Vagina Monologues

HDFS 115

Public Event Essay

For my first public participation event, I attended the Vagina Monologues at The Armory Free Theatre on February 15, 2002. The play was directed by Mary Elizabeth Peters. The cast was a comprised of Parkland Junior College students and The University of Illinois Department of Theatre. The play, written originally by Eve Ensler, was a collage of testimonies from 200 random women who were of different race, culture, and background. Ensler said in an interview with Les Gutman from “Curtain Up” magazine:

“I was worried about vaginas. I was worried about

what we think about vaginas, and even more worried

that we don\'t think about them. . . . So I decided to

talk to women about their vaginas, to do vagina

interviews, which became vagina monologues.... At

first women were reluctant to talk. They were a little

shy. But once they got going, you couldn\'t stop them.”

--Eve Ensler

One of the most interesting things about the play was the fact that it was told without the use of props and visual aids. While Ensler’s play, while very humorous, always had an underlying tone of seriousness. The main idea of the play was to inform men and women about the “vagina” not only as a part of a woman’s anatomy, but also how it makes up part of their soul. It is meant to empower woman by making them comfortable by calling it by all of it’s associated names such as cunt, pussy, box, flower, etc. It was an interesting experience watching the show as a man. It made me go through emotions of happiness and laughter, but it also made me experience sadness and shame. I learned a great deal about female anatomy, but also different perspectives on how woman think about and view their womanhood.

The cast was made up of 13 different women. There was a narrator who interacted and introduced each unique account. The testimonies ranged from an elderly Jewish woman from Queens, New York who could barely talk about her vagina and one sexual experience she had in high school that changed the way she thought about her vagina for the next 50 odd years, to a woman from Bosnia who was raped and a piece of her vagina was torn off. The mental anguish this woman went through was very deep and intense. All of the actors that were in the play did a very good job of expressing their characters’ opinions, actions, and story. There was one girl who told the story of her experience of anticipating and waiting for her first menstrual cycle. She lost her place 3 times and had a hard time getting back on track with her lines, but overall didn’t do a bad job. Another interesting account was from a woman who just liked to wear short skirts. She expressed her feminist view that, men think that because she likes to wear short sexy skirts, that is an open invitation for them to howl, gawk, and harass her because they think she is a trick. She tells them that it isn’t because she is a slut or prostitute, but because she likes to flaunt her body because she is proud of it. One of the major themes presented in this play is women’s censorship. The basic idea of women talking about their sexual organs openly and expressing the names, myths, and unique stories about them is an exercise of free speech. The issue of talking about vaginas anywhere is seen in most countries as taboo. The play persistently stated that women need to feel comfortable and proud of everything related to their vaginas, so they can feel comfortable and in touch with themselves.

It was not comfortable for me as a male to watch the show during some parts. First of all, I do not have a vagina, so it was hard for me to relate to the stories they were telling in some ways. I felt kind of awkward just hearing the word “vagina” and its connotations so much, but I learned that that was part of the reasoning behind writing the play. To inform not just woman, but men as well and help them to become comfortable and more familiar with women. It was tough hearing some