There’s no feeling quite like hearing an audience roar with applause after a woman onstage describes the “crumbling remains of the patriarchy.”
But that’s just what happened when College Feminists put on their annual performance of “The Vagina Monologues” this past Friday. Written by Eve Ensler in 1996, the play is a tribute to womanhood, femininity, and all things female. Ensler’s first draft of the play was born (no pun intended) out of 200 interviews with women about sex, relationships, and violence against women.
The backdrop for the show was a large projection screen that displayed different vagina-shaped flowers. At the beginning of the performance, a trio of young women introduced the various slang terms for vaginas across the United States, including those of Rochester. Memorable terms included a “garbage plate” and even “The Museum of Play.”
Senior Brooke Brehm explained to the audience that vaginas are directly linked to hair, and that pubic hair exists for a reason. Following this, the entire cast came on to the stage and explained what their vaginas would wear and say if vaginas could wear clothing and speak. With a few technical difficulties, microphone feedback, and a couple of forgotten lines, this monologue was not as poignant as it could have been.
Subsequent monologues featured an old woman’s discovery of her own vaginal lubrication as a result of sexual arousal, and another woman’s ability to find her clitoris and achieve orgasm (loudly) at a public workshop. These two phenomenal performances by sophomore Jackie Powell and senior Shakti Rambarran were highlights of the show.
“Vagina Monologues” juxtaposes lighthearted, empowering, and funny vignettes with heartbreaking and devastating facts about rape, genital mutilation, and sexual assault. The monologue “My Vagina Was My Village” was compiled from the testimonies of rape victims from Bosnia, where rape was used as a tactic during the Bosnian War.
Another monologue titled “They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy… Or So They Tried” was a transgender-inclusive skit that called attention to the transgender acceptance movement and the harsh realities that people who identify as transgender face in their daily lives.
Empowering monologues included “Reclaiming C—”—the word can be lovely despite its connotations—and “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” which featured an excellent performance by senior Lisle Coleman as a sex worker who explained why she loves making women orgasm and moan.
“My Short Skirt” covered the topic of how a woman’s dress has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not she is “asking” for sex. The show closed with a scene called “My Revolution” that echoed the greater sentiments of the current feminist movement, and director senior Kate Cowie-Haskell invited all audience members who have been victims of sexual assault—or knew someone else who was—to stand for a moment of silence.
The show sold over 800 tickets, and all proceeds will be donated to the Sojourner House, a homeless women’s shelter.
Overall, a few forgotten lines here and there and delayed scene changes took away from the show, but they certainly did not outweigh the pros, highlights, and important messages conveyed.