The Bloomsburg community gathered together in Carver Hall last Saturday to observe parts of Eve Ensler’s episodic play titled The Vagina Monologues. In developing her play, Ensler had interviewed 200 women, anonymously, about their views on sex, relationships and violence against women. Ensler originally wrote The Vagina Monologues as a way to celebrate vaginas and femininity, but later the goal of the performances became a means of promoting a movement known as V-Day which acts to end violence against women.
At the event, audience members trickled into the auditorium to the sound of lively and empowering music. All the performers, dressed in black, greeted guests and eventually made their way to the stage. The BU Women’s Resource Center Coordinator, Albra Wheeler, began the show with powerful opening remarks which reminded listeners that the “rise of women does not mean the fall of men”.
Some of the segments performed were humorous and light-hearted. Alexus DegBrina, Samantha Heydt, and Lucelis Ortega performed a segment titled “What Would it Wear/Talk”, the “it” referring to one’s vagina. The three shared a lengthy list of answers that had been provided by the anonymous women. Some of their answers were that their vaginas would wear emeralds, a tutu, combat boots, high heels, glasses, pearls, a slicker, and a tuxedo. Another portion of the show titled “My Angry Vagina” had the audience laughing out loud. Marissa Holshue recited an anonymous woman’s rant about all the things her vagina is angry about. Holshue shares the woman’s disgust of “psycho products” such as tampons and soaps specially designed to make vaginas smell like flowers. The overall awkward experience of vaginal exams and the “cold, metal duck lips” that go with themwere also major elements of the vagina’s anger.
One portion of the show, performed by Unique Hall, shared a woman’s experience of attending a Vagina Workshop where she learned to become more comfortable with her body. The workshop leader had encouraged the anonymous woman to closely examine her vagina with a mirror. Later in the workshop, the anonymous woman experienced the wonders of self-pleasure and described her climax as making her see a “plain of colors”.Other segments of the performance, such as one titled “Under the Burqa”, were much less light hearted and delved deep into the social issues regarding violence against all women. Karen Anselm orated the vivid and horrifying experience of an anonymous woman’s genital mutilation followed by her unimaginably painful experience of being gang raped post-mutilation. Another heart-wrenching segment titled “They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy… Or So They Tried” was orated by Facia Nyego Sirleaf, Pia Ripley, Amanda Rowe, Dobbs.
These actresses shared bits and pieces of the emotional stories provided by anonymous transgender women regarding their individual experiences transitioning from male to female. Renee Fawess passionately performed the piece titled “The Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy” which verbalized the story of a female lawyer turned sex worker. The woman tells of the pleasure she experiences when she succeeds in helping other women find their moans. This segment involved many of the other actresses sitting on stage. Fawess orated the list of several types of moans the anonymous woman had heard in her career.
As Fawess verbally listed various types of moans such as the clit moan, the vaginal moan, the diva moan, the Irish Catholic moan, and the Jewish moan (just to name a few), a fellow performer would bleat out a hilarious rendition of each moan. The last piece from the show was Ensler’s own experience of witnessing the birth of her granddaughter titled “I Was There in the Room “As a mother it’s a privilege to share a birth experience,” said Wheeler. Wheeler said it is overwhelming and empowering to be able to share these stories that often times don’t have a platform. Overall, the event was successful in promoting feminism, endorsing the need to stop violence against women, and encouraging women to become more comfortable with their bodies.