I just finished watching the Vagina Monologues presentation at my university and was blown away by its impact. Vagina Monologues is a presentation where about two dozen actresses come up either individually or with a few others for various monologues about sexual experiences, anywhere from personal views on the matter to rape, as repeated by the actresses from interviews done with women from diverse backgrounds and locations by the founder, Eve Ensler. It raised awareness of an issue that’s too seldom talked about by repeating the v-word that’s so taboo in our culture. This made the presentation have the impact it did and made people think about these kinds of issues. The actresses and support staff should be proud of themselves for the long hours and hard work put into the presentation and the awareness it brought of rape, sexual assault and sexual consciousness that isn’t talked about nearly enough but is a problem around the world, in our communities and even on my campus where the presentation took place.
Ironically, there were some things in the presentation that made it sound culturally backward. One monologue was on moaning, intended to separate the shame from sexual pleasure. The actress listed a plethora of different “moans,” and two of them were of a Latina and an African-American woman making stereotypical moans (I think you have an idea of what they sounded like). Another was of an African-American woman acting sassy and using constant profanity, hers being the only one with any non-sexual profanity in it. The stereotypical nature of her actions apparently didn’t hit her, as I realized when I inquired to a director afterwards, and I found that particularly ironic and disappointing. They’re so keen on making us think about things differently on one topic, which is noble, but oblivious to the backwardness on other things in the exact same presentation.
The show concluded with “Over It,” in which each actress said what she was “over.” Most mentioned how they were over the high rape and sexual assault levels in our community and around the world, much of which goes unreported. One, however, said she was over the fact that some localities deny women the so-called “right” to have an abortion after a rape. While this is understandably sensitive considering the trauma that a rape brings and the desire to move past it by separating oneself from the product of it, I don’t see abortion as justified even in this instance. I believe that murder is murder and there are no ifs, ands or buts about it. A woman who is raped can still go through a pregnancy fine in most cases, and the baby can grow up to lead a happy life regardless of how he or she was conceived. One vicious act does not justify another.
The Vagina Monologues make one think, and during the presentation I was able to think about these sorts of things to a level I never have before. I was able to do so because of the mental stimulus I got from seeing such a provoking presentation but also being able to contrast it with the more subtle things in the presentation that conflicted with its main message: progress. While I thought the presentation was amazing overall, the discrepancies that I saw that I felt as if no one else did really struck me, and it showed how progress needs to be made in our society in racial and social issues in addition to sexual and gender issues.