By Kara VanBlagren, Women’s Center Correspondent
On Feb. 20 and 21, the Women’s Center presented The Vagina Monologues (TVM) for the 13th time in Gettysburg College history. Known as being both hilarious and tragic at times, the show addresses many of the shared experiences of women today.
Written by Eve Ensler in 1996, TVM comprises a series of monologues based on the author’s interviews with over 200 women across all ages, preferences, and races about their sexual ex- periences. Ensler asked each woman questions such as, “If your vagina could talk, what would it say? What would it wear?” As one of the monologues reports, women were initially hesitant to talk about their vaginas, but once the conversation got going, the interviewer couldn’t stop them. For many of the women interviewed, this was the first time anyone had asked them about their “down theres”.
With titles like “Hair,” “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could” and “Reclaiming Cunt,” the show takes a lighthearted approach to the often-taboo subject of female sexuality. This year, Ensler included a new piece entitled “One Billion Rising for Justice” about her new movement to end violence against women.
One Billion Rising for Justice began in 2012 after the U.N. released the statistic that one in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, totaling approximately one billion women worldwide.
Statistics and stories about sexual assault are incorporated throughout the show in the form of “Happy and Not So Happy Facts” in the hopes to bring further attention to the epidemic of violence against women. Stories from women from around the world highlight the transnational nature of violence against women.
The story of a sex worker showcases a woman’s power to make other women moan as well as examples of the types of moans she’s learned to expect. “The Angry Vagina” berates the tortures exacted on woman, like tampons, OBGYN tools and thong underwear. A Bosnian woman’s story of rape at the hands of seven soldiers grounds the audience in the severity of the violence perpetrated against women.
The roller-coaster of emotive dialogues takes the audience on a ride from extreme laughter to plain uncomfortable and then to profound sadness, sometimes within the course of one monologue.
Dean Ramsey boldly brought The Vagina Monologues to Gettysburg College in 2002 in the hopes to renew the discussion about sexual assault on our campus. Additionally, Survivors Inc. of Adams County President and CEO Terri Hamrick presented statistics about sexual assault in our community as well as information about support available. A percentage of proceeds from the show go to Survivors Inc.
The show concluded with a presentation of Students Against Sexual Assault’s (SASA) video compilation of Gettysburg College men responding to the question “Why are vaginas important to you?”
Co-directors Emily Zeller, Liz Marshall, and Hillary Mallet led this years cast in a sold out show on Friday night. This show was, as it always is, truly a night to remember.