Vaginas shouldn’t make people uncomfortable. The genital is fundamentally important to the human equipped with it, and that doesn’t just apply to cis women.
From Friday Feb. 15 to Sunday Feb. 17, the Women’s Action Coalition staged their annual production of “The Vagina Monologues” in the Knight Spot. This year’s show was directed by theater major senior Lila Klatz.
“The Vagina Monologues” was written by Eve Ensler, a lesbian woman, and was first performed in the West Village, a New York City neighborhood where many people in the LGBTQ+ community reside, according to Klatz.
Klatz believes that vaginas hold a lot of power, which is one reason why society does not talk about them.
“There is so much power in someone who has a vagina and trying to harness that, own it and talk about their stories with their vaginas, [which] makes the show uncomfortable. It’s people with vaginas finally harnessing their power,” Klatz said.
Cast member senior Skye Rose also stressed society’s lack of talk about the vagina.
“I feel like vaginas are shamed by society and they’re not openly talked about,” Rose said. “It is shocking when you go and hear people talking about vaginas for an hour and a half.”
The show is a comedy, but many topics, such as violence, rape and emotional struggles, were more serious. The “My Short Skirt” monologue, performed by Rose, is about rape and highlights that wearing certain clothing does not mean you are asking for it.
“Not to be biased, but I think ‘My Short Skirt’ [is really relevant] because there are a lot of instances and cases of rape where victims are asked ‘What were you wearing?’ ‘Obviously, that’s why it happened,’” Rose said. “But that’s not why. Just because I’m wearing a short skirt doesn’t mean I give you permission to do something to me.”
All cast members were incredible and every story was stunning, but this semester’s performance was more than a bunch of readings about vaginas. Klatz wanted to emphasize something new: diversity and accessibility.
“Going into it, I was thinking about how to make this accessible to all people. I think the way I thought about the blocking, I started by thinking about the trans woman’s monologue. We don’t have any trans women in the cast,” Klatz said. “I didn’t have any characters in my cast that could actually represent this monologue. With that one, I kind of just [thought] ‘How do I accurately represent these voices?’ If I could still hear them but not associate them with a face, that’s still hearing the person’s voice and hearing their stories without saying ‘[cis women] are representing trans women.’”
To remedy this issue, each performer turned around and did not face the audience, but spoke the monologue together at certain points.
Rose also touched on the show’s lasting importance, despite some questionable elements.
“I learned that it’s an important play for many reasons in how it gives you a powerful sense,” Rose said. “When you really look at it, you see that there are some issues with it, but it’s still powerful to be in.”
Klatz referenced the talk-back session from Friday Feb. 15 where they spoke to the audience about the show’s flaws and what they really wanted the audience to learn.
“You do not need to love your body in order to love yourself, which is something ‘The Vagina Monologues’ does not tell you,” Klatz said. “The thing that I want people to understand is that not everyone with a vagina is a woman. Not every woman has a vagina. On top of that, just the different experiences faced [are different]. I kind of jokingly said to the cast it should be called the ‘Women’s Monologues’ because it’s really just a bunch of women talking about their experience with vaginas.”
The Women’s Action Coalition’s annual production is a long-awaited platform for inspiration for vaginal appreciation. It is not only important to posit that individuals with vaginas deserve to be respected, but also that having a vagina does not define a person’s gender, just as it doesn’t define a person’s consent.