By: Annie Bierman. Published: February 11, 2011.
Vaginas. Taboo to say in public? Not for the McKendree Young Feminists who are hosting a production of 12 monologues that focus on just that. Vaginas and everything that has to do with them.
The Vagina Monologues started in 1994 with Eve Ensler, playwright, activist, and founder of the V-Day movement, interviewing over 200 women about their vaginas. The resulting production is based on these interviews and highlight everything from female sexuality to rape and abuse. The Vagina Monologues are part of the larger global movement, V-Day, that strives to eliminate violence against girls and women including: rape, incest, battery, female genital mutilation, and sex slavery. According to the V-Day website, “V-Day was born of the belief that until these themes are addressed, these violations named and taken up by whole communities as an unacceptable desecration of human dignity, the violence will continue.” While V-Day is the sponsor of the performance, the profits of the McKendree performance actually go to a local organization, the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois, while only 10 percent go back to the V-Day program. The “V” in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine, and Vagina.
Each year, the spotlight monologue changes to highlight a different country or event around the world from a woman’s perspective. The 2011 Spotlight Monologue is in memory of Myriam Merlet, an activist and author who brought the V-Day movement to Haiti and was the chief of staff of the Ministry for Gender and the Rights of Women of Haiti, and other activists who died in the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Past Spotlights have included elegies for the women who suffered from the hurricanes of the New Orleans and Gulf Coast areas, were mistreated under Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and those who face prejudice in transgender communities across the US.
With a cast of almost 20 students, faculty, and staff this year, up from the 11 participants in last year’s production, the Young Feminists and the McKendree community are strengthening their movement to prevent violence against women.
Meagan Musgrave, President of the Young Feminists and co-coordinator of this year’s production, feels quite strongly about the fact that many people still avoid The Vagina Monologues: “It really upsets me when students and professors express distaste for The Vagina Monologues. Vaginas are everywhere and they are certainly not disgusting. I love my vagina which is why I want to live in a vagina-friendly society. This movement is about ending violence against women, it is not about making people feel uncomfortable.”
Dr. Michèle Stacey-Doyle, this year’s narrator, said she participates because, “I realize that in order to end violence, we must raise awareness, so taking part in an enactment of this play helps to that end.”
McKendree’s 5th performance of The Vagina Monologues will be held in The Hett on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. On the same day, the McKendree Young Feminists will also present a Brown Bag at noon in PAC 222 that will introduce the cast for the night’s production, educate the McKendree community about the monologues, and highlight this year’s Haiti spotlight.