“It never sounds like a word you want to say.”
This was one of the opening statements prefacing the series of skits and monologues performed by female members of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Boston College. This phrase set the tone of the occasion—an open invitation that said: “Let's talk about vaginas.”
The fierce and compassionate collective failed to disappoint us again with its annual rendition of The Vagina Monologues. Originally written by Eve Ensler as an Off-Broadway production, this world-renowned play introduces a conglomerate of female voices as they chronicle a range of personal experiences of the “forbidden zone.”
The performance at Boston College was a commemorative event to promote the V-Day movement (and no, it does not include candy grams or significant others). Rather, it is a global initiative started by Ensler to help raise awareness about violence and abuse against women and girls.
Director Amanda Mevlin, MCAS ’17, opened the sold-out show, reiterating the 2017 monologues’ focus on the issue of domestic violence. A large percentage of the proceeds were donated to the V-Day Foundation to combat violence toward women and supporting survivor-led programs that help eliminate sexual exploitation.
Based on real-life experiences, the show was creatively crafted to manifest each story in a profound, empowering, or even humorous way. The evening covered a range of topics—homeless women, female genital mutilation, childbirth, sex workers and menstrual cycles, to name a few. Each unique performance captured the essence that defined each issue. Together, the monologues demonstrated what the vagina represented for various female identities: love, respect, pleasure, shame, comfort, beauty and anger are among some of the adjectives used to describe it. One very serious portrayal drew attention to the 200 million girls and young women who are victims of female genital mutilation, predominantly in African countries. Another monologue more comically impersonated an elderly woman from New York exploring her “vaginal wonder” as she said in a thick, Brooklyn accent: “You know it’s there, but you forget about it; you don’t think about it.”
By the end of the evening, the latter claim was far from true for students leaving the show. If there was one thing the production undeniably achieved, it was making one think about it.
Amanda Bolaños, MCAS ’18, shared her thoughts as a participant in the show.
“It [the program] is fun and light-hearted and serves to break the ice for many audience members as they adjust to the beginnings of this show, which can be uncomfortable and challenging. It portrays a message that it is okay to be uncomfortable and to laugh during a show about vaginas—it is weird; we're weird. But we are owning and welcoming the audience in our mindset and perspective.”
The show reinforced the efforts to diminish the stigma associated with vaginas—be it misconceptions or the taboo nature of the subject. Essentially, it transforms the reluctance and discomfort of the topic into an open, comfortable platform for discussion.
Unapologetically honest, and both profoundly and comically transparent, The Vagina Monologues successfully articulate important female issues while opening the door to a refreshing conversation.