By Kira Goodwin, Staff Writer
This past Thursday and Friday (February 25-26), Gettysburg College hosted its annual Vagina Monologues. Brought to the college by Dean Ramsey 15 years ago, this feminist performance hopes to empower women and promote female activism. This event, sponsored by the Gettysburg College Women’s Center, sends all of its proceeds to Gettysburg PA’s Survivors Inc., a program that works to provide support to survivors of sexual assault.
The Vagina Monologues, written by Eve Ensler, were compiled by interviewing women all across America about their vaginas. Some are based on one woman’s story and others on many women’s stories surrounding the same idea.
The event opened with all of the night’s participants walking in quietly and sitting on the floor in front of the stage, where an open-mic set-up awaited its performers. All of the students were wearing red and black, meant to be symbolic of the night’s content. And after an introduction from this year’s directors, Naima Scott and Caroline Lewis, the stories commenced.
The monologues combined the humorous with the horrific in order to shock the audience into attention and keep them engaged. But moreover, they were highly provocative. The actresses’ goals were to make the audience uncomfortable, because they shared truths about being a woman, and thus the audience’s discomfort came from their acknowledgement of these truths.
They talked about women of all ages, from the 72-year-old who had never seen her vagina, to the six-year-old who, when asked what her vagina would be if it were clothing, answered “red high tops and a Mets cap worn backwards.” They talked about lesbian women, prostitution, transgender women, and abuse, both sexual and otherwise. Each of these had their own moments of inspiration.
For example, in the monologue “They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy,” which deals with the struggles of little boys growing up knowing they were actually women, inspiring moments of realization were shared. When they spoke of being able to get hormones and surgery and make their bodies match their insides, it was said that “I got permission to be myself.” And a line just as powerful and haunting remarked, “I would count the male particles as they died.”
These sorts of moments would highlight every monologue, brought to life by the students who put everything into their passionate readings of other people’s stories so they could successfully convey their messages. But they were not just other women’s stories. One student wrote her own monologue, detailing not only her experiences as a woman, but as a gay woman, and her powerful story highlighted the fact that everyone has their own personal experience with their femininity, no matter how much they can relate to that of others.
The entire night was shocking and powerful, but one of the most powerful moments was when they cut away from the monologues for a moment to share a fact, stating that 20 to 70 thousand women were raped in Bosnia as an act of war. A monologue goes on to detail this experience, but the fact itself is so disturbing that it alone should be enough for someone to want to stand up for women’s rights.
There were numerous other standout moments from the night that allowed every audience member to take away something personal from the experience. The Vagina Monologues were a significant and powerful event in inspiring female activism.