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The Battalion

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Time to talk

 
 

Sex, orgasms, childbirth, menstruation, masturbation, rape – all are topics of Eve Ensler’s play, “The Vagina Monologues.”
Seeking to eradicate social taboos surrounding female sexuality and the violence wrought against it, students will host and perform “The Vagina Monologues,” a collection of stories from women across the globe that dispel myths and give a voice to the feminine sexual experience.
Performances are held through V-Day, a global organization that gives rights to read the monologues to one organization per University each year, said Bianca Mason, president of Pro-Choice Aggies, which will host the performance.
Athena Mason, monologue performer and senior biology major, said the monologues allow the audience to reflect on personal experiences in both a humorous and contemplative environment. She said the monologues span a broad range of topics, but keep a general theme in mind.
“It’s basically about celebrating the vagina, understanding the vagina and hearing everyone’s stories so we’re not just stigmatized about our own bodies,” Athena said.
The monologues are infamous for their raw accounts and frankness about female anatomy, said Esme Rodriguez, co-director of the 2013 performance and senior English major. Rodriguez said the subject matter has faced controversy over the years and even the title of the work warrants objections.
“You can’t expect everyone to listen, but I just wish people wouldn’t be disgusted by that word,” Rodriguez said. “It’s like talking about your elbow or your toe or your ears. You can’t use the word ‘vagina,’ because it’s just been turned into [something] disgusting.”
Rodriguez said the monologues “bring a lot to the table” theatrically because they address issues like rape and female genital mutilation. She said although the language is graphic, it could encourage people to think about the reality of certain situations.
“You just can’t forget these things happen to real people so that’s the point of it. It’s speaking for the unspoken,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of people don’t want to talk about how vaginas exist – like in certain countries people cut off parts or completely remove it just because females should not feel pleasure in any sense.”
Kallie McWhinney, junior biomedical sciences major, said although she was not a member of Pro-Choice Aggies, she was compelled to perform this year. She said the themes of the monologues are applicable to anyone.
“Just because you don’t have a certain body part doesn’t mean that we don’t have the same pilgrimage,” McWhinney said. “For example the gay rights movement has largely been compared to the civil rights movement in the 1960s – two totally different things, but they’re both along the same lines of what we’re allowed to do, what we’re not allowed to do.”
McWhinney said although someone may not identify as a female, the struggle to find acceptance and be acknowledged for one’s own needs and feelings is the same.
“That’s the same thing that applies to if you are transgender, identity of, ‘I’m not a woman,’ or, ‘I don’t have a vagina’ – you still may feel like you’re not able to talk about your body openly and talk about that you have been assaulted or openly talk about the fact that female genital mutilation or male genital mutilation happens to you,” McWhinney said. “We need to be able to be open, we need to be able to communicate to others about how we feel.”
Saad Dawoodi, junior biochemistry major, attended the Vagina Monologues last year. He said he arrived to the performance with an open mind and said it does an excellent job of vocalizing issues that are “swept under the rug.”
“I think when we talk about bodies, we talk about the collective body,” Dawoodi said. “Like it’s never about ‘my’ body, it’s about this standard of bodies, like the body has to look this way, feel this way. It’s never about the individual brand, so I think as far as the Vagina Monologues go and making the experiences of the body on an individual and personal level – I think that is excellent.”
Heather Wheeler, program coordinator at the women’s resource center, said society has the potential to look at sexuality in an unhealthy way because of the importance placed on gender roles.
“What it does for women who want to go out and have partners and engage in healthy relationships that do involve sexual contact, it stigmatizes and shames them and then again for men who don’t want to go ahead and be out there, it draws questions about their masculinity, especially from other men,” Wheeler said.
Dawoodi said he liked the performance because it brings anatomy to the forefront. He said he thought American society has a reputation for being over-sexualized, but felt people were still uncomfortable with talking about their bodies.
“I think people get squeamish when they think about genitalia, whether that be a man’s or woman’s genitalia,” Dawoodi said. “I think that there is this discomfort around sexuality.”
Rodriguez said she thought a lot of women feel shame when talking about sexual experiences.
“Weird things happen and girls feel shame in talking about this because some of them have probably gone through similar experiences and have never wanted to talk about it,” Rodriguez said. “Other women have just been taught by their parents, ‘Don’t be sexually open with yourself.'”
McWhinney she said although the performers may have differing views on sexuality, the monologues have been important to them.
“Some of us have really heavy pieces and I can tell those pieces are something that really touches them, or other people thought this would be just for fun,” McWhinney said. “So even the motives – we’re all doing this for us for different reasons and I’m just appreciative of that.”
“The Vagina Monologues” will be from 5:30-6:40 p.m. Thursday and Thursday, April 10 in MSC 2502. Admission is free and all donations will go toward the Brazos Valley Sexual Assault Resource Center.

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