Outside of the Westerbeck Recital Hall, artist Wendy Madsen drove down from Utah to sell her own vulva pins and earrings in support of “The Vagina Monologues.” A collection of powerful words and stories of the conversations women may not have with their vaginas. Not just the unspeakable taboo of sexual violence, the shame that comes in women, but the journey it takes to recovery.
This year marks the 21st anniversary of the V-Day movement, dedicated to ending violence against all women and girls. One of the goals V-Day pushes for is depicting dialogue through a series of monologues by Eve Ensler that pushes the taboo on violence against women and girls.
Ensler created the collection of monologues after being a counselor to women who have been through sexual abuse.
“A part of her practice was to ask her patients about their relationship with their vagina. Ensler then put together the interviews and came to be The Vagina Monologues,” said Madsen.
Pasadena City College (PCC) hosted “The Vagina Monologues” Tuesday, Feb. 26 and Wednesday, Feb.27, at the Westerbeck Recital Hall. A full crowd filled the auditorium focused on the powerful stories told from different ages, some filled with humor while some filled your eyes with endless tears.
Students Monica Sassounian and Kevin Lopez found it nice that they were able to find humor in certain monologues. They felt this movement was empowering and important, wishing V-day came to PCC every semester instead of every February.
“It was funny because you don’t hear jokes about vaginas, it’s usually dick jokes,” Sassounian said. “I feel like women are usually excluded from talking about certain topics like our femininity or masculinity and this gives us a voice.
A few participants in the play felt “The Vagina Monologues” should even be reached out to high school students to inform and help young adults experiencing sexual abuse.
“The more we’re allowed to express ourselves and have a platform like this we can bring an awareness to everyone because it’s not just a woman’s cause it’s also a men’s cause,” performer Monique Jauregui said. “We allow men to be involved as well.”
Elaine Clements, a performer, felt it was important because this something that needs to be expressed in colleges.
“I know high school kind of starts it off but in college it’s when women really begin to get into themselves, it’s when we become more independent,” said Clements.
She also felt like vaginas are not talked about, creating a lingering fear that it’s not okay to talk about.
“This year 10 percent of donations went to women in prisons and jails, detention centers, and formerly incarcerated women,” the playbill said. “86 percent of incarcerated women in prison had been sexually assaulted or physically abused prior to their sentence. The other 90 percent of proceeding go to helping Pasadena’s Shepherd’s Door.”
V-Day and Shepherd’s Door aim to bring awareness to the aftermath abuse can cause in young women and adults.
Shepherd’s Door, founded by Linda Offray, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to break domestic violence relationship cycles by educating those affected. They provide counseling, youth violence prevention, relationship education sessions and more. Shepherd’s Door also help with restraining orders, income tax preparation and referrals for: food, clothing, computer training, job preparedness and even mental health counseling.
“[The Vagina Monologues] expresses the importance of sexual assault on college campuses as well as domestic violence. It encourages women to be proud of who they are, to be proud of their bodies,” Offray said. “It encourages women to speak out against sexual assault and domestic violence. It’s an education.”
The closing piece was called, “My Revolution Begins in the Body” performed by Gena Lopez Counselor/Coordinator of PCC’s Ujima. Lopez was the Vagina Warrior Honoree, a vagina friendly ally who assist in the battle V-day fights for.
“My revolution shows up unexpectedly,” Lopez said. “It is not naive but believes in miracle. Cannot be categorized, targeted, branded or even located. It offers prophecy.”
PCC, Shepherd’s Door and V-Day are all bringing awareness to the violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking, and domestic abuse by just being able to talk about it. They are providing a safe space to victims of abuse and allowing them to see they are not alone and there are places like Shepherd’s Door who dedicated their time to helping survivors.
If you are a student interested in being a part of the Vagina Monologues auditions are coming up in October. You can contact Professors Jennifer Fiebig or Jennifer Noble in September around the time casting call dates will be posted.
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