“It’s about more than just vaginas.”
As PCC students Vanessa Mena and Brittany Pereyda sat at a local Starbucks before their final performance, they erased the assumption that “The Vagina Monologues” by Eve Ensler were just stories about vaginas and the women who brag about them.
“It’s not about like how guys brag about their penises and we want to brag about our vaginas … It’s about bringing awareness,” Pereyda added.
The Cross Cultural Club, Psychology Club, and Feminist Club hosted “The Vagina Monologues” last Thursday and Friday in order to raise awareness about violence against women and girls, while also raising money for Shepherd’s Door, a non-profit organization dedicated to “prevent the cycle of domestic violence through youth education, public awareness and collaboration with community partners,” according to their website.
“The Vagina Monologues” consists of individuals performing the true stories of women who have lived through trauma. It is the collection of these women speaking together that tell the story of not just themselves, but the stories of others in order to offer solace and raise awareness.
The performers were assigned different monologues and worked on them individually. Unlike other plays where performers go to table reads and meet with their castmates weekly, sometimes daily, the performers for “The Vagina Monologues” didn’t hear each other perform until the day before the performance.
There haven’t been many platforms for women to speak about their intimate lives and sexualities, including the shame that may come with dealing with trauma or abuse. “The Vagina Monologues” is Eve Ensler’s ability to navigate the delicate waters of discovering one’s sexuality and sensuality as well as the hidden stories that make some of them survivors.
The sensitive nature of the topics the monologues cover can be unsettling for some, including audience members and even actors themselves. Pereyda had a monologue that others could see as uncomfortable in its boldness, but to Pereyda, the theater is a space where she feels she can be herself.
“In my monologue, I have to moan on stage,” Pereyda said. “I’m fortunate to have my mom and my grandma be so open. They came to the show last night and they were like, ‘We didn’t feel uncomfortable at all! We felt fine!’ And I’m just like, ‘Great!’ But I know other people, not so much.”
Mena was challenged when a performer dropped out at the last minute, and she was given two days to prepare. Her monologue is considered one of the emotional peaks in the show, as it relates to the experience of someone who dealt with child molestation.
“I cried the first time I read it,” Mena said. “I was sitting there [after] and just felt really proud. And that’s something I hadn’t really felt before as a woman and in a group of women to feel that proud. It was emotional.”
The plays have become a part of the feminist movement in the sheer effectiveness of the organization’s ability to bring awareness to the umbrella of issues feminism touches.
According to one of the producers of the play, human sexuality professor at PCC Jennifer Noble, the definition of feminism on a global stage in 2017 is “an awareness and insistence upon equality. [It’s about] women standing for other women. You can be a woman, you can be an immigrant, you can be a certain religion, you have all these different things that all go along with being a woman. So it’s all those things together in recognition of humanity overall.”
“The Vagina Monologues” will be returning to PCC next year, and the auditions for the 2018 performances will be this October.