Vagina Warriors Promote Women’s Empowerment

On Saturday, February 23 and Sunday, February 24, eighty-five women from Connecticut College took over Evans Hall to perform the eleventh annual production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues.”

“The Vagina Monologues” consists of a series of short monologues that deal with issues such as violence against women and try to promote women’s empowerment.  Because the cast was so large each monologue included multiple people. Some were serious and rose awareness about issues like female genital mutilation, and others were more humorous. One of the funnier pieces was titled “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” which starred Shannon Keating ’13 and Ali McKeigue ’13. The two women spoke openly about orgasms — a topic that is not discussed in everyday conversation.

Outside of Evans Hall, the cast had booths set up so that viewers could purchase raffle tickets, buy refreshments and make donations. The proceeds go to various organizations that are focused on helping women who have been violated. The production raised roughly $10,000 and eighty-five percent of the proceeds go to Safe Futures, an organization in New London, which is geared towards helping women who are affected by domestic violence. The rest of the proceeds will go to Ensler’s worldwide activist movement called “V-Day” and the campaign that they have launched this year called “One Billion Rising.” The “V” in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina. On the fifteenth anniversary of V-Day –  February 14, 2013 – women in particular stopped what they were doing and danced in a public space. This campaign has reached over 200 countries, and the purpose is to make people take notice; dancing is one way of achieving this goal. As “The Vagina Monologues” program reads: “Dancing takes up space, makes people stop and look and requires that we are seen and heard.  It sends a message that we are here and ready to fight the forces that keep us silent.”

On Valentine’s Day, “The Vagina Monologues” cast supported the movement by creating a flashmob dance to Abba’s “Dancing Queen” outside of Branford House. The show ended with a monologue entitled “Rising,” referencing the “One Billion Rising” campaign.

“The Vagina Monologues” show was very well-organized considering the size of the cast. Written in a blunt fashion, the monologues don’t sugarcoat any of the issues that they address. The point of “The Vagina Monologues” is to make topics regarding women’s sexual health more comfortable to talk about, and the performers did the explicit nature of the show justice.

One part of “The Vagina Monologues” not seen by the audience is what the cast does before they go onstage. Lucy Wallace ’13, one of the show’s producers, said that the dedication portion is the best part of the show. “We open up the floor to the cast to dedicate the show to a person, experience [or] feeling that made them want to do the show or pushed them to continue to be in the show. They can be sad, serious, funny and heartwarming, and all powerful messages. It shows how important this show is to so many women.”

The cast call themselves “Vagina Warriors,” and many of these Vagina Warriors found the process of performing and being part of the production to be a very rewarding experience.

“The girls come from all different grades, backgrounds and have many different reasons for doing the show. A lot of seniors do it all four years, some girls do it once or twice, but I think that everyone will agree that it has a huge impact on their overall experience at Connecticut College,” Wallace said.

Vagina Warrior Alexis Ditomassi ’16 said, “All of the girls were so unique and friendly, and it was awesome to be a part of such a variety of people, which is what I think made it so special.”

Audience members were very receptive to the message of “The Vagina Monologues.” Charlotte Marcoux ’16 attended Saturday night’s performance and said, “After seeing ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ I felt that some [pieces] were a little bit slow, there were a couple that were very entertaining, but overall I thought the subjects were very deep and informative, and therefore I got a lot out of it.”