House, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse, and CASA, or Center for Awareness of Sexual Assault, a place on campus where victims of sexual assault are encouraged to talk about their experiences and help other victims with support groups. V-Day sponsors that make the event possible include; Barney’s New York, Bloomberg, Dramatists Play Service, Glamour Magazine, Luna Bar, Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams, and Vosges Haut Chocolat.
The content within the Vagina Monologues is very diverse. Some is extremely humorous, and some focuses on serious issues that are affecting women around the world. It is about the empowerment of women, their sexuality, and sisterhood and to draw attention to women’s suffering worldwide. The Monologues draw attention to women’s sexuality with the discussion of the necessity of foreplay, masturbation, and locating the clitoris. Discussions of these issues are considered taboo in society, but the Monologues provide a good outlet for the empowerment of women and provide a place to learn about women’s sexuality issues that are normally not talked about. There was a dialogue about masturbation that was really related to class. There was a 24 year-old woman who was showing a 16-year-old how to pleasure herself so she would never need a man. This was empowering for the younger woman, and it helped her to understand the beauty of her sexuality. This was a common theme within many of the monologues.
Other than the empowerment of women and discussions about the beauty of their sexuality, there were many issues of a more serious nature that were discussed in the Monologues. These issues include female genital mutilation, domestic abuse, rape, and torture such as acid burnings. These horrible issues were talked about on mostly, a worldwide scale, but over 500,000 rapes occur in the United States each year. There were more shocking statistics including, 1 of 3 women and 1 of 5 men are sexually assaulted during their lives, and in Pakistan and Islamabad, over 2,000 women have been the victims of acid burnings in which their bodies and faces have been nearly burned off. Within these acid-burning cases, only 1 of 9 men had been prosecuted by law enforcement. Also, there was a dialogue about over 300 women who had been tortured in Juarez. They were taken to a desert and tortured for over a week and came back with hands, nipples, and faces cut off. Finally, there was a dialogue about how a woman was raped in Bosnia during the war by soldiers. Soldiers shoved their guns in her as well as taking turns raping her for over a week. These were some of the horrible issues that the Monologues were hoping to draw attention to. The images that were produced in my mind as the women were talking were horrific and will stay with me for a long time.
Based on our discussions in class, I thought that there were some content within the Monologues that could have been eliminated. There were some parts that were humorous, but may have undermined some groups of women even though the purpose was to empower women. There was a monologue about “moaning� that had the “moans� of specific groups of women including; Irish-Catholics, African-Americans, Jewish, and bisexual. The moans associated with these groups enforced stereotypes that may have hurt these groups. I thought it was interesting how the entire performance was focused on women in general, but may have hurt these individual groups. It reminded me a lot about the different forms of oppression other than gender that can be affected.