Vaginas take to the stage

Female students celebrated their most private parts this weekend in a local production of “The Vagina Monologues.”

Women moaned and demonstrated what it feels like to get pleasure from their vaginas, and others told stories about rape and abuse. One monologue represented Jewish, WASP, black, white and college students with different orgasm sounds.

“We were worried about vaginas, we were worried about the culture of vaginas,” said one actress, referring to why the play was produced, which fellow performers, echoed with shouts of “Vaginas.”

The “Monologues” is based on writer Eve Ensler’s interviews with many women of various ethnicities, sexualities and ages. Ensler directed the first Off-Broadway production in 1998. GW students, under the direction of junior Allison Curtis, performed a rendition of the show at D.C.’s Western Presbyterian Church this weekend.

Volunteer activists around the world have been performing the show recently in celebration of V-Day, a condemnation of violence against women, raising nearly $4 million for female-oriented organizations.

GW’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, which sponsored the show, averaged more than $400 each evening, which will be donated to local charities. Proceeds will be split between Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, which assists female, male and transgender sex workers lead healthy lives, and My Sister’s Place, a battered women’s shelter.

Approximately 60 audience members attended Saturday night, and participated in the production, answering questions such as, “What would you name your vagina?” and “If your vagina could talk, what would it say?”

One audience member answered, “It would be singing something from Oklahoma!” Another audience member said she named her vagina “Larry.”

“I was intrigued by the cultural level on which (actors) explore the topic,” said sophomore Julia Isham Hughes, who attended because several of her friends were performing. “This opened my eyes.”

Several monologues focused on rage and anger associated with the vagina.

One monologue began, “My vagina is pissed off.” The actress, dressed in black combat boots, stomped across the stage screaming in protest against tampons and gynecological exams. She ended the monologue by telling the audience, “My vagina wants everything.”

“I liked the angry vagina skit,” said sophomore Julie Serfass, an audience member. “I think it’s important and opens up this dialogue. There’s a big stigma around sexuality in general.”

Other speeches were based on interviews concerning rape, female genital mutilation and violence against women. The narrator told the audience that U.S. officials referred to violence against Iraqi women during the war as “collateral damage.”

Between skits, audience members were entertained by “Happy” and “Not So Happy” facts about sex and the female body. Audience members listened intently when an actor told audience members that it is illegal to sell vibrators in some southern states, such as Texas, but legal to sell guns.

Besides traditional monologues from Ensler’s repertoire, the “Monologues” continually updates its material to address pertinent cultural issues. Curtis changed one monologue, typically representing a marriage between a man and a woman, to a same-sex marriage, allowing her to address the recent controversy surrounding gay matrimony.

“The director altered it a little to show gay marriage and (included) additional monologues,” said sophomore Stefanie Fisher, an FMLA officer. “Gay issues are on the forefront and every year new (monologues) are presented to confront new issues.”

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