Embarrassing rashes, secret affairs and even one’s yearly income — all topics most find uncomfortable to talk about. Included in this list is the vagina. A subject matter many feel is best left in the dark, figuratively and literally.
Last Friday night, in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Administration Building (WHSCAB) auditorium, Emory University’s Center for Women brought the vagina out of the dark, into the spotlight and on to the stage with this year’s production of The Vagina Monologues.
comprise a series of personal accounts by women about their vaginas. Though the monologues vary in subject matter, ranging from descriptions of raging orgasms to intimate accounts of violence against women, they are all centered around the vagina, which is used as a symbol for female empowerment, individuality and self-acceptance. Every year Eve Ensler, who wrote the monologues in 1996, adds a new monologue to the collection that pertains to a current issue affecting women across the globe.
The Vagina Monologues
are just one part of a global movement, called V-Day, which strives to prevent violence against women of all ages. According to the program, V-Day encourages creative events that aim to spread awareness, raise funds and bolster anti-female violence organizations.
In the production’s program, the Monologue directors and College sophomores Anna Millard and Stephanie Yates shared some of the Monologues’ goals.
“The goal of The Vagina Monologues
is to ... spread the truth that the sights, sounds and smells of the vagina are not repulsive,” Millard and Yates wrote. “They are not undistinguished or somehow unfeminine; they are natural and beautiful.”
After the initial acknowledgements and introduction, the lights dimmed and first year Goizueta Business School student Iesha Scott took the stage, looked directly at the audience and proclaimed, “You cannot love a vagina unless you love hair.” In this monologue entitled “Hair,” Scott told the story of a woman whose husband wanted her to shave her vagina. When she refused to cut “the leaf around [her] flower,” her husband began having an affair.
This piece speaks to a predicament that all women face: to shave or not to shave? For whatever reason, the idea that it is natural for a woman to have pubic hair died right along side the last bra burned in the ’70s. And in its stead, we are left with razor burn, redness, uncontrollable itching and a manufactured desire to emulate the look of a pre-pubescent child. Through Scott’s poise and honesty, the physically uncomfortable reality of an often-accepted practice was illuminated.
In “Vagina Happy Fact,” Breanna McDaniel (‘11C) relayed a few facts about the vagina. McDaniel calmly explained that the clitoris houses an extraordinary amount of nerves. A mischievous, confident smile appeared on her face as she informed the audience that, in fact, the clitoris has over 8,000 sensory nerve endings.
“It’s twice,” she said, “twice the amount found in the penis.” There was pause as the audience took in the facts. “Who needs a hand gun when you’ve got a semi automatic,” McDaniel cried to uproarious laughter and applause.
Though many of the women featured in the Monologues spoke of self-empowerment, “Because He Liked to Look At It” told of a road less traveled in achieving love of one’s vagina.
College sophomore Natalia Via and College junior Tori Roisman, while alternating lines, opened this piece by saying, “This is how I came to love my vagina. It’s embarrassing because it’s not politically correct.” This monologue told the story of a woman who thought her vagina was ugly.
“I was one of those women who had looked at it, and from that moment on I wished I hadn’t,” they said.
In order to cope she pretended there was something else between her legs.
“I imagined furniture ... I got accustomed to this [and] I lost all memory of having a vagina.” That is, until she met Bob.
Via and Roisman explained that Bob was a totally ordinary man in every way except for one.
“It turned out that Bob loved vaginas,” they said. “He was a connoisseur. He loved the way they tasted, the way they smelled ... but most importantly Bob loved the way they looked.”
By the end of the monologue, the woman grows to love her vagina through Bob’s love. “I began to see myself the way he saw me. I began to feel beautiful and delicious.” The duo performed the piece with skill and charisma. In particular, Via’s dry wit and telling facial expressions added another layer of humor to the monologue.
Although the story of Bob illustrates the great affection men can have for the vagina, there were some monologues that told of another type of male attention.
In the monologue “My Vagina Was My Village,” College sophomore Madiah Ashraf and Emory hospital nurse Tess Jones describe the horrific experience of a Bosnian woman who was imprisoned in a rape camp in former Yugoslavia in 1993. Jones describes the beauty of the woman’s vagina before “the soldiers put a long, thick rifle inside me,” she cried.
One of the last, and most notable, monologues in the show, entitled “The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy,” was performed by College junior Geneva Philips, who told the story of a woman who loved to moan.
Philips appeared on stage in a pink bathrobe and while she pulled long black stocking over her legs, followed by enormous red high heals, she said, “I love vaginas. I love women. I do not see them as separate things.”
Silenced by men who could not handle the force and volume of her moan, she took to making other women moan. The bathrobe came off to reveal lacy lingerie, and Philips began to demonstrate the various types of moans women could have. One of the most entertaining, and perhaps relatable, moans was “the college moan.” Philips lay on her back, with her legs in the air, moving back and forth rapidly and said, “Oh my god, I’m so drunk.”
By the end of Philip’s monologue, the entire audience was cheering for her and applauding her audacity.
The Vagina Monologues
serve as a safe space for the actresses and those in attendance, whether female or male, to openly and honestly speak, laugh and cry about a subject that is often overlooked, forgotten or, in the absence of Bob, replaced by the mental image of a couch.
— Contact Arianna Skibell.