Over Valentine’s Day weekend, Colgate students put on the play “The Vagina Monologues.” The show is performed around the world near Valentine’s Day every year to raise awareness of women’s bodies and related issues, such as domestic and sexual abuse. Eve Ensler wrote “The Vagina Monologues” and created “V-Day,” a feminist movement to stop violence against girls and women. The play incorporates about thirty scenes, a combination of short informational monologues, stories and poems.
Before the play started, students shared personal pieces to bring this national conversation to Colgate, starting with a monologue about the concept of beauty and how women are just seen as marketable façades. Next, senior Julia Won read her spoken word poem about being more than just “your exotic oriental chick.” She listed off numerous stereotypes that surround both Asian females and males in powerful statements conveying Asian people are more than just those stereotypes. A poem titled “Love Is” was recited, followed by a short discussion about STDs and protection. Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” was recited, then three girls explained why there will always be another rape poem “until no really means no” and “woman means human.” The mood was lightened with a humorous discussion about the various nicknames vaginas are given.
Monologues followed, including first-year Sydni Bond, who told the story of a wife who was forced to shave to please her husband, a comical dialogue between three girls about what their vagina would wear and what it would say and a story about an elderly woman who did her best to ignore the existence of her vagina after an embarrassing incident when she was a young girl.
Sophomore Kelsey Soderberg played a woman who did not discover how amazing the vagina was until the vagina-connoisseur Bob liked to look at it and appreciate it. The serious topic about female genital mutilation was discussed followed by girls voicing their interpretation of the annoyance vaginas feel for the way they are treated. Stories were told of women being raped by soldiers as acts of war. The scene “My Short Skirt,” then discussed how women should not be judged or assaulted for the clothes they were. Senior Melisa Erginbilgic and first-year Mimi Ballard stated how “my short skirt is the liberation flag in the women’s army” and no matter what a woman wears, her body belongs to her alone.
Another highlight was when a lawyer turned dominatrix, played by sophomore Clare Schneider, demonstrated many types of moans, including “the college student,” which consisted of swear words and the regret of procrastinating on work. Ashleandra Opoku charged the air with her revolutionary speech in “My Revolution Begins in the Body.” The revolution is about overthrowing the patriarchy in a non-violent way so women have control over their own bodies and no one else. The play ended with a call to action and the director and assistant directors, senior Natasha Torres and sophomores Grace Thomas and Grace Western, respectively, talking about how people need a “radical shift in consciousness to enact change.”
“I truly hope the show achieved its goal of educating people about domestic violence,” Soderberg said. “I hope it also educated Colgate students about feminist issues. Feminism, for me, is having an open discussion about the patriarchal, heteronormative and racial institutions that impede so many lives, including our lives here at Colgate.”
Soderberg’s hope rang true for many, as evident by first-year Paul Jackson’s reaction to the play.
“I [was] expecting something totally different,” Jackson said. “Instead I got a sense of how women feel about having a vagina and the quirks that accompany it. ‘The Vagina Monologues’ was a very enlightening and exuberant performance that was handled warmly. I feel that the call to action for abuse through the theatrical approach is serving its purpose year after year. A change will come.”